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What age can you drive in Germany?

Obtaining a Driving Licence in Germany

Having a driving licence can be very useful. For those who live in a village or a small remote city without proper access to public transport, in particular, obtaining a driving licence and often purchasing a car is necessary. In this chapter, you can learn how to get a German driving licence or transfer (“Umschreiben”) the driving licence you have obtained from your home country. There will also be some tips on how to avoid losing your driving licence.

What do I need to know?

Is my driving licence valid in Germany?

To drive in Germany, in principle, you need a driving licence issued in Germany or another EU country. Driving licences from non-EU countries are only valid for six months in Germany. This means that you are only allowed to drive in Germany with a driving licence from your home country for the first six months. The period begins with your first police registration («polizeilichen Anmeldung») in Germany. You must always carry your driving licence with you when driving.

You must also have a translation of your driving licence into German with you. The translation must have been done by a German or internationally recognized automobile club or an authority in your home country or by a sworn translator. You can find sworn translators at No translation is required for driving licences issued from the following countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Andorra, Hong Kong, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, Switzerland and Senegal. You don’t need a translation for international driving licences either.

At the end of these six months, you need to transfer your driving licence («Umschreibung») if you wish to continue driving. You can read more about the transfer process in the section «Where and how can I have my driving licence transferred?»

If you are only visiting Germany, you are allowed to drive with the driving licence you have obtained in your home country or an international driving licence. Keep in mind that you must always have your driving licence with you when driving. You can read more (in English and German) on the website of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI).

Please note: During your asylum procedure, BAMF keeps all your documents and often returns them only at the end of the procedure. You are not allowed to drive as long as your driving licence is held by the BAMF.

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How and where can I register my driving licence?

If your driving licence is not issued in Germany or another EU country, you must have it transferred («Umschreibung») at the latest six months after your first police registration in Germany.

In order to start the transfer process, you need to apply to the local Driving Licence Office (“Fahrerlaubnisbehörde” or “Führerscheinstelle”). Depending on where you live and the number of applicants, it may take a while before they process your application. Start the transfer process before your initial six months are over to make sure you do not lose time. You can find a Driving Licence Office by using the search engine You have to go personally to a Driving Licence Office and submit various documents. Read the section «Which documents do I need for the transfer?» to find out about the required documents.

The Driving Licence Office then decides whether your driving licence can be transferred without a test, or you first have to take part in the theory and practical exams. Their decision depends on the country from which your driving licence has been issued. You can find a list of national driving licences, which are transferred without further tests, on If your driving licence has been issued in a country named in this list, in principle, you can have your driving licence transferred without a test. Otherwise, you often have to pass a test.

Before the exam, it makes sense to visit a driving school. Germany has numerous traffic rules and street signs. But unlike the first-timers, if you already have a driving licence issued abroad, you do not need driving lessons.

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What documents do I need for a transfer?

The following documents have to be submitted along with your transfer application:

  • ID or passport
  • Registration certificate (“polizeiliche Anmeldung)”)
  • Biometric passport photo
  • Your eye test results (“Sehtest”) issued by an optician or ophthalmologist
  • Confirmation of participation in a first aid course. You can find a first aid course nearby, for instance, on ASB or Johannitern.
  • Original driving licence issued in your country of origin (handing in an international licence is not adequate). In principle, the driving licence must be translated into German by a sworn translator.
  • A statement that confirms the driving licence issued in your homeland is still valid.

Sometimes the driving licence authorities ask applicants for a certificate of good conduct (“polizeiliches Führungszeugnis”) as well. You can receive such a document from your local administration authorities or apply for it online at

Please note: If you are applying for driving licence classes other than A (motorcycles and alike) and B (Cars), you need to present some additional documents. You can learn more in this regard on the website of BMVI.

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How can I obtain a German driving licence?

