Getting a driving license in Germany

This is the first in a series of two articles. Here, we give a step-by-step explanation for applying for a new driving license in Germany. Next week, we'll explain how to get your Indian driving license "converted" into a German one.

Dr. Paras Mehta
Dr. Paras Mehta

In almost every country in the world there are driving tests to prove your driving ability. In most European countries it is mandatory to take several driving lessons and a theoretical test too. And of course also in Germany.

Note: This post is about getting a new driving license in Germany. If you already have a driving license from India, you can get it "converted" into a German driving license. We cover this in a separate post (link below).

Converting your Indian driving license into a German one
Let us explain you the procedure to get a driving license in Germany if you already have a driving license from India or another non-EU country,

How do you get a driving license in Germany?

Here are six steps you need to take:

Step 1: Get registered at a driving school of your choice

There a plenty of driving schools in almost every city in Germany. Especially in larger cities, it's also possible to find an English-speaking driving school.

As always, German administration offices need a lot of documentation from you. So make sure, you have all you need:

  • Personal ID, e.g. passport
  • First aid course certificate: these courses are provided by different organizations like the German Red Cross (Deutsches Rotes Kreuz)
  • Biometrical passport photo
  • Eye test certificate
  • Fee for the road traffic department (Straßenverkehrsamt) - around 45 Euros

Let's talk money: A driving license in Germany costs between 1200 and 2200 Euros, depending on how many lessons you need and depending on the state (Bundesland) and the city.

Step 2: Application for the driving license

Not your job ☺ The driving school will do this for you. This process will take about 5 weeks. But during the process you can already start to take your lessons, which takes us to Steps 3 and 4.

Step 3: Theory lessons

There are 14 different theory units with different topics. Two of them are mandatory, because they deal with the most important stuff. You can choose the other 12 topics. So it's also possible to take some classes more often than once and skip others. But you have to take 14 overall.

You also get learning material from the driving school, so you can prepare yourself at home.

Step 4: Practical driving lessons

You can take as many driving lessons as you need and can afford 😜 You HAVE to take 12 special lessons, such as night drives or drives on the highway (Autobahn).

The average driving student needs about 18 driving lessons in addition to the 12 mandatory lessons.

Your driving teacher will let you know when you're ready for the test.

Step 5: Theory test

This test is carried out by the Technical Control Board (TÜV) in Germany and is taken at a tablet or at a computer. You have to answer 30 questions out of a catalogue of around 1000 and you are allowed to make 10 mistake points.

It's not a problem if you don't pass at first attempt, you can retake the test 2 weeks later.

But only if you pass the theory test, are you allowed to take the practical driving test.

Step 6: Practical driving test

This driving test is about 45 minutes long. You will be driving without any help from your teacher in the presence of an examiner and you will have to do some special tasks, such as parking, answering questions about internals and working of the car and so on.

The examiner will judge your driving and decide if you drive safely enough.

If you don't pass, you can take this test up to 6 times. After that, you have to go to a special examination. But that isn't necessary in most of the cases ☺

And that's it! The whole procedure takes about 3-5 months and then you're ready to go ☺

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Dr. Paras Mehta

Software developer and data scientist PhD FU Berlin | Marie Curie and Erasmus Mundus fellow | BTech DTU | Visiting Researcher Cambridge

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