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German road signs

German road signs

If you’re going to be driving in Germany, it’s a good idea to get to grips with the different road signs and their meanings, before hitting the road. There are over 1.000 traffic signs in the German traffic code, including warning signs, speed limit signs and information signs. 

No matter whether you’re learning to drive in Germany for the first time, need to take an exam to change your driving licence, or just need to brush up on your knowledge before coming to the federal republic for a visit, this page contains an overview of all the most important German road signs. 

Road signs in Germany & Their meanings

The traffic sign system in Germany is comprehensive and uniform. All road signs in Germany have standardised shapes and colours and use easy-to-understand pictograms and symbols that conform closely to European standards. The German sign system is regularly updated to keep pace with changes in traffic and transportation; the last time it had a major overhaul was in the early 1990s.

In the official German traffic code, all signs are assigned a unique number, which is used by the police on tickets and reports if a sign is involved in an incident. Officially, signs in Germany are divided into four main categories: 

  • Warning signs
  • Regulation signs
  • Guide signs
  • Supplemental signs

For ease of understanding, this page has grouped the signs slightly differently, into more logical categories. We have included the most important signs from the road sign catalogue (Verkehrszeichenkatalog) of 2017, along with some new signs from 2020. 

Vehicle class symbols

Traffic signs in Germany use a set of standard symbols to indicate the type or class of vehicle being referred to on the sign. Some symbols also include other types of vehicle as well. For instance, the “motor vehicles” symbol indicates that the sign applies not only to cars but also trucks, motor homes, buses, vehicles with trailers, and so on. Here’s an overview of these symbols, their meanings, and associated subclasses: 

Symbol Description Other included classes of vehicle
motor vehicles Motor vehicles (all motorised vehicles) passenger vehiclespassenger vehicles with trailersmotor homestrucktruck with trailerbusesfarm power equipment
passenger vehicles Passenger vehicles (cars and light trucks) passenger vehicles with trailersmotor homes
truck Vehicles over 3,5 tonnes (includes trailers and other vehicles that do not qualify as passenger vehicles, NOT buses) truck with trailer
motorcycle Motorcycles (includes motorcycles, motorcycles with sidecars, and mopeds) mopeds

These are other vehicle class symbols:

bicycles mopeds cargo-bicycles electric cars
Bicycles Mopeds Cargo bicycles Electric cars
electric bicycles small electric vehicles passenger vehicles with trailers trucks with trailers
Electric bicycles Small electric vehicles Passenger vehicles with trailers Vehicles over 3,5
tonnes with trailers
buses motor homes cattle riders
Buses Motor homes Cattle / domestic animals Riders
horse-drawn vehicles pedestrians trams trains
Horse-drawn vehicles Pedestrians Trams Trains
farm & power equipment military vehicles vehicles carrying hazardous cargo vehicle carrying hazardous cargo to water
Farm & Power equipment (top speed <25 km/h) Military vehicles Vehicles with hazardous cargo Vehicles carrying
hazardous cargo to water bodies

Traffic signs in Germany: Warning signs

Warning signs give advance warning of hazards on or near the road. Warnings signs in Germany are equilateral triangles with a thick red border and white background. They usually contain an internationally-recognised black pictogram describing the danger:

general danger low flying aircraft pedestrian crossing
General danger
Typically used with
a supplementary sign
to specify the danger
Aircraft
 
