Getting a driving license in Germany is expensive ! But it made sense to me after I started to drive on these roads. Rules & the Roads, that are designed to make travel safe and easy are not achievable with out proper road education in the first place. People could complain about too many rules but I personally like it.
Despite of many rules and having safety processes in place, unfortunate events are unavoidable but, It could be reduced if people are cautious and follow the rules. Safety is tying to be ensured by making people accountable (fines) for their small mistakes (skipping red light, speed restrictions) hence trying to reduce the chance of happening an unfortunate events.
Of course many countries in Europe have strict rules to ensure road safety not just Germany, which is good. Its not about having strict rules but about following them. Coming from India, I see a complete different driving discipline (in a good way) here In Germany. People who visited India have a complete different view regarding driving and traffic. They say its a chaos and many do not follows traffic rules. Unfortunately it is true. But I am happy that the situation is being improved (slowly) and I hope to see it gets better in future.
I never had a car driving license India. I was pretty new to Germany back in 2012, and did not have any knowledge of German. Luckily my driving teacher can speak pretty good english which saved me, with out going through lot of hassle. 1) Taking an eye test 2) Attending Erste Hilfe Kurs (First Aid Training) 3) Theory exam (In English) 4) Taking driving sessions 5) Final Driving Test. I was living in a little town near Wuerzburg, where most foreigners living there are for work reasons. I had prepared for the theory exam on my own. They gave the credentials for an online portal which had some english material and mockup questions. It was not very difficult to pass the exam after practising the mockup exams. My driving teacher helped me through out this process. I have to say, that not knowing German will take the difficulty to the next level with out help. The system allows and make it possible (situations are improving ) even for english speaking persons to get a drivers license. What does not add up is the first aid course which i took is completely in German. Yeah, I sat the whole day even the course is in german 🙂 Though i might have not understood word to word, but i got the essentials of first aid through actions. The tutor understood my problem and helped me here and there. But It would have been better if there was a possibility to take english course. But I understand the idea behind. I agree that it is important to learn the local language if people want to stay for longer.
It is when my wife wanted to have a drivers license, we had to know about all the processes. Information is always available its just that we need to search for it. My wife already have a drivers license from India so that process changed a little compared to the one who is apply for a new one. But i should say that it really depends from place to place. Here in stuttgart where we now live, i started searching for driving schools (Fahrschuele) and found who can support her with this. Most of the driving schools here have full driving packages and they did not or could not alter the package that fits for my wife ( she prepares for theory on her own and she already has a drivers license ). So here is the process she has followed which is valid for Stuttgart but mostly similar for other places.
First she has contacted the Fahrschuele and registered there. It is important, as In the application it is required to mention which driving school one is registered.
- Eye test, Erste Hilfe Kurs (First Aid Course), Biometric photos
- One can do them individually OR these can also be taken together as a package while doing first aid course
- This is the best place to search for first aid courses Erstehilfe.de
- Translation of existing drivers license in German. (For expats who already possess drivers license from their country)
- Search in internet for
Staatliche geprüfte Übersetzerin your area (State-certified translators stuttgart)
- Drop an email or contact them normally they would charge around 30 EUR. They can tell you which documents are required.
- Obviously scanned copy of Driving License if you contact via email. While fetching the translation, proof of document that it is you.
- Search in internet for
- After this, prepare the application and and submit it together with above documents at Führerscheinstelle ( Driving license office ). All the information is available online.
- Go stuttgart.de website and search for
Umtausch einer ausländischen Fahrerlaubnis(Exchange of a foreign drivers license)
- alternatively navigate to Startseite > Rathaus > Verwaltungsleistungen > Umtausch einer ausländischen Fahrerlaubnis
- All the documents required listed here (All are in German). Download the application form.
- Fill the application and together with the additional documents, go to the driving license office and submit. Address can be found in the above link
- Go stuttgart.de website and search for
- While it takes some time that application is approved, The driving school which is mentioned on the application will be informed once it is approved.
- Mean while one can prepare for the theory exam as it takes some time that the application is approved. Ask the instructor about what they would suggest. There are less expensive options via mobile apps. My wife used mobile app and practised using that.
- It is better to get in touch with the driving school to check if the application approved. Once it is approved then it is possible to register for the exam which driving schools can do for the candidates.
- I would suggest it is better to start driving practise once completing the theory exam. Because it helps with all the rules during driving. (There are some mandatory driving classes for people already with a driving license from a different country)
- Once the person is confident enough (important that instructor too feels the same way), instructor can help the candidates to setup a date for the practical exam.
Back in 2012 it costed me around 1600 EUR for getting a new driving license. I took around 30 classes. Each class is around 38 EUR. Duration of each class is 45 minutes.
Currently my wife is taking driving classes. Each class costs 56 EUR. Though she had a drivers license, she was not a frequent driver which requires more practise. I guess she takes more classes than usual 🙂 Will see how much she ends up paying.
So at the end just having the drivers license does not determine how confident one can be on road. This requires practise and frequent driving. That includes me too 🙂
Note: People who have drivers license from certain countries can just go to the driving license office and exchange their license with the German drivers license and does not have to go through all the hassle I explained above. One country I know is United States. Best is to check with the office it self.