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US Citizens in Germany: If you live in Germany as a registered resident and you want to drive, you are required to obtain the German driver's license. More

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Driver's License Information for US Citizens in Germany

Below you will find some answers to the most commonly asked questions from US citizens wishing to drive in Germany. Helpful contacts and the latest developments are also outlined. For an overview, please view AmCham Germany's:

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is my US driver's license valid in Germany?

If you are in Germany for less than six months (e.g., as a tourist), you do not need to register to legally drive in Germany. However, if you live in Germany as a registered resident, you are required to obtain the German driver's license within a six-month period beginning with the date of your residency registration in order to legally drive in Germany.  

Please note:

Driver’s licenses must be valid for a minimum of six months after entering Germany. US driver’s licences that have been issued or renewed after the holders’ original entry into Germany will not be accepted by German authorities for conversion, regardless of state of issue. 

The German Government makes this exemption to close the loophole of US license holders applying for a license in a state with a reciprocity agreement for the sole purpose of converting it to a German driver’s license. To ensure you do not have this problem, make sure your license is valid for a minimum of six months after your planned entry and, if necessary, renew your license before you travel to Germany.

2. I plan on residing in Germany for longer than six months but less than one year. Is there an exception, so that I can continue to drive with my US driver's license?

Yes. US drivers license holders planning to stay in Germany for less than one year can avoid obtaining the German driver's license and continue driving using their US license. To do this you must go to your local driver's registration office (Führerscheinstelle) prior to expiration of the six-month period after registration and notify that office that you want to continue to drive with your US license until departure. You must take an official translation of your US driver's license with you to the Führerscheinstelle as well as proof that you are leaving Germany before a year has passed. Proof of your intention to leave Germany can take the form of a return ticket to the US, a work contract with an expiration date before a year, etc. In avoiding possible problems regarding the "official status" of a translation, it is easier to simply use the German ADAC's translation service (for a small fee). 

 

3. I plan on residing in Germany for longer than one year. Is there an exception, so that I can continue to drive with my US driver's license?

No. If you register to live in Germany and want to legally drive six months after registration, you must apply for a German driver's license. 

 

4. What is the first step in acquiring a German driver's license?

The German government, in conjunction with the German Länder, has concluded reciprocity agreements with a number of US states. For US license holders from certain states, the practical (behind-the-wheel) or both – the practical as well as the theoretical (written)— tests for obtaining a German driver’s license can, as a result of these agreements, be exempt. The US states who have concluded full or partial reciprocity agreements are listed below.  

 

5. Which US states have agreements with the German government? From which tests am I exempt?

Depending upon which state your driver's license is from, you may be exempt from either the practical test or both – the practical and written – tests when you apply for a German driver’s license. Below is a list of states which have concluded agreements with the German government. See the list to determine if you are exempt from the practical test, written test, or both tests.  

US State

Practical

Written

Alabama

exempt

exempt

Arizona

exempt

exempt

Arkansas

exempt

exempt

Colorado

exempt

exempt

Connecticut

exempt

Delaware 

exempt

exempt

Florida

exempt

Idaho

exempt

exempt

Illinois

exempt

exempt

Indiana

exempt

Iowa

exempt

exempt

Kansas

exempt

exempt

Kentucky

exempt

exempt

Louisiana

exempt

exempt

Maryland

exempt

exempt

Massachusetts

exempt

exempt

Michigan

exempt

exempt

Minnesota

exempt

Mississippi

exempt

Missouri

exempt

Nebraska

exempt

New Mexico

exempt

exempt

North Carolina

exempt

Ohio

exempt

exempt

Oklahoma

exempt

exempt

Oregon

exempt

Pennsylvania

exempt

exempt

Puerto Rico

exempt

exempt

South Carolina

exempt

exempt

South Dakota

exempt

exempt

Tennessee

exempt

Texas

exempt

exempt

Utah

exempt

exempt

Virginia

exempt

exempt

Washington D.C.

exempt

Washington State

exempt

exempt

West Virginia

exempt

exempt

Wisconsin

exempt

exempt

Wyoming

exempt

exempt

Please find the latest enactment from the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development, issued Jan. 19, 2013, PDF  here.

6. My US state has a full or partial reciprocity agreement with Germany. What do I do now?

You will need to have held your residence and license in that state for at least 185 days. Please visit the German Federal Ministry of Justice to  review this law.

It is suggested that all applicants for a German driver's license first submit an application directly to the driver's license office (Führerscheinstelle) of their local municipality (Stadtverwaltung). A few weeks after an application has been submitted, a notification will be sent detailing to the applicant the next steps in obtaining the driver's license. Because these local offices are often not aware which US states have agreements with Germany, the application can take some time to process. 

Applicants who wish to avoid making multiple trips to the Führerscheinstelle are best advised to take all of the documents with them (even if applicants are not always asked to have all of the documents listed below). 

