Berlin and Munich, 24 October 2018
There has been some concern among the British community in Germany about UK driving licences and when/if to exchange for a German driving licence. Especially in view of the uncertainty of whether there will be a Withdrawal Agreement or not. In short there are two scenarios:
1. If there is a signed Withdrawal Agreement:
Your UK driving licence remains valid up until the end of any transition period. Agreements on mutual recognition of licences between the UK and the EU will form part of the negotiations on the future relationship during the transition period.
2. If there is no signed Withdrawal Agreement, i.e. “no deal” (still unlikely, but it could be December/January before we know for sure):
The UK becomes a “third country” from 30 March and your UK driving licence could become invalid immediately (see “No deal scenario” below, under “Further explanation”).
There has been no official statement yet from the German authorities, so the information we provide here is based on exchanges we at British in Germany and British in Bavaria have had with government sources. Once we have new information or advice, we will post it here.
What can you do at this stage?
– Consider applying to exchange your UK driving licence for a German one if you intend to be staying here – and driving – after 29 March 2019.
– Read the current fact sheets (in English) from the German Federal Ministry of Transport on driving licences (See links below – they contain a lot of extra detail).
– If you do decide to exchange, get your application in before the end of 2018 i.e. well before the potential cliff-edge date of 29 March 2019, because of expected delays in processing times.
– To apply, contact your “Führerscheinstelle” at your local Kreisverwaltung.
What if you return to the UK?
A government website in the UK (Dept. of Transport) assures us that if we were to return to the UK with a German driving licence, we could swap it back for a UK licence.
No deal scenario:
If the UK leaves without a deal, then overnight on 29/30 March 2019 the UK would become a “third country”. Different rules apply to nationals of those countries. One of those rules is that third-country nationals have to exchange their driving licence for a German one within six months of arrival. So, in theory, the licences of those Brits who have been resident for longer than six months at that point would become invalid from 30 March 2019. This is clearly a ridiculous situation and not one that anybody thinks will occur. The German authorities are expected to find a solution to this, such as introducing a special regulation to allow the six months to be counted from 29 March 2019.
New test requirement?
The 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. It would be important for the UK to be exempted from that requirement. Again this would be the sensible solution for the authorities to introduce here. (See also fact sheets below.)
A good and authoritative source regarding driving licences in Germany is the English-language web page of the German transport ministry:
There are links from there to:
“Fact sheet for holders of foreign driving licences from EU and EEA states on driving licence provisions in the Federal Republic of Germany”
“Fact sheet for holders of foreign driving licences from states outside the European Union and the European Economic Area on driving licence provisions in the Federal Republic of Germany”
Further information on driving licences in the EU: