driving in germany

How long does it take to get a German driver’s license? How much does it cost? What is the process? I will answer these and all questions around getting your driving license in Germany.

What you need?

To apply for a german license, you need the following:

  • A valid passport and visa
  • A contract with a driving school
  • First Aid Course
  • Eye Test (not older than 2 years)
  • Biometric passport picture

Step by step to getting German driving license

7 Steps to Getting a driver’s license in Germany

  1. Find a driving school

    You need to get a contract with a driving school to be able to apply for a license. Find a driving school near your home or work to make it easier to attend your classes.

  2. Eye Test and First Aid Course

    You will need to submit certification of having completed an eye test and first aid test to the Bürgeramt. If you do not already have these, inquire at your driving school.

  3. Apply with the Bürgeramt

    The driving school will give you a copy of your contract and certifications. Book an appointment with the Bürgeramt and submit them.

    You do not need to wait while your application to be processed. It typically takes about 5 weeks. In this time you can go ahead and start your theory lessons.

  4. Start your theory lessons

    You will need to attend 14 theory lessons. They are usually 90 minutes long and are mandatory. Well not all of them -The first two lessons are. In all, you are required to attend at least 12 lessons. It is still recommended you attend all lessons.

    If you do not speak german, try to get an English speaking driving school or at least an instructor who understand a bit of English.

  5. Start your practical lessons

    Now you can start taking practical lessons. You will have to take as many lessons as you need to be comfortable with driving. Your driving instructor will tell you when he/she feels like you are ready.

    There are 3 compulsory scenarios you have complete. These are
    5 hours: on federal and country-side roads
    4 hours on the autobahn
    3 hours night driving

  6. Theory test

    As soon as you have finished your your theory lessons you can take the theory test. There is a databank of about 1000 questions. In the test you there will be 30 questions from the lot. Of the 30 questions you can accrue a maximum of 10 error points to pass.

  7. Practical test

    After finishing your hours on the autobahn, night and federal roads, You can, in theory, take the practical test.

    It is better to take a few extra driving lessons than to take the test and fail. Every registration for the tests costs money.

After getting your license

Congratulations you passed your practical test. What next? You will get a temporary license with which you can drive while the card is printed. The driving license will be sent to you in about a week or two.

The Probation Period (Probezeit)

In Germany, you are on probation for two years after you receive your driving license. Within this period you can easily lose your driving license if you commit serious traffic offences. For some offences, your probation period may also be extended to 4 years. For example

  • Overspeeding (20km more than the allowed limit)
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Using a phone while driving
  • Offences that attract a fine of over 60 Euros

Helpful: In case of emergencies, you should know which numbers to call.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take the theory lessons in English?

Yes you can. Tell your test center personnel before you start.

Are there apps for the theory lessons?

Yes, you can use Theorie24

I have my own eye test and first aid certification, can I use it?

Yes you can. However they should not be older than 2 years

How much does it cost to get a german driving license?

There is no one answer for this. It depends on factors as where you live and how fast you learn. The average cost is about 1700 Euros. This should cover your entire process. If you need more lessons, you will need to adjust your budget.

How long does it take to get a German driving license?

About 3 to 5 months for most beginners. Also here, it can also depend on the availability at your driving school as well as how fast you learn.

Can I choose my test centre?

Yes, you have the option to choose between TÜV and DEKRA. There should not be any difference but your driving school can give you some guidance.

How is the practical test?

To pass the practical test, you have to be able to drive 45 minutes in everyday traffic without any difficulties. You will need to know how to park correctly also brake in emergency situations.

Your driving instructor will be sitting beside you and the examiner in the back seat. They sometimes tolerate minor mistakes but if you get into any situation where your driving instructor has to intervene by braking, the test is over.

What happens if I fail

If you fail any of the tests, you can redo it after 2 weeks. If you do not pass for the third time, you have 3 tries after 3 months.

After failing the practical test for the 7th time, you will have to take a test with the driving license authority to make sure you are fit to be behind the wheel.

You have to pay for every registration. So it is advisable to take more driving lessons or study for them than rush to take the test.

Do German driver’s licenses expire?

Yes, they do. Before 19 January 2013, they were valid for a lifetime. Now they are only valid for 15 years after which you will have to take another test.

Driver’s license obtained before that will expire in 2033

Is German driving license valid outside Germany?

You can drive anywhere in the EU with your german license. For most countries outside the EU you need to apply for an international driver’s license. You can get this at your Bürgeramt.

If you live in Berlin you can book an appointment here