If you want to apply for a driving licence for the first time, this is what you have to do:

  • Register at a driving school (“Fahrschule”). In big cities, you can find instructors who speak other languages, including Arabic or Persian/Dari.
  • Take part in a first aid course (“Erste Hilfe”)
  • Have your eyes checked by an optician or ophthalmologist (“Sehtest”)
  • Take a biometric passport photo

If you want to apply for a licence in the categories C (lorries) or D (Buses), you need to present some additional documents. On the website of BMVI, you can find a summary of all available driving licence categories.

Please note: As someone with a “Duldung” or Temporary Stay Permit (“Aufenthaltsgestattung”), you can also apply for and obtain a driving licence.

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How much does obtaining a German driving licence cost?

The driving licence can cost over €1000 if you add up all the costs. The price depends on the number of driving lessons you have to take. The costs of theory lessons and the driving lessons comprise the most significant slice of the sum. Whether you have to take theory lessons depends on various things. Some driving lessons are mandatory for beginners (e.g. highway, night or overland trips).

It will be up to your instructor to decide how many lessons you need. You can’t register for the driving test until your instructor is convinced that you can drive safely. Each driving school has different prices for driving lessons. Compared to the cost of driving lessons, the fees for the actual theory and driving tests are not significant. As an example, you can see the prices of obtaining a driving exam in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg on

Please note: If you are unemployed and think you can increase your chances in the job market by obtaining a driving licence, ask the Jobcentre to take over the occurring costs. Talk to the staff member responsible for you and explain your plans.

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What does the theory test look like?

To obtain a German driving licence, you need to pass both your theory and your practical driving tests. In fact, you must pass the theory test before you can go through a driving test.

You can take the theory test in 12 different languages: German, English, French, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Croatian, Spanish, Turkish and Arabic (Standard Arabic).

The theory test includes 30 multiple-choice questions. There may be several correct answers to one question. If you receive more than ten minus points, you will fail the test.

Your driving school will register you for the theory test. You will need to present the following documents to be allowed to take the theory test:

  • ID or passport
  • An appointment letter
  • Training certificate issued by your driving school (if you never had a driving licence before)

The results of the theory test are valid for one year. If you fail the driving test and want to try again after 12 months, you have to go through the theory test once more.

There are various websites, In order to prepare for the theory test, you can use websites like or which offer exercises in various languages. In addition, you can use apps and other online tools. Few of these apps come for free, so it is best to ask your driving instructor for learning materials.

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What does a practical driving test look like?

If you have passed the theory exam, you can take the driving test. It often takes between 30 and 45 minutes, during which you have to demonstrate your ability to drive. The examiner usually sits in the back seat. They will assess your driving for safety, competence and calmness. Your instructor will sit next to you, so they take control in case of an emergency.

If you don’t pass the exam on the first go, you can repeat it three times after two-week intervals. There is no limit to the number of times you can repeat the exam, but the intervals will become longer after your third unsuccessful attempt.

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Can I drive a car or motorcycle after drinking?

Driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous. Even when you drink a small amount and still feel sober, the risk of causing an accident increases massively with alcohol. That is why there are rules about how much alcohol drivers can have in their system when in cars, or on scooters and motorbikes. The police can measure how much alcohol someone has drunk with the help of a small measuring device that the driver has to blow on. The device shows the driver’s blood-alcohol level per mille.

Drivers who have had their driving licence for less than two years (probationary period) and drivers who are under the age of 21 are not allowed to drink alcohol at all when behind the wheel. If they drive under the influence of alcohol, their probationary period will be extended. You also have to pay a fine of at least €250, get a penalty point and have to attend follow-up training.

How do you dodge a fight?

Drivers who are older than 21 and have passed their probationary period may continue to drive with a little alcohol in their system. However, if their alcohol level is 0.5 per mille or higher, they must not drive. If you get caught, you have to pay a fine of up to €1,500. If you have a high blood alcohol level, your driving licence will also be taken away for a certain period of time. In case you cause an accident while intoxicated or behave dangerously (e.g. by not staying on your side of the road), you can be fined or even imprisoned for as little as 0.3 per mille of alcohol. In addition, your driving licence will be taken away from you, and you will receive several penalty points.

