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What do you know about the German driving license test?

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Everything you need to know about the German driving license. In order to legally move a motor vehicle in Germany, a valid driver’s license is required. In order to get a driver’s license or to register for the driving test, different requirements have to be fulfilled, first of all attending a driving school.

These points must also be taken into account if you lose your driving license due to misconduct with a fine. Below you will find a summary guide of all the important points and give important tips on getting a German driving license.

General information on driving licenses in Germany

German driving license

Do you want to register for a driving school soon or are you about to take the theoretical or practical test and want to prepare yourself for all possible incidents? Here you will find all the information you need to know about driving licenses. 

In addition to the online driver’s license test, you will find tips for preparing for the theoretical / practical test. In Germany there are a large number of different driver license classes. The most commonly issued driver’s license is class B. It entitles people over the age of 17 to drive vehicles with a total weight of up to 3.5 t (permissible total weight) and no more than eight seats. 

It is difficult to estimate exactly how many Germans have a driver’s license, but it can be assumed that around 50 million people in Germany have a valid driver’s license.

Car – class B

The normal car driving license for class B can be obtained without prior possession. It is possible to purchase from the age of 17. Up to the age of 18, however, only as accompanied driving. The validity of the driving license is unlimited. This class includes vehicles with a total weight of up to 3.5 t and no more than eight seats. A trailer is permitted if this total mass is not exceeded. With the successful driving test of the class B, the authorization for classes L and AM are included at the same time.

Car – class BE

You will only be admitted to the driving test if you already have a class B driving license. The period of ownership is unlimited; every person of legal age is entitled to examine it. This class includes the combination of a tractor (class B) and a trailer. In contrast to the class B driving license, the total weight of both modes of transport can be up to 7 t.

Motorcycle class A

This class includes classes A1 and A2. From the age of 20 it is possible to obtain this driver’s license if the driver had previously had class A2 for 2 years. In this case, the theoretical driving test is not required. If you are 24 years of age or older, you can enter motorcycles directly. The ownership period is unlimited.

Motorbike – class A1

In order to be able to obtain this driving license class, one must be at least 16 years old and complete a theoretical and practical driving test. No prior ownership is necessary. This license is valid for light motorcycles and also allows a sidecar.

Motorcycle class A2

If you pass the class A2 driving test, class A1 and AM are included. From the age of 18, the driver is entitled to drive two-wheeled motorcycles. If the driver has owned Class A1 for at least two years, only one practical driving test is necessary.

Motorcycle class AM

This driving license class is also known colloquially as a moped driving license and applies to mopeds. It should be noted that a maximum speed of 45 km / h must not be exceeded due to the construction of the vehicle, which is why it is already possible to take this driving license test at the age of 16.

Truck – class C

The class C of the driving license is intended for trucks. In contrast to class B, the permissible total weight must be more than 3.5 t. However, the vehicle must not be able to carry more than eight people (excluding the driver). From the age of 18, the driver’s license test for class C can be taken, as long as class B is already in the driver’s possession. The driving license is only issued for five years. After this time, a medical opinion is required. Trailers up to 750 kg are also permitted. This driver’s license includes class C1.

Truck – class C1

The requirement for acquiring this class of driving license is possession of a class B driving license. From the age of 18, it is possible to obtain one. There is also a limitation on the duration of ownership for this class: it is valid until the age of 50, after which – as with class C – an aptitude test is necessary every five years.

Truck class CE

If a trailer with a total mass of more than 750 kg is to be transported, this driving license class applies – for the first acquisition a certificate of suitability is required, as is the driving license of class C. From the age of 18, taking into account the professional driver qualification law, to acquire this driver’s license. It is limited to five years, after which a medical examination is required every five years in order to be able to keep it.

Bus – class D

In order to be admitted to the driving test of the class D bus driver’s license, the normal class B car driver’s license is required. Under certain conditions it is possible to take the exam at the age of 18. It is limited to five years and is used to transport more than eight people (excluding drivers). Trailers over 750 kg are also permitted.

