Is sleeping in the car allowed in Germany?

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Sleeping in the car? Some do it because the last beer was one too many. The others because their eyes almost close after a long drive. Still, others find it romantic to spend a night in the car. Is it allowed in Germany?

Germans and sleeping in the car: If tiredness catches up and if you want to save money for a hotel, sleep in the car. So is it allowed in Germany? Let’s clear up the legal myth.

sleeping in the car

Laws for sleeping in the car in Germany

Anyone who sits behind the wheel of a vehicle should be as rested as possible. Because scientific studies show that tiredness can lead to failure symptoms similar to drinking and driving. For longer distances or significant delays due to traffic jams, it makes sense to interrupt your journey, look for a suitable parking space and sleep in the car.

But what does the legislator say about people sleeping in the car? For example, does the Road Traffic Act (StVO) allow you to take a nap in a public parking lot? Can overnight stays in a car possibly violate the statutory reporting obligation? And which regulations apply abroad? Is there sleeping in the car legal or illegal? The following guide provides answers to these and other questions.



FAQ: Sleeping in the car in Germany

Can you stay overnight in the car?

The Road Traffic Act (StVO) does not provide any regulation prohibiting car sleeping. Thus, the legislature allows napping in the car as long as there is no violation of other regulations.

What do you have to consider if you want to sleep in the car?

When spending the night in a car in Germany, the traffic rules for stopping and parking must be observed, among other things. In addition, you are not allowed to sleep in the car with the engine running, as this constitutes an illegal emissions nuisance. This table shows what sanctions can be expected in the event of misconduct.

Is it dangerous to sleep in the car?

You should always be careful if you want to sleep in the car. The use of additional heating devices or the prevailing weather conditions can be dangerous. We have compiled important information and tips here.

Fines for spending the night in a car in Germany

DescriptionFinePoints
You parked the vehicle in such a way that another vehicle could not drive away.€20
You obstructed others by parking.€20
You parked on a narrow/obscure street spot.€35
… with disabilities€55
… longer than 1 hour€55
… longer than 1 hour with a disability€55
… and passage for emergency vehicles is no longer guaranteed€1001
You parked in front of or in an officially marked fire brigade driveway€55
… with the disability of rescue vehicles in action€1001
You caused avoidable exhaust gas pollution when using the vehicle.€80
sleeping in the car

Can you sleep in the car in Germany?

If you want to drive a vehicle on public transport, you must have the necessary driving ability. In addition to alcohol, drugs, and medication, however, fatigue can hurt them. It can therefore be advisable for drivers to stop and sleep in the car.

The StVO does not generally prohibit such behavior, but the general traffic rules must be observed. For example, the vehicle must not be parked in a no-owner zone or a fire brigade access. Private property is also taboo without the consent of the owner, which includes, among other things, most supermarket parking lots.

In addition, environmental protection requirements must also be observed. This is what it says under § 30 StVO:

When using vehicles, unnecessary noise and avoidable exhaust emissions are prohibited.

It is therefore not permitted to leave the engine running. You may therefore have to do without the air conditioning or heating. If you’re drunk, take a nap in the back seat. Because this prevents the police from evaluating your behavior as a driving attempt and threatening sanctions.

Important! A nap to restore your ability to drive is generally permitted, but the situation is different if you spend the night in the car permanently. Because in Germany there is a legal obligation to register and a car is not permitted as a place of residence.

Sleeping in the car in Germany: tips for a power nap

If you want to spend the night in your car, you should, among other things, choose your parking space carefully. It is particularly important to pay attention to the legal regulations for stopping and parking. You should also consider the security aspect. Residential areas and public parking lots are usually preferable to remote locations. Motorway rest stops have the advantage that there are usually sanitary facilities and you can also buy something to drink and eat if necessary.

So that your valuables are still in the right place after your nap, you should stow them away where they can be seen. It is also advisable to lock yourself in the vehicle. At the same time, you should also make sure that the air can circulate in the vehicle and therefore open the windows a little.

Important! If you want to sleep in the car, you should also pay attention to the weather conditions. When the sun is shining, a parked vehicle can heat up quickly, so there is a risk of heat death for the occupants. In contrast, it can be quite cold in the car during winter temperatures. However, additional heaters can become a fire hazard.



How many nights are you allowed to sleep in the car?

There is no time limit on how long you can sleep in your car in Germany. In theory, you could sleep in the car for weeks. The problem here, however, is that you can’t leave any traces. So if you park according to the regulations, don’t leave any rubbish outside the vehicle and don’t turn the parking lot into a toilet, there are no traffic law problems. Nevertheless, legal experts advise against parking and sleeping in the same place for too long.

sleeping in the car

The thing with the registration office

Because if you set up home in your car – not uncommon in university towns with little affordable housing – you have to expect trouble from a completely different side: Since there is an obligation to register in Germany, the residents’ registration office will cause trouble if you don’t register an apartment. And a vehicle is not accepted as an apartment.

Drunk sleeping in the car

Anyone who has had a glass over their thirst should definitely spend the night in the car before driving home drunk. Legally, that is absolutely fine. However, the legal experts point out that you shouldn’t sleep off your intoxication in the driver’s seat. Anything that looks like you’re about to start driving or that you’ve just driven can result in severe penalties. Even if the key is in the ignition lock, this can be counted as an attempt to drive. And what’s more: It’s more comfortable on the back seat anyway!

Are you allowed to stay overnight in a camper?

In contrast to our camping-crazy Dutch neighbors, where spending the night in a camper van is forbidden as ‘wild camping’, in Germany you can also spend a night in a camper van on the side of the road. You should only make sure that the chosen spot is also allowed for mobile homes and that you drive on as soon as you have had a good night’s sleep.

Is it safe to sleep in the car?

Sleeping in a car isn’t generally dangerous if you keep a few key things in mind, like unattended heaters, adequate oxygen, and protection from the cold and bugs.


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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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