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 3,500€ to get your driving licence.1 The costs include:
- Eyesight test: 0€ to 25€
- Driving licence fees: 49.80€
- Theory lessons: around 150€
- Theoretical exam: 22.49€2
- Practical lessons: around 50€ for 45 minutes3
- 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, trousers 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.
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.
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
You will get a certificate. Bring it to your Bürgeramt appointment.
Try to pass the eyesight test without wearing glasses, or you will need glasses every time you drive.
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.
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).
- Passport or Personalausweis
- First aid course certificate
- Eyesight test certificate
- Biometric picture – where to get one
- Contract from your driving school (Ausbildungvertrag) – mine looked like this
- 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 certificate9 (Ausbildungsbescheinigung der Fahrschule). With this document, you have everything you need to take the theoretical exam later.10
This permission is valid for 12 months.11
5. Take the theoretical exam
The theoretical exam is available in 11 languages, including English.11 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 exam.12
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 same.13 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 22.49€.10
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 ID.11 You also give back your current driving licence, so this is your only driving licence for now.
The Bundesdruckerei will print a plastic Kartenführerschein for you. This will take a few months.14 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 post
If you paid the 5€ fee, and your letter says you should get the plastic driving licence by post, you just need to wait. The licence is sent by registered mail, so you are guaranteed to receive it.11[^16]
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 Fahrerlaubnisbehörde14 and pick it up.
Just go to the Fahrerlaubnisbehörde with your temporary driving licence and your ID,15 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
You can also rent a car when you need it. Car sharing services are useful if you don’t drive often.