That Time I Finally Got My License

I know what you are thinking….don’t you already have one?

Well, I have my American one, but now that I live in Germany, I must get a German one.   When you move to the Land of Beer and Pretzels, you have six months to get a German one (in the meantime you can use your American license).

Typical me, I waited until month 5 to get started.  Back in the states, you may spend an afternoon waiting at the BMV and then you walk out with a temporary license until your real one arrives in the mail (or like when I first got my license, they printed it out for me right in front of me).

Silly me, this was Germany – it’s a lot more complicated than that.

First you go to the city hall of your town and apply.  They will tell you that you need to bring in the following items:

  • Passport or Personalausweis (German ID card)
  • 1 photo (Lichtbild, 35 x 45 mm, borderless)
  • Your valid driver’s license from your home country
  • German translation of license (from ADAC, 40 euro fee)*
  • Proof of how long you’ve had the license (if not already on the original license)
  • Recent vision test (Sehtest) certification (for class A, A1, B, BE, M, L or T license)*
  • Proof of completion of a first-aid course (only sometimes offered in English)
  • Confirmation of your first registration (Anmeldung) as a resident in Germany (if this was not done in the city where you are applying)
  • Fee of 40 euros in cash (if no tests are required)

Oh yeah, I did all these things.  I spent an entire Saturday taking First Aid in German, only to find out that I could have taken it in English *shakes head*

Then I had to wait.  I knew ahead of time that I would have to take the written test because I have an Indiana License and the Hoosier state has a special contract with Germany that means I only have to take the written test (not the driving).  If I had an Illinois License (which I should have gotten because I lived in Chicago for almost three years – but didn’t because I didn’t want my insurance to go up) then I would not have had to do anything except hand in my current license for a new one.

Honestly, there is no difference between the states, except the fact that Chicago houses some of the WORST drivers and yet they don’t have to take a  test? Ugh.  Oh well.

I was very happy to discover that I could take the test in English.  Thank. God.

I failed the first attempt at the written test.  There is a wealth of knowledge out there to help these youngins in order to pass the written test.  Unfortunately it is all in German.  I did not feel like shelling out more money to these people so I was determined to find an alternative.

The day before this first attempt, T found a wonderful site that allows you to sign in with a username and you get three free demo exams before you have to pay (I bypassed this by making a new username every three tests). And it had it in a number of languages!

What site is this?

Now that I had the tools – I studied like crazy every day for the whole week and a half before my retest.  I passed!

I am sure you are wondering what kind of questions they ask?

sample test 1 sample test 2 sample test 3 sample test 4 sample test 5

There are 300 possible questions.  You are only asked 30 in the test and each one is worth anywhere from 2 to 5 points.  You can only miss up to 10 points (unless you miss two 5 point questions) then you fail. When T took it, you could only miss 7.  Trust me, it was a lot easier to pass with a 10 point limit.

It took me six months between the day I first walked into city hall to first apply and the day I went to Friedrichshafen to pick up my new license (and also giving them my American one). This means that I spent the last five months driving with an “expired” license.  I mean, not really since after six months I don’t unlearn how to drive (quite the opposite) and I had seen plenty of stories of other expats who drove for years with their original licenses. I wasn’t in a rush, but I also knew that I didn’t want NOT have a German License for long in case something happened.

After passing the written exam, I am actually glad I took it.  I learned a lot more about the traffic signs and European right of ways.  Overall there isn’t much difference between driving in the States versus driving in Germany but it was good to learn the difference. I definitely feel like I better understand it here because of it.

But it also would have been nice not to go through such hell. 😀

Bis naechste Woche!

2 thoughts on “That Time I Finally Got My License

  1. I’m one of the lucky ones. Wisconsin gets a free pass, so all I had to do was drive to Freudenstadt (although my husband drove, since I’m too damn scared to drive further than the grocery store on German roads), hand in my Wisconsin license, pay the fee, and I had my German license. The cool thing is that shortly before I left Wisconsin I lost my license and had to get a replacement, then found the original, so I gave them the replacement and still have my Wisconsin license.

    I like your testing name – “Me Talk Pretty”. David Sedaris? 🙂 I hardly understood those questions!

    Congratulations on acquiring your German license!

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