Converting a US driver's license to a German one

174 posts in this topic

21 hours ago, jbabel said:

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.  

Thank you for the clarification. What is the form? I don't speak or read German yet - will I have trouble? 

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On ‎7‎/‎23‎/‎2018‎ ‎9‎:‎44‎:‎06‎, mlin said:

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 !

 

 

Hello,

I live near Aschaffenburg and recently traded my Texas license (full reciprocity) at the Dietzenbach office.  There are several sites that have information, a quick search will give you a lot of information.  https://www.german-way.com/for-expats/living-in-germany/german-drivers-license-reciprocity/getting-a-german-drivers-license/ My German sucks and I needed someone to go with me.  The agents are really a mixed bag.  Some are really nice and know what they are doing and some are a-holes.  You shouldn't need an eye test unless your state specifically requires it (mine did).  You do not have to surrender your US license until you get the new one.  I don't know about the different classes, I think but I'm not sure that all classes to do not transfer.  My German license has fewer classes than my US license, in my case I didn't care.  I run a Meetup for expats in Aschaffenburg if you are interested.  We meet again Aug 23rd, stop by I'm sure someone can probably answer your questions. https://www.meetup.com/Aschaffenburg-International/events/253607557/

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On 8/14/2018, 12:33:48, endsee said:

Thank you for the clarification. What is the form? I don't speak or read German yet - will I have trouble? 

 

Yes you'll probably have trouble if you go alone without anyone who speaks German. Don't forget you're walking into a government office. Imagine walking into the DMV with only Spanish.. could swing either way, right? 

I'm on mobile so hard now but just go to the Berlin service web page with Google translate on. It'll tell you what you need to bring.  I'm sure I didn't do vision test before. I just waited in line and filled out a form with address etc on it.  No stress. If you have to go alone just put on a smile and try to make them want to help you. 

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(Sticking this here to avoid yet another drivers license topic)

 

I'm moving to Munich in October.  I lived in Massachusetts, but moved to California 3 years ago and had to get a California license.  They returned my license, albeit with a hole punched in it. I just moved back to Massachusetts, and was able to renew my old license.  They did not take away my California license. 

So, I have my old MA license, issued in 2016, and expired in 10/2016.  My CA license, issued 4/2016, and expiring 2020.  And my NEW MA license, issued August 2018.  Going by the licenses, I have a clear history of having been a licensed driver since at least 2012.

 

I'm trying to cover all of my bases, so, just in case, I obtained my unattested MA driving record, that shows I was first licensed in 1995.  But, I discovered some past violations that I had forgotten about.  Back in my less responsible days, I was forgetful about renewing my auto registration.  So I have 3 violations listed, all prior to 2006.  And there is one listed under the section "Sanctions", shown as a "Payment Default".  I can't remember what this is at all!  But it does show that it is "cleared".  I was able to renew my license in 2012, so the state was obviously satisfied by whatever I did to rectify it.  I know for a fact that I never received any speeding or unsafe driver tickets.

 

Is Germany going to have an issue with those   past (but resolved) violations listed?  Am I overthinking this?  Thanks.

 

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The problem is that you have to have your US license at least 6 months before establishing residency.  You can renew with the same state within the 6 months as long as you have your old license (this happened to me) They do this so that people don't just switch their US license to a state with reciprocity right before they move to Germany.   Your CA license is good to go but CA has no reciprocity.  You have a unique situation.  They may not like the gap in your MA licenses, but I would not show your CA license in any case.  Some offices apparently don't follow the rules all the time so you might get lucky but if they see you just moved to MA you are likely out of luck.

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1 hour ago, Buzznut3000 said:

The problem is that you have to have your US license at least 6 months before establishing residency.  You can renew with the same state within the 6 months as long as you have your old license (this happened to me) They do this so that people don't just switch their US license to a state with reciprocity right before they move to Germany.   Your CA license is good to go but CA has no reciprocity.  You have a unique situation.  They may not like the gap in your MA licenses, but I would not show your CA license in any case.  Some offices apparently don't follow the rules all the time so you might get lucky but if they see you just moved to MA you are likely out of luck.

 

Now that may be the rule, but in Berlin, that wasn't the case for me.  I switched my license days before entering the country and establishing residency.  I only showed my PA license, not my cali one.  I just filled out papers and crossed my fingers.  All worked out ok, but my motorcycle license didn't get reciprocated.  I didn't try to argue with them because I thought I'd read something like what you're saying here.  Maybe they made a mistake and let me through by accident, who knows.  Either way, I would say it's worth a try.  

