Germany phases out pre-2013 driving licences: What you need to know 

Germany phases out pre-2013 driving licences: What you need to know 

Driving licences in Germany are getting an update to make them safer and more secure - but what do you need to do? Find out more about the German driving licence exchange below.

What's happening to driving licences in Germany?

An EU driving licence directive stipulates that all pre-2013 driving licences must be replaced by 2033. This is to ensure that the EU has only uniform, forgery-proofed driving licences in circulation.

The mass exchange will force over 43 million drivers in Germany to hand over their driving licence in exchange for an updated one over the next few years. 

When do I need to exchange my licence? 

In short: this depends on which licence you currently have. For driving licences issued up to December 31, 1998, the year of the driver’s birth dictates the deadline.

The following dates are of concern for driving licences issued before 1999:

  • Born before 1953: Exchange by January 19, 2033
  • Born between 1953 and 1958: Exchange by January 19, 2022
  • Born between 1959 and 1964: Exchange by January 19, 2023
  • Born between 1965 and 1970: Exchange by January 19, 2024
  • Born in 1971 or later: Exchange by January 19, 2025

For licences issued on or after January 1, 1999, the deadlines are not dictated by year of birth; instead the year of issue applies: 

  • Issued between 1999 and 2001: Exchange by January 19, 2026
  • Issued between 2002 and 2004: Exchange by January 19, 2027
  • Issued between 2005 and 2007: Exchange by January 19, 2028
  • Issued in 2008: Exchange by January 19, 2029
  • Issued in 2009: Exchange by January 19, 2030
  • Issued in 2010: Exchange by January 19, 2031
  • Issued in 2011: Exchange by January 19, 2032
  • Issued between 2012 and January 18, 2013: Exchange by January 19, 2033

Though it may not be entirely convenient to replace your driving licence, the bright side is that you do not have to retake the driving test to obtain a new one. All that's involved is a simple bit of admin. 

Where can the old driver's licence be exchanged?

The driving licence authority (Führerscheinstelle) in your region is responsible for the new licence exchange - this authority is usually housed in your local citizens' office.

Be aware that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany, working hours at administrative buildings have changed. It is therefore advisable for you to check restrictions and find out the opening hours of licencing authorities in your residential area. 

What documents will I need to bring?

In order to exchange your existing licence for a new one, the following documents are required:

  • A valid identity card or passport
  • A biometric passport photo
  • Your current driver's licence

How much will it cost, and how long will it last? 

In addition to the above documents, drivers will also have to pay a 25-euro fee for the application. 

Your new driving licence will not be valid indefinitely, as previous licences in Germany have been, and will instead need to be renewed every 15 years. The 15-year period of validity already applies to driving licences issued after January 19, 2013. 

What happens if I forget to renew on time?

Forgetting to renew your driver's licence in time can lead to a small fine of ten euros. However, it is still worth exchanging it even after the deadline, as having an outdated driving licence may cause greater problems if travelling abroad.



Emily Proctor

Former Editor at IamExpat Media.

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