This guide shows you how to get a car or motorcycle driving licence in Berlin.

How much does it cost?

In total, it costs 1,500€ to 2,500 to get your driving licence1. The costs include:

  • Eyesight test: 0 to 25
  • Driving licence fees: 49.80
  • Theory lessons: around 150
  • Theoretical exam: 22.491
  • Practical lessons: around 50€ for 45 minutes1
    • Interurban driving: minimum 5 × 45 minutes = 250
    • Highway driving: minimum 4 × 45 minutes = 200
    • Driving at night: minimum 3 × 45 minutes = 150
    • Extra practice: up to you. Most people take more lessons.
  • Practical exam: around 150€ for the driving school + 121.38€ for the TÜV/Dekra

For motorcyclists: You also need around 1,000€ to 2,000€ for your motorcycle equipment: helmet, jacket, gloves, pants and boots. Some driving schools will give you protective gear for your classes, but it's old and it doesn't fit well.

1. Convert your foreign driving licence

If you have a driving licence from another country, you can sometimes trade it for a German one. It's faster to convert a foreign driving licence than to get a new one.

How to convert a foreign driving licence ➞

For motorcyclists: You can rarely convert a foreign motorcycle licence. You will need to get a new motorcycle licence in Germany.

2. Choose a driving school

You must find a driving school and sign a contract (Ausbildungvertrag) with them. You need this contract for your Bürgeramt appointment.

English-speaking driving schools in Berlin ➞

Read the driving school's reviews on Google Maps. Some schools are really bad. Some instructors encourage you to take more driving lessons than you need.

You can start driving classes as soon as you find a driving school. Later, you need permission from the Bürgeramt to take the driving exam.

For motorcyclists: If you already have a car licence (Klasse B), you can skip some of the theory classes when you get your motorcycle licence. It saves you time.

3. Get everything you need

You must take a first aid course and an eyesight test. Then you must go to the Bürgeramt and get permission to take the driving exam.

First aid course

Fahrschule Oscar and Ersthelfer.tv give first aid classes in English1, 2. The course takes a full day, around 8 hours1. There is no exam at the end1.

You will get a certificate. Bring it to your Bürgeramt appointment.

Eyesight test

You can get a free eyesight test at Fielmann. They have branches everywhere in Germany.

Ersthelfer.tv, and Fahrschule Oscar offer first aid and eyesight tests. You can do both at the same time1, 2.

Try to pass the eyesight test without wearing glasses, or you will need glasses every time you drive.

Protective gear

For motorcyclists: If you can, buy your own protective gear. Some driving schools will give you protective gear, but it's old and it doesn't fit well. I buy most of my gear from Louis in Reinickendorf.

Choosing equipment for the first time is hard. If you need help, write to me. This group can also help.

Where to buy motorcycle gear in Berlin ➞

4. Get permission from the Bürgeramt

You need permission from the Bürgeramt to take the theoretical exam. Get an appointment as soon as you find a driving school. Your appointments will be in a few weeks.

After your appointment, you must wait 6 to 9 weeks to get the permission paper (see the current processing times).

Required documents

Bring these documents for your Bürgeramt appointment1:

  1. Passport or ID card (Personalausweis)
  2. First aid course certificate
  3. Eyesight test certificate
  4. Biometric picture — where to get one
  5. Contract from your driving school (Ausbildungvertrag) — mine looked like this
  6. Payment for the 49.80€ fee — Check which payment methods your Bürgeramt accepts.

During the Bürgeramt appointment

The appointment takes 15 minutes. During the appointment, you must:

  • Show the required documents
  • Pay the 49.80€ fee
  • Choose the Dekra or TÜV location where you will take your driving exam

If you can, ask them to mail you the driving licence when it's ready. It costs 5€ more, but it means you don't have to pick it up at the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde.

6 to 9 weeks later, you will get a letter that gives you the permission to take a driving exam. Show it 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 exam later1.

This permission is valid for 12 months1.

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5. Take the theoretical exam

The theoretical exam is available in 11 languages, including English1. You sit at a computer and answer 30 random questions from a list of over 900 questions. If you get more than 3 or 4 questions wrong, you fail the exam.

Some questions are really hard. They are badly translated, and the translations can be confusing or misleading. Memorisation is the only way to pass the exam1, 2.

Your driving school will give you access to a practice app. The questions in the app are exactly the same as in the real exam. Even the translations are the same1, 2. You must memorise all the questions and all the answers. I needed 3 to 4 weeks to prepare.

When you are ready to take the theoretical exam, go to your assigned Dekra or TÜV branch. You don't need an appointment. It costs 22.491.

6. Take the practical exam

As soon as you pass the theoretical exam, your driving school can schedule your practical exam with Dekra or TÜV.

The practical exam is similar to what you practiced. Your driving instructor and the examiner will sit in the car with you. If you take the motorcycle exam, they will follow in a car behind you.

The examiners rarely speak English. You must understand enough German to listen to their instructions.

The practical exam includes city driving, highway driving and a few technical maneuvers. You will take a short trip from the Dekra or TÜV branch to a quiet street where you will be asked to perform some maneuvers.

You will then 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 take your current driving licence (if you have one), and give you a temporary driving licence.

7. Get your driving licence

When you pass your practical exam, you get a temporary driving licence (Vorläufiger Nachweis der Fahrerlaubnis or VNF). It's valid for 3 months, and only when carried with a valid ID1. You also give back your current driving licence, so this is your only driving licence for now.

Temporary driving licence in Germany
Temporary driving licence

The Bundesdruckerei will print a plastic Kartenführerschein for you. This will take a few months1. It may be sent to you by registered mail, or you might need to pick it up at the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde.

This information is in the letter you got from the Bürgeramt in step 4.

Get your driving licence by mail

If you paid the 5€ fee, and your letter says you should get the plastic driving licence by mail, you just need to wait. The licence is sent by registered mail, so you are guaranteed to receive it.1, 2

Pick up the plastic licence from the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde

If you didn't pay a 5€ 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 informed when your permanent licence is ready. You do not need an appointment to visit the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde1 and pick it up.

Just go to the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde with your temporary driving licence and your ID1, and say that you came to pick up your driving licence. You must wait until they call you. It can take an hour. You will give your temporary driving licence and get your plastic driving licence.

Get an International Driving Permit

Your German driving licence is valid in all European Union countries. Outside the European Union, you might need an International Driving Permit. In my experience, you rarely need an International Driving Permit. I drove in over 50 countries, and don't remember ever using it.

8. Buy a vehicle

How to buy a vehicle in Germany ➞

You can also rent a car when you need it. Car sharing services are useful if you don't drive often.