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Thanks.  If I had never moved to California, and renewed my MA driver's license like normal, they would have taken away the old license before giving me the new one.  And the driving record shows that I was first licensed in 1995.  But there's nothing that says I let my license expire.

 

I want the license for convenience.  I'm not planning on doing much driving, but it would be nice to rent a car to get to out of the way locations.  If they won't give me a license, I don't think it will be worth the thousands of euros to obtain one.  

 

 

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The way I see it, you can show the Germans your series of MA licenses and leave out the CA license. Does your driving record show that you switched to a CA license? If not, you can show that too, and all that would show is you have always had an MA license. I don't see any problems here.

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Thank you, kaffeemitmilch.   I will try that, and hope for the best.  The drivers record from MA does not show that the license was expired at any point.  It just shows that I am currently licensed, and shows the date I was first licensed in MA (1995). 

 

Now, back to my original question:  as I will have to show them my driving record to prove that I've been licensed, and that record shows some violations (late registration renewals, from 12 years ago), will they care about those violations?  Again, they are not speeding or bad driving violations, just late payment.

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On 8/26/2018, 7:17:06, Buzznut3000 said:

The problem is that you have to have your US license at least 6 months before establishing residency.  You can renew with the same state within the 6 months as long as you have your old license (this happened to me) They do this so that people don't just switch their US license to a state with reciprocity right before they move to Germany.   Your CA license is good to go but CA has no reciprocity.  You have a unique situation.  They may not like the gap in your MA licenses, but I would not show your CA license in any case.  Some offices apparently don't follow the rules all the time so you might get lucky but if they see you just moved to MA you are likely out of luck.

 

I wonder why they would care how or why people got their license, so long as it was obtained legally? I swapped my license for a state with reciprocity before I even knew that there was a reciprocity agreement.  Just good luck. But I fail to see what interest Germany would have in trying to block people from making that swap explicitly for the purpose of easing their access to a German license.

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I don't know about the violations, but you might even leave out the driving record then. Your series of card licenses, if you have them all, might be enough, even if you don't have them going all the way to your first. Only offer the record if they ask, and then too, those are just basic violations and not drunk-driving charges (you might have to get it translated though, which is a hefty fee). They didn't in Frankfurt.

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I will have my appointment next month to exchange my drivers license. I heard that when I come back again a few months down the line to exchange my drivers license that most of the offices will take my USA one and replace it with the German one. I would like to keep my US license so with that in mind, I would like to order a replacement for my USA license online but wondering when the best time to do it would be. 

 

Should I order the replacement US license before I go to the appointment or do I run the risk of the German office knowing that I ordered a replacement? 

Or should I order the replacement after the meeting or will the US license office know that I replaced my original one with a German one and deny my request to receive a replacement? 

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18 minutes ago, endsee said:

I will have my appointment next month to exchange my drivers license. I heard that when I come back again a few months down the line to exchange my drivers license that most of the offices will take my USA one and replace it with the German one. I would like to keep my US license so with that in mind, I would like to order a replacement for my USA license online but wondering when the best time to do it would be. 

 

Should I order the replacement US license before I go to the appointment or do I run the risk of the German office knowing that I ordered a replacement? 

Or should I order the replacement after the meeting or will the US license office know that I replaced my original one with a German one and deny my request to receive a replacement? 

I've heard that sometimes if you ask nicely and explain that you need to travel to the US and drive there regularly, they sometimes let you keep the US one. It isn't a sure thing though.

 

In terms of when to order a replacement, I'm not sure. If they do check with the US office about the license being valid and you've already ordered a replacement, it could be an issue if ordering a replacement somehow flags the original US license as lost or invalid. 

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54 minutes ago, Zeitbuch said:

I've heard that sometimes if you ask nicely and explain that you need to travel to the US and drive there regularly, they sometimes let you keep the US one. It isn't a sure thing though.

 

In terms of when to order a replacement, I'm not sure. If they do check with the US office about the license being valid and you've already ordered a replacement, it could be an issue if ordering a replacement somehow flags the original US license as lost or invalid. 

 

I heard that as well but I heard I should not rely on it. 

 

Maybe my best option would be to order a replacement after I received my German one. But in that case, will the German office inform the US license office that I replaced my US one with the German one? Does anyone have experience with this? 