Pedestrian crossing
cattle riders amphibians
Cattle Riders Amphibian crossing
Frogs & Toads may be in the road
falling rocks ice snow loose gravel
Falling rocks
Watch out for rocks on the road; do not stop or park
Ice / snow
The bridge or road ahead may be icy
Loose gravel
The road surface makes sudden manoeuvring, braking or accelerating unsafe
shore riverbank insufficient clearance moveable bridge
Shore / riverbank
There is an unguarded riverbank or landing ahead
Insufficient clearance / Tree overhang
Drivers of tall vehicles beware
Moveable bridge
uncontrolled intersection curve double curve
Uncontrolled intersection ahead
No right-of-way at next intersection; yield to traffic from the right
Curve Double curve
steep downgrade steep upgrade uneven road surface
Steep downgrade 
Degree of descent is shown
Steep upgrade
Degree of ascent is shown
Uneven road surface
Reduce speed
slippery when wet or dirty strong crosswind road narrows
Slippery when wet or dirty Strong crosswind Road narrows
road narrows roadworks congestion hazard
Road narrows Roadworks
There may be workers, machinery or dirt on the road
Congestion hazard
This area frequently has traffic jams; prepare to slow down or stop
two-way traffic traffic signals ahead pedestrians warning
Two-way traffic
Oncoming traffic may be unexpected, for instance if exiting a one-way street
Traffic signals ahead Pedestrians
watch for children bicycle crossing wild animals crossing
Watch for children
Schools and playgrounds in the area
Bicycle crossing Wild animal crossing
Use dipped headlights; be prepared to brake suddenly
railway crossing ahead    
Railway crossing    

 

 

 

 

 

German traffic signs: Speed limit signs

Speed limit signs in Germany state the maximum speed in kilometres per hour (km/h). The maximum speed limit sign comprising a number within a red circle will be recognisable to most road users. 

However, Germany also has a minimum speed limit sign (a blue circle), which is most commonly found on the German autobahn. Speed limits are ended with a black and white sign - meaning the statutory speed limit now applies. 

Here are some speed limit signs you will see in Germany:

maximum speed limit speed limit zone minimum speed limit
Maximum speed limit
Do not exceed the stated speed limit (km/h)
Speed limit zone
You are entering an area where the speed limit applies to all roads until you pass an “End of speed limit zone” sign
Minimum speed limit
You must travel at this speed or faster, unless the weather, road or traffic conditions make it necessary to drive slower
end of speed limit end speed limit zone end minimum speed limit
End of speed limit
The statutory speed limit now applies
End of speed limit zone

End of minimum speed limit

maximum speed limit per lane end speed limit per lane end of all restrictions
Maximum speed limit by lane
The displayed speed limit only applies to the indicated lane(s)
End of maximum speed limit by lane End of all restrictions
End of all route-related speed and passing restrictions; statutory speed limit now applies
speed limit information sign    
Speed limit information sign
Maximum (or recommended) speed limits for urban areas, federal highways and motorways
   

Regulatory signs: Signs giving orders

Regulatory signs are signs that give mandatory orders - for instance things that you should or should not do. They are orders rather than suggestions, and as such must be adhered to. 

Like speed limit signs, most regulatory signs in Germany are round. A red circle is prohibitive (meaning you should not do the action depicted) while a blue circle is prescriptive (meaning you should follow the action depicted). Both prohibitive and prescriptive regulatory signs are ended by a black-and-white sign (although there are some exceptions). 

These are some commonly-used regulatory signs in Germany:

