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Getting an International Driver’s License (Internationaler Führerschein) in Germany With a USAREUR License

The front of my international driver’s license (Internationaler Führerschein) with some info smudged out.

Around the time we were getting everything ready to move to Kaiserslautern, I got an international driver’s license (Internationaler Führerschein) so I’d be able to drive outside of Germany. The USAREUR (US Army Europe) license I have only allows me to drive within Germany, although it was a requirement to get the international license.

To get the international license, a military or dependent ID is also required as well as a passport-sized photo. Unfortunately on the day I went to get my license with my husband, I forgot to grab the extra photos from when I got my tourist passport, so we stopped at one of the booths on post to get a set for €5.

After the photos, we went to the Heidelberg ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club), which is kind of like a German version of AAA. Inside to the left was an area labeled Fahrerlaubnisstellen, which is where we needed to go. I’m not 100% sure on the translation, but Google translates Fahrerlaubnisstellen in an article as “License Regulation”. We sat down and started the process only to find that the application was supposed to be stamped from the driver testing station that had originally issued the USAREUR license.

So we headed back there. To get the application stamped, I had to do a quick eye test. I asked the guy if we were going to have to update our USAREUR and/or international licenses when we moved since we were in the process of doing so. He asked if we had, in fact, already moved or if we were actually in the process. I said we were in the process since we hadn’t turned over the keys to the Heidelberg place yet. He said it wouldn’t be a problem to do the international license in Heidelberg and that they shouldn’t need to be updated.

He also said it would be easier to do the international licenses where we were because in Kaiserslautern you actually have to go down to the Stadtverwaltung (City Administration). He made it sound like it was more complicated than getting it done between the military installation and ADAC. If you’re in Kaiserslautern, here’s the info on getting your international license. Those who live in the city of Kaiserslautern go to the Stadtverwaltung mentioned above. Those who live in the county of Kaiserslautern go to the Kreisverwaltung (County Administration).

After the guy signed off and gave me a stamp on my application, we headed back over to ADAC and went to the same office. That time through was pretty quick. The lady typed everything up and printed it off then affixed one of the photos to the inside of the license. The cost was about €16. It’s been over a year since I got my international license, and while I have been out of the country since, I still haven’t driven with it, but it’s nice to know that I am able to if necessary.

The inside of my international driver’s license (Internationaler Führerschein) with some info smudged out.

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4 Thoughts on “Getting an International Driver’s License (Internationaler Führerschein) in Germany With a USAREUR License

  1. I’ve actually never used my international driver’s license to this day either but I agree with your last statement: It’s nice to know that it is available in case I need it.

    • Haha well I don’t feel so bad. Yep, better safe than sorry. Your comment on this reminds me I never even wrote about the USAREUR/American license debacle that was going on here for a few weeks. Long story short: Rheinland-Pfalz wanted Americans to show a non-expired American license with the USAREUR one even though many of the states (like FL) automatically extend licenses for military members and dependents without having to renew (thus they *look* expired but aren’t). It caused quite a bit of panic, and some people who had long-expired licenses or whose states require everyone to renew in person even flew back to America to get it done. I waited it out on principle, because as far as my state was concerned, my license was and is “valid”. I’m glad I did as it finally resolved with them going back to the way things were before that we only need the USAREUR one to be in-date.

  2. Usually, you will not get into any routine check while driving and travelling within continental EU – unless your car looks quite odd, or you appear to be intoxicated thanks to your driving behaviour. As a person permanently living in Germany and frequently crossing intra-EU borders, I never had to show any documents to any officer within the last 20 years. With one exemption: accidents. Just imagine some reckless person just crashing your car. You would be well advised to call the police just for the sake that you get some documentation that the crash happened at all. Police in Europe would usually check documents (as to the identity of the persons involved, the proper registration of the cars, and their driving privileges), but would not assist in settling private claims. Therefore police would usually ask the drivers involved to exchange necessary data and show documents by themselves, and would only assist once one of the drivers involved would refuse to do so (which constitutes a “hit and run” offence). Anyone involved in a crash would be well advised to record – from official documents – all data of the vehicle, the “operator” of the vehicle as recorded in the license papers, and the name and biographic data, and the address, of the driver.

    If those documents are not (rather standardized) EU documents, e.g. unusual U.S. documents, the other driver might pose additional questions, or ask police for assistance, which, then, might double-check whether such documents are valid at all. In some EU states, there might exist legal “grey zones” as to the validity to such documents. In order to avoid such hassle, it is advisable to supplement U.S. documents by EU style or EU-issued documents as far as this is possible. Any document issued in the EU by a local authority concerning the right to stay there, drive there, or perform anything else will be accepted by any other European authority.

    • Regardless of whether we would usually get checked, we must have the international license on us if we’re crossing Germany’s border, just as we must carry our tourist passport when crossing and our no fee passport when coming back in. It’s not so much a question of whether they understand any other documents we may have as it being a part of our SOFA agreement that we will have those. It’s my understanding that a tourist can come over and drive a certain number of days within Germany and that a US-provided “international license” such as through AAA would suffice for crossing borders. That’s not the case for those of us here under SOFA.

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