What are the rules around driving in Germany after Brexit?

What are the rules around driving in Germany after Brexit?
Photo: DPA
With the Brexit transition period to end on January 31st, we look at the rules for British drivers - both residents and tourists - in Germany after the UK exits the EU.

Driving from Britain to Germany has in recent years been a fairly painless experience – slap a GB sticker on your car, make sure you are carrying a high-vis yellow vest and warning triangle and off you go.

British driving licences are accepted and most standard car insurance packages will cover you for driving in Germany.

But how is Brexit changing that?

Transition period

Until the end of the transition period on December 31st nothing changes. But after that there are some big changes for both residents and visitors.

Brits resident in Germany

It is not clear yet what will happen after the transition period – it's still being negotiated. However the UK government has issued guidance saying Brits should change their licence before the end of the transition period (December 31st 2020).

After the transition period, the UK will become a 'third country' to Germany, not an EU one.

READ ALSO: Brexit update: How to exchange your British driving license for a German one

Keep in mind that nationals of some third countries are required to take a test (theory and/or practical) before they can exchange their driving licences for a German one. If the transition period ends without a deal being agreed between the UK and the EU, there's a strong possibility that Brits would have to take a test before being able to get a German licence.

We don't know for sure yet, though.

Photo: DPA

You can apply to swap your British driving licence for your German one. There are other reasons for doing this besides Brexit. If you're planning to stay in Germany long-term it might be a good idea to have a Germany-issued licence (Führerschein).

To obtain a German licence, start by looking up the information on what documents you need on the local government website of the city you live in. In Berlin you need to book an appointment online at your Bürgeramt (administrative office) and attend a meeting.

Generally, you need to apply for the licence through the Führerscheinstelle at your local administrative office.

You should probably have started this process already, since there are only now a few weeks left before the end of the transition period. The organisation British in Germany, which lobbies for the rights of Brits in Germany, advises everyone to, at the very least, have their application for a German licence sent in by the end of the transition period.

Moving to Germany later

It is still too soon to say what the rules on a driving licence for people moving to Germany after the transition period will be, as a deal is still being negotiated.

But after Britain leaves the EU it will become a third country. That means that Germany’s third country rules are likely to apply. As the British government advises, this means you should exchange your UK licence for a German one within six months of moving to Germany.

The German transport ministry states that it is sometimes possible to have an extension to 12 months if you are only going to live in the country for a year.

Just visiting

The above all applies to people who actually live in Germany, but what about people who are visiting, either regularly in the case of second home owners or infrequently in the case of tourists?

Photo: DPA

Well, during the transition period nothing changes and you can continue to drive on your UK licence during trips to Germany.

After January 1st visitors can continue to drive on a British licence – as things stand, there is no need for an International Driving Permit.

Before your trip, you may also need to obtain a 'green card' from your insurance company. An announcement on whether this will be necessary is still to be made. In doubt, check with your insurance company.

Germany expects a German translation of travel documents from some non-EEA countries. However, due to the fact that the UK signed the 1968 convention on road traffic, UK drivers should be excluded from needing to provide this.


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