Moving to Germany: T-53 Days – Driving Miss Daisy

So one of the many topics of conversation between Thorsten and me in our preparations is cars and what will I buy. In answer to your question: yes, I will need a car. We will not be living in a metropolitan city where public transportation is available. We will be out in a more picturesque area where the only thing connecting my new home and work is a car.

I think he is more excited than I am about the prospect of my car when I get there. But then again, I have done the search and managed to get the exact car that I wanted: my MINI Cooper Percival. I will have to sell him in order to have the funds to buy my next car.

I am excited about getting a new car but until I start test driving, I can’t get excited about a specific model. But I’ll dive into that topic later.

Today I want to talk about the other half of driving in Germany – a Driver’s License.

My American license will work for at least six months (so if you are traveling somewhere and you’re there for less than six months you don’t need anything special). However, since I plan on staying for a while, I will need to get a German one.

How does that work?

Well, it actually depends on the state where your current license is from. Certain states have an agreement with Germany that will allow you an exemption from either the driving test or the written test. Almost all the states will get you exempt from the driving test but only certain ones will still require you to take the written test.

Indiana is one of those states.

Yes, I live in Illinois but still carry an Indiana license. Let’s be honest, I don’t want to pay the outrageous Chicago car insurance. Also, with all the Indiana drivers coming in and out of the area on a daily basis….no one questions me. Well, I still get a lot of “Welcome to Illinois” remarks from people even though I have lived here for 2.5 years.

Illinois is one of those states where I could get out of the writing test. I can change my license before I go and hold the license for six months before having to exchange it for the German one….however, getting an Illinois driver’s license is proving more difficult than the German one. This boggles my mind because, no offense Illinois, this state has some of the worst drivers I have ever seen. But it could just be Chicago.

So I may have to just resign myself and take the written test (don’t worry, there is an English version!) But we’ll see.

But I put a question to the Illinoisians out there: am I correct in assuming that in order to get an Illinois Driver’s License I would have to take both the driving and written tests again? In Indiana you just show up with your proof of ID and residence and done: new license.


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