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You can drive in germany using a foreign driver’s license for a set period, after which all overseas nationals driving in germany must obtain a german driver’s license.
If you want to drive in germany, you can use your foreign driving license for the first six months if you are from outside the European Union (EU) area, or for up to two years if you’re from the EU or EEA area (European Economic Area).
After these periods have passed, most foreign residents driving in germany must obtain a german driver’s license, although some exceptions do apply.
Who can drive in Germany?
The driving age in Spain is 18 years – and those aged below this cannot drive here, even if they hold a license in their home country.
Everyone over the age of 18 can continue to use their own national driving license to drive a car in germany for either the first six months after gaining official residency (non-EU citizens) or for the first two years of residence (EU/EEA nationals). To find out more, check out our guide on driving licenses for EU/EEA citizens in germany.
After the specified time period, EU/EEA citizens who are resident in germany will have to obtain a german driving license either by exchanging their foreign license or renewing their foreign license. Exceptions apply depending on the expiration date of your license.
Non-EU/EEA citizens will need to get a german driving license by either exchanging their foreign license or taking a german driving license. The process depends on their nationality or occupation (outlined below), as some countries have agreements with Germany.
EU/EEA citizens driving in Germany
If you’re a national from a European Economic Area (EEA) country (EU plus Iceland, Norway, and Lichtenstein) you are free to drive in germany using your existing driver’s license for the first two years of residence in germany, although you must register your details with the traffic authorities after six months.
You must adhere to the same conditions as german license holders:
Undertake relevant medical checks.
Have reached the minimum age in germany for the category of vehicle you wish to drive e.g. car drivers must be at least 18 years old.
Renew or exchange the license after the first two years’ residence in germany. If an EU license is renewed in germany it effectively converts it into a german. For example, in spain, with EU license, it will be renewed every 10 years up to the age of 65, and every five years after 65.
Read more about the conditions for driving licenses for EU/EEA citizens in germany.
German authorities can compel a person to obtain a new german license if there are issues with penalty points.
If you don’t obtain a german driver’s license after two years of residence in germany and are caught driving, you can face a fine of around €200.
Additionally, you must register with the traffic authorities within six months of moving to germany. You can do this at your Central Register of Drivers and Minor Offenders (Registro Central de Conductores e Infractores) of the Provincial Traffic Headquarters (Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico).
Once you have registered you will need to take a medical examination at an Authorised Drivers’ Check Centre (Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores Autorizado). This is to demonstrate that you have the proper mental and physical fitness to drive, in the same way as Spanish drivers.
If you wish you can voluntarily exchange your license for a german equivalent at any time. You will need to inform the relevant authority in your home country. Similar to registering, this is done at the Provincial Traffic Headquarters. The local authorities will request the following documents:
valid passport or national identity card
proof of residence (Certificate of Registration in the Central Aliens Register i.e. your NIE number or Número de Identificación de Extranjer)
valid driving license to be exchanged (original and photocopy)
two recent photographs (32x25mm)
declaration in writing that you have not been banned or suspended from driving
declaration in writing that you do not hold another driver’s license of the same class in another country.