If you are looking to fully enjoy the incredible country of Germany for any extended period of time, then you will need to be able to drive in Germany. The country has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, especially along its well kept road system. Speaking of that road system, it is also one of the best in the world, featuring the world famous Autobahn, but hardly ending there. The process to obtain the right to drive in Germany is not difficult, but it is precise, and there are some things that you definitely need to know about it.
Do I already have the right to drive in Germany?
You may actually already have the right to drive in Germany and not even know it. If you have a drivers license that was issued by a country that is currently within the European Union, then you automatically have the right to drive in Germany indefinitely. If your drivers license was issued by a country that is outside of the European Union, then you can legally drive in Germany for six months starting from the date of your arrival.
This is especially important to know if you will be residing in Germany for. That is longer than six months. Germany does have special six-month extensions that you can place on your existing license if you have a license that is issued from a country outside of the European Union. You will not have to switch to a German driver’s license if you are able to obtain this extension.
The only people who are legally required to switch to a German driver’s license is a resident of a non-European Union country who will be taking up residence in Germany for longer than one year. In order to switch the current drivers license for a German driver’s license, it may be necessary to take a written exam or a driving test. In some cases, both of these tests will be required.
Special Cases from Canada and the United States
Canada and the United States have an expedited process with Germany for switching to a German driver’s license. All residents of Canada and certain residents of the United States do not have to go through the test portion of the license switching process – the license can simply be switched. The licenses that are eligible for this expedited process in the United States include licenses from the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington State, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Residents of the United States with a drivers license from Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee or Washington D.C. will be required to take the written German test in order to obtain a German driver’s license. However, the driving test is not required in this situation.
Even if you have your license from the states listed above, you will need to prove to German authorities that you have had this license for at least six months.