no passing no passing vehicles over 3,5 tonnes end no passing zone
No passing
You may not overtake other vehicles (except bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles)
No passing for vehicles over 3,5 tonnes
Vehicles weighing over 3,5 tonnes are not allowed to overtake other vehicles (except bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles)
End of no passing zone
end no passing for trucks road-closed motor vehicles prohibited
End of no passing zone for trucks Road closed
All vehicles are prohibited; a supplemental sign may indicate exceptions
Motor vehicles prohibited
Includes all multi-lane motor vehicles
vehicles over 3,5 tonnes prohibited bicycles prohibited mopeds prohibited
Vehicles over 3,5 tonnes prohibited Bicycles prohibited Mopeds prohibited
motorcycles and mopeds prohibited riders prohibited pedestrians prohibited
Motorcycles and mopeds prohibited Riders prohibited Pedestrians prohibited
horse-drawn vehicles prohibited cattle prohibited buses prohibited
Horse-drawn vehicles prohibited Cattle prohibited Buses prohibited
passenger vehicles prohibited hazardous cargo prohibited weight limit
Passenger vehicles prohibited Hazardous cargo prohibited Weight limit
No vehicles over maximum weight shown
axle weight limit horizontal clearance vertical clearance
Axle weight limit
No vehicles over maximum weight on axle shown
Horizontal clearance
No vehicles over maximum width shown
Vertical clearance
No vehicles over maximum height shown
length restriction minimum following distance lane crossover width restriction
Length restriction
No vehicle or combination of vehicles over length shown
Minimum following distance
Vehicles over 3,5 tonnes must maintain the indicated minimum following distance
Lane crossover width restriction
Width restriction is in effect for indicated lane(s)
low emissions restriction zone end low emissions restriction zone no u-turn
Low emissions restriction zone
Usually followed by a supplemental sign (see below)
End of low emissions restriction zone No U-turn
do not enter one-way street ahead only
Do not enter One-way street
Traffic on this street must travel in the direction of the arrow
Ahead only
All traffic must continue straight ahead
turn left ahead ahead turn only roundabout
Turn left ahead
All traffic must turn; can be left or right
Ahead or turn only
All traffic must continue straight ahead or turn (can be left or right)
Roundabout
All traffic must turn counter-clockwise around central island
turn left pass by right hard shoulder open to traffic
Turn left
All traffic must turn (can be left or right)
Pass by on right
All traffic must pass by obstacle (can be left or right)
Hard shoulder open to traffic
Hard shoulder can be used as a traffic lane
shoulder lane ends end hard shoulder lane pedestrian crossing
Shoulder lane ends
If you are in the shoulder lane, you must merge
End of shoulder lane
Do not drive on the shoulder lane past this point
Pedestrian crossing
Crossing ahead where pedestrians have right of way
pedestrian path pedestrian zone end pedestrian zone
Pedestrian path
Pedestrians only
Pedestrian zone
You are entering an area reserved for pedestrians; applies to all streets until you pass an “End of pedestrian zone” sign
End of pedestrian zone
bicycle path bicycle street end bicycle street
Bicycle lane
Bicycles only; cyclists must not use the roadway
Bicycle street
You are entering a street designated for bicycles
End of bicycle street
bicycle highway end bicycle highway pedestrian bicycle path combined
Bicycle highway
Marks a long-distance bicycle-only road
End of bicycle highway Pedestrian & Bicycle path
Combined path; both pedestrians and cyclists can use the entire path. Cyclists do not have right of way, but pedestrians must allow them to pass
pedestrian bicycle path divided bridle path snow chains or tyres required
Pedestrian & Bicycle path
Divided path; pedestrians and cyclists must keep to their designated sides
Bridle path
Horses only
Snow chains or tyres required
A speed limit of 50km/h applies
bus lane bus lane indicated  
Bus lane
All other vehicles prohibited
Bus lane
Shows which lane is reserved for buses
 

Right-of-way signs

These signs are designed to demonstrate who has right of way (priority) at a junction. If you come from a country where you drive on the left, priorities in Germany will be the opposite of what you are used to - for instance, at roundabouts you yield to traffic from the left. 

These right-of-way signs are all in use in Germany:

yield stop sign priority
Yield
You must give way to traffic on the intersecting road
Stop
You must come to a complete stop and give way to traffic on the intersecting road
Priority
You have right of way at the next intersection only
priority over oncoming traffic yield to oncoming traffic  
Priority over oncoming traffic
You have right of way over oncoming traffic when the road narrows ahead
Yield to oncoming traffic
You must give way to oncoming traffic when the road narrows ahead
 
priority road end priority road  
Priority road
You have right of way at all intersections on this road until cancelled by a “Yield”, “Stop” or “End of priority road” sign; parking is prohibited on this road except in built-up areas
End of priority road
You must give way at subsequent intersections
 

Parking signs

Here are all the signs you might see in Germany related to parking - including both prohibitive and prescriptive signs.