Please note: If you ride a bike while under the influence of alcohol and cause an accident or behave in a dangerous manner, you can be fined and may also lose your car, motorcycle or scooter licence (if you have one).

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Can I lose my driving licence?

If you ignore vital traffic rules, you may lose your driving licence. Keep in mind that a driving ban («Fahrverbot») is not the same as a withdrawal of a driving licence («Entzug des Führerscheins»). In the event of a driving ban, you must hand in your driving licence to the Traffic Violations Office («Bußgeldstelle») for a specified period (usually a few months). You cannot drive during this time; but after the deadline, you can pick up your driving licence again. In case of a withdrawal of a driving licence, your driving licence loses its validity. That means you are no longer allowed to drive, and you are not permitted to apply for a new driving licence for a specified period («Sperrfrist» or lock-up period). If you endanger traffic, drive while drunk or collected eight penalty points, you may lose your driving licence. You may get penalty points for various traffic law violations, e.g. driving too fast. The penalty points are colloquially called «Punkte in Flensburg». Officially, the system which records the penalty points is called Fahreignungsregister – FAER.

You can find a list of traffic fines on the “Bußgeldkatalog – BkatV”, but the wording of the catalogue is quite challenging to comprehend. Find an extract of the most common violations and fines on

If you have lost your driving licence due to driving under the influence of alcohol, drug or medications, you have to do a medical and psychological examination (“Medizinisch-Psychologische Untersuchung” or “MPU”) which is colloquially known as “Idiotentest” or idiot’s test. Read more about the MPU on the website of TÜV Süd or Dekra.

Please note: When you obtain a driving licence for the first time, as a beginner, you are going to be on a probationary period («Probezeit «) for two years. If you are caught for a traffic violation during your probationary period, you have to attend an advanced training course and perhaps go through psychological counselling. In addition, your probationary period will be extended for two more years. If you do not participate in the advanced training course and the counselling session, your driving licence will be seized. Passing a red light, driving with the lights off during the night and drink-driving are some examples of traffic violations. Parking in a No-Parking zone is not considered a traffic violation. If you park in the wrong place, you only have to pay a fine.

Driving licence in Germany

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German EU driving license card (2013 layout)

Obtaining a driving licence [ edit ]

