Converting a US driver's license to a German one

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Uh, not quite. Changing states after you moved to Germany isn't allowed... but I don't understand why you switched to IL while living in Germany. Do you mean that you moved back for a bit to IL, and then back to Germany? If that's the case, I think you'll be fine.

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Thanks for answering!

 

Okay, it probably is helpful for me to take the written test and a couple practice driving times here in Germany anyway, but I hoped to avoid the lengthy driving practices.  And because of the cost, I had kind of hoped to just submit paperwork for the German license. (No recent tickets, no accidents, etc.)

 

In terms of backstory, I didn't move back to IL, but when we return to the US for vacation and to see family, we see them in IL.  My NE license was expiring, so it seemed logical to get the IL one.  If I needed to appear in person to renew a license in NE, that would have been tough.  I didn't try to get around anything- just thought it easier, once my life in NE was ending.  

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Well, you could just try to show them your NE license and not mention anything. It's been six years, so they might assume you've always had it? If questioned about the issue date, just say that you have to renew US licenses every few years. Might work? I mean, their questions might be open-ended enough for you to be able to justify withholding your state-exchange.

 

Of course, if pressed about this specifically, you'd have to come clean. Let us know how it goes.

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I had to surrender the NE license when I got my IL one.  But I would want to do everything aboveboard anyway.  I was just confused about the process for presenting a valid IL license, albeit years old and with a several years old German Anmeldung, to get a German one and the hoops I'd need to jump through.  Thanks though...

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Just contact the Illinois Department of transportation and ask them to send you a copy of your complete driver's record. As long as your license in the states never expired, everything should be in the system, regardless of the state. This is all the Germans need to see : that you had a DL before moving to Germany. 

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ChicagoBulls:

I have some comments, with no authoritative answers.

First, I agree with Kaffeemitmilch that it was illegal (under Illinois law) for you to convert your NE license to an IL license when the NE one was expiring.  Yes, you cobbled together the necessary "residency" documents and Jesse White's office took your money and said welcome to IL.  But, Jesse White's office really is only supposed to give a license to bona fide IL residents, which is why you had to cobble together those documents. 

 

Second, no need to bother the German authorities with all that.

 

Third, I do suspect that if the issue date of the IL license you have in your hand is after the date you first registered with the Einwohnermeldeamt you are going to have an uphill climb.  You will have to tell the American story that licenses expire and must be renewed but that you've had a license for a long time.  If WillowHands' idea of getting a record works that would be great.  And I would be curious if you can really squeeze such a record out of Illinois.  If you try, please let us know.  Anyhow, further on this topic:  I myself acquired my German license years ago by showing them my U.S. license.   A key part of the procedure was having a letter from the U.S. consulate that said my U.S. license was used similar to a Personalausweis and so it would be a big inconvenience for me to surrender my U.S. license to the German license office.  The consulate provided one upon request, they clearly were used to it.  This was a few years ago though...  My idea here is that if you have a letter that can add to the plausability/believability (sp?) of your IL license post-dating your Anmeldung. You tell them how being in the U.S. without a valid state license is a big hassle, so you renewed it and that's why the date is more recent.  Good luck.  

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Thanks for all who are commenting.

 

If the driver records can show my time driving in IL and NE before that, I hope that will suffice.  I wonder if it would even go back to my KY days, my WI days, and my IL days before that.

 

Just to provide clarity, I do consider myself a permanent resident of IL (an address that we put on all the official forms), having grown up there and having family there.  My wife's family is also there and when we return to the US (sometime) it would be IL.  My time in NE was only for a few years.  I'm not sure if this clarifies what IL was supposed to do or not supposed to do.  I had no idea that this would even be an issue.  

 

Hopefully, when I return next to IL, I can complete this form:

http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/drivers/drivers_license/purchaseabstract.html

and the records will be substantial enough to satisfy the German authorities.  I would also be fine getting the letter you talked about, from the US consulate- thanks for that info!