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On 8/14/2018, 6:41:15, Buzznut3000 said:

Hello,

I live near Aschaffenburg and recently traded my Texas license (full reciprocity) at the Dietzenbach office.  There are several sites that have information, a quick search will give you a lot of information.  https://www.german-way.com/for-expats/living-in-germany/german-drivers-license-reciprocity/getting-a-german-drivers-license/ My German sucks and I needed someone to go with me.  The agents are really a mixed bag.  Some are really nice and know what they are doing and some are a-holes.  You shouldn't need an eye test unless your state specifically requires it (mine did).  You do not have to surrender your US license until you get the new one.  I don't know about the different classes, I think but I'm not sure that all classes to do not transfer.  My German license has fewer classes than my US license, in my case I didn't care.  I run a Meetup for expats in Aschaffenburg if you are interested.  We meet again Aug 23rd, stop by I'm sure someone can probably answer your questions. https://www.meetup.com/Aschaffenburg-International/events/253607557/

 

Ah sorry, just got around to re-reading this post. I took the August summer holiday and I had my appointment with the city Führerscheinstelle a month ago in mid-August and it wasn't too terrible. The person responsible took a copy of my license and the paperwork along with the 42€ fee and sent it off. I retained my US drivers license. Apparently, the driving school will let me know once my application has been processed and its time for me to take the written test.

 

Now it's just been the waiting game. But I guess I'm familiar enough with German bureaucracy to know to not worry and simply let things take their standard processing time of..."it'll happen when it happens". <_<

 

Send me a PM on your Meetup groupe as I'd like to partake in whatever goes in in Sept assuming I don't get buried at work- I feel like I'm in the office my entire life during weekdays. I don't see anything in Sept at the moment though.

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Hey everyone! I have an upcoming appointment with the Bürgeramt Rathaus Mitte to exchange my US license to a German one. I'm lucky that the state that I am from has full reciprocity so I do not need to take any classes or anything. Since I live fairly close to the appointment office, I am planning on going there a few days in advance to ask for the form so I can have it filled out before I arrive (My German is still lacking). Does anyone know if this is possible and what this form is called so I can show the name to the clerk at the office? Thank you!

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1 hour ago, endsee said:

Since I live fairly close to the appointment office, I am planning on going there a few days in advance to ask for the form so I can have it filled out before I arrive (My German is still lacking). Does anyone know if this is possible and what this form is called so I can show the name to the clerk at the office?

 

Very enterprising idea, and one I'd fully encourage more folks to consider in most cases.

 

Unfortunately, AFAIK, the form in question is intended for internal government inter-departmental usage only. Even if you were fully bilingual getting hold of a copy of the form used for the procedure probably wouldn't help you much. It is primarily a series of tick/stamp/initial boxes each of which are mostly designated by legal or civil service acronyms.

 

Albeit your home US state has full reciprocity obviating the need to do either the theoretical or practical tests, do be sure to double check that you have whatever else may apply (such as vision test result) by looking out for any footnotes in your state's section of FeV 2010: Annexe 11 - List of States - Endorsement Codes & Special Conditions

 

The procedure is referred to in Berlinerisch Amtsdeutsch as "Umschreibung einer ausländischen Fahrerlaubnis aus einem Nicht-EU/EWR-Land (Drittstaat/Anlage 11)"

 

Full details available here. You'll need both your original currently valid US DL plus a copy of it as well as your passport and a biometric photo and the 35 € fee. They will take the DL copy to send to the Bundeskraftfahramt (federal vehicle and driver licensing) and let you keep the original until your German one is ready for exchanging.

 

HTH

 

2B

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33 minutes ago, 2B_orNot2B said:

*text*

 

Ah, I was not aware of that. I was told that there is a form that I would have to fill out and not just an internal form that is just for inter-departmental use. 

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20 minutes ago, endsee said:

 

Ah, I was not aware of that. I was told that there is a form that I would have to fill out and not just an internal form that is just for inter-departmental use. 

 

Ah, so you have not yet even made an appliction to exhange your US DL yet then.

 

Sorry, but I took it from your previous post where you said...

 

3 hours ago, endsee said:

I have an upcoming appointment with the Bürgeramt Rathaus Mitte to exchange my US license to a German one.

 

... that you had already made an initial application.

 

In that case you might try asking for an 'Antragsformular  zum Umschreibung einer ausländischen Fahrerlaubnis aus einem Nicht-EU/EWR-Land '

 

If there is such an animal then it appears not to be available to download or fill in online as an interactive PDF form.

 

2B

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