The German driving licence can be obtained after finishing driving school and passing both a theory and a practical examination. In order to apply for a driving license, it is necessary to show proof of an eye exam as well as a first aid course consisting of 9 units of each 45 minutes. [4] Optometrists are bound by law to offer eye tests inexpensively. [5] Similarly, first aid courses are offered by various aid organisations and typically cost between 20–40€. [6] The learner driver’s training usually takes place in legally authorised and mostly privately owned, for-profit driving schools. The driving school handles all the necessary paperwork for the students, such as: applying for a licence, registering for tests etc. The theoretical part of the education comprises lessons at the driving school, held by legally authorised driving instructors, typically in the evening. The content and number of the lessons is set by law and depending on the type of licence the student wishes to acquire, a different number of lessons has to be attended. Remarkably enough, a student does not have to attend different lessons, they could theoretically attend the same lesson several times to meet the criteria. Lessons are divided into general knowledge about road rules that anyone studying for any licence might attend and specialised lessons for certain types of vehicles. To prepare for the written theory test, students usually obtain a study package from the driving school which can consist of software programmes, textbooks and sample-exam papers. Schools usually take responsibility for their students’ success and thus keep track of class attendance and hand out sample exams for practising. The theory test is a multiple-choice test consisting of randomised questions from a published guidebook. Thus the questions and correct answers can be studied in advance. Practical training also takes place with driving-school instructors. Specially labelled and fitted vehicles are provided by the driving school. Cars are usually dual control (feature extra mirrors and pedals for the instructor so that they can take control of the vehicle in dangerous situations), since driving and parking maneuvers are taught on public roads. For motorcycles, the student operates the motorcycle on their own with a driving instructor following in another vehicle and giving instruction via radio. A certain number of practical and technical lessons has to be completed again depending on the type of vehicle. Obligatory lessons include a minimum number of lessons each, driving on: the motorway Autobahn, rural areas, and in the dark. The actual number of lessons a student completes varies with individual skill. As the most difficult part of the driving test is usually urban driving, most lessons actually take place there, even though there is no mandated minimum for that. If a student wishes to be tested in a car with an automatic transmission and sits the road test in such a car, a code or note will be added to the licence and the holder will only be permitted to drive cars with an automatic transmission. A test passed on a manual transmission car also gives qualification to drive either manual or automatic. Theoretical and practical training may be commenced at the same or different times. Some driving schools may insist a student attend a certain number of lessons before giving out appointments for driving lessons. Both exams are held by an authorised inspector who visits the driving school for this purpose. Students must pass the theory test before sitting the road test, with no more than a twelve-month gap between the two. During the road test, the driving instructor is present in the car with the assisting features of the driving-school car deactivated or connected to audio signals and a warning light (if the instructor has to intervene, the test will result in failure). After each exam, results are immediately given to the students. In the case of the road test, if the student meets all the required criteria, a provisional license (which is valid for three months or until the student receives their EU driver’s license, whichever comes sooner, and may only be used in Germany) is handed over by the inspector. The actual license is sent to the student’s home address at a later date. Should the student, for any reason, not be allowed to hold the licence at the time of a successful test (for example, because they have not yet reached the minimum age), the licence will be sent to the Kraftfahrzeug-Zulassungsbehörde (compare DMV DVLA) of the student’s place of residence where it can be picked up as soon as the person becomes eligible. There are limits on the frequency and the time elapsed before failed tests can be reattempted. The failure rate for driving tests in 2011 was 28%. Automobile associations have given the opinion that this is due to the low quality of the education at driving schools as it benefits their income if students take additional lessons after failing. [7] For cars, people aged seventeen do not get a standard driving licence after passing all required tests. Instead, a permission slip that only allows for driving a car under the supervision of persons meeting certain criteria as stated on the permission slip. The actual driving licence becomes available upon the person’s eighteenth birthday. The cost of obtaining a licence for driving a car is on average €1,400 (US$1,800 in September 2014) but varies widely according to an individual’s skill, city and region. [8] Individual driving schools set their own prices. The total includes fees for: authorities and exams, learning materials, driving lessons and tuition.

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National driving types [ edit ]

In Germany, the European driving license classes as defined in EU law are applied. In addition, however, there are national driving license classes that are only valid in Germany. The national driving license classes are printed on the driver’s license in italics.

Driving license class L [ edit ]

  • agricultural and forestry tractors up to 40 km/h maximum design speed (with trailer max. 25 km/h)
  • self-propelled machines with a maximum design speed of up to 25 km/h
  • Forklifts and other industrial trucks up to 25 km/h maximum design speed.

can be driven. Class L can be acquired at the age of 16. Furthermore, class L is included in the driving license classes B and T. The possession of the driving license class L entitles only to drive corresponding vehicles for agricultural and forestry purposes. If one of the above-mentioned vehicles is to be driven for other reasons (e.g. to exhibitions), a driving license corresponding to the total permissible mass of the vehicle (B, C1 or C, in the case of trailer operation BE, C1E or CE if applicable) must be held. The earmarking of class L applies only to driving licenses issued on or after January 1, 1999. If a driver’s license issued before this date has been transferred, the purpose limitation of class L is usually cancelled by entering the code number 174.

