Driving in Germany


All you need to know about the requirements for driving in Germany.

If you’re planning a trip to Germany, it’s important to make sure you’re fully aware of the rules of the road and how they differ from the UK. It’s also a good idea to ensure that you prepare for any unexpected eventualities that could happen by purchasing AA European Breakdown Cover before you go.

Our comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know, from required documents to general road rules and information about fuel, parking and fines.

In this article:

Important information
Road rules
Speed limitsl
Traffic lights
Seat belts
Mobile phones and laptops
Motor insurance
Electric vehicles
Riding a motorcycle
Towing a caravan or trailer
Roadside assistance


Country by country

Important information for driving in Germany

What documents and items do I need to drive in Germany?

There are certain documents that you must have in your car when driving in Germany. If you don’t have these documents (and other legally required items listed below), you might get a fine or other penalty.

  • Valid UK driving licence. The legal age to drive in Germany is 18, and you must hold a full, valid driving licence. If you plan to rent a vehicle in Germany, you will likely need to have had your licence for at least 1 to 3 years.
  • Vehicle insurance documents. Always carry your insurance certificate with you in case you’re stopped and asked to present proof of insurance.
  • Proof of identity. A form of identification, such as a valid passport.
  • V5 registration log book (or a VE103 document for rented vehicles).

There are also other items you will need to have in your vehicle when driving in Germany. These are:

  • A UK sticker. On 28 September 2021, the GB sticker requirement was changed to a UK sticker. This means that GB stickers are no longer valid. Your vehicle may have the UK identifier incorporated into the number plate, but if not you’ll need to ensure a UK sticker is visible on your vehicle at all times.
  • Warning triangle. All four-wheeled vehicles driving in Germany must carry a warning triangle at all times for use in the event of a breakdown or accident.
  • Reflective jackets for each occupant. If you’re required to leave your vehicle at any time to a road accident or breakdown, you must wear a reflective vest or you may get a fine.
  • First aid kit. All vehicles in Germany must carry a first aid kit.
  • Headlamp beam deflectors. In the UK, headlamps are aligned to the left, which is an issue when driving in Germany as this means they shine into oncoming traffic. Beam deflectors can correct this.
  • Winter tyres or snow chains. These may be required in certain areas of Germany or in very snowy conditions. See our winter tyre requirements section below for more information.
  • Environmental badge. This is compulsory when driving in low emission zones. See below for more information on low emission zones.
Insurance green cards

As of 2 August 2021, drivers don’t need to carry an insurance green card when driving in Germany.

Low emission zones

A number of German cities operate low emission zones (Umweltzone) in their city centres, with the goal of improving air quality. Only vehicles that meet specific exhaust emission standards (based on their date of first registration and Euro emissions standard) and carry a sticker for the low emission zone (Umweltplakette) may enter.

The colour of the sticker indicates the vehicle’s emissions standard. Local signs indicate the minimum standard (colour) allowed to enter the area without penalty.  Most cities with low emission zones now only allow access to vehicles with a green category 4 sticker.

Sticker categories:

  • Category 2 – Red (Euro 2)
  • Category 3 – Yellow (Euro 3)
  • Category 4 – Green (Euro 4)

Restricted areas are indicated by signs marked “Umwelt ZONE”.

We recommend that you order your sticker online before your trip if you’re going to need one. The best way to order your sticker is via the official website for the area you will be driving in – for example, the Berline.de site if you are visiting Berlin.

Road rules in Germany

What is the legal age to drive in Germany?

The legal age to drive in Germany is 18 years old, and all drivers need a full and valid driving licence.

What side of the road do I drive on in Germany?

All traffic in Germany drives on the right-hand side of the road, not on the left like the UK. If you hire a car, the driver’s seat will be on the left side of the car.

Who has priority?

Drivers coming from the right always have priority at crossroads and junctions, unless indicated by road signs.

At roundabouts, traffic on the roundabout has priority, unless indicated otherwise.

Make sure you always give way to vehicles with sirens and flashing lights, like ambulances.