 

 

 

 

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DoubleDTown: when I said switching states after moving to Germany isn't allowed, I meant from the German point of view with regards to attempts to circumvent their DL exchange agreement barriers. I don't see anything wrong with switching to an IL DL in general. I mean, technically speaking, you are not a US resident anyway, and if you have ties to IL, so be it. I myself got myself a CT DL before coming to Germany by using a relative's address because CT has partial reciprocity, while NY has none, so what I did is even worse. In the end, IL is happy to take your renewal fees, methinks. There's basically no reason they would ever come after you for this.

 

Regarding the driving abstract (http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/drivers/drivers_license/purchaseabstract.html), again, there is no reason you cannot be issued one. However, it will likely state that you exchanged your NE DL. But, maybe it won't. You might as well get one anyway. But, again, I wouldn't volunteer that document unless asked/hassled. If you hit a dead-end about the license switching, you might try DoubleDTown's suggestion of getting the consulate to issue you the letter (and I think the Germans also know this by know), and claim you had no choice but to switch states. Of course, they could then still say that they would consider you an NE license holder.

 

Edit: I just noticed your DL history - you'd have to get records from all those states to potentially show the exchanges, but maybe you just need the one from WI (http://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/online-srvcs/other-servs/request-record.aspx) showing an IL DL in your past - this might help you claim you'd had an IL DL in the past, and that it was even your first, and that IL is your heimat, and that you just eventually switched back to it :)

 

For completeness' sake, here's the link for KY: https://drive.ky.gov/driver-licensing/Pages/Driver-History-Records-Clearance-Letters.aspx

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It's worth a try- I've heard of it working when people switched after moving to Germany as long as they had a license before moving to Germany (even if that original state didn't have reciprocity) and can show this in a driving record.

 

Also just want to note that there are plenty of reasons for switching drivers license state when living in Germany- I plan to do this. My current license is in a state I was living in very temporarily for work and have no ties to or address in. I want to change it to a state I have an address in, file taxes in, was born in, spent most of my life in, and started learning to drive in. While it isn't possible to be 'resident' of a state when living outside the US, it is possible to be 'domiciled' in a state and it is reasonable to at least try to switch drivers license to the state one is domiciled in.

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2 hours ago, Zeitbuch said:

It's worth a try- I've heard of it working when people switched after moving to Germany as long as they had a license before moving to Germany (even if that original state didn't have reciprocity) and can show this in a driving record.

Yes, that’s exactly how I did it. I had to switch states because my family moved from New York to Massachusetts, and I needed to have a valid US address. I had already been living in Germany for 4 or 5 years though. However, once I showed them my New York State driver’s license (no reciprocity), which I got before moving to DE plus my MA license (reciprocity), which I got after moving, they let me make the exchange. I simply had to pay 30€, and that was it.

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On 12/14/2017, 3:48:20, kaffeemitmilch said:

DoubleDTown: when I said switching states after moving to Germany isn't allowed, I meant from the German point of view with regards to attempts to circumvent their DL exchange agreement barriers. I don't see anything wrong with switching to an IL DL in general. I mean, technically speaking, you are not a US resident anyway, and if you have ties to IL, so be it.

 

 

I agree expatriates tend to maintain licenses for U.S. states in which they are not resident; but the U.S. drivers' license scheme is set up to be tied to state residence.  Which is why IL requires proof of residency to get a license and which is why IL requires licensed drivers to notify the Secretary of State of a change of address within ten days. 

 

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=062500050HCh%2E+6&ActID=1815&ChapterID=49&SeqStart=78700000&SeqEnd=98500000

 

http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/dsd_x173.pdf

 

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This was one of my very pleasant immigration surprises:  Found a good and fairly priced, certified translator to translate my U.S. license, waited 30 seconds at the Führerscheinbehörde, paid the fee, and all set. I pick it up in a few weeks, at the six month anniversary of my registration date.  ;?)

 

The people were professional and knew the rules.

 

No classes, no instruction, no fuss, no muss, and I keep my unlimited motorcycle license, forever. I own no car and never will, but I do like Book-n-Drive when I "need" one, and I look forward to renting a BMW motorcycle and carving through die Oldenwälder.