Driving license class T [ edit ]

With the driving license class T may

  • agricultural and forestry tractors up to 60 km/h
  • self-propelled machines or self-propelled feed mixers up to 40 km/h.

may be driven. Class T can be acquired at the age of 16. Furthermore, class T is included in driving license class CE or can be applied for additionally when exchanging a class 3 driving license, if necessary. The restriction to agricultural and forestry purposes (see class L) also applies to class T. The acquisition of the driving license class T includes the classes AM and L.

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Driving license class S [ edit ]

Between February 1, 2005 and January 18, 2013, people aged 16 and over were allowed to obtain the new driving license class S in accordance with an EU regulation. It applied to light motorcycles and quads; light motorcycles are vehicles similar to passenger cars, but with a maximum weight of 350 kg (for electric vehicles, this value excludes the batteries).

For all vehicles that may be moved with the driving license class S, it applies that the maximum speed determined by the design may not exceed 45 km/h and, in addition, the cubic capacity of gasoline engines may not exceed 50 cm³ or, in the case of diesel or electric engines, the power may not exceed 4 kW.

The new driving license class raised many questions and was highly controversial among politicians, traffic experts and parents alike in connection with the corresponding vehicles («light vehicles»). Light vehicles in particular suffer from serious safety deficiencies.

Since January 19, 2013, Class S driving licenses have no longer been issued. The authorization to drive these vehicles is now in the new class AM (class L2E for the quad as a three-wheeled motorcycle, class L6e for the light motorcycle according to 2002/24 EC or today’s Article 4 of Regulation (EU) No. 168/2013).

Card validity [ edit ]

The driving licence card is valid for 15 years, and is replaced with a new card when it expires. Before 19 January 2013, the driving licence card was valid without time limit. There is a decision that cards issued before that date expire on 19 January 2033. Although the driving licence is an official document issued by authorities, it has very limited validity as an identity card. [9]

Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration

Not sure if your transaction can be completed at home? Visit our Online Services tab below to see what services are available right now!


International Applicants


  • ​​​International Students, Scholars, Faculty and their Dependents
  • Au Pairs and G4 visa holders
  • Department of State (DOS) Documents
  • Foreign Reciprocity Agreements
  • Translation of Foreign Issued Documents
  • Renewing a Limited Term Driver’s License or ID Card
  • Renewing your Non-Compliant Driver’s License
  • Applying for a New Learners Permit, Driver’s License or Identification Card Information

All identification cards, Maryland Rookie Driver learner’s permits, and any federally non-compliant driver’s licenses or identification cards are mailed to your Maryland residence address on file.

International Students, Au Pairs, G4 Visa Holders

This process is available:

  • Students scholars, and faculty (includes anyone employed by the College or University)
  • Au Pairs
  • G4 visas (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Inter-America Development Bank)

To avoid multiple trips to the MVA, you can eliminate one step by submitting a SAVE Verification Request online. Please click here. Once you have submitted the form, a MVA representative will contact you with the verification results and information to continue the process. If you experience any difficulties with the form, or do not receive a response within five (5) business days, please send an e-mail to

Department of State (DOS) Documents

The information below pertains to individuals who have a license issued by the US Department of State (DOS) or are applying for DOS licenses.

1. Applicant has a DOS license, visa class is A or G, applying for MD license:

  • Proof of age, identity and residency are required. Please see the online document guide for further information.
  • Your documents must be electronically verified through the U. S. Department of Homeland Security to confirm lawful status in the US.
  • Letter of ineligibility for a U. S. Department of State license is required (for all A, G and E1-TECRO visa class codes). Exception: Individuals who are under the visa category of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) do not need to present a letter of ineligibility. Vision screening, however, is required.
  • The 3 hour safe and sober course with certificate is required.
  • Knowledge and skills tests are waived.
  • If you come to renew your MD license and still maintain a visa class A or G category, you must obtain a new letter of ineligibility from the U.S. State Department.
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2. Applicant has DOS license and has changed visa status:

  • You must present proof of age and identity, lawful status, a Social Security card or letter of ineligibility for a Social Security number, and 2 proofs of Maryland residence. Please see the online document guide for further information.
  • Lawful status must be verified through the U. S. Department of Homeland Security-SAVE, to verify that the visa status is no longer A or G categories; and that you have applied for another status or lawful permanent residence.
  • You do not need to present a letter of ineligibility for a U.S. Department of State license.
  • Your DOS license is treated as an out of state license;
    • Vision screening is required
    • The knowledge and skills tests are waived.

