Driving license in Germany: Everything you need to know in 2022

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Anyone who wants to drive a motor vehicle on public roads in Germany needs a driving license in accordance with Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act. The driving license is issued for certain classes and evidenced by a driving license.

Driving license in Germany: For Expats, it’s not the most important question for you when it comes to integrating in Germany, but being mobile means having a better quality of life and better opportunities in the job market. In addition to a larger catchment area for looking for work, other work tasks may also open up. In addition, the acquisition of a German driving license is an important integrative measure.

Driving license in Germany

Overview: German driving license classes

In Germany, the driving license classes go from from A to T.

How many driving license classes are there in Germany?

There are a total of 16 driving license classes in Germany.

What am I allowed to drive with the driving license class?

The car driving license classes start with the letter B, the driving license classes for motorcycles with A, the classes for trucks with C, the driving license classes for buses with D and the special classes with T and L.

Driving license classVehicle definition
Driving license class AMClass AMLight two-wheeled mopeds of class L1e-B (mopeds ) with
• design-related maximum speed up to 45 km / h and
• an internal combustion engine with a displacement of not more than 50 cm³ and
• a maximum rated continuous power in the case of electric motors or a maximum useful power in other internal combustion engines up to 4 kW
Three-wheel mopeds of category L2e
• with design-related maximum speed of not more than 45 km / h and Displacement of not more than 50 cc (for positive-ignition engines) or of not more than 500 cc (for compression-ignition engines) and
• a maximum rated continuous power in the case of electric motors or a maximum useful power in other internal combustion engines up to 4 kW and
• a mass in running order ≤ 270 kg and a maximum of two seats including the driver’s seat
Light four-wheeled light vehicles of class L6e
• with design-related maximum speed of not more than 45 km / h and Displacement of not more than 50 cm³ (for positive-ignition engines) or of not more than 500 cm³ (for compression- ignition engines ) and
• a maximum rated continuous power in the case of electric motors or a maximum useful power in other combustion engines up to 4 kW (class L6e-A) or 6 kW (class L6e-B) and a mass in running order <425 kg ,
• a maximum of two seats including the driver’s seat
Driving license class A1Class A1Motorcycles withCubic capacity of not more than 125  cm³ ,Motor power not exceeding 11  kW andRatio of power to weight max. 0.1  kW / kg ,also with a sidecar.
Three-wheeled motor vehicles with symmetrically arranged wheels and Displacement of more than 50  cm³ for internal combustion engines or design-related maximum speed of more than 45  km / h and Output of up to 15  kW
Driving license class A2Class A2Motorcycles withEngine power not exceeding 35 kW that is not derived from a motorcycle with a power greater  than 70 kW andRatio of power to weight max. 0.2  kW / kg ,also with a sidecar.
Driving license class AClass AMotorcycles withDisplacement of more than 50  cm³ ordesign-related maximum speed of more than 45  km / h ,also with a sidecar.
Three-wheeled motor vehicles withPower of more than 15  kWorwith symmetrically arranged wheels andDisplacement of more than 50  cm³ (for internal combustion engines) ordesign-related maximum speed of more than 45  km / h andPower of more than 15  kW .
Driving license class BClass BMotor vehicles (except those of classes AM, A1, A2 and A)

• with a gross vehicle weight not exceeding 3,500 kg and
• built and designed to carry no more than eight people in addition to the driver,

also with a trailer
• with a maximum authorized mass of not more than 750 kg or
• with a permissible total weight over 750 kg , provided that the permissible total weight of the combination does not exceed 3,500 kg.
Class B with code number 96 (no own driving license class)Class B towing vehicle in combination with a trailer with

• permissible total mass of the trailer of more than 750 kg and
• permissible total mass of the vehicle combination of more than 3,500 kg and not more than 4,250 kg

