It is well known that new residents in Germany can only use their non-EU drivers license up to 6 months after relocating there. Other EU countries have similar rules, such as Italy - although there the period is 1 year.

Based on that, I've seen people staying that, if you take residence in Germany and do not get a local driver's license after the 6 months period, you cannot use your valid, non-EU driver's license in other EU countries.

For example, if I were to visit Italy after living in Germany for 2 years, I wouldn't be allowed to drive there with my non-EU license, even if the license is valid and fulfills all of the criteria required from non-EU resident tourists.

As far as I understand, driving regulations in the EU are defined locally by each member state and I have never been able to find a single country's regulation stating that the local rules of place of residence of the driver somehow affect their own rules. Is that really a thing?

  • Not only in Germany. Most jurisdiction require that you have a drivers license issued in the area you are a resident of (US/Canada the state or provence) and must be replaced when moving. The EU is an exception that the license need not be replaced while it is still valid. But when being replaced or renewed that must be done in the country of residence. Commented Mar 3 at 22:02
  • @MarkJohnson That's already mentioned in the last sentence of the first paragraph.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Mar 5 at 6:51
  • @Relaxed The point is that most police officials checking a drivers lincense will wonder why the license is not from the same jurisdiction that the person resides in. So yes, it is 'a thing'. Commented Mar 5 at 7:16
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    @MarkJohnson Uh? What is that based on? In any case, if that's what you meant, it would be an answer and a point you entirely failed to make in your earlier comment, which did not add anything to what's already in the question. If you really believe that, I suggest posting it an answer then.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Mar 6 at 7:31

2 Answers 2


For example, if I were to visit Italy after living in Germany for 2 years, I wouldn't be allowed to drive there with my non-EU license, even if the license is valid and fulfills all of the criteria required from non-EU resident tourists.

I could find nothing in german law that explicitly states that the non-EU license would be invalid under such a condition (the unused non-EU license, after living in Italy for 2 years, is used to drive in Germany).

§30a (Continued validity of a German driving license and exchange of driving licenses) (Fev) does say that even after being exchanged, the original driving license remains valid.

Therefore there is no assumption that a driving license will automatically become invalid through non usage or a certain residence period outside of the country of issue.

Also, §29 (Foreign driving licences) does not state that the non-EU license becomes invalid after the person has become a 'Normal residence in the country' (§7), but only that the license can no longer be used inside Germany.

Questions may arise if the police, for whatever reason, are checking if the driving license is valid and begin to wonder why you are not using a driving license issued in your country of residence.

§7 - Ordentlicher Wohnsitz im Inland
(1) Eine Fahrerlaubnis darf nur erteilt werden, wenn der Bewerber seinen ordentlichen Wohnsitz in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland hat. Dies wird angenommen, wenn der Bewerber wegen persönlicher und beruflicher Bindungen oder – bei fehlenden beruflichen Bindungen – wegen persönlicher Bindungen, die enge Beziehungen zwischen ihm und dem Wohnort erkennen lassen, gewöhnlich, das heißt während mindestens 185 Tagen im Jahr, im Inland wohnt. Ein Bewerber, dessen persönliche Bindungen im Inland liegen, der sich aber aus beruflichen Gründen in einem oder mehreren anderen Staaten aufhält, hat seinen ordentlichen Wohnsitz im Sinne dieser Vorschrift im Inland, sofern er regelmäßig hierhin zurückkehrt. Die Voraussetzung entfällt, wenn sich der Bewerber zur Ausführung eines Auftrags von bestimmter Dauer in einem solchen Staat aufhält.

§7 - Normal residence in the country
(1) A driving licence may only be issued if the applicant has his normal residence in the Federal Republic of Germany. This is assumed if the applicant usually lives in the country, i.e. for at least 185 days a year, due to personal and professional ties or - in the absence of professional ties - due to personal ties that indicate close links between him and his place of residence. An applicant whose personal ties are in the country but who is in one or more other countries for professional reasons has his normal residence within the meaning of this provision in the country, provided that he returns here regularly. This requirement does not apply if the applicant is staying in such a country to carry out an assignment of a specific duration.

§30a - Weitergeltung einer deutschen Fahrerlaubnis und Rücktausch von Führerscheinen
(1) Wird ein auf Grund einer deutschen Fahrerlaubnis ausgestellter Führerschein in einen Führerschein eines anderen Staates umgetauscht, bleibt die Fahrerlaubnis unverändert bestehen. Bei einem Rücktausch in einen deutschen Führerschein sind in diesem die noch gültigen Fahrerlaubnisklassen unverändert zu dokumentieren.

§30a - Continued validity of a German driving license and exchange of driving licenses
(1) If a driving license issued on the basis of a German driving license is exchanged for a driving license from another country, the driving license remains unchanged. If the license is exchanged for a German driving license, the driving license classes that are still valid must be documented unchanged in the license.


  • §7 is pretty typical for European countries and also implicit in EU rules around driving licence. Which points to the answer if any question arises on the discrepancy between the country of issue and the country of evidence: What matters is where you lived when the document was issued, not where you live now. It seems that driving with a non-EU driving licence could therefore become more questionable if it has been renewed after you became a resident, not so much if your licence has a long validity.
    – Relaxed
    Commented May 1 at 5:44

When you take residence in Germany, then your ID gets associated with Germany; so as long as they have your driver's license registered, then its expiration date gets internally updated to be within 6 months of the move date. So you are correct, if you go to Italy 2 years later, your driver's license would be internally expired by then, and you would not be allowed to drive.

There are some workarounds to this, however. If you get registered in Italy for a day before the 6-month period is up, and then back in Germany, then the 6-month period starts over, and in this manner you can continue to extend your driver's license until its true expiration date.

The other thing I've done is, not tell them that I have a valid driver's license. Obviously, I would not drive in the EU, or carry it without an RF shield (several unrelated people told me their driver's licenses got automatically registered after being detected by RF waves from a Polizei car). Theoretically, if you ever need to drive, you can do the registration country change back and forth; and if you get stopped, they would see that your registration in Germany is recent, and you would avoid trouble. However, I myself haven't done this, since driving even once in EU would risk that the driver's license would get associated with your identity, and at that point you'd have to keep doing the back-and-forth registration to keep your license from expiring.

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    The second paragraph is not correct. There is no consecutive 6-month period as such, Normal residence in the country is assumed if the applicant usually lives in the country, i.e. for at least 185 days a year (§7 - Normal residence in the country - Fahrerlaubnis-Verordnung (FeV)) It is the amount of days per year. After 184 days in Germany and then a day trip to Italy, the first day back in Germany is then the 185th day of that year period. The 6-month period does not starts over, the day count simply continues. Commented Apr 30 at 16:53
  • What do you mean by "internally"? Who keeps that registry? The origin country? Germany? Italy? Some European institution?
    – nvoigt
    Commented May 1 at 5:14

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