The German traffic system, like systems of other countries, is unique. First of all, you have to drive on the right-hand side of the road. Seat belts have to be fastened every time you drive. Children who are younger than 12 years or smaller than 1.5m also have to sit in a child’s seat.
The traffic signs dictate how to behave on the road. In many German cities you can find special paths for cyclists between the road and the sidewalk. Cyclists as well as pedestrians have the right to go first when you want to turn into a street.
The following speed-limits are enforced in Germany:
- In villages or cities: 50 km/h
- In restricted traffic zones: walking speed
- On streets out of villages or cities: 100 km/h
- On speedways: 130 km/h (recommended speed)
All these speed-limits are only valid if not indictated otherwise.
Always be prepared to be stopped by the police at the roadside, where your registration papers as well as your driving licence may be checked. That does not necessarily mean that you have done something wrong. Routine verification of documents is common.
If your car breaks down, park it at the side of the road. Place your hazard triangle at a distance of about 200 m away from your car and use your mobile phone or an emergency telephone (you find these white or orange telephones along each motorway) to call a towing service.
If you have an accident, you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible. It is also recommended to write down personal details and license plate numbers of all those involved in the accident.
If you have caused an accident, you are not allowed to leave the site of the accident without talking to the other individuals involved. If you leave, this could be considered a hit-and-run incident, which is illegal!
Furthermore, drinking and driving can cause many problems: in the first two years after you obtain your driver’s license, you are not allowed to drink any alcohol at all while driving. After these two years, the drink-drive limit is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. If you drink more than that and are stopped by the police, your driver’s licence will be seized for some months. But you may even face problems if you drink less than that and cause an accident or are stopped by the police. So the safest way to avoid trouble is: Don’t drink and drive!
If you want to drive on German roads, you must hold a valid driver’s license ("Führerschein").
Rules for (doctoral) students coming from the European Union (EU)
Your driver’s license is legally valid after registration in Germany.
Rules for (doctoral) students, who are planning to stay from 6 to 12 months:
Normally, your national driver’s license is valid for 6 months in Germany. If you prove that you will not stay longer than one year in Germany, your driver’s license can be extended to that period.
Rules for foreign students who are planning to stay longer than one year
If you come from a country where traffic is similar to the EU, it will not be difficult to transcribe your driver’s license. If you come from any other states, it’s best to start the procedure before you leave home.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the vehicle registration office.
Vehicle Registration Office ("KFZ Zulassungs- und Führerscheinstelle")
Phone: registration: +49 (0) 631 351 160 ; driver’s licence: + 49 (0) 631 351116 14
To buy, insure and register cars
Without a car, your driver’s license is of course useless!
If you’d like to be more independent, or in case you plan to move a lot of things from one place to another, you might want to consider buying a car.
However, the purchase of a car entails additional costs, for example car insurance, which is obligatory and the price of petrol, just to name two. Please take following aspects into consideration:
Once you purchase a vehicle, you need to take a liability insurance. The fee of the insurance policy depends on the year of first registration, HP and the type of vehicle. Please note: in Germany you are not allowed to drive at all without car liability insurance.
After buying the car you need to register the vehicle in order to be officially allowed to drive it. (The German term for this is das Fahrzeug zulassen.) The appropriate car registration office is located in Kaiserslautern (see above). This is also where you get your licence plate.
Last but not least, you need to find out when your inspection sticker expires. This automobile inspection agency badge certifies the technical condition of the car.