The class B driving license also entitles you to drive three-wheeled motor vehicles in Germany, but in the case of a motor vehicle with an engine output of more than 15 kW only if the holder of the driving license is at least 21 years old.
Class B with code number 196 (no separate driving license class)
footnote 2)
The class B driving license also entitles you to drive motorcycles (also with sidecars) of class A1 in Germany
Driving license class BEClass BEClass B towing vehicle in combination with a trailer or semi-trailer with a permissible total trailer weight of more than 750  kg and not more than 3,500  kg
Driving license class C1Class C1 footnote 1)Motor vehicles (except those of classes AM, A1, A2, A, D1 and D) with

• with a permissible total weight of more than 3,500 kg but not more than 7,500 kg and
• built and designed to carry no more than eight people in addition to the driver,

also with a trailer with a permissible total weight of not more than 750  kg .
Driving license class C1EClass C1E footnote 1)Class B towing vehicle in combination with

• a trailer or semi-trailer with a gross vehicle weight of more than 3,500 kg and
• permissible total mass of the combination of not more than 12,000 kg.
Class C1 towing vehicle in combination with

• Trailers or semi-trailers with a gross vehicle weight of more than 750 kg and
• permissible total mass of the combination of not more than 12,000 kg.
Driving license class CClass C footnote 1)Motor vehicles (except those of classes AM, A1, A2, A, D1 and D) with

• with a gross vehicle weight of more than 3,500 kg and
• built and designed to carry no more than eight people in addition to the driver,

also with a trailer with a permissible total weight of not more than 750  kg .
Driving license class CEClass CE footnote 1Class C towing vehicle in combination with a trailer or semi-trailer with a gross vehicle weight of more than 750  kg .
Driving license class D1Class D1Motor vehicles (except those of classes AM, A1, A2 and A)

• built and designed to carry no more than 16 people in addition to the driver and
• Length not more than 8 m,

also with a trailer with a permissible total weight of not more than 750  kg .
Driving license class D1EClass D1EClass D1 towing vehicle in combination with a trailer with a gross vehicle weight of more than 750 kg .
Driving license class DClass D.Motor vehicles (except those of classes AM, A1, A2 and A), built and designed to transport more than eight people in addition to the driver,also with a trailer with a permissible total weight of not more than 750  kg .
Driving license class DEClass DEClass D towing vehicle in combination with a trailer with a gross vehicle weight of more than 750  kg
Driving license class TClass T• Tractors with a maximum speed determined by the design of not more than 60 km / h and
• Self-propelled machines or self-propelled mixer feeders
with a maximum speed of no more than 40 km / h, determined by the design

which, depending on their design, are intended for use for agricultural or forestry purposes and are used for such purposes (also with trailers)
Driving license class LClass L• Tractors which, according to their design, are intended for use for agricultural or forestry purposes and are used for such purposes, with a maximum speed determined by the design of not more than 40 km / h and
• Combinations
of these vehicles and trailers if they are driven at a speed of no more than 25 km / h , as well as
• Self-propelled work machines , self-propelled feed mixers, forklifts
and other industrial trucks, each with a maximum speed of no more than 25 km / h and determined by the design
• Combinations
of these vehicles and trailers

Footnote 1): A class C1 driving license also entitles the driver to drive vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of more than 3,500 kg, but not more than 7,500 kg, and which are designed and built for the transport of no more than eight people in addition to the driver are with the following, in particular, relevant for the approval of the vehicle types, special purpose:

  1. Fire service vehicles,
  2. Police vehicles,
  3. Emergency vehicles of the rescue services recognized under state law,
  4. Emergency vehicles of the technical relief organization,
  5. Emergency vehicles from other disaster control units,
  6. Ambulances,
  7. Ambulance vehicles and ambulance vehicles,
  8. Bulletproof vehicles
  9. Post, radio and telecommunications vehicles,
  10. Specialized sales vehicles,
  11. Wheelchair accessible vehicles,
  12. Hearse and
  13. RVs.

This applies accordingly to the driving license of classes C1E, C and CE.

Footnote 2): The code number 196 is assigned if the following requirements are met:

  • Class B possession for at least 5 years,
  • Minimum age 25 years,
  • Participation in a theoretical and practical driver training course of at least 13.5 hours (4 teaching units of 90 minutes of theory, 5 teaching units of 90 minutes of practical experience).After completing the theoretical and practical driver training, the driving instructor must confirm that the applicant has successfully completed the driver training.

