Obtaining a drivers license

Like most official processes in Germany, obtaining a drivers license takes time and patience. There are many steps involved and the process can be affected by a number of factors:

  • Do you already have a drivers license?
  • In which country (and possibly, which state) was your license issued?
  • Is your previous drivers license still valid?

Overview

Below you'll find an overview of the process for obtaining a driver's license in Germany.

driver license process overview (flow chart)

Drivers license tests

There are two tests you will have to take (depending on your current drivers license status/country/state):

  • Theorie (i.e. written test)
  • Practical (i.e. driving test)

The theorie test requires that you learn 1000 questions. 30 questions will be randomly selected for the test. There are 2-5 points associated with each question, depending on the importance of the question. When you miss a question, the points associated with the question are tallied. To pass the test, you must miss 10 points or less.

You will be taking a digital test, probably in a tablet.

When you sign up for a driving school (Fahrschule), you will almost certainly be given access to a smartphone app that will allow you to study the required 1000 questions. The questions will appear identically (or near-identically) to the way they will appear on the theorie test. There may be minor differences depending on the app you are using to study.

The theorie questions are updated every three months so it's best to study fast so you don't have to learn new questions.

Translation of your current drivers license

Depending on where your current drivers license was issued, you may have to get it translated to German.

Location Approx. Cost Waiting Period Other Information
ADAC €35 approx. 10 days (ADAC will keep your drivers license during this time) If you pick up the license for someone else, you will need their passport

Prior to submitting your application at the Bürgeramt:

You need to complete the following tasks before going to the Bürgeramt. Note that the links below are a mere sampling and do not constitute an endorsement. It is recommended to research any company before signing up to determine their validity and English-speaking capabilities:

Bürgeramt application notes

  • Make sure you specify "Manual Transmission" on the application if you want to drive/rent manual transmission cars. If you specify "Automatic Transmission", you will only be allowed to drive/rent automatic transmission cars. You will also take your practical driving lessons/test using a manual transmission.

Approximate costs

Task Approx. Cost
Eye test €7
Photo for drivers license €10
First-aid course (Erste Hilfe) €35
Bürgeramt Application €43
Theorie Test €23
Driving Test €92
Fahrschule (Driving School) Depends on school and what materials/classes you need

After you pass your practical license test

Upon passing your practical test, you will be given a temporary paper license. Be sure to carry your passport with you when using this temporary license. Around four weeks after receiving the temporary license, you can pick up your permanent license. Nothing will be mailed to you.

Picking up your permanent license

No appointments are required (or accepted) to pick up your permanent license. Because of this, the lines at the Farherlaubnisbehörde can be quite long. It is recommended that you arrive at least 30 minutes before opening hours. Even with this advice, you are likely going to wait in line for some time.

Bring the following items when picking up your permanent license:

  • Temporary paper license
  • Current drivers license, if you have one (e.g. license from your origin country)
  • Passport

You will almost certainly have to surrender your current drivers license so be prepared to leave without it.

Farherlaubnisbehörde

Resources

Berlin.de (German language)

German Way

Wikipedia

U.S. citizens only

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