How to trade your foreign driver licence for a German one

If you have a foreign driving licence, you can exchange it for a German driving licence. This guide shows you how.

Can you already drive in Germany?

If you visit Germany

You can drive during your visit. Your foreign driving licence is valid in Germany.10 If you have a motorcycle licence, you can ride a motorcycle. Temporary licences and learner’s permits are not valid.13

You usually need a translation of your driving licence. There are 2 ways to get a translation:

You don’t need a driving licence translation if…1

  • Your driving licence is from the EU, EEA, Andorra, Hong Kong, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, Senegal or Switzerland.
  • or it follows these rules (Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, Annex 6)
  • or it’s in German

If you live in Germany

After you move to Germany, your foreign driving licence is valid for 6 months.12 If you have a EU or EEA driving licence, it’s valid until it expires.11

When your driving licence becomes invalid, you can…

  • Convert your foreign driving licence to a German driving licence
  • or take driving lessons, pass the driving exam, and get a new driving licence

How to convert your driving licence

Basic requirements

You can convert driving licences from any other country. You can do this anytime after you move to Germany.5 I applied over 1 year after my Anmeldung.

You can’t always convert truck or motorcycle licences. It depends on the country it comes from. For example, you can’t a Canadian motorcycle licence. This is not a problem with EU and EEA driving licences.

You can convert an expired EU or EEA driving licence.16 You can’t convert an expired driving licence from other countries.15 You can’t convert a temporary licence or a learner’s permit.

You must get your foreign driving licence before you move to Germany. You can’t move to Germany, get a driving licence elsewhere, then convert it.

I renewed my Canadian licence after I moved to Berlin. The date on the driving licence was after my Anmeldung date. I had to prove that I got my driving licence before I moving to Germany. I showed photocopies of my old Canadian licence, and a certificate from my Canadian driving school.

1. Register your address

Register your address (Anmeldung) first. You need a registration certificate (Anmeldebestätigung) to convert your driving licence.

How to register your address in Berlin

How to get a registration certificate

2. Check the requirements for your country

Where did you get your driving licence? The requirements are different for each country.

3. Take a first aid course

If your licence is not from an EU, EEA or Annex 11 country, you must take a first aid course (Erste-Hilfe-Kurs). It takes around 9 hours and costs around 70.17

Where to take a first aid course in English:

4. Get an eye test

If your licence is not from an EU, EEA or Annex 11 country, you must get an eye test (Sehtest). It takes a few minutes and costs less than 10.

Where to get an eye test:

  • At the optometrist (Optiker). Fielmann gives free eye tests.
  • During your first aid course. Some first aid schools give eye tests.18

5. Take driving lessons

Driving lessons are optional, but they are a really good idea. If you come from North America, the rules here are completely different. You are not ready to drive in Germany.

English-speaking driving schools in Berlin

If you don’t take driving lessons, read Route to Germany’s guide to driving in Germany.

6. Get a Bürgeramt appointment

Book a Bürgeramt appointment. In Berlin, appointments are hard to find. The nearest appointment could be in a few weeks.

Book an appointment (EU or EEA driving licence)

Book an appointment (Annex 11 and other countries)

7. Go to your appointment

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

  • Foreign driving licence
    Bring the original licence, not a copy. If it’s not a EU or EEA licence, it must still be valid.15 During the appointment, they take your driving licence. You don’t get it back.
  • Photocopy of your driving licence
  • Passport or Personalausweis
  • Passport photo
    You can get new passport pictures for around 6€.
  • Registration certificate (Anmeldebestätigung)
    This proves that you live in Berlin. Other proofs of residence might be accepted.19
  • A Girocard or cash
    You must pay the fee of 36.30€. Visa and Mastercard are sometimes accepted.6

If your licence is not from a EU or EEA country, you must also bring…

If your licence is not from a EU, EEA or Annex 11 country, you must also bring…

  • Eye test certificate
  • First aid course certificate

The appointment only takes a few minutes. It costs 36.30€.8 The Bürgeramt will send your documents to the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde, and they will verify them with your country’s embassy.

They will keep your driving licence. If you need to drive, ask for a temporary driving licence (Vorläufiger Führerschein).

8. Wait

In Berlin, you must wait 2 to 4 months.7 In other cities, it takes 2 to 6 weeks.9 You don’t need to do anything; they will send you a letter when your new driving licence is ready.

Current processing times in Berlin – See when they start processing on your application.

9. Pick up your German driving licence

After a few weeks, you get a letter. It tells you to pick up your new driver licence at the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde. Get an appointment, go to your appointment, wait your turn, show them your passport, and get your new driving licence.

What to do next

Sources and footnotes




  5. Red Tape Translation 






  11. Directive 2006/126/EC, Article 2, Article 7, Article 11, 






  17., Fahrschule Oscar 

  18. Fahrschule Oscar