No driving license is required for the following vehicles, only a test certificate for driving mopeds and two- and three-wheeled vehicles up to 25 km / h:

  • Single-track bicycles with an auxiliary motor up to 25 km / h (mopeds; special seats for children under seven years of age may be appropriate).
  • Two-wheel and three-wheel motor vehicles falling under class AM if their design guarantees that the maximum speed on a flat track is limited to a maximum of 25 km / h.

Neither a driving license nor a test certificate is required for the following vehicles:

  • Small electric vehicles according to § 1 Paragraph 1 of the Small Electric Vehicle Ordinance
  • Motorized hospital elevators, single-seated vehicles designed for use by physically handicapped people
    • Electric drive,
    • an empty weight of not more than 300 kg including batteries but without driver,
    • a permissible total weight of not more than 500 kg ,
    • a maximum speed of no more than 15 km / h determined by the design and
    • a maximum width of 110 cm .
  • For older motorized wheelchairs with speeds of more than 10 km / h there are transitional provisions and special regulations (inspection certificate requirement).
  • Tractors whose design is intended to be used for agricultural or forestry purposes, self-propelled work machines, forklifts and other industrial trucks, each with a maximum speed of no more than 6 km / h as determined by the design, as well as single-axle tractor and work machines that are operated by Pedestrians are led on stiles.

Transportation of passengers

For the transport of passengers in taxis, rental cars, ambulances as well as in passenger cars, an additional driver’s license for passenger transport is required in addition to the general driver’s license if the transport is paid for or on a business basis or if a permit under the Passenger Transport Act is required for this transport.

Driving license in Germany

German driving license restrictions

The German driving license permit can be restricted to individual vehicle types in these EU driving license
classesWhen towing a broken-down motor vehicle, the driving license for the class of the towing vehicle is sufficient.

Class T tractors with a maximum speed of more than 40 km / h, as determined by the design, may only be driven by holders of a driving license for the corresponding driving license class who have reached the age of 18.

Classes 1 and 1a have been transferred to the newly defined motorcycle class A. In terms of content, the level driving license remains in place. Anyone who acquires a driving license in a performance class that is initially weaker receives easier access to the next higher driving license class.

Also entitled to

  • Class A driving licenses for driving vehicles of classes A1, A2 and AM.
  • Class A1 driving licenses for driving class AM vehicles.
  • Class B driving licenses for driving class AM and L vehicles.
  • Class C driving licenses for driving class C1 vehicles.
  • Driving licenses of class CE for driving vehicles of classes C1E, BE and T as well as D1E, provided that the holder is authorized to drive vehicles of class D1 and DE, provided that he is authorized to drive vehicles of class D.
  • Driving licenses of class C1E for driving vehicles of classes BE and D1E, provided that the holder is authorized to drive vehicles of class D1.
  • Class D driving licenses for driving class D1 vehicles.
  • Class D1E driving licenses for driving class BE and C1E vehicles, provided the holder is authorized to drive class C1 vehicles.
  • Class DE driving licenses for driving class D1E, BE and C1E vehicles, provided the holder is authorized to drive class C1 vehicles.
  • Category T driving licenses for driving category AM and L vehicles

Agricultural or forestry purposes within the scope of the T and L driving license include:

  • Operation of agriculture, forestry, viticulture, horticulture, fruit growing, vegetable growing, tree nurseries, animal husbandry, animal husbandry, hunting, fish farming, pond farming, fishing, beekeeping, as well as serving the goals of nature and environmental protection
  • Landscape maintenance, park, garden, embankment and cemetery maintenance including winter maintenance.
  • Agricultural sideline activity and neighborhood help from farmers.
  • Operation of agricultural and forestry contractors and other inter-farm use of machines.
  • Operation of companies that primarily serve to secure, monitor and promote agriculture.
  • Operation of workshops for the repair, maintenance and testing of vehicles used under numbers 1 to 5.
Driving license in Germany

Which German driving license can I get at what age?

