Among all other adjustments you have to make when we move to a different country, it’s fair to say that having a driver’s license is a real one. I mean, when you’ve spent your entire life driving to the 5 minute walk away grocery store, wouldn’t it be a pickle if you had to wait 10 minutes for a bus to arrive so you can go get eggs? Suffering from the same dilemma, I paid attention to this matter in Fall 2018, and guess what? In February 2019, I got my Klasse B Führerschein and that too, at 70% of a reduced total expense. That’s right, I like to save time and money, and I’m pretty sure you do too. So let’s look at the steps you are going to follow to get you around the same cost as I did.
Regular Driver’s License Cost ~ 2500 Euros
My Driver’s License Cost = 850 Euros
Step 1 – Book Your Appointment
First things first, before you do anything, open the Kfz-Zulassungsstelle (Vehicle Registration Office) website of your city or give them a call (requires German) and make an appointment for an “Umschreibung”. It doesn’t cost anything and if you’re planning to start in 3 months or even 6 months, book now and save time. Last-minute appointments usually stretch out to another 2-3 months. If you’re lucky and want to start right away, you might get an appointment 1 month away. So, save yourself some time and Book Now!
Step 2 – Ready Documents for the Appointment
You need to do the following tasks in order to get all your required documents at the Bürgeramt and I suggest you work on them in the order I provide below:
- First Aid Certificate – Cost: 30 Euros – Time: 1 Day
If you’re studying at a university, find out if they are offering the course and you can get one for free. Otherwise, google where in your city can you do a First Aid Course and register for it; it’s usually offered in both languages, German and English. If you’re unlucky and only find it in German, take a friend with you who can translate the entire thing for you (preferably he/she is going for the course already so he/she doesn’t require convincing). If not, arrive at the venue earlier and ask the other participants who are fluent in both languages and can translate the important bits for you (shouldn’t be hard to find one). Courses take place on weekends mostly.
- ADAC Translation – Cost: 60 Euros – Time: 7 Days
This step translates your document to German for the authorities. The process is fairly simple; you walk in your local ADAC and tell them you need a translation and classification of your driver’s license. If you don’t speak German well enough and have no access to help, just memorize this phrase: “Hallo, ich möchte meinen Führerschein übsersetzen lassen” and from there on, she’ll just ask you for your stuff. You’ll need to take your home driver’s license, your residence permit, and the money. Task 2 – Done.
- Eye test, a photograph and your passport – Cost: 20 Euros – Time: 20 Minutes
Google an optician nearby, walk in and ask for a “Sehtest für Führerschein”. Pictures at any nearby photo-booth.
Step 3 – Kfz Verification Process – Cost: 40 Euros – Time: 30 Days
Once you have all the documents, go meet your appointment but if you don’t speak German well, please make sure that you take someone with you who is fluent. If you are not fluent, chances are they will send you back and before you know it, you would have wasted another 2 months. This process allows the authorities to verify your driver’s license i.e. if it is authentic or not. The officer is going to take your home driver’s license and keep it with them. They will ask if you are registered with a driving school; just reply not yet. You’ll also be notified that you need to complete both the theory and the practical exam in order to successfully convert your license. Remember to mention that you would like to give your theory exam in English; this is if the officer does not ask him or herself. That’s it, you’re done and you’ll move on to preparing for your theory test while they verify your license. No wasting of time.
Step 4 – Theory Test Preparation and Searching for a Driving School – Cost: 8 Euros
Most people getting this process done would wait for the verification to be done after which they go to register with a driving school where they get charged a decent amount of money for their theory exam. We’re not most people, we’re smart and we’ll prepare on our own. Go to your App Store or Android Store and download this app “THEORIE 24 PRO MULTILINGUAL”. In just 8 Euros you have all 1096 questions you would need for your exam in addition to several practice exams. Did I forget to mention you can choose any of the 13 languages offered including English? Now you know. Spend 60 minutes every day on the app instead of being on Instagram and in 30 Days, you’ll be surprised how far you will come to being prepared for the exam.
Simultaneously, you will be searching for a driving school as well. What are the criteria you are going to follow to select one? Google all “Fahrschule” in your city and give them a call or look on their website for the following information:
- Do they accept “Umschreibung” applicants?
- Low “Grundbetrag” (Registration fee)
- Low “Fahrstunden” (cost per 45 minutes of driving)
- Does the Driving instructor speak Basic English?