Parking prohibition signs

These signs show where parking is forbidden:

no stopping no parking parking restriciton zone
No stopping
You may not stop or stand on this side of the road
No parking
You may not leave your vehicle on this side of the road for more than three minutes, except for pick-ups / drop-offs / loading / unloading
Parking restriction zone
You are entering a neighbourhood where parking is restricted on all streets until you pass an “End of parking restriction zone” sign 
end parking restriction zone no stopping start no stopping end
End of parking restriction zone No stopping (start)
Marks the beginning of a no stopping area - no stopping to the left of this sign on this side of the street
No stopping (end)
Marks the end of a no stopping area - no stopping to the right of this sign on this side of the street
no stopping no parking start no parking end
No stopping
Stopping on this side of the street is prohibited in both directions
No parking (start)
Marks the beginning of a no parking area - no parking to the left of this sign on this side of the street
No parking (end)
Marks the end of a no parking area  - no parking to the right of this sign on this side of the street
no parking taxi stand tow zone
No parking
Parking on this side of the street is prohibited in both directions
Taxi stand
Reserved for taxis; other vehicles may not stop here
Tow zone
Vehicles parked here illegally will be towed

Parking allowed signs

These signs demonstrate where you may park:

parking area parking management zone end parking management zone
Parking area
Parking is permitted in this area
Parking management zone
You are entering a neighbourhood where parking is for permit holders only, as indicated by the supplemental sign; this applies until you pass an “End of parking management zone” sign
End of parking management zone
restricted parking disc disabled users only parking garage
Restricted parking
You may use a parking disc to park here for the length of time indicated
Reserved parking
Parking for disabled permit holders only
Parking garage
park and ride parking area start parking area end
Park & Ride Parking area (start)
Marks the start of a parking area
Parking area (end)
Marks the end of a parking area
perpendicular parking angle parking parking on pavement allowed half
Perpendicular parking
Parking spaces are perpendicular to the roadway
Angle parking
Parking spaces are at an angle to the roadway
Parking on pavement allowed
Cars may park half on the pavement and half on the street
parking on pavement allowed wholly parking on pavement allowed perpendicular parking on pavement allowed wholly perpendicular
Parking on pavement allowed
Cars may park wholly on the pavement
Parking on pavement allowed
Cars may park perpendicularly half on the pavement and half on the street
Parking on pavement allowed
Cars may park perpendicularly and wholly on the pavement

Information & Guide signs

Information signs are the most commonly-used road signs in Germany and are generally used to provide road users with general information about the road they are using and the road ahead.

Direction signs used on the Autobahn have a blue background, while signs outside built-up areas (federal highways / Bundestraẞen) have a yellow background, and signs inside built-up areas have a white background. As in other countries, signs relating to tourist attractions are on a brown background. 

Autobahn signs

These are signs you are most likely to see on the Autobahn:

autobahn route number autobahn junction numberautobahn exit number autobahn entrance
Autobahn route number Autobahn junction / exit number Autobahn entrance
Autobahn traffic regulations now apply
end of autobahn autobahn direction sign consolidated direction sign
End of Autobahn
Autobahn traffic regulations end
Autobahn direction sign
Points towards entrance to indicated Autobahn
Consolidated direction sign
Route information for all directions
autobahn entrance direction sign autobahn detour autobahn distance sign
Autobahn entrance direction sign
Shows direction for Autobahn entrances ahead
Autobahn detour
If Autobahn is closed, follow numbered Autobahn route (or red dot / circle) to return to next entrance
Autobahn distance sign
autobahn service station autobahn exit sign 1000m autobahn reminder exit sign
Service station
Next exit has a service station
Autobahn exit sign
Next exit (name & number) in 1.000 metres
Autobahn reminder exit sign
Next exit in 500 metres
autobahn countdown markerautobahn countdown markerautobahn countdown marker autobahn exit autobahn exit
Autobahn junction countdown markers
Located 300 (three stripes) / 200 (two stripes) / 100 metres (one stripe) before a junction
Autobahn exit
Located just prior to the exit
Autobahn exit
Marks exit ramp
tunnel ahead tunnel length turn headlights on
Tunnel ahead Tunnel
Length of tunnel is indicated
Turn headlights on
Reminds drivers to switch on headlights before tunnels
turn headlights off breakdown bay  
Turn headlights off
Reminds drivers to switch off headlights after tunnels
Breakdown bay
Roadside bay can be used in case of emergency; other uses prohibited
 