Bus – class D1

As with class D, the requirement here is also to have a normal class B driver’s license. It is used to transport a minimum of eight and a maximum of sixteen people (excluding the driver). With certain qualifications, it is possible to take the driver’s license test at the age of 18, but normal is 21. This class is also limited to five years, medical certificates have an extension for a further five years.

Bus – class DE

The requirement for the first acquisition of this driver’s license class is a class D driver’s license. A trailer with a total mass of more than 750 kg may be carried. The professional driver qualification law also applies here, from the age of 18 it is possible to take the practical and theoretical driving test. This class is limited to five years, medical examinations have an extension for a further five years.

Special class – L

You only need to be at least 16 years old to acquire this driving license class. The ownership period is not limited in time. This class includes tractors intended for agricultural or forestry purposes. The maximum speed varies depending on how the vehicle is used. If you combine two vehicles (e.g. tractor and trailer), the maximum speed must not exceed 25 km / h.

Special class – T

This driver’s license class includes classes AM and L. For direct acquisition you must be at least 16 years old, with a maximum speed limit of 40 km / h up to the age of 18. From the age of 18, the maximum permissible speed increases to a maximum of 60 km / h. This class includes vehicles that are used for agricultural or forestry purposes. Trailers are also allowed.


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What does a German driving license cost?

German driving license

In advance it can be said that an exact calculation of the driving license costs is not possible. Every driving school offers its own tariff, every learner driver has a different amount of practice requirements and unsuccessful driving test results cause the costs of acquiring a driving license to rise unexpectedly. 

If you still want to calculate the costs in advance, you should plan a generous budget and include the following elements in your invoice:

  • Costs for the driver’s license office , e.g. taking passport photos, producing the driver’s license and issuing the driver’s license, etc.
  • Registration fees in the driving school
  • Theory tuition costs
  • Costs for the practical driving lessons
  • Costs for special trips , interurban, motorway and night trips
  • Costs for the first aid course and the eye test
  • Costs for private learning material to prepare for the theoretical exam
  • Examination fees for the practical and theoretical examination

How long does the driver’s license training take?

The training consists of a theoretical and a practical part . In addition, there is a first aid course , a medical examination and the application for a driver’s license at the responsible citizens’ office. How much time elapses between registering and getting your driver’s license depends on several factors:

On the one hand, around three to four weeks should be allowed for the competent office to process the application . On the other hand, the previous knowledge and the time a learner driver has for theoretical and practical driving lessons during the week influence the duration of the driver’s license training individually. 

Nevertheless, it can be said that about 6 weeks should be planned for visiting the 14 theory topics and preparing for the theoretical driving test , plus the time to study for the driving test. 

For the practical training in rural areas, about 13 hours and in urban areas it takes 20 hours for the learner drivers to master the vehicle in a way that is suitable for testing. 

The training basically begins with the theoretical part, as this is usually more time-consuming and the theoretical driving test must be taken before the practical test.

With ideal timing and timely registration, as well as completing the first aid course and medical examination, a period of 8-10 weeks for the complete driver’s license training is realistic. Schoolchildren and students in particular can save a few more weeks through the clever use of their school and semester breaks if they learn the theory and do a good job of driving.

German driving license

How many questions do you have to answer in the theory test (driver’s license test)?

If you want to acquire a driving license in Germany, you have to take a theoretical test in addition to the practical driving test. You will be prepared for the driving test in your driving school. 

The driver’s license applicant has to prove his / her acquired knowledge of the road traffic regulations (StVO) as well as the correct behavior in exceptional situations, such as traffic accidents or breakdowns. In the Driving License Ordinance (FeV), the task of the theoretical test according to § 16 is defined as follows:

In the theoretical test, the applicant has to prove that he

  1. has sufficient knowledge of the relevant legal regulations for driving motor vehicles as well as environmentally conscious and energy-saving driving style and
  2. is familiar with the dangers of road traffic and the necessary behavior to avert them.

