The European Driving Licence

Find out if your EU-issued licence is valid in Germany...

The EU has worked to harmonise standards of the driving test and the appearance of the driving licence, so that the licence issued in one country will be recognised by other member states. All EU driving licences issued since 1 January 1983 conform with the Community model, but they may be in paper or plastic form and can look quite different.

In 2006 the Council of Ministers adopted a new directive, aimed at ensuring mutual recognition of driving licences by the Member States. The issuing of new licences will be obligatory as of 19 January 2013. The validity of the new driving licence of category A and B will be 10 years - though Member States may extend it to 15 years. Categories C and D will only be valid for five years.

People with EU-issued driver's licences who take up residence in Germany are not required to exchange it for a German licence. However, if they become resident in Germany and need to renew their licence, their licence will be converted to a German licence. This exchange may not be possible if the licence to be exchanged was initially transferred to the EU from a third country.

German licence regulations apply to other EU licences used by residents of Germany, regarding:

  • The period of validity of the licence
  • Medical checks
  • Minimum driver's age
  • Penalties and restrictions, including suspension, withdrawal and cancellation of  the licence

Licenses to drive a lorry or a bus (categories C and D) are renewable every five years under German law, and must be renewed five years after the driver registers in Germany.

  • For full details of the directive: Click here (PDF)

The EU has set up an organisation specifically to share the information between member states with regard to driving licences and vehicle registration. It is called EUCARIS (The European Vehicle and Driving Licence Information System). This helps to ensure that citizens disqualified from driving in one country are not simply able to get a licence in a new member state.

Note: Drivers who have been driving for less than two years and holders of HGV licences must register their licence with the local Office for Foreigners (Landeseinwohneramt) within six months of becoming resident in Germany, or they will have to take a German driving test.