Driving license exchange: all deadlines – you have to do it now!

According to the so-called third driving license directive of the EU, old driving licenses must be exchanged for the new EU driving license in credit card format by January 2033 at the latest. So that the offices are not overloaded, the Federal Ministry of Transport has gradually set deadlines for the driver’s license exchange – depending on the year of birth or issue, the obligation to exchange takes effect much earlier.

The first deadline already expires on January 19, 2022: It applies to all birth cohorts from 1953 to 1958 whose current document was issued before January 1, 1999!

Driving licenses that are not exchanged in time lose their validity (only the document, not the driving license!). However, since many offices are currently overloaded due to Corona, one more applies to the years affected Grace period until the middle of the year, as reported by the Tagesschau.

All driver’s licenses issued before January 19, 2013 must be exchanged – regardless of whether the old gray driver’s license, often referred to as a “rag”, or the pink driver’s license or a driver’s license in credit card format. The aim of the EU directive is to end the coexistence of different national regulations and the more than 110 different driving licenses in Europe and to create more protection against counterfeiting.

Driving license exchange: all deadlines at a glance

For driving licenses issued up to and including December 31, 1998, the year of birth of the driver’s license holder is decisive:

• before 1953: exchange by January 19, 2033
• 1953 to 1958: Exchange by January 19, 2022
• 1959 to 1964: exchange by January 19, 2023
• 1965 to 1970: exchange by January 19, 2024
• 1971 or later: exchange by January 19, 2025

For driving licenses issued on or after January 1, 1999, the year of issue of the driving license applies:

• 1999 to 2001: Exchange by January 19, 2026
• 2002 to 2004: exchange by January 19, 2027
• 2005 to 2007: exchange by January 19, 2028
• 2008: Exchange by January 19, 2029
• 2009: Exchange by January 19, 2030
• 2010: Exchange by January 19, 2031
• 2011: Exchange by January 19, 2032
• 2012 to January 18, 2013: Exchange by January 19, 2033

A voluntary exchange before the respective deadline is possible at any time!

How long is the new driver’s license valid?

Class B car driving licenses that were issued from January 19, 2013 will no longer be valid indefinitely, but only for 15 years – after which they will have to be renewed. A repetition of the driving test is not necessary, it is sufficient to apply to the responsible road traffic or regulatory office. In Germany, when you renew your car driving license, you do not have to go through a health check. If you forget to renew your driver’s license in good time, you don’t have to fear any serious consequences. In addition to a fine, there is only the request to take care of the extension of the driver’s license.

How does the exchange work?

The exchange is only possible at the local driver’s license office. The application for the new driver’s license can be submitted there. You should have the following documents with you:

• Biometric passport photo
• ID card or passport
• Old driver’s license
• For driver’s licenses before 1999 and issued by another driver’s license office: Copy of the index card from the driver’s license office that last issued the driver’s license (not older than six weeks)

In addition, a fee of around 25 euros is due for the exchange. A renewed examination or examination is not necessary for the application for the normal car driving license and also for the motorcycle driving license. Other driving licenses (Class C, D) are only valid to a limited extent and may require a health examination if they are renewed.

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What if i miss the deadline?

Anyone who drives with an expired car or motorcycle license does not immediately risk a fine. Driving with an expired driver’s license is not a criminal offense. The driving license remains valid, only the document has expired. Nevertheless, you have to expect a fine of 10 euros.

Are motorcycle driving licenses (class A) also affected?

The motorcycle driving license (class A) is also no longer valid for an unlimited period; in the future, it will also have to be at the latest every 15 years be extended. As with a car driver’s license, another test or a health certificate is not required. For older motorcycle driving licenses, the same exchange periods apply as for car driving licenses.

What applies to the truck driving license (class C)?

The driving license for trucks has been limited in time for a long time and has a significantly shorter time limit. Classes C1 and C1E, if they were issued before 2013, are generally valid up to the age of 50; after that, an extension is necessary, for which a health examination and an ophthalmological test are required. Recent C1 and C1E driving licenses as well as all driving licenses after the first renewal are basically only valid five years valid. Only drivers who have their old class 3 driving license (issued by December 31, 1998) rewritten can use classes C1 and C1E indefinitely.

The driving licenses for the heavy trucks of the classes C and CE are also only five years valid and must then be extended upon presentation of a medical certificate and an eye test. If you have an old class 2 driver’s license, you have the driver’s license classes up to the age of 50 without a medical examination and only then have to renew it every five years. If the class CE was issued on the basis of an old class 3 driver’s license, the key number 79 (“CE 79”) is also entered. Even then, after the age of 50, a medical certificate and an eye test are due every five years.

Together with the necessary examinations, the extension of the truck driving license costs around 150 to 200 euros. Warning: unlike with a car driver’s license, driving a truck with an expired driver’s license threatens higher penalties. Here the judiciary makes no distinction as to whether the driver ever had a driver’s license or not. This leads to at least a fine, in the worst case even a prison sentence of up to one year is due. Anyone who has forgotten to extend their driver’s license in good time can easily do so within a few weeks or months – the only thing is that they are not allowed to drive a truck during this period. Only after several years do you have to expect to have to take another exam.

How long is the bus driver’s license (class D) valid?

For bus driving licenses of classes D1, D1E, D and DE, the same deadlines apply as for trucks. That is, after five years the driver’s license must be renewed. In addition to a passport photo and an ophthalmological report, bus drivers must also present a certificate of physical and mental fitness and provide evidence of a successfully completed functional and performance test. Here, too, there is a risk of criminal proceedings for driving without a license if the extension is missed.

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