The theoretical driver’s license test is taken with a so-called multiple-choice test.

With this type of theory test you are given pre-formulated answer options for each question, from which you have to choose the correct answers. It can also happen that several answers apply to one question. In these cases, you need to put several crosses. However, you can learn this in advance of the theory test, whether with forms or online.
Each question has between 2 and 5 points of error

The sum of the points of failure is decisive for whether you passed or failed. For example, 10 points are allowed for passing the theoretical driving test in class B. However, you are only allowed to answer one question incorrectly with 5 points of error.

Is my German driving license also valid abroad?

The member states of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein) have undertaken to recognize each other’s national driving licenses. This applies to all driving licenses valid in Germany, including those of the former GDR. 

To prevent all eventualities, it is advisable to have the relevant decision of the European Union with you. You will find the decision in the respective national language on the website of the consumer center (www.verbüberszentrale.de).

If your trip goes to a non-European country, the legal situation is very different. Which driving license is valid in non-EU member states is regulated with the help of individual agreements at the diplomatic level. 

NOTE: A driver’s license that was issued in the former GDR is not recognized in the USA.

In principle, it is advisable to have an international driver’s license with you when you are staying outside the EU. You can apply for this at a driver’s license office near you for a fee of around €15. The responsible office also needs a valid German driver’s license and a current biometric photo.

The exam procedure:

  • Class a
  • Class A1
  • Class A2
  • Class AM
  • class B
  • Class C
  • Class C1
  • Class D.
  • Class D1
  • Class L

Regardless of the class, you need a driving theory test and there are official questionnaires. All driving schools have online learning systems and an official catalog of questions that are part of the theoretical lessons. 

The questions to be answered differ, of course, because, for example, in class C, other questions are sometimes required. If you get several driver’s licenses, you will have to study more than once. For the class B driving license test, however, many questions must be answered intuitively.

How does the German driving license practical test work?

German driving license

The big day of the practical driving test is getting closer and closer. But can I actually prepare for the test and if so, what can I expect and how does the driving test actually work?

The practical driver’s license test is actually a driving lesson like any other lesson – with the difference that, in addition to you and your driving instructor, there is also an examiner in the vehicle. The examiner is also the one who will give you the driving instructions and tasks during the exam.

But there are a few things you can do before the exam begins, so that you can take the exam in a relaxed and stress-free manner:

  • First of all, you should go to bed early the day before the exam. Sounds strange, but the more rested you are, the greater your ability to concentrate. This reduces the chance of making a mistake that will let you fail the exam. 
  • In addition, you should have your ID card or passport ready the evening before the exam (as this is essential for identity checks) and, if necessary, have your glasses or contact lenses to hand.
  • On the day of the exam, you should make sure that you arrive at the exam location on time. Basically, it is better to be half an hour early than a minute too late on site.

The exam procedure:

German driving license

At the beginning of the test, everyone involved gets into the driving school car. Your driving instructor takes a seat in the front passenger seat as usual. The driving examiner takes the seat behind your driving examiner. This space enables the examiner to keep an eye on you, the traffic situation and the instrument panel of the car.

Make sure that after you get in, you adjust the exterior and rear-view mirrors, as well as the steering wheel and the seating position , just as you learned in driving school.

The examiner will then explain the test procedure to you and which driving instructions you can prepare for. Furthermore, he will sift through the examination documents and carry out the personal check.

Important: If you do not understand the examiner’s instructions while driving, do not be afraid to ask the examiner to repeat the instructions. However, if you accidentally fail to keep to the required direction of travel, but do not violate the traffic regulations, you will not fail as a result. Just stay calm and wait for the next instruction from the examiner. The examiner knows what pressure you are in and does not expect you to drive the vehicle with the routine of an experienced driver. 

After you have passed the theory and the practical driving test, you will be issued with a provisional document that you are entitled to drive until you have picked up your correct driver’s license. Accompanied driving from the age of 17 is also possible.

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