Germany offers great opportunities for driving-high-quality roads and splendid landscapes all over the country as well as developed infrastructure, including numerous hotels, petrol stations, shopping centres, etc. However, in order to enjoy such trips certain requirements must be followed.
Requirements for drivers license in Germany
The first thing you are going to need is a driving license, it is impossible to drive a car without it. Residents of the European Union do not have to apply for the German license and face no restrictions in usage of their driving licenses. Non-residents of the European Union will have to take into account a fact their driving license is valid in Germany for six months. In case of residing in Germany less than 12 months but more than 6 months, a special extended driving license can be obtained if requests to appropriate institutions are being made.
Requirements for drivers license for Americans
American citizens face a little different rules. Those of them who are residents of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington State, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming can gain German driving license without passing any tests while those residing in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington D.C. will have to pass an exam. For the rest of the states, not mentioned above, an exam (written and driving) is mandatory. This concerns citizens of SAR as well.
Apparently, the best way to get plausible information about terms of gaining the driving license in Germany is to contact official authorities.
This test is adjusted to the peculiarities of foreigners and can be held in different languages. The language is defined beforehand via the school where the person is learning. The test contains standard questions, like road signs, road marks, etc. and is organized in form of multiple choice questions with more than one right answer. It’s worth remembering that such tests in Germany are quite complicated because German authorities pay a great attention to the road safety. It’s a common fact that a lot of people, including Germans themselves, often fail to pass the exam. The most popular prep book is Lehrbuch English which can be bought for 50 euros.
There are also certain requirements for the process of learning driving itself. For example, 225 mandatory minutes per lesson for highways, 90 minutes for driving in the evening time, etc. The teacher has a simultaneous access to car’s control in order to prevent crashes. The average price for attending a driving school in Germany for beginners is 1 000 euros and 200 euros for simplified program.
The driving license is given by the police. For a foreigner to get a German license a set of documents is required, among them:
- certified translation of the original license;
- application form;
- a passport and residence permit;
- 2 photos;
- sometimes a confirmation of attending the driving school’s sessions is required as well as first aid certificate.
The driving license in Germany is valid for 15 years. So, the whole process seems to be rather complicated.
Apart from driving license insurance is also required. Without it no car can later be registered. Notably, car insurance in Germany is quite expensive. Also, insurance companies pay great attention to such factors as previous driving history (those involved into accidents usually pay more); owners of SUVs are paying more for their insurance as well as urban residents and beginning drivers. It’s important to provide insurance companies with a good driving history from your country, so that you will able to pay less.
After the driving license is finally obtained the car has to be officially registered. This can be done at the office of local authorities. The required documents include ownership confirmation and insurance. Registration procedure is performed by car dealers in case the car is of German origin or newly bought in Germany.
Also, all cars in Germany are due to be checked every second year. Such control is absolutely unavoidable and strict.
Probably the most difficult part is traffic rules. Standard speed limit is 50 km per hour around urban areas and 80 km per hour in non-urban areas. Germany is commonly known for its high-speed motorways (usually the maximum speed is up to 130 km per hour). But, in spite of the fact, there are numerous motorways where there are speed limits (usually in densely populated and suburban areas). It’s quite easy not to notice at first that you have broken certain rules until you receive a letter acknowledging you of this and forcing you to pay a fine. German roads are heavily equipped with surveillance cameras, so it is almost no chance to remain unnoticed when exceeding speed. Apart from paying a fine, a driving license can be withdrawn for a certain period. It’s important to remember that if you are involved in the accident, which was a result of exceeding the 130 km per hour rule, your insurance company has a right to refuse you to pay money. Especially strict measures are applied for drivers who are involved into accidents with alcohol and drugs. The standard amount of alcohol in blood which is allowed is 0,5 millimeters per 1 millimeter of blood. It means that the driver can afford himself 2 beers and that will be enough. For exceeding the alcohol limit the driving license can be withdrawn for 3 months and even more.
Also, all high-speed motorways have traffic lights and it’s absolutely obligatory to watch them. For the first time it seems that no one will know if you move while the red or yellow is on, but there are cameras which record everything.
Needless to say, each car has to be equipped with both front and back seat belts and they have to be actually used. Otherwise, a 30 euros fine will be paid. Children under 12 years of age cannot sit in the front seats.
Every car has to be equipped with special red triangles, which are placed behind and in front of the car in case it has stopped, so that other drivers see it clearly and pass it on the left-hand (right-hand passing is prohibited). In night time and tough weather low-beam headlights must be always switched on.
Foreigners are usually quite astonished with the process of defining which driver can pass first at the intersections. Usually if the car is on the right side of the intersection it has to go first. A white-and-yellow road sign indicates priority roads, the drivers from which can move first.
There are also territories with reduced speed of traffic, usually in suburban and urban areas, where children may be playing out in the streets. In these areas the maximum speed is 7 km per hour. A very strict rule, concerning pedestrians crossing the streets, tells the drivers that they oblige to stop every time they see someone wanting to cross the road.
The first thing to remember when involved into the road accident is not to flee but stay for at least half an hour or until the police arrives. You are obliged to give your personal and insurance information to police. Otherwise, strict fines will have to be paid out. Non-paying of fines has very serious consequences and can lead to a jail sentence.
Another urgent issues concern parking. In big cities it is usually quite difficult to find a suitable lot but parking in forbidden zones is not a solution either. It’s worth remembering that towing in Germany is extremely expensive, so try to avoid it by any means.
Also, drivers are obliged to let buses pass by in all areas and lower speed to almost minimum, so that people who may come from the opposite side of the street will not suffer.
For the winter period driving is permitted only if appropriate snow-resistant tires are installed. Otherwise, large fines are applied. Moreover, your insurance company may refuse to pay back your money if you haven’t changed the tires.
So, driving in Germany is a really complicated affair with great many rules and regulations to be kept in mind constantly. On the other hand, this is a price for better road safety and convenience for all.
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