Car license – Conversion – (B §31)


There are so many rumours about foreign driver’s licenses in Germany, so I want to bring a little light into the dark.

First of all there are agreements between Germany and all non EU-countries. It depends on the country where your license is from that you do not need to make any tests, or written test only (9 US States), or you need to do written and practical tests. If you plan to change your license to a test-free license, you have to do that „before“ you start your residence in Germany. Afterwards it makes no sense at all. International driver’s licenses do not bring any advantages, because they are not needed as long it is not a license written in letters from some countries of Asia (China, Japan etc.), of the Middle East (Arabia) which nobody from the police can read. To convert a license it has to be a valid one and it must have been issued before you enter Germany. Some countries do not have a date of issue on it, so you must get a license report or record from the driver’s license authority where the license is from.

Up from the day you enter Germany and before your residence permit starts you are allowed to drive for six months with your foreign driver’s license as long it is valid. When the six months are over your license has to be a German one, otherwise you are not allowed to drive in Germany anymore!

If your stay is only for one year you can get an extension up to one year!

In the past the German law said you were only allowed to convert the license in between 3 years after entering Germany. If you didn´t do that you had been treated like a total beginner. Some good news: this law had been cancelled in 2008. Even if you are here since 20 years you still can convert a foreign drivers license as long it is valid.

There is a very special exception for American citizens in Hessen. If you work for a pure American company which has the headquarters in Hessen the employee working there might get the license without a test. The ministry of traffic will examine carefully if all the requirements for this exception are fulfilled.

Car license:

Car license - Conversion - (B §31)

The procedure to get a license includes several steps you have to follow:

Translation of the license

(the ADAC or AvD are taking care of this)

(only needed if you have to do a practical test)

Eye test

(only needed if you have to do a practical test)

Passport photo


Application from a driving School

(not required if you are free of tests)


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