Have foreign driving licences converted to avoid penalties during traffic checks.

In the Fleet: How to Convert Foreign Driver’s Licenses

Regularly checking driver’s licenses in the fleet is essential. This ensures that all drivers possess a valid driving permit and comply with the relevant legal provisions. However, there are specific considerations, especially when dealing with foreign driver’s licenses. We will demonstrate how to convert foreign driver’s licenses and which ones are valid in Germany.

Are foreign driver's licenses valid in Germany?

In principle, all driver’s licenses issued in an EU member state or the European Economic Area (EEA) remain valid until their expiration date. However, new EU regulations will result in driver’s licenses being valid for a limited period starting from the year 2033. This provision also applies to driver’s licenses that did not previously have a specified expiration date.

According to Section 28 of the Driver’s License Ordinance (FeV), the duration of validity depends on the regulations of the respective country in which the driver’s license was issued.

Section 28 of the Driver’s License Ordinance (FeV)open_in_new governs the recognition of foreign driver’s licenses in Germany. It stipulates that holders of foreign driver’s licenses can, under certain conditions, apply for a German driver’s license without the need for a new driving test. The recognition depends on various factors such as the country of residence, the duration of the stay in Germany, and the type of driver’s license.

The validity of other foreign driver’s licenses is typically six months, provided that the driver has reached the minimum age of 18 required in Germany. In some cases, an official or certified translation of the driver’s license may be necessary. Fleet managers should, therefore, take into account the specific requirements when verifying foreign driver’s licenses.

Foreign Driver's Licenses: Temporary Stay in Germany

If there is no permanent residence in Germany, vehicles can be driven with a valid foreign driver’s license. Temporary stays in Germany include, for example, business or work-related trips.

It is essential to consider any restrictions on the driver’s license. Additionally, it should be noted that vehicles can only be driven if the driver is at least 18 years old.

Depending on the respective country of origin, either an international driver’s license or an official German translation of the document may be required.

Foreign company car driver sits in the car and can drive through Germany because the fleet manager has had foreign driving licences converted
Business and official trips count as temporary stays in Germany.

Translation and Classification of Driver's Licenses

For driver’s licenses issued in EU or EEA (European Economic Area) member states, an official or certified translation is not required. Depending on the origin of the driver’s license, a German translation or an international driver’s license may be necessary:

  • Individuals from countries outside the EU and the EEA must possess an international driver’s license.
  • If a driver’s license is not written in German and does not comply with the requirements of Annex 6 of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic dated November 8, 1968, a German translation is needed.

The ADAC regional clubs open_in_new offer paid services for translation and classification. The translated version must be carried at all times when driving in Germany, except for driver’s licenses from the following countries: Andorra, Hong Kong, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, Switzerland, and Senegal – in these cases, the translation requirement in Germany is waived.

Translation and Classification of Driver's Licenses," is already in English and does not require translation. It is a clear and concise title

An official residence in Germany refers to a stable, regular place of residence where an individual has their primary residence. It involves a residence where an individual lives for a continuous period of at least 185 days and has a personal or professional connection to the place of residence. This can be determined by factors such as the duration of the stay, the type of accommodation (e.g., rental apartment, own home), and integration into the social and legal environment of the place of residence.

If an official residence exists, driving with the driver’s license is permitted for an additional six months. In exceptional cases, if drivers can credibly demonstrate to the driver’s license authority that they will no longer have their official residence in Germany, the period can be extended to a total of twelve months. Otherwise, the driver’s license loses its validity after the expiration of the initial six months.


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What is necessary to convert a foreign driver's license?

To convert foreign driver’s licenses, an application must be submitted to the relevant driver’s license authority. Typically, this requires presenting an identification document (identity card or passport), a biometric photo, and the presentation of the foreign driver’s license. Since conversion is no longer possible after the expiration of the driver’s license, it must be ensured that it is valid at the time of application.

Usually, the processing time for the conversion is approximately three to six weeks. However, the duration may vary depending on the local authority. Therefore, it is advisable to submit the application to the driver’s license authority in a timely manner.

The Responsibilities of Fleet Managers

Fleet managers have a multitude of responsibilities within their fleet management roles. This is especially crucial when employing individuals from non-European countries and when business trips to Germany are necessary. The scrutiny of driver’s licenses assumes significant importance in this context. The following considerations must be taken into account:

  • Driver’s License Verification: Fleet managers must ensure that drivers holding foreign licenses are indeed authorized to operate the respective vehicles and determine whether it may be necessary to transfer foreign licenses.
  • Validity Period: The validity period of foreign licenses may vary depending on the country of issuance. Fleet managers must ensure that drivers always possess a valid license. Failure to do so can result in both civil and criminal consequences. Even in cases of incomplete verification of foreign licenses, the responsible fleet holder may, in principle, face criminal liability under Section 21 of the Road Traffic Act (StVG).
  • Traffic Rules and Regulations: Fleet managers should be aware that foreign drivers may not be familiar with German traffic rules. Adequate training can be a supportive measure in this regard.
  • Administrative Requirements: Fleet managers must meticulously record and manage all necessary documents and information regarding foreign drivers to comply with legal regulations.

Electronic Driver's License Verification

Documenting and managing driver data can be a time-consuming task for fleet managers. Integrating an electronic driver’s license check can provide valuable assistance in this regard. The risk is minimized through automated checks, and invalid or missing licenses can be quickly identified as a result. Furthermore, the digital tool sends automatic reminders for upcoming checks and ensures that all drivers are reviewed in compliance with the law.

The essentials on the topic: Transferring Foreign Driver's Licenses

A German translation or an international driver's license may be necessary, depending on the origin of the driver's license.

An official or certified translation is not required for driver's licenses issued in the EU or EEA member states.

Thoroughly reviewing driver's licenses within the fleet is essential to ensure that all drivers possess the necessary driving qualifications.

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