Saturday, May 30, 2009

Driver's License Process

Mike asks:

Is it difficult to get a German drivers license?

German licenses look something like this:

If you are coming from the U.S., the first question is:

1) Does your state have driver's license reciprocity with Germany?

Some states have full reciprocity (no written or practical test needed), some have partial (written only test needed) and some have none. Guess which state NJ falls into?

Right! No reciprocity.

2) The next step is to take a First Aid Course. If someone has an accident, you are required to help out with first aid. I have already taken that course. Before I went to the course, somebody said it will be in German but there will be an english-language pamphlet. Not true! I took the course and thankfully there was a person or two who translated the highlights for us. We also did practical work on Resusci Annie (is that Resusci Heidi in Germany?). So if you get into an accident on your motorcycle I now know how to take off your helmet without breaking your neck further. You get a certificate that said you attended the course.

3) After that you take an eye test at your local optemetrist. I am about ready for a new batch of contacts but I squeaked through. You get a certificate that said you passed.

4) Next is the translation of your exisiting driver's license. It helps if you have your previous expired driver's license to show you have been driving for some period of time (otherwise you need to have a probation period). Currently they have my license and I have a photo copy and a letter stating that it is being translated. Our relocation company is taking care of those details for us. You also give them a picture which will be used..unfortunately we had our pictures taken to be used for various permits, etc. and it says "Don't Smile" for these pictures so my picture looks very depressing.

5) In 3-4 weeks I will take the written exam. We have aquired a packet of sixty 35 question tests from which the actual test questions will come from. This test will be in English. The problem is that I have no book that tells you the kind of have to reverse-engineer them from the test questions. I would say that 75% of the questions are logical to answer, but the other ones you need to know the law. For example, how many meters do you have to park from a Bus or Tram stop? (15m).

6) Next you take some lessons from a driving school. This is really just for the instructor to see what you are doing and point out things you need to make sure you do for the test. Hubby took three of these lessons before his test.

7) Then you take the practical test. I hear it is about 30 minutes long and you drive in different situations.

8) If you pass, you don't get your license at the TUV (like DMV) where you took your test, you go to town hall and get your license.

9) They may or may not take your U.S. license from you...Hubby got to keep his because "he is going back and forth for business trips". Let's see if that will work for me!

10) Once you have a German driver's license, you have it for life. No renewing every 4 years!

Bonus question: Why don't all states have reciprocity?
Theories on the internet:

1. One theory is that the full-reciprocity criteria had something to do with where most US military personnel historically came from. This doesn't appear to hold much water.

2. Note the big states (CA, NY, NJ) are not on the list, but other little ones are. This is either because of accident statistics or (conspiracy theory) they figure these are big immigrant states with lower standards.

3. German precision was truly applied, and they actually sent people over to obtain drivers licenses in each state and evaluated which were easy and which were tough.

4. People in the U.S. may not be used to driving in all weather conditions (snow, etc.)


Beth said...

Resusci Annie was actually invented in Sweden by Laerdal.
Heaven forbid you should have to worry about removing someone's helmet, but sometimes that is not the wisest thing to do, as in non-overt decaps.
15m = about 50ft,same as in US I think.
And, what's that about 'real women'???

Blopper said...

Don't you remember the companion book to "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche?"

vicki said...

Illinois has reciprocity, and it is an immigrant state and has one of the easiest tests to pass, at least as compared to WI and AZ--the other two states I had licenses from. In fact, not too long ago, if you wanted to drive a commercial truck, you didn't have to take lessons or pass a test. You just had to pay someone off at the Secretary of State's office. And yet, to get my German F├╝hrerschein, all I had to do was pay 35 €. They let me keep my IL license too, even though I didn't want it back.

Laura said...

I was very lucky in that I had a license from Michigan and didn't have to go through any of the hassle. I was wondering if Michigan had reciprocity becasue of the auto industry.