Converting a Canadian driving licence to a German one

Converting a Canadian driving licence to a German one

​Here is how Canadians living in Germany can trade their Canadian permit for a German driving licence without any additional classes.

Who can drive in Germany?

If you are a Canadian citizen with a Canadian driver's license, you can legally drive in Germany for the first 6 months after you have taken up residence there1,2. After that period, you will need a valid German driving license.

You will need 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.

After living in Germany for 6 months, you need to trade your Canadian driving licence for a German one. This is how you do it.

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

After 6 months in Germany, you must convert your Canadian license to a German one to drive legally in Germany.

It's important that you received your original Canadian driving license before moving to Germany. You cannot move to Germany, get a Canadian driver's license, then change it for a German one. I renewed my Canadian driver's license a year after moving to Germany. Since the date on the renewed Canadian license was after the date I moved to Germany, I had to prove that I had a Canadian driver's license before the move.

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

First aid classes and vision test

You do not need an eye test or first aid lessons to convert your driving licence1.

The Bürgeramt appointment

As highlighted in the document, you will need to book an appointment at your local Bürgeramt for a license transfer (Fahrerlaubnis Umschreibung). In Berlin, the nearest appointment can be up to a month later, so make sure you have all the required documents, including cash for the fees before going to your appointment. You can allegedly get an earlier appointment by visiting the booking page between 8 and 9 AM1.

Here are the documents you must bring to the Bürgeramt1:

  • 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 weeks months later, you will get a letter telling you to pick up your license from the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde. The pickup process is straightforward: you show up, take a number, wait your turn, show them your passport and receive your license. You do not need an appointment, but expect to spend 30 to 60 minutes in the waiting room1. My visit took an hour in total.

"6 to 8 weeks"

In Berlin, the prescribed 6 week wait time to exchange a driver's license is flat out wrong. You can see the current processing times here. Various sources report a 9 to 12 weeks wait, and some claim it took over 4 months!1,2,3, 4, 5 I began the process in February 2017, received an appointment on March 7 and picked my driving license on June 13. It took 14 weeks for my license to be processed. In smaller cities, the process only takes 2 to 6 weeks1.

An enterprising Canadian got his license faster by having the Canadian embassy tell the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde to hurry up1. You can also allegedly ask for a temporary license while your license is processed1.

There is also the possibility that your license in ready, but that they forgot to tell you to come pick it up1,2. If you do not receive any news after 8 weeks, call to inquire about your license.

In any case, arm yourself with patience. In Berlin, things take time.

Comments

  • Jose

    Thanks for the information, this was great.

    I had a problem because I was not told I needed a translation or classification. Also, I was told I had to be in Germany for 180 some days before I could hand in my Canadian AB License in exchange for the German one. This lead me to be in a bad situation

    I tried to resolve the problem but the ADAC would take up to 3 weeks to perform this Translation and Classification. So, as per this website, I contacted the Lingoking people to get it done ASAP. Thankfully they did it very well.

    Since as I was already in a bad situation, with potentially not allowed to drive, I went back to Fahrerlaubnisbehörde and tried once again to go through the process, I did not mentioned anything about the translation as I was waiting for it. To my surprise, the person whom was in the office that day, proceeded to do the exchange without problems.
    I am still keeping the Translation and Classification just in case.

    Good Luck to all of you whom are trying to go through this.

    Reply

    • Reply to Jose

  • Seb Diamond

    Do they physically take your license (in my case from Quebec) at the meeting? If so, are you given a temporary license that allows you to drive in Germany in the meantime or are you essentially not able to drive until you pick up your new German one?

    I have a work contract that would involve tour managing a band, driving around Europe for two weeks at the end of January. While my valid QC license and an International Driver's license will allow me to legally drive most of the tour, I have been living in Germany for over 6 months, making it illegal when crossing through Germany.

    With the uncertain delays at the Burgeramt, I'm weary to hand in my license for fear of not getting it back in time.

    Reply

    • Reply to Seb Diamond

    • Nicolas Bouliane

      Yes, they take your licence. I thought I had lost mine and looked everywhere, then remembered they took it.

      Reply

      • Reply to Nicolas Bouliane

      • Seb Diamond

        Thanks for the quick reply Nicolas. Your website has been quite helpful over the last year.

        I was able to get a meeting at my local Burgeramt within 24 hours by simply refreshing the page a couple of times over 10 minutes.

