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Of course, most people driving foreign registered cars are a tourist and not criminal masterminds, but using foreign-registered cars is a method used by some criminals to avoid detection. You will have to exchange your foreign licence for a German permit, which requires paperwork attesting to your good health and eyesight. The registered keeper of a vehicle is liable for the tax in Germany which is based on engine size and CO2 emissions. Note that your licence must be a full domestic driving licence. Generally speaking you can expect to be required to bring the following documents to your appointment: Converting your non-EU licence to a German one can be a lengthy process. Driving licences issued in EU and EEA countries are accepted. It is therefore advisable to apply for a licence exchange shortly after registering as a resident. The environmental badge scheme also applies to foreign-registered vehicles; the badge must be bought before arriving in Germany. Generally you are required to carry a translation of your driver’s licence if it was not issued in the EU, Andorra, Hong Kong, Monaco, San Marino, Switzerland or Senegal. The German authorities differentiate mainly between permits issued in EU countries and permits issued in non-EU countries.

If you do not have time to go to an ADAC office in person or cannot find one close to you, you have the option to mail in your original licence (always use recorded mail). Depending on which US state your licence was issued in, you may be required to undergo additional testing or provide further documentation. First you have to distinguish if you are a temporary or a permanent resident. This is decided on a case by case basis, but it is worth checking with the local Führerscheinstelle before you sign up for classes. After this day the foreign licence in this category has to be converted to a German licence. (You can get one from the ADAC, see “Do I need to carry a translation of my non-EU licence?” above to find out how to do this and if it applies to your case. Note: Getting a driver’s licence can be very costly in Germany. There are usually several ADAC offices in bigger cities, especially in the main hubs Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. The permission to drive a car in South Africa with a foreign driving license If you are coming as an international to South Africa you definitely need a car to explore the beautiful country. With a classification, the ADAC determines which vehicle category you are permitted to drive or ride according to your foreign licence and which category this equates to in the German system. The ADAC offers classification as well as translation services. But it does not have to be: Depending on where your licence was issued, you may be able to simply exchange your foreign licence for a German one without having to provide additional documentation. Depending on the region you are in, a German licence can cost up to 2.000 Euros (including classes and testing fees). The following vehicle data (provided in the certificate of conformity or Part II of the registration certificate): make, type, model, version and commercial designation of the vehicle and, if EC-type approval or national type-approval has been granted, the number and date of the authorisation, where this information is available, for passenger vehicles: the paint used by the manufacturer, date of first registration or entry into service, where a new registration number has been allocated after the cancelation or loss of the previous number plate, the previous registration number. If you do not possess a driver’s licence, you are not allowed to drive a car in Germany. If you buy a new (passenger) car in Germany, you must have it checked again for roadworthiness 36 months after the date of its initial roadworthiness check and registration. You can convert your non-EU driving licence by submitting an application to your local driving licence office (Führerscheinstelle). Your original foreign driver’s licence. If this is not yet available, you need to apply for an authentic copy of it. Additionally, it might make sense to take out either partial comprehensive or fully comprehensive insurance. If an EU resident drives a Swiss-registered vehicle borrowed from a Swiss resident in the EU, this can already be considered as car smuggling.

Stickers (valid in all of Germany) can be obtained by presenting the vehicle registration documents at the vehicle registration authority (Landesamt für Bürger und Ordnungsangelegenheithen, LABO), technical certification organisations or authorised repair workshops; or buy online. This is not the case in Germany.

These countries include: *Note: The USA is a special case.

A coloured windscreen sticker - the environmental badge - identifies the pollution class a vehicle belongs to: green (class 4), yellow (class 3) and red (class 2). You should receive your translation within one week of handing in your licence (three weeks for non-Latin letters). After that you are required to convert your foreign licence to a German permit. If you hold a category C, CE, D, DE, D1 or D1E licence, your licence will expire five years after the date of issue (even if it is valid for a longer period in the country which issued it).

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