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Military Members: Make Sure Your Driver's License is Valid

By: Tina Chang January 2, 2015
Man showing driver's license while sitting in car
Make sure you have a valid U.S. driver's license to drive in Germany.

NOTE: This dispute has now been resolved. 

As of February 26, 2015, German authorities have reverted to the previous policy and will accept USAREUR licenses accompanied with an expired U.S. driver's license.

More information can be found on the U.S. Army website.

If you’re a military member currently serving in Germany, make sure you have a valid driver’s license to drive on the country’s roads.

Previously, German authorities only required U.S. military members to carry a valid U.S. Forces certificate of license (USAREUR license) to drive on public roads; however, some German states are now also require a valid U.S. driver’s license. 

This policy also applies to your family members.

While this policy is currently in dispute, it is still in action, with some drivers being charged with driving illegally in Germany. For more information, please visit the U.S. Army website.

To ensure you are not charged with a criminal offense for driving without a license while stationed in Germany, we’ve put together this handy guide.

When Does Your Driver’s License Expire?

Give yourself plenty of time to renew your driver’s license, especially if you won’t be in the U.S. to renew. Some states allow renewals months in advance; visit our Renewing Your License page for more information.

What Are your Renewal Options?

Depending on your state, you may not need to appear in person to renew your U.S. driver’s license. Many states offer U.S. military members other renewal options, including doing so:

  • Online.
  • By mail.
  • By phone.
  • By fax.

In some cases, your state DMV may also allow you to have a representative renew your driver’s license in person for you. They can then send your updated card to your German address.

Driver’s License Extension

If you’re eligible for a U.S. driver’s license extension, you must carry your temporary extension paperwork with your driver’s license and USAREUR license when driving.

If your U.S. state offers an automatic driver’s license extension without issuing additional paperwork, make sure you keep a copy of this policy with you when you drive.

What If You Can’t Renew?

After checking your renewal options, you may discover that you’re unable to renew your U.S. driver’s license. Reasons for this include:

  • Your home U.S. state requires in person renewal only.
  • You no longer have a U.S. address.
    • Proof of U.S. residency is required for most renewals.
  • Your driver’s license has expired and you are no longer eligible for an out-of-state renewal.
  • You’ve lost your driver’s license.

Unfortunately, there has been no statement or advice from either U.S. Forces authorities or the U.S. Embassy in Berlin regarding your options if you are unable to renew or extend your driver’s license.

The safest thing to do is to avoid driving in Germany altogether until you are able to obtain a valid U.S. driver’s license, or apply for a German driver’s license.

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