How to get a motorcycle driving licence in Germany

How to get a motorcycle driving licence in Germany

A detailed description of the process of obtaining a German Klasse A driving licence. This information is also valid for the Klasse B licence.

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In February 2017, I began the process of getting a motorcycle licence in Germany. As a Canadian national, I was able to trade my Canadian driver's licence for a German one, despite being completely unqualified for driving in Germany. The next step was to get the Klasse A licence - the German motorcycle licence. This guide describes my experience in details.

Most of this guide also applies to Klasse B driving licences. The only differences are the questions in the theoretical exam and the exercises in the practical exam. The rest of the procedure is exactly the same.

Step 0: Converting a foreign motorcycle licence

You may be allowed to trade your foreign motorcycle licence to a German Klasse A licence. Refer to page 4 of this document to see if your country has such an agreement with Germany. Here is another official list, in German. Here is a detailed walkthrough of the procedure.

You are rarely allowed to convert a foreign motorcycle licence, but you can at least get a Klasse B licence for cars and scooters. Having a Klasse B licence allows you to skip some of your driving school's theory classes.

Step 1: First aid course and sight test

Before you get started, you need to take a first aid class and pass a vision test1. I did both in the same afternoon at Ersthelfer.tv. The theory was available in English, but the demonstrations were given in German.

Step 2: The driving school

The first step towards your Klasse A licence is contacting a driving school. Take a look at our list of English-speaking driving schools to find the right one for you.

If you already have a Klasse B licence, you may skip some of the theory classes. My driving school only required me to attend 6 out of 12 classes. However, you must spend a minimum number of hours on a motorcycle: some on the highway, some in the city, some during the night etc. These so-called Sonderfahrten are mandatory.

Driving school instructors in Berlin can be pretty sleazy. Several sources report that their instructors encouraged them to take more hours than necessary or charged them extra fees for the learning material. Beyond the mandatory practice hours, it's up to you to judge whether or not you are ready for the exam. However, I strongly recommend getting access to the online learning material. It's more important than the theory classes.

Before your classes begin, get your own motorcycle equipment. The old, loosely fitted equipment your driving school provides will not adequately protect you in an accident, and you will need it later anyway. We compiled a list of motorcycle gear stores in Berlin just for you.

Step 3: The Bürgeramt

In order to take the driving exam in Germany, you need a permission from the Bürgeramt. As soon as you have found a driving school, get an appointment at the Bürgeramt for Ersterteilung einer Fahrerlaubnis. It takes 2 to 4 weeks to get the appointment, and 6 to 9 weeks to get the permission slip, so you need to get started as soon as possible.

You must bring the following documents to the Bürgeramt1:

  • A valid ID
  • A passport picture
  • Your vision test
  • The certificate from your first aid course
  • The contract from your driving school, or Ausbildungvertrag (it usually looks like this)\
  • Payment for the 48.25€ fees. Check which payment methods your Bürgeramt accepts!

The appointment only takes a few minutes. You will choose at which Dekra or TÜV location you'll take your exam, pay the 48 euro fee and show the required documents. If you have the option, ask for the driving licence to be mailed to you. It costs 5 euros, and it's much more convenient than picking it up at the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde.

6 to 9 weeks later, you will receive a letter that gives you the permission to take a driving exam. You must show this document to your driving school, and they will give you a training certificate1 (Ausbildungsbescheinigung der Fahrschule). With this document, you have everything you need to take the theoretical exam1.

Upon receiving the permission letter from Bürgeramt, you have 12 months to take the theoretical exam1.

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Step 4: The theoretical exam

The theoretical exam is available in 11 languages, including English1. You will be asked 10 general driving questions and 10 motorcycle-related questions out of a set of 950+ questions. You can only get two questions wrong before failing the test. The questions can be extremely tricky or technical, and are often horrendously translated, so this test is far from easy!

Unless you already know arcane trivia such as the minimum allowed tire thread depth (1.6mm) or the formula to calculate stopping distance, the only way to pass the exam is rote memorization1, 2.

Your driving school will give you access to an app that lets you practice all the questions from the real exam. The questions are exactly the same in the practice app and in the real exam, even in other languages12. Arm yourself with patience and practice the 950+ questions, and you will be ready for the exam.

When you are ready to take the theoretical exam, visit your assigned Dekra or TÜV branch and ask to take the exam. You don't need an appointment, but you must pay €22.49 to take the exam1.

Once you passed the theoretical exam, you need to notify your driving school. Your driving school will then schedule a practical exam date with Dekra or TÜV.

Step 5: The practical exam

As soon as you passed the theoretical exam, your driving school can schedule your practical exam.

The practical exam is not very different from what you practiced. Your driving instructor will follow you in his car with the Dekra or TÜV evaluator in the passenger seat. Your instructor will guide you as he did during the practice, but won't correct your mistakes.

The practical exam includes city driving, highway driving and a few technical maneuvers. This guide (in German) and this video describe each exercise in details.You will take a short trip from the Dekra or TÜV branch to a quiet street where you will be asked to perform these maneuvers:

  • Slow slalom: slalom at ~5 km/h between 5 cones placed 3.5 meters apart.
  • Stop and go: stop and go 4 times (twice on each foot) without stalling or falling on the wrong foot.
  • Slalom: slalom between cones while maintaining a constant speed
  • Slow slalom: slalom through a row of cones at a walking pace.
  • Avoidance maneuver without braking
  • Avoidance maneuver with braking: approach an obstacle at 50 km/h, break heavily and maneuver around an obstacle
  • Circle exercise: drive around a 9 meter wide circle

This guide (in German) and this video explain each maneuver in details.

After the maneuver evaluation, you will drive back to the Dekra or TÜV branch. This is still part of the exam, so be careful. If you passed the exam, the instructor will congratulate you and give you a temporary driving licence. You will give give back your current plastic driving licence in exchange for the temporary driving licence.

Step 6: Getting the driving licence

Right after you pass your practical exam, you will receive a temporary driving licence (Vorläufiger Nachweis der Fahrerlaubnis or VNF). This temporary licence valid for 3 months, and must always be carried with a valid ID1. You will also give back your current driving licence, so this will be your only driving licence for the next 4 weeks.

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A permanent Kartenführerschein will be ordered from the Bundesdruckerei, and should be available in 2 to 4 weeks. It may be sent to you by registered mail, or it may be available for pickup at the Führerscheinstelle. This information is in the letter you received from the Bürgeramt in step 3.

Getting the plastic driving licence by mail

If you paid the 5 euro fee and your letter says you should receive the plastic driving licence by mail, all you have to do is wait. The licence is sent by registered mail, so you are guaranteed to receive it as long as you gave the correct address.12

Picking up the plastic licence from the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde

If you didn't pay a 5 euro fee, your letter should tell you to pick up your licence from the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde at least 4 weeks after passing your driving exam. You will NOT be notified when your permanent licence is available for pickup. You do not need an appointment to visit the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde.

All you have to do is go to the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde with your temporary driving licence and a valid ID1, say you came to pick up your driving licence ("ich bin hier, um meinen Führerschein abzuholen") and wait your turn. You will give back your temporary driving licence and receive your plastic driving licence.

Getting an International Driving Permit

Your German driving licence is valid in all member countries of the European Union. If you want to drive with your German driving licence outside of the EU, consider getting an International Driving Permit. This permit is easy to obtain and is valid for 3 years.

Updates

  • 2017-12-28: Added information about picking up the driving licence and pictures of documents.
  • 2018-01-15: Corrected minor mistakes with the plastic licence pickup process. Linked to list of motorcycle gear stores.

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