The minimum age for issuing a driving license is:

  • 15 years for mopeds
  • 16 years for classes A1, T and L.
  • 18 years for classes A2 with direct acquisition, C and CE (under certain conditions), C1, C1E, BE and B
  • 20 years for class A with 2 years prior possession of A2
  • 21 years for bus classes D1, DE1 and D, DE (under certain conditions) and motorcycle class A for three-wheeled vehicles
  • 24 years for class A with direct entry

Applicants for driving license classes AM, A1, A2, A, B, BE, L or T must undergo an eye test.


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What is the validity of the German driving license?

The driving license of the classes:

  • C1, C1E is valid up to the age of 50, thereafter for 5 years
  • C, CE, D, DE, D1 and DE1 is valid for 5 years
  • B, BE, T, L, A, A1, A2 and AM are valid indefinitely

What is the extension of the German driving license?

The driving license of the classes:

  • C, CE, C1, C1E. D, D1, D1E and DE can be extended by the applicant
  • D, D1, D1E and DE can only be extended after the age of 50 if the applicant can also prove his / her suitability
  • You must apply for an extension of the period of validity for the driving license classes for buses and trucks from the municipality or the locally responsible driving license office. No driving test is required for renewal.

German driving license frequently asked questions and answers

Where is what on the German driving license?

Driving license in Germany
Driving license in Germany
  • The expiry of the driver’s license is shown in field 4 b.
  • In field 5 is the number of the driver’s license.
  • In field 9, the front side shows the classes for which the driving license was issued, and all the driving license classes appear on the back.
  • The date on which the driver’s license was issued for the respective class is in field 10.
  • Field 11 shows the validity date of the driving license classes issued for a limited period. Classes that have not been awarded will be devalued with a dash.
  • German driving license field 12 contains restrictions and additional information (including requirements).

Applying for a German driving license for the first time?

It is important to comply with the following steps before applying for any German driving license, and prove this to the licensing authority:

• Enrolment at a driving school
• Participation in a first aid course
• Eyesight test performed by an ophthalmologist or optician
• Biometric passport photo

When applying for a license in class C1, C, D1, D or associated E trailer classes, you also need:

• Proof of physical and mental suitability as per Appendix 5 (FeV)
• Proof of vision as per Appendix 6 Number 2 (FeV)
• Proof of vision as per Appendix 6 then replaces the general eyesight test.

The following documents must be provided at the time of applying with the relevant licensing authority:

Valid ID document (e.g. Personal ID/passport with latest proof of residence)

• Biometric passport photo
• Proof of first aid training
• Eyesight test certificate from an ophthalmologist or optician
• Plus, for classes C1, C, D1, D and associated trailer classes

  1. Certificate of physical and mental suitability as per Appendix 5 (FeV)
  2. Eyesight confirmation as per Appendix 6 Number 2 (FeV); instead of the eyesight test certificate

Once the application and registration are complete, you can undertake the theoretical and practical driving training. After passing this successfully, you may take the relevant driving permit examinations.

Driving license in Germany

Do you want to transfer your existing driving license over to a German driving license?

In principle, any holder of a foreign driving license who moves their primary place of residence to Germany is entitled to a German driving license. This is the case when the person concerned lives in Germany for at least 185 days a year.

The nationality of the foreign driving license holder is not important, only their primary place of residence. Existing foreign driving licenses are recognized for transferal in varying ways.

Germany distinguishes between three groups of countries of origin for driver’s licenses:

  • Driving license from an EU/EEA member state – Only needs to be transferred upon expiry.
  • Driving license from countries listed in Appendix 11 FeV (“Listed states”) – Transferal is mandatory. The exact extent to which driving licenses from the listed states are recognized is established in Appendix 11 of the driver’s licensing ordinance (FeV). Driving licenses (certain classes) from these states may be freely transferred in Germany in certain cases.
  • Driving license from other countries („External states”) – Transferal is mandatory. Unlike the countries listed in Appendix 11 FeV, a theoretical and practical test is always required. Contrary to those obtaining a driving license for the first time, however, holders of foreign driving licenses are exempt from undertaking the mandatory training. However, accompaniment by a driver instructor is mandatory during the practical test. The attendance of a driving school in advance is highly recommended.

