Converting a US driver's license to a German one

180 posts in this topic

On 6/23/2015, 7:47:00, jennb06 said:

Hi,

 

In researching switching out my license, I realized I may have problems due to having not deregistered in 2012 when I moved back to the States for two years (I didn't know I had to until I registered this year upon moving back). If I'm correct, a person has 3 years to exchange their license from the States. I just returned to Munich and want to get my license, but does anyone know if I am past my 3 years since I was registered as living here since 2011 even though I wasn't here for 2013-2104? Being Germany, I'd imagine there's a "no excuses" policy. 

 

I appreciate any help or insight. Thank you!

 


Hi, I've been in Berlin for 12 years now, was told in 2007 that after 3 years residence I could no longer switch my US license (Idaho) straight across for German driving license. I just found out this hasn't been true since 2008. Here is the quote from the ADAC handbook on the topic from 2015: 

Für die Umschreibung von US-Führerscheinen, die in Anlage 11 zu den §§ 28 und 31 FeV (siehe unten Punkt 2. B) aufgeführt sind, gibt es keine Antragsfrist mehr. Zum 29.10.2008 ist die frühere Regelung des § 31 Abs. 1 S. 2 FeV a. F., wonach nur in den ersten drei Jahren Prüfungserleichterungen vorgesehen waren, aufgehoben worden.

(Full PDF here: https://www.adac.de/sp/rechtsservice/_mmm/pdf/2015-01-F%C3%BChrerscheinerwerb-in-den-USA-Umschreibung-von-US-F%C3%BChrerscheinen_225264.pdf

 

Rough translation: "For the exchanging of US drivers licenses, which are included in Section 11 (etc... list of US state licenses that can be exchanged for German) there is no longer a period limit for applying for the exchange. As of 29.10.2008, the earlier rule 31 (etc...) whereby waiving the tests was only possible in in the first three years, has itself been waived.

 

Hope that helps!

 

-R


 

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What happens if you loose your US license after you begin the process of obtaining your German license: I came to Germany (Hamburg) with my California license.  Unfortunately California is one of the states for which you need to take both the practical and theoretical tests in order to obtain a German license.  After I took both tests I went in to get my license and was told that I would have to give up my US license until I returned to the US and gave them my German license (in other words I was only allowed to have one at a time). I tried talking them out of it but they didn't budge. Then I found out that my German license was actually at a different office so I left and made an appointment at the new office.  In the mean time I lost my US license... whoops.  When I went in to the second office and told them I lost my US license, they looked at me suspiciously then just had me sign a statement saying that I lost my US license and that, if I found it, I had to give it to them immediately, and that I understood that having two licenses was illegal and I would be subject to penalties if caught.  I signed it and they made me pay a 35 euro processing fee for the form (of course).  That was that.  Now I am not suggesting you lie and say you lost your license if you didn't in fact loose it. I just wanted to pass along the information regarding what happens if indeed you do loose your US license after you begin the process of obtaining your German license.  

 

A couple other noteworthy/helpful tidbits from my experience: Hamburg supposedly has an arrangement that you can transfer your license directly no matter which state it is from. It took me a while to find someone that actually knew this so be persistent if it is the way you want to go. Note that if your US license was issued in the last three years, they will require you to show your old license or some sort of proof that you had a license for more than the last three years. This got me since I did not have my old license. I tried every which way to get around this but it was no possible.  So I went through the annoying and expensive process of taking some driving lessons to make sure I knew all the German specific laws and then took both practical and theoretical tests.  They were fairly painless. I think unless you have really bad luck, the person who conducts your practical test will sympathize with you and go fairly easy on you.  My guy decided to skip the autobahn part because of some minor traffic.  He just asked me if I knew what I was doing, I said "yes", and he said "ok great". Also my german was not very good at the time and the tester was very understanding.  He spoke some english and was happy to translate if need be though he conducted the majority of the test in German. You really only need to know the basics related to cars like turn, stop, stoplight, etc.  If your german isn't great, I suggest taking lessons in german (with someone who speaks english as a backup) to make sure you get the lingo down.   

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16 hours ago, mtns2ocn said:

After I took both tests I went in to get my license and was told that I would have to give up my US license until I returned to the US and gave them my German license (in other words I was only allowed to have one at a time)

 

I was told they had to send my U.S. license back to Texas. I asked them if they could just punch some holes in it or make it invalid in some way. I really wanted to keep it for sentimental reasons. She just made a photocopy of it for me.

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17 hours ago, mtns2ocn said:

I had to give it to them immediately, and that I understood that having two licenses was illegal and I would be subject to penalties if caught.

That's of course bollox. If you'll ever be banned from driving in Germany and you use your US license to drive anyway, that will be illegal.

 

Interesting idea!

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when I converted my MA license they took it when I applied, then gave it back when I went to pick up my German license.

 

I was confused.

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50 minutes ago, lisa13 said:

when I converted my MA license they took it when I applied, then gave it back when I went to pick up my German license.

 

I was confused.

In Bavaria they send your license to the police to check for forgery. This takes ca. 2 weeks and then you can collect it again and keep until you pickup the German license. Giving it back to you after collection was Beamte's mistake, you're lucky.

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That makes sense.