 

 

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Just an update, and as was suggested here...I will need to do the written test to get a DE license.  I went to the SERVICEZENTRUM RUND UMS AUTO in Frankfurt a few weeks ago and the first question was how long I had lived in Germany. I said six years and so my IL driving record did not cover that entire 6 year period.  Luckily, I had brought my NE driving record as well (what I had when I moved to DE), so everything could still be processed. (IL has full reciprocity, being from NE requires the written test). They said it would take four weeks to process and then I would have a year to take the written test.  Thanks for the help on this forum.

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It would be interesting to know how it was determined that only certain states get full driver's license reciprocy in DE and others require a written and or driving test in DE. Anyone know? What is it based on?

Years ago, I traded my UT license for a DE without having to take any test. I just assumed this was because UT a) has some older streets built wide enough to still turn a horse and wagon around in b)Mormons aren't supposed to drink liquor and 70% of the population is Mormon e.g. an assumption of low drinking and driving rates c) the highways are so long and wide that you can swerve and still stay on the road without hitting sagebrush or a rattlesnake if you micronap between one end of the state down to the Arizona boarder  or up to the Idaho boarder even(about a six hour drive, as I recal/the part I drove while sober and awake at least). But wide streets are an illogical reason to assume a UT driver would be ok on a German road. You can hardly turn a car around in many a street here, let alone a horse and wagon. 

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9 hours ago, cybil said:

It would be interesting to know how it was determined that only certain states get full driver's license reciprocy in DE and others require a written and or driving test in DE. Anyone know? What is it based on?

 

It looks like it's based on each of the US states coming to a customized written agreement with Germany - link .

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16 hours ago, chooyo said:

 

It looks like it's based on each of the US states coming to a customized written agreement with Germany - link .

@chooyoThanks for the link! Still, I wonder why those few states that require a written driver's test in DE have to do that and why so many others were allowed to just waive the road and written tests. There must be some criteria involved in making the state agreements. I'm still curious so I will look around and see what else I can find. 

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Sorry to resurrect an old thread as my first post, but here it goes...

 

I am getting into the process of obtaining a German driver's license, trading from a NC driver's license. This means I have partial reciprocity and need just the Theory test. But since I don't live in a large city with a ton of expats (Aschaffenburg- Stadt), I've been tossed around between the Amt and the Fahrschule as people aren't familiar with the process. I speak decent German but plan to take the test in English just for clarity's sake.

 

I have a ADAC translation, photo, application (Fahrschule filled and gave it to me), and of course my US licence.

 

1. Do I need the First Aid Course and the vision test completed before I go to the Fuhrerscheinstelle ?

2. Or, should I hand in my application and documents directly, and let them determine what I need ?

3. I intend to apply for both a Class A and B license; my NC driver's license has the motorcycle endorsement and is noted in the ADAC translation. Does this needlessly complicate things ?

4. Do I absolutely have to surrender my US license during the whole processing time of 6 weeks ? I commute 30km by car (one way) each day and public transit would essentially triple my commuting time- going from suburb to even smaller city. As a backup I have an older, still valid duplicate copy of my NC license just w/o the motorcycle endorsement.

 

Thanks in advance !

 

 

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I hold a US Drivers License that has full reciprocity with Germany. I currently reside in Berlin. I am getting many mixed answers to my questions and I am hoping that someone here who has gone recently to exchange it could help me answer my questions. I am basing all my knowledge off the official Berlin.de website here - https://service.berlin.de/dienstleistung/327537/

 

1) According to the above website, since my US license is in English, I do not need to get it translated - is this correct?

2) I do not need to do a vision test since the website says unless its mentioned in the Annex 11 file which my state is not. Is this correct? 

 

Thank you!

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1 hour ago, endsee said:

1) According to the above website, since my US license is in English, I do not need to get it translated - is this correct?

Correct.  

1 hour ago, endsee said:

2) I do not need to do a vision test since the website says unless its mentioned in the Annex 11 file which my state is not. Is this correct? 

Correct.  

 

Source: I got my license about a year ago in Berlin.  After "overstaying" my US license (I got the new one after 3 years of being here.  Went to an office somewhere in the south, filled out a form, and waited several months for another appointment (I received a very nondescript letter stating that I should appear at some office, which I did).   At the second appointment, I was told I could trade in my old license for a new German one.  

I had a license from a US state which allows full reciprocity -- did not have to take any tests whatsoever.  

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