Make a list and chose the top 3 with the l. Out of the top 3, read reviews on Google, judge their website, and choose the one which seems the most authentic and friendly. Why this? Most driving schools can charge you less registration fees but then make up for that money by charging you with extra driving classes (I also have a hack for that later in the article). In my case, I only had to pay 175 Euros, as opposed to 250-500 of average Grundbetrag.
Step 5 – Receiving your Verification Letter and Booking Your Theory Test Appointment – Cost: 21 Euros
Usually, in 30 days you should receive your verification letter from the Bürgeramt in addition to an invoice for TÜV amounting to 114 Euros (22 for theory exam; 92 for the practical exam). If they fail to verify your home license and give you an excuse (This happened to me with my Pakistani driver’s license), write them an email back stating that you are sure it’s a mistake that you checked with your home authority yourself and they assured you there was no such problem. Provide them with the link https://dlims.punjab.gov.pk/verify/ where they can enter your CNIC as proof and tell them they should try it again. 30 days later I received my proper verification, and you should too.
If you did not have a problem with the verification step, move on to booking your theory test appointment. Make a call to TÜV and tell them you received the verification letter from Bürgeramt and would like to make the earliest appointment available. Remember, at this point, you are doing everything yourself and not registered with any driving school. Get the appointment (which should be within a week) and give the exam. Important: Take your actual passport and your residence permit to the exam. At the end of the exam, you get a paper stating if you passed or failed.
Step 6 – Registering with a Driving school and preparing for Practical Exam Time: Cost: 150-250 Euros
Assuming that you passed your theory test, it’s time to go to your selected driving school, register with them, pay the Grundbetrag, and schedule your driving classes. Here, your goal should be to take as few classes as possible while knowing everything you would need to know about the exam. You are charged by 45 minute periods and one session with the driving instructor is 90 minutes. So, we’re going to be smart about using this time.
In the first session, you meet the instructor and basically prove to him you can drive; shift gears comfortably, clutch to gas balance, able to control speed, etc. At the end of the first session ask the instructor to provide you with some feedback, what did you do wrong, or what do you need to pay specific attention to? Write that down and read it at least 5 times before the next session playing the scenario in your head.
In the second session, your goal is to not repeat those mistakes. If there was a sign you overlooked the last time, have a special lookout for the same sign and get acquainted with it. If you messed up the parking, ask the instructor to repeat that a couple of times till you get comfortable with it. By the end of the second session, you should be at least 80% more comfortable with your driving so that you can ask your instructor to move on to Autobahn and Landstraße in the next session.
In the third session, drive on the Landstraße and if possible go on the Autobahn the same day, get used to speed, and practice emergency braking in addition to any other problems you are facing, make sure to repeat those. At the end of the third session ask the instructor to guide you through the car part names you would have to memorize, ideally, the instructor would give you a list of things you would have to know, which you can later look at home. At this point, the instructor will also provide you with your practical exam date.
In the fourth session, this should be your last session right before the actual exam where the instructor takes you through a mock exam. He will go through all the necessary parts of the exam to get you acquainted with the exam style. Fun fact: the mock exam is usually a lot harder and tenser than the actual exam so even if you don’t do well enough, you should be fine for your actual exam the next day.
Step 7 – Pay your Driving School, the Exam Fee and Take your Practical Exam – Cost: ~ 500-550 Euros
You will be handed a bill on the day of your fourth session by your driving school summing the total Fahrstunde you spent with the instructor, in addition to a 100 Euros Fee for the final exam. Note that this fee is separate from the 91 Euros you will pay to TÜV as the actual exam fee. So breaking it down for you once again, you will have to pay:
- Fahrschule fee (which includes the driving hours + 100 Euros)
- TÜV practical exam fee = 91 Euros
And finally, after months of bureaucratic work, you give your final exam. It is 45 minutes long and usually, they would test the following:
- (Gefahrbremsung) Emergency break: While driving at 30km/h you would have to hit the clutch and brakes hard to fully stop the car when your examiner gives the go.
- Autobahn: You will probably have to go on the Autobahn for as little as one exit.
- Parking: You will be surely asked to parallel park or a standard parking lot parking.
If you pass the exam, you will be handed your license right away. That is right, the examiner is holding your driver’s license the entire time during the test and it’s only one arm reach away from you.
This is it!
With this most Ultimate step-by-step guide you guys will find on the internet to get your Führerschein; Now you’re ready to drive freely, get annoyed by limited parking spaces, the speed at the Autobahn, and make long road trips across Europe 😉