 

My biggest concern when they gave it back was that I wasn't sure if I was still on the books in MA as a resident driver.  This can have bizarre tax implications...I won't get into it ;)

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Anyone have experience applying after living in Germany for a number of years(say...5ish)?  My NC license expired and was stolen anyways.  Problem is, NC has issue date, so even if I returned on vacation and got a new one, it would show issued in XX/2016.  I am not really interested in a 2000€ driving course after having driven this long in my life.

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§29 FeV says:
 

Quote

 

(3) Die Berechtigung nach Absatz 1 gilt nicht für Inhaber ausländischer Fahrerlaubnisse,

...

die zum Zeitpunkt der Erteilung der ausländischen Erlaubnis zum Führen von Kraftfahrzeugen eines Staates, der nicht ein Mitgliedstaat der Europäischen Union oder ein anderer Vertragsstaat des Abkommens über den Europäischen Wirtschaftsraum ist, ihren ordentlichen Wohnsitz im Inland hatten,

 

 

It says about issue date of the Fahrerlaubnis (permission to drive) and not driving license (Führerschein). Thus, if you are able to get some paper from your driving authority that you first license was issued before you moved to Germany, then you do have a right for exchange. A copy of your previous driving license might work as well: it's up to Beamte to decide if this is enough proof or not.

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Does anybody know the procedure, and how much it costs to obtain a BE (car&trailer) drivers license? I have converted my Florida license for German, but only for class B as in Florida you don't need a special  license for trailer. 

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I've been living in Germany since 2011 and changed/renewed my Virginia license in 2015 when visiting my family. (I was a California resident for a few years but switched it to Virginia because of reciprocity, but to be clear: Virginia is also the state where I was originally licensed as a teenager, and where I drove daily for a decade before moving to California for grad school.) 

 

I guess from the above post I should no longer worry about being in Germany for nearly 5 years before applying for a license, correct?

 

My other question is: since this VA license was issued in August 2015, do I need to request something from the Virginia DMV (a nightmare on the best days) and what specifically should I ask for?

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Something to prove you had a license in that state before coming to Germany.

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What did you do with the license? If lost, you could apply for a replacement.

 

I hadn't had my Texas license for long enough when I applied after 20 some years of living in Germany. I just made a sworn statement that I had been driving for 40 years or so and signed it along with my German husband. They accepted that. Most DMV's don't keep records for more than about 10

years.

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ff- the original Virginia license was exchanged for the California one, which is why she's looking for an official statement from the Virginia DMV that will indicate that she had a Virginia license at some point prior to arriving in Germany. 

 

Amanda- check the DMV website, because I'd assume that you could request that online. When exactly did you exchange the VA license for the CA one (because there is scope there for getting tripped up if someone here in Germany notices a discrepancy in the expiration date or other info on the VA DMV record)? 

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10 hours ago, AmandaUCSC said:

My other question is: since this VA license was issued in August 2015, do I need to request something from the Virginia DMV (a nightmare on the best days) and what specifically should I ask for?

Of course. Otherwise you can't exchange your license: licenses issued after your arrival to Germany are verboten.

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5 hours ago, Conquistador said:

ff- the original Virginia license was exchanged for the California one, which is why she's looking for an official statement from the Virginia DMV that will indicate that she had a Virginia license at some point prior to arriving in Germany. 

 

Amanda- check the DMV website, because I'd assume that you could request that online. When exactly did you exchange the VA license for the CA one (because there is scope there for getting tripped up if someone here in Germany notices a discrepancy in the expiration date or other info on the VA DMV record)? 

 

Thanks, Conqui. Must have missed that.

 

I had a VA license before my Texas license. I renewed the VA one from Munich once. When it came time for me to prove that I had been driving longer than I had had the TX license, the VA DMV had no records back that far.

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OK, here's the timeline:

 

- 1996-2006 - licensed in Virginia, drove in Virginia.

- 2006 (or early 2007?)- licensed in California because I needed in-state residency for grad school purposes. (not sure that it matters for this, but in 2007-2008 I was a resident in Taiwan and in 2010-2011 I was a resident in China, officially registered in both places)

- 2011 (November) - first Anmeldung in Germany, in Berlin (then early 2012 Aufenthaltskarte), around the same time had to renew CA license and did so online

- 2015 - trip to see my parents and re-registered in Virginia. (Only lived in California 3.5 years, and I never owned a car there, only did car sharing/borrowing/renting, never had an accident or tickets etc, so there is likely nothing on my record there)

 

Should I get a statement from the California *and* Virginia DMVs (ugh, because, DMV)? I do still have my California license, which was cancelled officially in the VA DMV last summer. That is, for the record, my official U.S. residential address again - everything, including my local bank and official voter registration are (once again) attached to that address.

 

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Amanda, the two problems I can see is if they look closely at the license issue and expiration dates and notice a gap and, more important, the DMV transcript showing a gap, but that might depend on how granular a look they take at these things. When was the expiration date for the last VA license you had prior to moving to CA? 

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As per German law you need only to prove that your license (not paper itself, but permission to drive) is still valid, that's it.

Quote

Der Antragsteller hat den Besitz der ausländischen Fahrerlaubnis durch den nationalen Führerschein nachzuweisen. Außerdem hat er seinem Antrag auf Erteilung einer inländischen Fahrerlaubnis eine Erklärung des Inhalts beizugeben, dass seine ausländische Fahrerlaubnis noch gültig ist. Die Fahrerlaubnisbehörde ist berechtigt, die Richtigkeit der Erklärung zu überprüfen.

https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/fev_2010/__31.html

 

 

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