This guide shows you how to convert your driving licence to a German driving licence. It's how I exchanged my Canadian driver licence in 2016.

Who can drive in Germany?

You can drive in Germany with a foreign driving licence.

  • With a EU or EEA driving licence
  • With a driving licence from Andorra, Hong Kong, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, Senegal or Switzerland
    • If you visit Germany: You can drive in Germany. You don't need a translation or an International Driving Permit1.
    • If you live in Germany: You can drive in Germany for 6 months after you move there1. After 6 months, you must exchange you foreign driving licence for a German one.
  • With a driving licence from any other country
    • If you visit Germany: You can drive in Germany. If you have a learner's licence, it's not valid in Germany1.
    • If you live in Germany: You can drive in Germany for 6 months after you move there1. After 6 months, you must have a German driving licence. In some cases, you can exchange you foreign driving licence for a German one. In other cases, you must take driving lessons to get a German driving licence.

Driving licence translations

If your driving licence is not in German, and it's not from an EU or EEA country, you must carry a driving licence translation. There are some exceptions; check with your local automobile association.

There are two ways to get a driving licence translation:

  • Get an International Driving Permit
    • In the United States: from the AAA or AATA1. You can apply by mail.
    • In Canada: from a CAA Travel Centre1, 2, a vehicle registration office (like the SAAQ), or a Canadian embassy or consulate1.
    • In the UK: at the Post Office
  • or get an official translation...

Who can convert their driving licence?

You can exchange driving licences from certain countries for a German one. In some cases, you might need to take an eye test, a first aid courses, a driving exam, or even some driving classes. Each country has different rules. Even different states or provinces have different rules.

List of countries and requirements - Federal Ministry of Transportation

List of countries and requirements - Anlage 11, FeV

How to convert your licence to a German one

You must have received your original driver license before you moved to Germany1. You can't move to Germany, get a foreign driver license, then exchange it for a German one. You can't get a driver licence in another European Union country while you live in Germany.

I renewed my Canadian driver licence after I moved to Germany, so the date on my licence was after my address registration date. I needed to prove that I got my Canadian licence before moving to Germany. I showed photocopies of my old Canadian licence, and a certificate from my driving school in Canada.

    You can wait more than 6 months to exchange your driver licence1. If you moved to Germany more than 6 months ago, you can still exchange your foreign licence for a German one. I applied more than 1 year after I moved to Germany, and it was not a problem.

    1. Register your address

    You must register your address (Anmeldung), because you need a registration certificate (Anmeldebestätigung) to convert your driving licence.

    How to register your address in Berlin ➞

    How to get a registration certificate ➞

    After this, the rules depend on which country your licence is from. See the requirements for each country.

    2. Check the requirements for your country

    You can exchange driving licences from certain countries for a German one. In some cases, you might need to take an eye test, a first aid courses, a driving exam, or even some driving classes. Each country has different rules. Even different states or provinces have different rules.

    List of countries and requirements - Federal Ministry of Transportation

    List of countries and requirements - Anlage 11, FeV

    3. Take a first aid course

    If required, take a first aid course. This takes around 2 hours. In Berlin, you can even do it in English. It costs around 60€1.

    4. Take an eye test

    If required, get an eye test (Sehtest). You can get a free eye test at Fielmann. You can sometimes get an eye test where you get your first aid class.

    5. Take driving lessons

    If required, get driving lessons. Sometimes you must only take theory classes, and sometimes you must also take driving lessons with a car.

    How to drive in Germany - Route to Germany

    Sometimes, you only need to take a driving test. If you are Canadian or American, you should take driving lessons, even if they are not required. The driving rules are very different in Europe, and you are not prepared to drive here.

    English-speaking driving schools in Berlin ➞

    6. Get a Bürgeramt appointment

    Book an appointment at the Bürgeramt for a driving license transfer (Umschreibung einer ausländischen Fahrerlaubnis). In Berlin, it's hard to find an appointment. The nearest appointment could be in a few weeks.

    How to get a Bürgeramt appointment in Berlin ➞

    7. Go to your appointment

    Go to your appointment, and bring all the required documents:

    • Foreign driving licence
      It must still be valid. You must bring the original licence, not just a copy. During the appointment, you give your driving licence and never get it back.
    • Photocopy of your driving licence
    • Passport or personal ID
    • Certified translation of your driving licence
      If your driving licence is not in English or German, you need a certified translation of it. You can get one from Lingoking for 46€ or from ADAC for 55€. International Driving Permits are also accepted.
    • A passport photo. You can get new passport pictures for around 6€.
    • An EC card or cash to pay the fees (36.30€). Visa and MasterCard are sometimes accepted1.
    • Anmeldebestätigung to prove that you live in Berlin. It's not always required.

    The appointment itself only takes a few minutes, and it costs 36.30€1. The Bürgeramt will send your documents to the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde, and they will verify them with your country's embassy.

    During your appointment, you should ask for a temporary license while you wait for your German driving license1.

    8. Wait

    This can take a long time. In Berlin, you must wait around 6 weeks to exchange a driver's license. Some people wait much longer1, 2, 3, 4, 5. In 2016, it took me 14 weeks. In smaller cities, it takes 2 to 6 weeks1.

    Current processing times in Berlin - This is the time it takes before they start working on your application. It will take a few more weeks after that.

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

    9. Pick up your German driving licence

    In a few weeks, you will get a letter. It will tell you to get your new driver license from the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde. Go there, take a number, wait your turn, show them your passport and get your license. It's very easy, but you might wait 30 to 60 minutes1.

    Sometimes, your licence is ready, but they don't tell you to pick it up1, 2. If you do not get any news after 8 weeks, call the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde, and ask about your license.

    What's next?

    Now that you have a German driving licence, you can buy a car and use car sharing services.

    If this is the first time you drive in Europe, read Route to Germany's guide to driving in Germany.