Tips for Driving in Germany
3 December 2023
Advice, Checklist & Legal Requirements
Like other European countries, a valid driving license is required for driving in Germany, as well as insurance and vehicle documents, which must be carried with you in the vehicle at all times. Aside from this, there are a variety of other rules and requirements for driving in Germany that you should adhere to. Find out more about these in our guide below or skip to the end for a checklist!
What do I need for driving in Germany?
The minimum age for driving a car in Germany is 18 years old. 17 year-old British drivers with valid British licences are not permitted to drive, and anyone who contravenes this law may be fined and your vehicle will be impounded.
Items required by the driver:
- · Valid driving licence
- · Proof of identification (passport)
- · Insurance documents
- · Low emissions permit (where applicable)
If the vehicle does not belong to the driver, written permission from the registered owner may also be requested.
A certain number of German cities also require a special permit for their "low emission zones". It's mandatory to display a sticker confirming your vehicle meets these environmental requirements to be allowed to go through these areas.
In 2011 there were 4.9 road deaths per 100,000 of the population and compares to the UK average of 3.1 road deaths per 100,000 of the population in 2011. Many drivers undertake long journeys in, or through, Germany. Care should be taken to plan journeys and take sufficient breaks; a minimum break of 15 minutes after every two hours of driving is recommended.
It is illegal to take part in motor vehicle races or rallies on German roads. Such activities constitute an offence under paragraph 29 of the German Highway Code. Offenders are liable to be detained, fined and to have their vehicles confiscated.
Seat belts are required for all passengers, whether in the front or back seat of the vehicle. No children under the age of twelve or under 1.5 m tall are allowed to travel without the appropriate restraint. On motorcycles, both the driver and passenger must wear a helmet.
- · In-car radar detectors are illegal whether in use or not
- · It is also forbidden to talk on the phone while driving
Be aware that Police in Germany can issue on the spot fines and your car can be impounded until the fine is paid if they suspect you might leave the country without paying.
It is compulsory in Germany to carry the following safety equipment on board all vehicles:
- · First-aid kit
- · Warning triangle
- · Headlamp converters
- · Winter tyres/all season tyres on all axles in wintry conditions
German law states that it is illegal to drive with more than 0.5% of alcohol in the system. Authorities take drink driving very seriously and there are strict penalties in place, such as heavy fines, loss of licence and imprisonment.
While Germany may be known for its high speeds, particularly on its famous Autobahns, this does not mean there are no speed limits. These are imposed on both general roads and Autobahns, with sign posts clearly displaying this to drivers, so be sure to remain aware of the section’s limits. Exceeding speed limits by more than 30kph can result in heavy fines and the temporary loss of your driving license.
The following speed limits (km/h) are imposed in Germany:
Urban roads (31 mph).
Non-urban roads (62 mph).
Motorways / expressways (recommended) (80 mph).
Urban roads (31 mph).
Non-urban roads (50 mph).
Motorways / expressways (50 mph).
In summary, here’s our checklist of tips for driving in Germany:
- Remember to carry the correct documents: valid driving licence, ID, insurance documents, low emissions permit (when applicable).
- Be sure to take a recommended 15 minute break every 2 hours when travelling long distances.
- Motor vehicle races are strictly prohibited.
- Make sure all passengers are wearing seatbelts while driving. Children under the age of twelve or under 1.5 metres can only travel with the appropriate restraint.
- Motorcyclists and their passengers must wear helmets.
- It is forbidden to have a radar detector within your car.
- Talking on the phone while driving is illegal.
- The following equipment must be carried in your car with you: first-aid kit, warning triangle, headlamp converters, and winter tyres/all season tyres in wintry conditions.
- No drinking and driving is allowed.
- While higher than in the UK, speed limits are in place on general roads and the Autobahn, and should be obeyed.
The team at Eurobreakdown.com hope you find these tips for driving in Germany very helpful and wish you "Gute Reise" for your next visit!
Driving to another destination from Germany? You might like to read our guides to:
Need breakdown cover for Germany? Eurobreakdown.com can provide you with comprehensive single trip breakdown cover or annual multi trip breakdown policies with a best price guarantee.
Reference: The statistics mentioned on this page were sourced from the International Transport Forum’s Road Safety Annual Report 2013 and, to the best of Eurobreakdown.com’s knowledge, are correct at the time of publication (May 2014).
For general European driving tips click here