Documents to be taken to the local driver's registration office usually include:

  • an official identification document (passport);
  • residency registration certificate (Meldebestätigung /Aufenthaltsgenehmigung) from registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt); 
  • original and copy of foreign driver's license;
  • certified translation of driver's license (i.e. from ADAC driver's association for a small fee; the US Embassy also provides a list of certified translators);
  • a statement by the applicant that the license is still valid (not always required);
  • one passport photo (35mm x 45mm);
  • if only partial reciprocity agreement exists: form “Fahrschulantrag ‘Umschreibung’” (proof of registration at driving school; required in some German states only). 

A fee must additionally be rendered and must usually be paid with cash.

 

7. My US state does not have a reciprocity agreement with Germany. What do I do now?

If you come from a state for which there exists no reciprocity agreement, you MUST take both the practical and theoretical tests. There are only four exceptions: if you live in the states of Hamburg, Hesse, Saxony-Anhalt or Schleswig-Holstein, you are exempt from both tests if you meet certain conditions (see below under ‘Latest Developments’).

Documents to be taken to the local driver’s registration office (Führerscheinstelle) usually include: 

  • those mentioned in the previous question including form "Umschreibung";
  • plus in addition:

  • documentation of a recent eye test (which can be obtained by almost any optician);
  • proof of completion of a first-aid course ("Sofortmaßnahmen am Unfallort"), e.g. from the local Red Cross chapter (Rotes Kreuz). 

 

8. Do I have to go to a German driving school?

If you are required to take either the written or both, the written and practical test, you will eventually have to go to a driving school (Fahrschule) to register for the tests. Often, applicants are even asked at the Führerscheinstelle to suggest with which driving school they plan on going to. In Germany, only a driving school can grant an applicant admission to take the final driver's license tests. This is different than in the United States, and there are no exceptions AmCham Germany is aware of. For this reason, it is helpful to contact a driving school (Fahrschule) in advance of going to the Führerscheinstelle. You are required to take driving lessons. However, driving schools still often recommend that applicants take a number of driving lessons before the official test in order to become acquainted with German driving rules. Total costs (without lessons) may average as much as €500. This varies from school to school, and it is best to shop around.

 

9. What actions are being taken to establish further reciprocity agreements between individual U.S. States and the German government?

AmCham Germany continuously campaigns for additional US driver's license agreements. First, we are encouraging US states without an agreement to take this step. Second, we are seeking the German government's assistance in finding a temporary solution, until all US states have established reciprocity agreements. The fact that a great number of American personnel working in Germany must obtain a German license after being allowed to drive in Germany for up to one year seriously harms Germany's attractiveness as a great place to work and invest in the United States. Not only would a temporary solution and, eventually, the conclusion of further reciprocity agreements improve Germany's reputation but these steps would assist German and American companies, operating in Germany, to recruit American personnel that they need (researchers, computer programmers, etc).

 

10. How can I keep informed of any changes regarding further reciprocity agreements and other developments regarding driver's licenses?

We continually update our information. To find out about the latest developments, please refer back to this webpage.

 

11. How can I help to facilitate a reciprocity agreement between my US state and Germany?

So that all other US states sign agreements with Germany, we need your assistance in contacting them. For those interested in helping, we simply ask that you send a letter (or email) to your governor describing your personal experience and the necessity for such an agreement. 

Developments

Latest Developments

Simplified Procedures for the Conversion of US-Driver’s Licenses in four German states

The four German states of Hamburg, Hesse, Saxony-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein have departed from the principle of reciprocity and have introduced new regulations, permitting an unbureaucratic conversion of US driver’s licenses. American citizens, regardless of which US state they are from, can now apply for the automatic conversion of their US driver’s license into a German driver’s license if they meet certain conditions. Applicants are exempt from having to take any theoretical test and practical exam.

Hamburg

Entry into force: February 2003
Requirements: Applicants must

  • live and work in the state of Hamburg for a limited period (not defined);
  • have held their license for at least five years;
  • not have a negative driving record.

Hesse

Entry into force: June 13, 2005
Requirements: Applicants must

  • live in the state of Hesse;
  • work at an American company or have their own business in Hesse;
  • have held their license for at least five years;
  • not be registered with points at the Verkehrszentralregister in Flensburg for having seriously violated any traffic rule (such as having passed a red light);
  • not have caused any accident in Germany.

Saxony-Anhalt

Entry into force: September 8, 2005
Requirements: Applicants must

  • live in the state of Saxony-Anhalt;
  • work or have their own business in Saxony-Anhalt;
  • have held their license for at least five years;
  • not be registered with points at the Verkehrszentralregister in Flensburg for having seriously violated any traffic rule (such as having passed a red light);
  • not have caused any accident in Germany.

The new regulation in Saxony-Anhalt equally applies to spouses and partners living in the same household, even if they do not work in Saxony-Anhalt, as long as they meet the remaining conditions.

Schleswig-Holstein

Entry into force: January 16, 2006
Requirements: Applicants must

  • live in the state of Schleswig-Holstein;
  • work at an American company or have their own business in Schleswig-Holstein;
  • have held their license for at least five years;
  • not have previously failed any practical driving exam in Germany;
  • not be registered with points at the Verkehrszentralregister in Flensburg for having seriously violated any traffic rule (such as having passed a red light);
  • not have caused any accident in Germany. 

In all other German states, US driver’s licenses can only be converted into a German driver’s license without a practical and/or theoretical exam if a reciprocity agreement between Germany and the issuing US state exists (see above).

Amendment:

Driver’s licenses must be valid for a minimum of six months after entering Germany. US driver’s licenses that have been issued or renewed after the holders’ original entry into Germany will not be accepted by German authorities for conversion, regardless of state of issue.

The German Government makes this exemption to close the loophole of US license holders applying for a license in a state with a reciprocity agreement for the sole purpose of converting it to a German driver’s license. To ensure you do not have this problem, make sure your license is valid for a minimum of six months after your planned entry and, if necessary, renew your license before you travel to Germany.

 

 

 

AmCham Position

Helpful Contacts

Helpful Contacts

Provided below are contact addresses for further information regarding German driver's licenses as well as recognition of a US driver's license.

Federal Minister Alexander Dobrindt
Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur
(Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure)
Invalidenstrasse 44
10115 Berlin
T +49 30 18 300-0
E  buergerinfo(at)bmvi.bund.de

Baden-Württemberg:
Innenministerium Baden-Württemberg
Willy-Brandt-Str. 41
70173 Stuttgart
T +49 711 231-4
E  poststelle(at)im.bwl.de

Bayern:
Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wirtschaft und Medien, Energie und Technologie
Prinzregentenstr. 28, 80538 München
T +49 89 2162-0
E  poststelle(at)stmwi.bayern.de

Berlin:
Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung und Umwelt
Württembergische Strasse 6
10707 Berlin
T +49 30 90139-300
E  poststelle(at)senstadtum.berlin.de

Brandenburg:
Ministerium für Infrastruktur und Landwirtschaft
Henning-von-Tresckow-Strasse 2-8
14467 Potsdam
T +49 331 866-0
E  poststelle(at)mil.brandenburg.de

Bremen:
Der Senator für Bau, Umwelt und Verkehr
Ansgaritorstrasse 2
28195 Bremen
T +49 421 361-2407
E  office(at)umwelt.bremen.de

Hamburg:
Behörde für Stadtentwicklung und Umwelt
Neuenfelder Str. 19
21109 Hamburg
T +49 40 42840-0
E  info(at)bsu.hamburg.de

Hessen:
Hessisches Ministerium für
Wirtschaft, Energie, Verkehr und Landesentwicklung
Kaiser-Friedrich-Ring 75
65185 Wiesbaden
T +49 611 815-0
E  poststelle(at)hmwvl.hessen.de

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern:
Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Bau und Tourismus Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Johannes-Stelling-Str. 14
19053 Schwerin
T +49 385 588-0
E  poststelle(at)wm.mv-regierung.de

Niedersachsen:
Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Verkehr
Friedrichswall 1
30159 Hannover
T +49 511 120-0
E  info(at)mw.niedersachsen.de

Nordrhein-Westfalen:
Ministerium für Bauen, Wohnen, Stadtentwicklung und Verkehr des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen
Jürgenplatz 1
40219 Düsseldorf
T +49 211 3843-0
E  poststelle(at)mbwsv.nrw.de

Rheinland-Pfalz:
Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Klimaschutz, Energie und Landesplanung
Stiftsstr. 9
55116 Mainz
T +49 6131 16-0
E  poststelle(at)mwkel.rlp.de

Saarland:
Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Arbeit, Energie und Verkehr
Franz-Josef-Röder-Str. 17
66119 Saarbrücken
T +49 681 501-1888
E  poststelle(at)wirtschaft.saarland.de

Sachsen:
Sächsisches Staatsministerium für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Verkehr
Wilhelm-Buck-Strasse 2
01097 Dresden
T +49 351 564-0
E  poststelle(at)smwa.sachsen.de

Sachsen-Anhalt:
Ministerium für Landesentwicklung und Verkehr
Turmschanzenstrasse 30
39114 Magdeburg
T +49 391 567-01
E  poststelle(at)mlv.sachsen-anhalt.de

Schleswig-Holstein:
Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Arbeit, Verkehr und Technologie
Düsternbrooker Weg 94
24105 Kiel
T +49 431 988-4760
E  mwvinternet@wimi.landsh.de

Thüringen:
Thüringer Ministerium für Bau und Verkehr
Werner-Seelenbinder-Strasse 8
99096 Erfurt
T +49 361 37-900
E  poststelle(at)tmblv.thueringen.de

 

AmCham Germany
Livia Fischer
Specialist, Government Relations
Charlottenstr. 42
10117 Berlin
T +49 30 288789-23
E lfischer(at)amcham.de


Katrin Utzinger
Manager, Business Services
Börsenplatz 7-11
60313 Frankfurt/M
T +49 69 929104-50
E kutzinger(at)amcham.de

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