I am from California. I am living in Berlin at the moment.
In order to complete your renewal by mail you must meet the eligibility criteria, provide your Social Security Number and be under 70 years old when your current license expires. If you answer YES to any of the eligibility questions below, you will have to make an appointment to visit your local DMV office to renew in person.
• Have your last two licenses been renewed by mail?
• Has your license been expired for more than one year?
• Does your license expire more than 60 days from today?
• Are you currently on any type of driving probation?
• Are you changing/correcting your name?
• Do you have a driver license from more than one state or jurisdiction?
WITHIN THE PAST TWO YEARS:
• Were you convicted of any Vehicle Code moving violations?
• Did you fail to appear in court for any Vehicle Code moving violation?
• Were you suspended for driving under the influence, or for refusing, or failing to complete a chemical or preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test?
• Have you been at fault in one or more collisions, as reported by law enforcement?
Even if California did renew your license as a non resident, you would not be allowed to use it in Germany after 6 months of residence. California requires the same after 10 days, where proof of residence is required.
So if you have allready been in Germany for 6 months, you may no longer drive with a non EU-License at all.
The U.S. Embassy site does list one existing exception for US-Citizens, if they can prove that will remain in Germany up to 364 days only.
If you become a California resident, you must get a California driver license within 10 days. Residency is established by voting in a California election, paying resident tuition, filing for a homeowner’s property tax exemption, or any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents.
To receive your CA license if you hold a valid license from another state:
- Visit a DMV location and take the CA written test and vision test. If you pass these, the driving test is generally waived and a CA license will be granted and your former state’s license will be nullified.
Note: If you have a license from another country, you must take the driving skills test.
Note: I could not find this information on the DMV California site.
U.S. citizens planning to stay less than a year, however, may legally drive in Germany for up to 364 days in Germany on their U.S. driver’s licenses. However, they must go to their local driver’s registration office (Führerscheinstelle) prior to expiration of the six-month period after arrival and notify that office that they want to continue to drive on their U.S. license until their departure (up to 364 days, as stated above). Note that an official translation of the U.S. driver’s license must be brought to the Führerscheinstelle, as well as proof that you are leaving Germany before a year has passed. Proof could be in the form of a return ticket to the U.S., a work contract with an expiration date before a year, etc.
A U.S. license holder requiring a German license must contact a local German driving school which will provide information on the necessary paperwork and register the applicant for testing. Applicants do not need to take theoretical or behind-the-wheel lessons. However, driving schools recommend that applicants take one or two driving lessons in order to become acquainted with the skills to be tested. Total costs (without driving lessons) may average as much as EUR 425 for license holders from states with no reciprocal agreement with Germany.
The U. S. Embassy, supported by the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany, continues to actively press all U.S. states to reach an agreement on the reciprocal recognition of driver’s licenses with Germany, essentially a waiver of testing requirements.
Note: California is not contained in the list of states that have a reciprocal agreement with Germany.