Driving in Germany: what you need to know

Courtesy of the 435th Security Forces Squadron

Upon arrival to Germany, many people look forward to driving throughout the countryside, especially on the famous autobahn. 

However, under the provisions of the German Supplementary Agreement to the NATO Status of Forces Agreement, U.S. military personnel, civilian component members, and their family members assigned or employed in Germany, must have a U.S. Forces certificate of license to drive in Germany.
To get a U.S. Forces certificate of license, all personnel must have a valid U.S. driver’s license or country license recognized by German authorities. U.S Forces-affiliated personnel must have a U.S. Forces certificate of license if they are driving either a U.S. Forces-registered vehicle or a vehicle bearing German license plates. U.S. Forces-affiliated personnel may not drive vehicles in Europe with only a Stateside or international driver’s license.

In addition, U.S. Forces-affiliated personnel are required to have an international driver’s license when operating a vehicle outside Germany, as the U.S. Forces certificate of license is not recognized outside of Germany.

USAG commanders and USAFE squadron-level or equivalent commanders may, on a case-by-case basis, grant a temporary drivers license for up to 30 days when both of the following requirements are met: the new arrival previously had a U.S. Forces certificate of license or, based on his or her position or age, is considered mature and responsible; and the new arrival has a valid U.S. driver’s license and an international driver’s license or an official German translation (for example, from the Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil Club, of a U.S. driver’s license).

Members of the U.S. Forces and civilian component on temporary duty in Germany and in possession of a valid Stateside license may take the test to obtain a U.S. Forces certificate of license to operate a U.S. Forces-registered POV.

Individuals caught operating a USAREUR-plated vehicle without following the above directives will be declared ineligible for a U.S. Forces certificate of license for a period of at least 90 days by the revoking authorities. Anyone who allows an individual to operate a USAREUR-plated vehicle without a U.S. Forces certificate of license valid for the vehicle class operated may have his or her license suspended for a maximum of 180 days.

Additionally, people who retire, are discharged or terminated from military or civilian service, or are barred theater-wide lose their eligibility to have a U.S. Forces certificate of license the day after the retirement, discharge, termination, or imposition of the theater-wide bar.

For more information, contact the Ramstein Driver Testing Station (for Air Force-affiliated personnel) at 480-2374/5534 or the Daenner Kaserne DTS (for Army-affiliated personnel) at 483-7332/7482. 

Information on the registration and operation of motor vehicles in Germany can also be found in Army Regulation 190-1/USNAVEUR Instruction 11240.6R/USAFE Instruction 31-202 and AE Pamphlet 190-34/USAFE Pamphlet 31-206.