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Do You Need an International Drivers Permit for Germany?

Know what you need before you rent or drive a car in Germany


Berlin Panorama
Julia Davila-Lampe/Moment Open/Getty Images

Germany is such a wonderful place to explore by car. Business travelers may decide to rent a car to make it easy to travel to business meetings in different cities. But one question that frequently comes up for travelers is whether or not they need an International Drivers Permit (note: it's sometimes called an International Driving License) to drive in Germany.

The short answer is no, you don't. But it's certainly a good idea. An International Drivers Permit needs to be used in conjunction with a valid United States license. It's basically a translation of your existing drivers license into different languages, and provides some identifying information (photo, address, etc.).

In the U.S. they can be obtain at AAA offices as well as from the National Automobile Club, typically for a fee of $15.

In most cases, rental car companies do not require drivers to have an International Drivers Permit when renting a car in Germany. However, you are required to have one if driving in Austria.

Extended Stays and Driving Tips

About.com’s Germany Travel Guide has many great tips for driving in Germany.

If you're going to be staying for a longer time in Germany, you may want to consider actually getting a German driver's license. For example, non-E.U. visitors must get a German drivers license after six months. Luckily, a significant number of U.S. states have reciprocity agreements with the German government and can simply obtain a license by showing the right identification. Residents of other states must take a written test.

For additional driving tips for Germany, the GermanWay website has a good explanation of driving in Germany that's worth consulting. It also has a good explanation of how and when United States visitors should obtain a German driving license.

What Out for Scams!

International Drivers Permits seem to be area rife with scams and outlets selling them for greatly inflated prices. For more information, read my article on International Drivers Permits scams.

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