Getting Our Drivers License In Germany

Getting your drivers license transferred from the US into a German drivers license, otherwise known as a Führerschein is no small feat–but it can be done. Luckily, the state of Washington (where we are from) is one of the states in America that is recognized by the Federal Republic of Germany.

You have six months to obtain a German drivers license after being registered to live in Germany. If you have not transferred a drivers license in that time frame, you will need to attend driving school just like a new driver would have to do.

*Note: A German drivers licence is never used for purposes of identification. You must have a I.D. card from the EU country your from or your passport. 

We started the process by having our host take us to the Führerschein office. We found during this initial trip that our Washington State drivers license is recognized in Germany, however, it is not as simple as you think. March 8th, 2017 we started this process and here is what we had to do to complete this adventure.

Step 1: We had to go get photo’s taken similar to a passport photo with four pictures. We could not smile in these photo’s, wear head gear, or scarves. The cost was 15,00 Euros each.

Step 2: We had to go to the Rathaus and get proof of our residency. This was a document that was notarized to prove we are registered to live in Germany. This cost was 29,00 Euros

Step 3: We had to make a return visit to the Führerschein with our photo’s and the applications filled out. We had to pay a fee of around 19,00 Euros each and wait while the information was entered into the German system. Once this was completed, we were told our Washington State drivers license had to be translated by a certified insurance company. This information helps the German government determine which class of vehicles we were qualified to drive;

Note: Later we found out we are qualified to drive a scooter, a regular car, and a class “L” tractor not to be confused with a class “T” tractor (whatever this may mean)? This satisfied Lances secret dream to farm someday.

Step 3: Our host knew where to take us in order to get two translations done. We were taken to a country-wide insurance agency. We had to leave our driver license with them and come back the next day to pick up the translations. This cost 110,00 Euros for both translations of our licenses.

Step 4: We picked up the translated forms and drivers licences from the insurance company. They were in individual folders with official stamps and seals on them. Lance’s motorcycle endorsement was not transferrable due to unclear documentation on the Washington State drivers license website and what it actually means to hold that type of license for that class of motorcycle.

Step 5: We brought all this information back to the Führerschein and turned in our current Washington State drivers license with the translations. We waited again while this was entered into the system and were given more paperwork and a temporary German drivers license (piece of paper). We were told that our documents would be going to the polizei  (police) station for an extensive background check. Once this was finished we would receive a letter in the mail notifying us that we could come back and pick up our new German drivers license.

Step 6: On April 8, 2017 we finally received two letters in the mail notifying us that we could come back to the Führerschein and pick up our German drivers licence. We were instructed in German (nothing is in English here) to bring all our paperwork, temporary licence, and our Passports with us when we came back.

Step 7: We rode our bikes to the Führerschein, which took about ten minutes. We got a snack at the bakery next door and waited in line until our number was called. We provided the attendant all the paperwork and she was impressed with the three sentences Lance spoke in German (she remembered us from the first time).

We had to sign for our new license and surrender the Washington State licence by signing another document. Our German driver licenses are good for 15 years! Can you believe that? I did manage to tell the attendant that Lance would be fully “white haired” by the time he needed to renew his license. They all roared with laughter–except Lance of course!

Step 8: We walked back outside and unlocked our “bikes” and rode off into the sunset with our new German drivers licenses.

Drivers License


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