Federal highway or main road signs

If you are driving on the federal highway (Bundesstraße), you will see some of these signs:

federal highway entrance end federal highway federal highway route number
Federal highway entrance
Entry for motor vehicles capable of speeds exceeding 60 km/h only
End of federal highway Federal highway route number
european route number federal highway direction sign secondary road direction sign
European route number Federal highway direction sign
Junction sign showing route number, direction and distance to major destinations
Secondary road direction sign
Junction sign showing direction and distance to major destinations
secondary road direction sign minor advance direction sign advance direction sign lane configurations
Secondary road direction sign
Junction sign showing direction and distance to minor destinations
Advance direction sign
Advises of directions at an approaching junction
Advance direction sign
Advises notice of directions and lane configurations at approaching junction
advance direction sign roundabout consolidated direction sign federal highway distance sign
Advance direction sign
Advises of directions at approaching roundabout
Consolidated direction sign
Junction sign showing route information for all directions
Federal highway distance sign
federal highway exit sign 1000 metres federal highway countdown marker 300mfederal highway countdown marker 200mfederal highway countdown marker 100m federal highway exit
Federal highway exit sign
Next exit (name) in 1.000 metres
Federal highway junction countdown markers
Located 300 (three stripes) / 200 (two stripes) / 100 metres (one stripe) before a junction
Federal highway exit
Located just prior to the exit
federal highway exit federal highway exit local destinations diversion
Federal highway exit
Marks exit ramp
Federal highway exit
Shows an exit for local destinations
Diversion sign
Shows detour route (being phased out)
end of diversion diversion direction sign end of diversion
End of diversion Diversion direction sign
Shows detour route
End of diversion
alternate route end alternate route route for trucks
Alternate route
Indicates a recommended alternate route to avoid congestion
End of alternate route Route for trucks
route for bicycles layout detour route layout detour route designated vehicles
Route for bicycles Layout of detour route Layout of detour route for designated vehicles
Indicates type of vehicle prohibited ahead and shows detour route
complicated traffic route    
Complicated traffic route
Special route to go in direction indicated
   

Signs in urban or built-up areas

If you’re driving in an urban or built-up area (for instance in a city in Germany), you’ll see signs like these:

entering urban area leaving urban area leaving urban area white
Entering urban area
Urban traffic regulations begin, including 50 km/h speed limit
Leaving urban area
Speed limit returns to 100 km/h as urban traffic regulations end; distance to next town is shown
Leaving urban area
White section indicates the next town is in the same municipality
place name local direction marker traffic calming zone
Place name
Information only - no speed limit implied - used for small towns and other places of interest
Local direction marker Traffic calming zone
Traffic calming rules apply to all streets until you pass an “End of traffic calming zone” sign
end traffic calming zone pedestrian crossing patrol no through road
End of traffic calming zone​​​​ Pedestrian crossing patrol No through road
pedestrian underpass pedestrian overpass pedestrians must cross
Pedestrian underpass Pedestrian overpass Pedestrians must cross road
bus tram stop school bus stop street name sign
Bus or tram stop
No parking within 15 metres of this sign. Do not overtake trams stopped to board or discharge passengers, yield to vehicles leaving stop
School bus stop
Watch out for children on the days and times indicated
Street name sign

Touristic signs

On holiday in Germany? Pay attention to these brown signs, which direct you to and give more information about tourist attractions:

tourist attraction tourist route river name
Tourist attraction Tourist route River name
Shows the name of the river you are crossing
scenic area tourist attraction marker  
Scenic area
Shows a scenic or tourist area near the road
Tourist attraction marker
Shows direction to indicated tourist attraction
 

Service signs

These signs are used to give directions to services and facilities on or near the road. They are primarily used along the Autobahn. Service signs are a symbol in a white field on a blue square or rectangle:

petrol station electric vehicle charging station restaurant
Petrol station Electric vehicle charging station Restaurant
snack bar hotel auto repair shop
Snack bar Hotel Auto repair shop
toilet chapel police station
Toilet Chapel Police station
tourist information telephone emergency telephone
Tourist information Telephone Emergency telephone
first aid motor caravan site motor caravan and trailer site
First aid Motor caravan park Motor caravan and trailer park