Important references to the driving licensing ordinance (FeV) for Expats in Germany

Section 7 FeV Primary place of residence in Germany
Section 10 FeV Minimum age
Section 16 FeV Theoretical test
Section 17 FeV Practical test
Section 28 FeV Recognising driver’s licences from European Union member states or other countries in the Eu
Section 29 FeV Foreign driver’s licences
Section 30 FeV Issuing driver’s licences to holders of licences from European Union member states or other
Section 31 FeV Issuing driver’s licences to holders of licences from countries outside the European Economic
Appendix 5 FeV Suitability assessments for applicants and holders of classes C, C1, D, D1 and the associated E
Appendix 6 FeV Eyesight requirements
Appendix 11 FeV List of countries associated with the special conditions for holders of foreign driver’s licences

Do you want to drive in Germany using a license not issued by an EU or EEA state?


If you hold a driver’s license from a country which is not part of the EU or EEA, it will be valid for six months from the time you establish a primary place of residence in Germany (an extension for up to 12 months may be possible in some cases). Thereafter, your licence will no longer entitle you to drive vehicles requiring a driving license within Germany.


In order to continue driving on German roads, you will require a license issued in Germany. The requirements for issuing German driver’s licenses depend on factors such as the country in which you obtained your license.


A foreign driver’s license does not entitle you to drive on German roads if

• it is no longer valid,
• it is a learner’s permit or other temporary driver’s license,
• you are not yet the minimum age required for a driver’s license to be issued in Germany,
• your driver’s license has been suspended in Germany, or
• you are banned from driving in Germany, or your driver’s license has been confiscated, seized or taken into custody.

Driving a vehicle with a foreign driving license which is not or no longer recognized in Germany is a punishable offence equivalent to driving without a license.

Driving license in Germany

Driving with a German driving license while abroad

In some countries you need an international driving license in addition to your national driving license. This mostly applies to countries outside the EU. 

Every Expat with a German driving license needs to rememberthe following:

  • An International driving license is only valid in conjunction with the national driving license
  • Paper driving licenses are exchanged for a credit card driving license when applying for an international driving license
  • Valid German driving licenses are recognized within the EU and the EEA

The international driving license is not an independent driving license , but an additional document to your national driving license and is only valid in conjunction with this. It is a kind of translation of the national driver’s license and is intended to make it easier for the police or the rental car company abroad to check whether you are also authorized to drive the car or mobile home you have booked, for example.

In which countries do I not need an international driving license if I have a German driving license?

Valid German driving licenses are recognized within the  European Union (EU) and the  European Economic Area (EEA) . Neither the new plastic driving license card nor a translation or even an international driving license may be requested. There are all the (old) driver’s license formats – even pink or gray paper driving licenses are recognized.

1. Validity of German driving licenses abroad (within Europe)

Below is an overview of the Europe countries where the German driving license is sufficient or an International license is recommended in addition:

CountryGerman driving license onlyAdditional international driving license
EU countries¹Yes
Bosnia HerzegovinaYes
Albaniarecommended
IcelandYes
LiechtensteinYes
Moldovarecommended
NorwayYes
Russiarecommended
SerbiaYes
SwitzerlandYes
TurkeyYes
UKYes
Ukrainerecommended
Belarusrecommended
1 Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary, Cyprus

2. In which countries do I need the international driver’s license?

When driving  outside of Europe  , an international driver’s license should generally be taken with you.

  • Especially  when driving in the  USA , it is advisable to have the international driver’s license with you, as the German driver’s license alone does not have to be recognized without the additional document.
  • In  Australia  and  New Zealand, a  German driver’s license including a certified translation is sufficient for temporary stays.
  • In  Thailand you  need an international driver’s license in addition to your German driver’s license to drive a car. In this case, however, from May 1, 2021, the international driving license must correspond to the model according to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic of November 8, 1968 . You must expressly inform the authority of this when submitting the application . For stays over three months you need a Thai driver’s license.
  • In order to drive a car in Japan , holders of a German driver’s license (not residing in Japan) need a Japanese translation , as the German driver’s license is not recognized. 