        I technically am not leaving until over 8 weeks after the meeting, but will try and argue for the temporary license hinted at in the article above. My instinct tells me there's a good chance I simply don't get it back within that time.

        Reply

        • Reply to Seb Diamond

        • Seb Diamond

          I applied for this at the Burgeramt last week. Delays were quoted at "6 to 12 weeks" upon my visit. They allowed me to hold on to my license and said that I would only have to trade it in.

          Although the woman seemed sympathetic to my case, she said she simply didn't have the knowledge or authority required to help and that I would have to take it up directly with the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde on Puttkamerstrasse.

          It seems that the Burgeramt will only process the request and forward it over to them anyways. So for those needing special attention it might be more efficient to take it up directly them.

          Reply

          • Reply to Seb Diamond

  • Aryane

    Salut Samuel,
    I'll write my comment in English so everyone understands.
    Thanks for this article! I booked an appointment for my husband and myself through the website you provided. There was around a 2-month wait, which we didn't mind.

    The process went much smoother than expected. We arrived with our passports, 2 pictures (which we had left from our Aufenthaltstitel request) and our current Québec driver's license.
    We did not have them translated and we also didn't have to prove that we had them before moving to Germany (we've been in Germany 5 years and we renewed our licenses in Québec this summer, which means they are dated 2019).

    The lady was so adorable, she made my day! So now we'll receive a letter in the mail telling us to go to another Amt to give them our Qc license and pick up the German one. Hope this is helpful to anyone :)

    Merci encore de ton aide!

    Reply

    • Reply to Aryane

    • Aryane

      Btw désolée de t'avoir appelé Samuel, c'est Nicolas je pense? :)

      Reply

      • Reply to Aryane

  • Jordan

    Hello!

    Very useful information, thank you.

    I also had renewed my Alberta license having already lived in Berlin for a year. How did you go about prooving to them zou had a license beforehand?

    Reply

    • Reply to Jordan

  • Turker

    Hi, I’m a Canadian who’s living in germany , I had a driver license from Alberta Edmonton class 5 with Q endorsement, I try to get the same one here that means it’s a C1 , but they said they don’t know what’s a Q endorsement and just give me the normal driver license .. do you have any infomation that I have to do to get it back here please ?

    Reply

    • Reply to Turker

  • Kim

    I originally had my driver's license from Manitoba but after moving to Germany in 2012, it expired.. (my family then had moved to Ontario and I couldn't personally travel to renew) then I got a new one from Ontario in 2017. I'm still living and working in Berlin, would it be possible at all to convert it now?!
    Thanks so much in advance,

    Reply

    • Reply to Kim

    • Nicolas Bouliane

      I'm not sure! I went back to Quebec, renewed my (expired) licence, then traded it in Germany. That was over 2 years after I had moved here.

      Reply

      • Reply to Nicolas Bouliane

  • Farah

    Hi there and thank you so much for all this information!

    I'm a bit confused about something and was hoping you could clear it up for me.

    I have been living in Germany for 7 years and now my partner and I own a car. I recently renewed my Canadian drivers liscence and would like to start the process to get my german one. Is this still possible?

    All the best and thank you again,
    Farah

    Reply

    • Reply to Farah

    • Nicolas Bouliane

      I don't think this should be a problem. I saw no mention of a time limit when doing my research. I did mine a year after moving to Berlin.

      Let us know how it goes, to help other readers!

      Reply

      • Reply to Nicolas Bouliane

  • Tammy Kovacs

    I noticed you said you do not need a first aid course or eye test to convert a Canadian license over to German. We have been told by our city we do. Is this a state thing?

    Reply

    • Reply to Tammy Kovacs

    • Nicolas Bouliane

      It might be! The sources linked above and one of our readers said that they are not necessary. We focus our research on Berlin, but the source is a federal document.

      Reply

      • Reply to Nicolas Bouliane

  • Patrick

    Hello, great article! Appreciate the information. I do have a question however.. I currently only have a G1 in Ontario. I can go for my G2 in a month and I was planning on getting my G2 before moving to Germany by December or Jan. Will this still apply to me or will I require a full G license? I've heard it's much harder and much more costly to acquire a license in Germany so I was hoping to go this route. Thanks in advanced!

