How to merge lanes in Germany

Merging lanes in Germany is different from merging in the United States. Germany uses the “zipper system” or Reissverschlussverfahren.

The system is encoded in German Road Traffic Regulations (§7 (4) StVO) and dictates that when two lanes converge into one, drivers should proceed all the way to the front of their respective lane and wait to merge at the last possible point. Then they should alternately fold together like teeth on a zipper.

It can feel counterproductive or like cutting in line, but it is actually a more efficient way to merge lanes and make the most of the space available. Some studies have shown that the zipper line rule can increase merging capacity by as much as 15 to 20 percent.

For more information, you can reach out to the German American Community Office by emailing to or calling 0631 3633010.