How do I overtake?

You must only overtake on the left side of a vehicle you want to pass. Overtaking on the right is only allowed in stationary traffic.

The ‘no overtaking’ sign means you can’t overtake a vehicle with more than two wheels. You may overtake a motorcycle, but don’t overtake a car or any other four-wheeled vehicle.

Speed limits in Germany

All speed limits (and distances) in Germany are in kilometres and metres, as Germany uses the metric system.

  • Motorways: Many parts of the German Autobahn have no official speed limit, meaning you can drive as fast as you feel is safe. However, the recommended maximum speed on motorways is 130 km/h (around 80 mph). You may only drive on German motorways if your vehicle has a design speed of more than 60 km/h (37 mph).
  • Dual carriageways: 130 km/h (around 80 mph) – recommended.
  • Main roads: 100 km/h (around 62 mph). This can change depending on where you are, so always make sure to check the road signs.
  • Built-up areas, like towns and cities: 50 km/h (around 31 mph).
Speeding fines in Germany

Speeding fines in Germany can range from €10 to €680 depending on how far above the speed limit the offender is driving, or what kind of road they’re driving on.

More serious offences may result in the confiscation of the driving licence alongside a heavy fine.

Since the UK's departure from the European Union, EU countries can no longer write to or send fines to UK drivers for offences caught on camera, such as speeding. However, exceeding the speed limit could still result in an on-the-spot fine and other serious repercussions, as well as endangering your safety and the safety of others.

Speed camera detectors

You aren’t allowed to use speed checking devices, including ones that are part of your GPS system. If your GPS navigator shows you the location of any fixed speed cameras, this function needs to be deactivated.

Traffic lights in Germany

Germany uses the international 3-colour traffic light system.

Seat belt rules in Germany

Seat belts must be worn at all times by adults and children in both the front and back seats when driving in Germany.

If you don’t wear a seat belt, you’ll likely be given a fine.

Child seat regulations in Germany

Children under the age of 12 – or under 1.5m tall – need to use an approved child safety seat.

Children under 3 years old aren’t allowed in a vehicle without a suitable child restraint or seat.

Drink-driving laws in Germany

For drivers who have had their licence for 2 or more years, the legal limit is 0.5g of alcohol per litre of blood, which is just over half the 0.8 g/l limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For drivers with less than 2 years on their licence, or under the age of 21, the legal limit is reduced to zero – this means you can’t drive if you’ve consumed any amount of alcohol.

If you drive over the legal limit you’ll face a fine. If your blood alcohol level goes over 1.1 g/l, this is treated as a crime and you’ll face heavy punishment.

Mobile phones and headphones

Using a mobile phone while driving is strictly forbidden. Using an earpiece or headphones is also against the law.

Using your mobile while driving can lead to a €100 fine.

Completely hands-free mobile phone units are allowed.


Dipped headlights are recommended during the day.

Dipped headlights must be used when visibility is poor, for example between sunset and sunrise, any time of day when you’re in a tunnel, and if weather reduces visibility (e.g. heavy rain).

You mustn’t use full-beam headlights in built-up areas.

You mustn’t drive with sidelights (parking lights) alone.

Headlamp beam deflectors need to be used by UK drivers to adapt to driving on the right-hand side of the road. These stop headlights from dazzling other drivers.

Tyre requirements in Germany

The tread depth on a tyre should be no less than 1.6mm when driving in Germany.

You can’t use spiked tyres.

Winter tyre requirements

You can’t use summer tyres in Germany during winter weather conditions. This winter tyre regulation applies to all motorised vehicles using roads in Germany, including those registered abroad.

Winter weather conditions include black ice, snow, ice, slush and frost, which may be present even if the temperature is above 0°C.

Winter or all-season tyres designed for use in wintry conditions will normally be marked with ‘M+S’, a snow flake or snowy mountains symbol.

You could be fined €60 for driving in winter conditions without winter tyres, and €80 if this causes you to obstruct traffic. You could also be stopped from continuing your journey unless you get the tyres changed, or the weather conditions improve.

