Driving in Germany

Laws, Tips and Advice

German motoring is best known for the Autobahns - a motorway with no maximum speed limits. German drivers will tend to drive fast, and have cars capable of doing so - naturally Porche, Mercedes and BMW are popular. Germany is a large country, so the high speed Autobahns make crossing it much faster, especially if you are travelling to Eastern Europe by car.

Germany car owners are also very particular about their cars, so take great care in car parks not to park too close and risk marking them with your doors or bumpers.

Remember that if you are driving to Germany from the UK, you will probably be driving through France or Belgium or the Netherlands. Ensure that your vehicle and licence complies with the requirements for the countries you are passing through.

Basic Requirements
Legal Requirements
Driving Tips

Basic Legal Requirements

Driving Licence

UK Driving Licence (Sample) When driving in Germany, you will need to ensure you bring both parts of your driving licence - the Photocard plus the Paper Counterpart (D740). If you do not have a Photocard yet, only the paper copy is required, but you will need Photo ID, such as a Passport

You must be the holder of a full driving licence (not a provisional), and have passed your test. Even if you have already passed your full test, you must be at least 18 years old.

The International Driving Permit is not required, but if you would like one you can apply through the Post Office. The international driving permit is in addition to your driving licence, so you will need to carry both copies.

While a photocopy may be useful if your licence is lost, you should carry the original with you.

Car Documents

You should carry your vehicles Registration Certificate (V5C) with you, which should be updated to show your correct details. For security reasons, it's best NOT to leave the Registration Certificate in the vehicle while it is parked - it makes it harder to a thief to resell the vehicle if they do not have the documentation.

While a photocopy may be useful if your Registration Certificate is lost, you should carry the original with you.

Green Zone

Many German cities have a Green Zone. To enter these areas (known as “Umweltzone”) you need the appropriate sticker (“Plakette”). This can be obtained by applying to the city authorities, providing information on the vehicle, the emissions rating and making a small payment. You will need to request the sticker a few weeks in advance. There is a fine for not displaying the appropriate sticker in the Green Zone areas.

For more information see the site at http://www.stadt-koeln.de/3/umwelt/umweltzone/ (German language).

Insurance

It is compulsory to have at least third-party insurance for Germany, as for the UK. Most UK insurance policies will allow an element of European driving, often for a limited period.

Before leaving the UK, it is a good idea to contact your insurer, and check what your existing cover allows. You should request a 'Green Card' which is an internationally recognised form of proof of insurance. You should carry proof of insurance with you while driving.

If your existing insurance does not provide European cover for the period required, most insurance brokers will have a suitable policy covering Germany, and will provide Green Card.

Your Vehicle

headlight beam adaptors for European driving Your headlights will need to be adjusted to ensure that they do not dazzle oncoming users.

Standard halogen headlights and Autobulbs Xenon HID Conversion kits can be modified by the use of a stick on Headlight Beam Adaptor. Vehicles with factory fitted Xenon HID headlights may find there is an adjuster either on the headlights themselves or on the dashboard - check your manual for details. If there is no adjuster, you may need to visit a dealer for them to make the adjustments, and again to change them back after your visit.

Reflective Jackets or vests are not required in Germany, but may be in some countries you pass through.

European Travel Kit with Spare bulb KitA Warning Triangle is required by residents, but not visitors, so bring one if you have it. In the event of an accident or breakdown, the triangle should be set up by the side of the road, at least 50 meters in the direction of of the traffic. If you have broken down in the outer lane of a dual carriageway or motorway, or attempting to place the warning triangle would place you in danger, do not use it. Remember to collect your warning triangle before leaving!

If you are planning on driving in Germany in winter, you must have a vehicle that is suitably equipped. Since the end of 2010, you must have suitable types, and may also need snow chains, as well as using anti- freeze coolant and washer liquid. Winter tyres need to have 'M + S' ('Matsch und Schnee' is German for 'slush and snow') or equivalent. If you do not have the correct tyres, or block the road as you are stuck you are liable for a fine of €40 or €80.

Children under the age of 1.5m (4 feet 10 inches) and under 12 years must use child seats or booster seats, unless all are already taken. All passengers must use seat belts if fitted

Number plate with European GB LogoYou may have a number plate that already has a valid 'GB' mark. If you do not, you will need to apply a GB sticker to the back of your vehicle.

There is a legal requirement to carry a first aid kit in the vehicle. There is not a requirement to carry a fire extinguisher, but they are generally a useful safety item to carry in your vehicle if you have the space.

It is recommended (but not required) that you carry a spare bulb kit suitable for your vehicle. While HID bulbs last longer than their halogen counterparts, it makes sense to carry at least one spare Xenon HID bulb suitable for your headlights.