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Deadline for exchanging older German driving licences extended

German interior ministers have extended a deadline for exchanging old driving licences to ease pressure on civil servants during the Covid crisis.

German driving licence
A German driving licence document. Under new EU rules, driving licence documents will have to be standardised throughout the bloc. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Ole Spata

Older drivers in Germany have been given an additional six months to organise the exchange of their paper driving licences for new digitalised versions. 

People born in the mid-1950s were supposed to be the first group to transfer their licences by January 19th – but in light of the ongoing Covid pandemic, this deadline has now been extended to July 19th.

The change was passed at a meeting of the state interior ministers on Monday under the leadership of Bavaria’s interior minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU).

It affects people born between 1953 and 1958 who still use old paper driving licenses that were issued up to December 31st, 1998 – either in West Germany or the GDR.

According to Hermann, Bavaria will immediately introduce a motion to amend the driving licence ordinance in the Bundesrat (Germany’s upper house of parliament).

Until this comes into force, the otherwise-due warning fine of €10 will be waived by the police.

READ ALSO: Brexit: New licence needed to bring vans and trailers from UK to Germany

“However, all those affected should immediately take care of the exchange in the meantime,” Herrmann said, adding that new licences could take several weeks to be issued. 

Welcoming the move, a spokesperson for the German Motorists’ Club ADAC said the extra time would bring peace of mind to car drivers.

“For the affected driving licence holders, the decision brings the certainty that they can continue to drive with the old licence for the coming months without worries and do not have to fear fines,” they said.

In extending the deadline, the federal states were responding to bottlenecks in their driving licence offices thanks to ongoing Covid crisis, the ADAC explained. 

Uniform EU licences

In order to comply with new EU regulations, around 43 million driving licences will need to be exchanged by 2033. This is set to take place in stages, with the 1953-58 age group earmarked as the first set of people who to make the switch. 

This phased process is intended to prevent bottlenecks in driving licences offices, but people can nevertheless opt to transfer their licence ahead of time. 

In future, driving licences are to be forgery-proof and uniform throughout the EU. In addition, all driving licences are to be recorded in a database to prevent misuse.

After the extended deadline, the next group to change their licences will be people born between 1959 and 1964. Assuming the deadline isn’t extended again, this group will be asked to make the switch by January 19th, 2023. 

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Germany in 2022

The final deadline will be January 19th, 2033. 

According to the Federal Ministry of Transport, old driving licences will become invalid after the respective deadlines have expired, with drivers who fail to exchange them subject to a warning fine of €10. 

The fee for switching the licences is €25, and no further driving test is needed in order to obtain one. 

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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Exploring locally, Bargeld and the NRW state election

In our weekend roundup for Germany we look at exploring the country this summer, the country's obsession with cash and some facts about North Rhine-Westphalia, which goes to the polls on Sunday.

Living in Germany: Exploring locally, Bargeld and the NRW state election

A chance to explore Germany 

Although we’re still in the pandemic, it feels like life in Germany is beginning to feel a bit more like it did before Covid hit us. With many restrictions easing, people have been really enjoying spring and looking forward to summer.  So it’s no surprise that many of you have been reading our stories about travel. Our articles on the €9 monthly ticket as well as train travel in Germany and beyond have been particularly popular. The public transport offer will also give many people the chance to explore closer to home. I know I am really looking forward to seeing more of Germany, whether it’s around the Brandenburg area near where I live, or going further afield (Heidelberg, I’m looking at you). I’d love to know if you want to use the €9 ticket or if you have any plans to explore Germany this summer. Please fill in this survey on the €9 ticket (it’s open until Monday) and get in touch with your opinions or other travel plans by emailing [email protected]. Thanks so much to those of you who’ve already been in touch.

Tweet of the week

The German love of cash or Bargeld in 2022 while the rest of the world goes contactless is indeed one of life’s greatest mysteries, as this tweet highlights. We’ll definitely be using our ‘ask a German’ series to try and find out more about this habit… 

Where is this? 

Pankstrasse U-Bahn
Photo: John MACDOUGALL / AFP

Berliners or those who’ve visited the capital may recognise this U-Bahn station which is situated in the north. The station is actually part of the Pankstrasse nuclear fallout shelter. Built in 1977 during the Cold War, this “multi-purpose” facility was intended to protect the citizens of West Berlin in case of a nuclear conflict. The bunker serves not only as an U-Bahn stop for commuters but also, in an emergency, could have sheltered 3,339 people for up to two weeks. For those interested, we’d recommend checking out a tour like those run by Berliner Untervelten E.V. Due to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which has led to massive tension between Europe and Russia, the tours have become even more topical.

Did you know?

Since people in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) or Nordrhein Westfalen are going to the polls this Sunday, we thought we’d look at some facts about this western state. This is Germany’s most populated state with about 17.9 million people. It’s also home to the most foreigners – around 2.5 million non-Germans live in NRW. With cities such as Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Essen, the state is a culturally rich and diverse part of Germany. Many people don’t know that Bonn was the capital of the former West Germany all the way up to reunification, before Berlin took the title. Many federal buildings and institutions still have their base there. 

The state is led by Christian Democrat Hendrik Wüst who took over last year after Armin Laschet resigned as state premier following his unsuccessful federal election bid. The CDU is currently in a coalition with the Free Democrats. But it looks like change is on the horizon. The CDU and the Social Democrats are both polling at around 30 percent, with the CDU having a slight lead of two to four percentage points. Meanwhile, the FDP appears to have lost support. It’s going to be a tight race – and the Greens party – polling at around 17 percent – will likely be the kingmakers. Important topics for voters include the future of German industry, and how to secure jobs in the move to renewable energy. Many people see this election as a test for the federal government which is led by the SPD’s Olaf Scholz. 

Thanks for reading,

Rachel and Imogen @ The Local Germany 

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