In very extreme weather, snow chains may be required. Snow chains are legally required if there are signs showing a tyre with snow chains.

Motor insurance in Germany

All vehicles driving in Germany must have a minimum of third-party insurance cover. You’ll need to have your insurance documents with you at all times.

Fines in Germany

On-the-spot fines

German police can issue on-the-spot fines to drivers for a variety of offences, including exceeding the speed limit and drink-driving.

These fines must be paid within a week or legal proceedings may begin.

If a driver is unable to pay a full fine on the spot, police can also collect a security deposit. If a driver refuses to pay, their vehicle could be confiscated.

Parking fines

If you park illegally, your vehicle may be towed away, and you may also have to pay a fine.

Parking regulations in Germany

Most cities and towns have regulated parking spaces, operated by parking metres. Prices for parking will vary.

Parking is not permitted:

  • Where there is a ‘parking prohibited’ sign
  • Within 5 metres of a pedestrian crossing or intersection
  • On narrow roads
  • Within 15 metres of a bus stop
  • Blocking vehicle entries to properties
  • Facing oncoming traffic
Disabled parking in Germany

You can use your UK Blue Badge to access disabled parking spaces when travelling in Germany.

Fuel in Germany

Availability of fuel

Unleaded petrol (‘super’ and ‘super plus’ – 95 and 98 octane) and diesel are widely available in Germany. LPG is also available from more than 5,000 stations.

Leaded petrol isn’t available. You can carry up to 10 litres of petrol in a can, but not on-board ferries.

E10 (petrol containing 10% Ethanol) is widely available and pumps are clearly marked.  E10 isn’t suitable for all vehicles, so check with your car manufacturer if you’re not sure whether it’s suitable.

Fuel prices in Germany

Fuel prices in Germany, as with everywhere else, may vary. You can use a website to check current prices before you travel.

How do I pay for fuel in Germany?

Credit cards are accepted in most stations, but it’s worth checking with your bank before travelling.

Electric cars in Germany

Where can I charge my electric car in Germany?

Germany is very well developed when it comes to electric vehicles, and has one of the biggest electric vehicle charging networks in Europe.

You can use an online map such as Chargemap to find electric vehicle charging points in Germany.

How do I pay for electric car charging?

Credit cards are accepted at most charging points, but it’s worth checking with your bank before travelling. You can also pay via a mobile app which you can top up with money as required.

Make sure to do your research on which method works best for you, and if using an app make sure to always keep it topped up with money so you don’t encounter any problems with charging.

Tips for driving an electric car in Germany
  • Plan your routes in advance using a map of charging stations, so you can recharge as needed.
  • Plan to charge your electric car overnight if possible.
  • Download and register with apps to use and pay for charging points to make the process smoother.
  • Avoid periods of high congestion, especially in built-up areas, as sitting in traffic for long periods can drain your electric car battery.

Riding a motorcycle in Germany

Motorcycle regulations
  • Dipped headlights must always be used.
  • Riders on motorcycles and mopeds must wear a crash helmet. This also applies to any passengers.
  • You must also wear a crash helmet when riding a trike or quad bike capable of more than 20 km/h, unless seat belts are fitted and worn.
  • The driver and passengers must wear a pair of CE-certified gloves.

Driving with a caravan or trailer in Germany

Speed limits for cars towing a caravan or trailer

On motorways and main roads, the speed limit for vehicles with a trailer is 80 km/h. In built-up areas (towns, cities, etc.), the speed limit is 50 km/h.

Tolls in Germany

German motorways don’t have tolls, except for vehicles with a total weight of 7.5 t or more.

Roadside assistance in Germany

If you’re planning a driving trip through Germany, check out our European breakdown cover page for a quote. Our cover ensures driving in Germany is never a worry – if your vehicle breaks down, we'll help.

We offer alternative accommodation and travel arrangements, recovery of your vehicle back to the UK, and up to £50,000 in legal costs. 

24 June 2022

European breakdown cover

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