    3. Applicant testing for US Department of State (DOS) License (holds a foreign issued license):

    • Proof of age and identity, Maryland residence are required. Please see the online document guide for further information.
    • Your Department of State identification card.
    • You must present a packet from the DOS (which will define the required tests).
    • The Social Security number or letter of ineligibility for Social Security number is not required.
    • The 3 hour safe and sober certificate is not required.
    • Once the required tests are passed, the results are recorded on the DOS form provided.
      • Note: Scores must be entered on the U​.S. Department of State form. Please do not leave the MVA if the scores have not been recorded. To be issued a license, you must return to the State Department with the test results.

      4. Applicant has never been licensed, is applying for a DOS license, but must first obtain a learner’s permit:

      • You must present all the required documentation as if applying for a Maryland license. Age and identity, proof of lawful status, letter of ineligibility for a Social Security number, and 2 proofs of Maryland residence. Please see the online document guide for further information.
      • Your documents must be electronically verified through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to confirm lawful status in the US.
      • If under 18, a co-signer is required.
      • Cost is $50.00
      • You must meet all the graduated licensing requirements before taking the driving skills test, including a driver education course.
      • Upon completion of the requirements, you must schedule a skills test.
      • Once you pass the skills test, the scores are entered on the form provided by DOS. If the law test was not recorded when the learner’s permit was obtained, make sure the law test score is also recorded before returning the form to the State Department.
      • The Maryland learner’s permit is surrendered to the MVA, but a Maryland license is not issued.
      • Take the completed form with the law and skills test scores to the State Department to be issued a DOS license.

      The customer service number for the U.S. Department of State is (202) 895-3682.

      Foreign Reciprocity Agreements

      The MVA entered into a license reciprocity agreement with the following countries:

      • Republic of Korea (South) (December 16, 2010).
      • France (December 16, 2010)
      • Federal Republic of Germany (May 10, 2011)
      • Taiwan (Republic of China) (June 17, 2013)
      • Japan (January 4, 2016)

      The agreements apply to applicants 18 years or older, for a non-commercial (class C) driver’s license.

      1. Sources of pro​of are required for age, identity, and Maryland residency (SAVE verification of lawful status through the Department of Homeland Security may be required if applicable).

      2. The knowledge (law) test and the driving skills portion of the test for a license of the equivalent class will be waived.

      3. If the driver’s license is expired, then the vision, knowledge & skills tests are required.

      • Exception: licenses from France and Japan may be expired less than 1 year.
      • If over 1 year, all tests are required.

      4. Must pass the vision screening, submit a completed «vision screening» form (form # DL-043 or DL-043A) or have an authorized online vision certification provider electronically submit the vision results to the MVA

      • ​Test administered by vision provider must have been done within the previous 12 months.

      5. Agreement applies to non-commercial driver (class C) licenses; no learners permits, class M or commercial licenses.

      7. Present out-of-country license along with an international license or translation into English from the MVA’s Approved Interpreter/Translator Provider Listing (if required).

      • ​License and any documentation pertaining to the license must be scanned into the driver’s licensing system transaction (ex: translation);

      8. Applicable fees are required.

      Licenses from Germany and France must be surrendered when a Maryland driver’s license is issued.

      • ​​Surrendered licenses will be sent to the Maryland MVA headquarters, at which time the license will be returned to the country that issued it.
      • The applicant may choose to opt out of the agreement by taking all tests if they wish to keep their license from France or Germany.
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