This guide explains how to convert a Canadian driving licence to a German driving licence. It is for people who got their driving licence in Canada, and now live in Germany.

Who can drive in Germany?

If you are visiting Germany, you can use your Canadian driving licence without any problems. You should probably have an International Driving Permit, since your current licence is not in German1. In Quebec, you can obtain one from any CAA Québec Travel centre or vehicle registration centre. Other provinces have similar arrangements. You can also get an international driver's license at the Canadian embassy.

If you live in Germany, your foreign driving licence is only valid for the first 6 months1, 2. After 6 months, you must have a valid German driving license.

German driving license categories

In Canada, driving license vary from province to province. In Germany, they are the same across the country. Here are the classes you need to be familiar with, as of May 20181,2:

  • Klasse A: Motorcycles
    • Klasse A unrestricted: Includes A1, A2 and AM. Available from age 24.
    • Klasse A1: Motorcycles of up to 125 cc and 11 kW (~15 HP). Available from age 16.
    • Klasse A2: Motorcycles of up to 35 kW (~46 HP). Available from age 18.
    • Klasse AM: Motorcycles of up to 50 cc and 4 kW (~5 HP), with a speed limit of 45 km/h. Available from age 16.
    • Mofa: Mopeds up to 50 cc with a speed limit of 25 km/h. Available from age 15.
  • Klasse B: Motor vehicles excluding motorcycles, up to 3.5 tons, plus trailers up to 750kg.
  • Klasse C: Motor vehicles exceeding 3.5 tons, plus trailers up to 750kg.
    • Klasse CE: Motor vehicles exceeding 3.5 tons, plus trailers exceeding 750kg.

Converting a Canadian permit to a German one

If you live in Germany for more than 6 months, your Canadian does not allow you to drive in Germany anymore. You must convert it to a German driving licence.

You must have received your original Canadian driving license before moving to Germany. You can't move to Germany, get a Canadian driver's license, then change it for a German one. You also can't get your licence in another European Union country.

I renewed my Canadian driver's license 1 year after moving to Germany. The new date on my license was after the date I moved to Germany. I had to prove that I had a Canadian driving licence before moving to Germany.

You do not need to take driving classes to get your German driver license1. This page explains the requirements for each province, and for other countries. However, if you want to trade a motorcycle licence, you need to start from scratch. I wrote a guide on getting a motorcycle licence in Germany.

First aid classes and vision test

You do not need an eye test or first aid lessons to convert your driving licence1. This might be different if you have a licence from another country.

The Bürgeramt appointment

You will need to book an appointment at your local Bürgeramt for a driving license transfer (Umschreibung einer ausländischen Fahrerlaubnis). In Berlin, it's hard to get an appointment. The nearest appointment could be a month later. You can allegedly get an earlier appointment by visiting the booking page between 8 and 9 AM1.

Before your appointment, collect all the required documents, including cash for the fees. Here are the required documents:

  • Your Canadian driving licence
  • A certified translation of your driving licence. You can obtain a certified translation from Lingoking for 46€ or from ADAC for 55€. International Driving Permits are also accepted.
  • A passport picture. You can get new passport pictures for less than 10€.

The appointment itself only takes a few minutes, and will cost you about 35 euros1. The Bürgeramt will send your documents to the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde, which will verify them with the Canadian embassy.

A few months later, you will get a letter telling you to pick up your license from the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde. This part is very easy: you go there, take a number, wait your turn, show them your passport and receive your license. You do not need an appointment, but you will spend 30 to 60 minutes in the waiting room1. My visit took 1 hour in total.

"6 to 8 weeks"

In Berlin, you need to wait much longer than 6 weeks to exchange a driver's license. You can see the current processing times here. Most people waited 9 to 12 weeks, and some waited over 4 months1, 2, 3, 4, 5. It took me 14 weeks. In smaller cities, the process only takes 2 to 6 weeks1.

One Canadian got his license faster by having the Canadian embassy tell the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde to hurry up1. You can also ask for a temporary license while you wait for your German driving license1.

Sometimes, your licence is ready, but they forget to tell you to come pick it up1,2. If you do not receive any news after 8 weeks, call the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde to ask about your license.