    Reply

    • Reply to Patrick

  • Elaine

    Hi there,
    I’ve got a question, once I get all your docs to the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde, do I get my German Driver’s License or do I get a permission to take a Driving test? I went to a Fahrschule and got all the recomendations you wrote above, but they asked me to study for a test and schedule driving lessons. I’m affraid of taking this theory test, althought it can be done in English, I would have to memorize 1300 questions and their respective answers to pass!!! Thanks a lot for the enlighting.

    Reply

    • Reply to Elaine

    • Nicolas Bouliane

      Hello Elaine,

      As the article says, you do not need to take a driving test when converting a Canadian licence. You don't need to go to a driving school at all. The official document linked in the guide confirms this.

      Reply

      • Reply to Nicolas Bouliane

  • Gabrielle Rochette

    Hi, I still have not had news after 3 months, but my Canadian driver's liscen is expiring on the 20th of January, will it still be ok since I made the request before it expires?

    Thank you for your answer.
    Gabi

    Reply

    • Reply to Gabrielle Rochette

    • Taras

      Hey Gabi! I am in similar situation. Did you attempt transferring your expired license?

      Reply

      • Reply to Taras

  • Travis

    Hi,

    This is really helpful. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions I have.

    Does this have to be done in the city where you are registered? (I don't live in the city where I registered)

    Does this have to be done within the first 6 months of arrival? Or can I do it after that period?

    Thanks for you help!

    Reply

    • Reply to Travis

    • Nicolas Bouliane

      Yes, I think you need to do it in the same city. Berlin.de mentions that your main residence must be in Berlin. You can do it after 6 months (that's what I did), but after 6 months, you're not allowed to use your foreign licence.

      Reply

      • Reply to Nicolas Bouliane

  • Samuel DéNommé-Rivest

    Hi, I was just wondering, I'm not in Germany yet, and I have my Canadian (Québec) driving liscence, but I don't have an International driving permit yet, I know it's easy to obtain and I'm not worried about this part. However, as soon as I have the International liscence do I have to ask again after 6 months for a German liscence or can I just simply use the International permit for the whole year? (I'm moving for one year) I might use the liscence for rentals, and maybe working if possible.

    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Reply to Samuel DéNommé-Rivest

    • Nicolas Bouliane

      Hi Samuel,

      I converted a Québec driving licence to a German one, so the process above is exactly the same for you. After living in Germany for 6 months, you MUST convert your licence to keep driving. In the first 6 months, you don't need it.

      On the bright side, your German licence would be valid in Canada too.

      Reply

      • Reply to Nicolas Bouliane

  • David Gonzalez

    Is lingoking a good translation service? is it accepted by the authorities? Thanks

    Reply

    • Reply to David Gonzalez

  • Adam

    Thank you so much for this. It was really helpful. Here was my experience:

    Keep in mind for the Burgeramt, I was asked for my passport. So bring this!

    Also, I didn't notice when I booked my appointment, but my Burgeramt only accepts EC-Karte, which only locals with a local bank account have. No cash, no credit card. They managed to still finish the process and then issued me a Kasse-Karte, which I then had to bring to another Burgeramt that had a Kassenautomat. It's basically a machine that takes the card they give to you and receives your cash, then gives you a receipt. If you get caught on this, just ask them to process it with a Kasse-karte.

    When booking an appointment, you can book at a Burgeramt in your neighbourhood (which will most likely be 6 weeks later) or you can go to the Service Berlin website and search for an earlier appointment. The trick is to check for appointments before 9am. Most appointments are on the edge of the city and may take up to 1 hour in public transit, but you will get served the same day as long as you book the appointment. Again, if they only accept EC-Karte, no problem, ask for a Kasse-karte to pay at a machine in cash, then ask them where you can find the nearest Kassenautomat.

    I used Fahrschule Oscar, but when I first called to book the course, one guy had absolutely no idea what I was talking about and wanted to book me in for full courses. I called back and then got things sorted out online. They charge a bit more to do the whole course in English and its long but simple.

    Reply

    • Reply to Adam

  • Brandon Denis

    Just a word of caution, International Driving Permits are not allowed to be used as an official translation. I got caught by this and it has caused me grief.

    Another note, first aid and an eye test are not always a requirement. It depends on the particular province/territory.

    Reply

    • Reply to Brandon Denis

    • Mohammad Salemy

      The document says if your license is in English it doesn't need translation. does that mean I can skip translating the document?

      Reply

      • Reply to Mohammad Salemy

      • Sam

        Did you end up translating it? I’m counting on the international license factor as per the article.

        Reply

        • Reply to Sam

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