List of fines for violations associated with a German driving license

ViolationFine
Driving license not carried10 Euro
The driving license was not carried when driving a moped10 Euro
The loss of the driving license was not reported immediately and there was no reason to have a replacement document issued10 Euro
The driving license was not immediately handed over to the responsible driving license authority after it was lost and found again, but after a new driving license was issued25 euros
The driving license was not given immediately after the driving license was withdrawn25 euros
The driving license was not submitted to the authorities for entry of restrictions or requirements25 euros
No driving license required when transporting passengers10 Euro
No required driving license for passenger transport issued on request by the responsible persons10 Euro
The driving license for passenger transport was not given immediately after the driving license for passenger transport was withdrawn25 euros
The general driving license was not issued immediately after the driving license to transport passengers was withdrawn25 euros
Driving license in Germany

How much does a German driving license / driving permit cost?

Overview of the costs of the driving license

Cost pointAmount of expenses * in euros
Basic charge200
Driving lessons1,500
Learning materials50
Exam fees from driving school and authorities200
Driving license application35
Various (first aid course, medical examinations, passport photos)40
* The amounts stated here are only approximate and may vary depending on the region and the skills of the novice driver.

German driving test costs

For a classic  class B car driving license, candidates must pass both a practical and a theoretical test. 

▶ To ensure that the tests are independent, they are carried out by testing organizations such as TÜV

The driving school often transfers the costs for the test directly to the test organization. Nevertheless, before registering at a driving school, you should check whether the corresponding costs are already included in the price or whether they have to be paid additionally before the test.

For the theoretical test the testing organization charges around 20 euros. On the other hand, with about 100 euros driving license costs for the practical test before the B driving license is issued, the driver’s license applicant has to pay a larger amount. The exact examination fee for the individual driving license classes is set out in the fee schedule for road traffic .

Driving license in Germany

What do you d if you have lost your German driving license?

If you’ve lost your driver’s license or if it has been stolen, act quickly. Because the driver’s license document must be carried with you every time you drive.

If you have lost your driver’s license, you must apply for a new one at the driver’s license office in your place of residence. After all, who does not have his driver’s license while driving it, one must caution money of ten euro pay.

The German driving license office requires these documents

  • A valid passport or ID card
  • A recent biometric photo
  • The authorities may ask for an affidavit about the loss of your driver’s license.
  • If the lost driver’s license was issued at a previous place of residence, you may need what is known as a copy of your card data. This is a certificate of the driver’s license data that you have registered with your previous driver’s license authority.

A replacement driver’s license (without costs for the passport photo) with the affidavit costs around 72 euros.

What do I have to pay attention to until the driver’s license is there?

While you are waiting for your new driver’s license, you can get a certificate of exemption from the obligation to carry a driver’s license for domestic journeys . However, it costs extra. It is only valid in combination with an identity card and – just like a normal driver’s license – must be carried with you every time you drive.

If you need a replacement faster, for example for trips abroad , you can apply for the express issue of the new driver’s license for an additional charge. Here you can find out what the penalties are for driving without a license . If the driver’s license that was believed to be lost appears again, you must inform the driver’s license office immediately.

You lost your German driving license abroad?

If your driver’s license has been stolen or lost abroad, you should report this to the local police. The theft report is necessary for the return journey in order to clear up any misunderstandings during controls and to avoid fines. 

Anyone who has to cross several borders on their way home to Germany without a driver’s license and proof of loss must expect a fine in the respective transit country. This amounts to:

  • 36 euros in Austria 36
  • 2o francs in Switzerland
  • 86 euros in Italy from

When you are back in Germany, apply for a replacement driver’s license at the driver’s license office in your place of residence.

Was your German driving license stolen?

If your driver’s license has been stolen, you must report it to a police station. The officers then issue a so-called theft certificate. This allows you to apply for a new driver’s license from the driving license authorities. The fee for this is around 35 euros.

It can take up to six weeks before you can collect the new document in person from the driver’s license office. An express exhibition is also possible for an additional fee.

Expaturm
Expaturmhttps://www.expaturm.com/
Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany

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