Railway crossing signs

You will find these signs around railway level crossings:

railway crossing ahead railway crossing 240 metresrailway crossing 240 metres railway crossing 160railway crossing 160 metres
Railway crossing ahead
You may not overtake between this sign and the crossing
Railway crossing ~240 metres ahead Railway crossing ~160 metres ahead
railway crossing 80 mrailway crossing 80 metres railway crossing electrified railway crossing
Railway crossing ~80 metres ahead Railway crossing (St Andrew’s cross)
You must stop if a train is approaching
Electrified railway crossing
Tall vehicles beware; this railway crossing has electrical wires overhead

Supplementary signs (Zusatzschilder)

The German road sign system also makes frequent use of supplementary signs (Zusatzschilder). These black and white rectangular or square signs are mounted below a “parent sign” (for instance, a warning sign) and are used to modify or give additional information - for instance the duration of the parent sign’s instruction, or exemptions. 

Here’s an overview of some more common supplementary signs in Germany - although this is not by any means an exhaustive list. 

distance to condition duration length of condition continues for
Distance to the condition
(Shown on the parent sign)
Duration (length) of the condition Remaining duration (length)
duration length condition ends in... metres risk of accident
Duration (length)  Ends in… metres Risk of accident
oil spill smoke end of restriction
Oil slick Smoke End of restriction
bicycles and residents allowed emissions stickers only at times shown
Bicycles and residents allowed
Frei is used to indicate when the condition does not apply to certain types of road users
Entry only for low-emissions vehicles
With yellow or green Low Emission Zone Stickers
At times shown

Additional signs & Road equipment

You may also see these common additional road signs in Germany:

customs post toll road truck toll road
Customs post Toll road
Motorists must pay a toll to use this road
Truck toll road
Trucks must pay a toll to use this road
end truck toll road reflector guide post reflector post
End truck toll road Reflector guide post
Posted along roadside
Reflector guide post
curve marker left curve marker right obstruction marker
Curve markers
Indicate direction of travel
Obstruction marker
Indicates you may pass on either side
obstruction marker leftobstruction marker right mobile lane closure board bollard
Obstruction marker
Includes flashing lights and indicates which side you must pass on
Mobile lane closure board
Used to temporarily close road lanes during construction; you must pass on the side indicated
Bollard
Prevents unauthorised vehicle entry into pedestrian areas and bike paths
reduced clearance church services turn off engine
Reduced clearance
Marks edges of overpass or other structure with reduced vertical and / or horizontal clearance
Church services
Gold denotes Catholic services while purple denotes Protestant services
Shut off engine
Reminds drivers to turn off engines while stopped to reduce pollution
nature reserve school bus construction project information
Nature reserve School bus Construction project information
autobahn kilometre marking self-driving car marker  
Autobahn kilometre marker Self-driving car reference marker  

Road markings in Germany

It is also important to pay attention to road markings in Germany, which also provide information about actions that are and are not allowed:

stop line yield line zebra crossing
Stop line
​​​​​​​
You must stop behind the thick solid line across your lane
Yield line
You must stop at a thick broken line across your lane and yield to priority traffic
Pedestrian crossing
Zebra stripes across the roadway mark a pedestrian crossing; you must yield to pedestrians
restricted zone no stopping zone direction arrows
Restricted zone
​​​​​​​
You may not drive in an area covered with diagonal lines
No stopping zone
​​​​​​​
Zig-zag lines near the curb mark an area where you may not stop or park
Direction arrows
​​​​​​​
Arrows on the road surface in your lane indicate which turns are allowed
no passing road lane separation line solid broken travel line
No passing
​​​​​​​
A solid centre line indicates you may not overtake; the long solid line along the side of the roadway marks the edge
Lane separation line
Long broken lines separating traffic lanes indicate that passing is allowed (unless prohibited by a sign); shorter broken lines indicate the passing zone is ending
Solid / broken travel line
​​​​​​​
Passing is only allowed on the side with the broken centre line; you may not overtake if the solid line is on your side
merge arrow advance notice arrow to indicate lane end  
Merge arrow 
​​​​​​​
Warns passing traffic to merge to the right as the passing zone is coming to an end
Advance notice arrow to indicate lane end
​​​​​​​
Warns that the left lane is coming to an end and passing traffic should merge
 

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