I do not belong to the EU Club. Will my national driver’s license be accepted in Germany?


In accordance with §4 I 3 IntKfzVO, your li­cense is only valid for six months – after picking up orderly domicile. Afterwards you must apply for a German license.       

How long can I drive my car here on my international driver’s license?

You may drive here up to six months after taking up orderly domicile. If you can prove that you will only be in Germany for up to one year, you can apply for a driving permit that lasts that long. Consider your internation license as a "international" translation of your national license. It's nothing special.

What happens if I want to register in the seventh month of orderly domicile in Germany? Do I have to apply for a new driver’s license?

At that time, you are allowed to drive a car everywhere else but in Germany. To drive in Germany again you will be treated as a person with­out a driver’s license, meaning you will have to meet virtually all driver’s practical and the­o­re­ti­cal training requirements. But it is not all that bad. You are an experienced driver, you should re­­quire only the minimum number of practical and theoretical lessons. In case your driving tea­cher does not agree, go to another one before hiring him to teach you. In Germany, there is a free market: if somebody does not offer what you want, check out someone else. Supposing you are caught without permission then you could be bound to up to one year in prison or pecuniary punishment (§21 StVG).        

I learned that I had six months to register for receiving a German driver’s license. However, I also heard that I would only get a probationary license. That seems ridiculous.

Hold on. It depends on how long you have had your permanent driver’s license (§33 II FeV). In Germany, you will normally get a permanent driver’s license after driving safely for two years of probationary time. If your license was issued two years ago or more, you will receive a permanent license. So, you can relax.If your domestic license is not yet two years old, then the date of issue plus the time in Germany in which you were allowed to drive will be considered. An example: Let us say you drove a car for 1¾ years when you came to Germany to live here permanently. If you registered after three months, then you would receive a permanent license. Now, say you register after one month. In that case, you will be registering two months short of having a permanent license. In this case, you will have to wait two months.

After some time of driving abstinence, I want to hit the road again. What do I have to consider?

First of all, you will have to take driving lessons. If you are still a good driver, only the minimum amount of hours should be sufficient – otherwise take a couple more lessons. If you apply within three years after taking orderly domicile, you will be exempted from driving lessons and theory classes (§31 II FeV). You will still have to meet the general requirements:

  • eye test,
  • age requirements,
  • theoretical examination,
  • practical examination.

Additional information