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Driving license validity: All deadlines for exchanges

Exchange period: How long are old driver’s licenses still valid?

The car driver’s license used to be valid indefinitely, but old documents will lose their validity no later than January 19, 2033. The new EU driving license is only valid for 15 years anyway – the deadlines!

Although the EU driving license has been around for almost 30 years, many drivers still have the red or even gray “rag” with them. But they are not forgery-proof and the driver’s license holder can hardly be recognized in the decades-old photos. Therefore all old driver’s licenses have to be exchanged. The deadlines have been fixed since February 2019 – and for the first, the exchange period ends on January 19, 2022.

Specifically, it concerns all driving licenses of drivers who were born between 1953 and 1958. Everyone else has a little more time. But: All driver’s licenses issued before January 19, 2013 must be exchanged by January 19, 2033 at the latest. For whom and which deadlines apply, is regulated in the step-by-step plan for the exchange obligation:

Deadlines: How long are old driver’s licenses still valid?

All Car driving licenses issued before January 19, 2013 are no longer valid indefinitely – regardless of whether it is the gray or pink rag or already a card driver’s license. They have to be exchanged for the new EU driving license in the coming years. January 19, 2033 is the last deadline for exchanges – but depending on the year of birth or the year of issue, the obligation to exchange applies beforehand.

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

In general: Class B car driving licenses that were issued after January 19, 2013 are no longer valid indefinitely, but only for 15 years – after which they must be renewed. A repetition of the driving test is not necessary, it is sufficient to apply to the responsible road traffic or regulatory authority. In Germany, when you renew your driver’s 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.

What does the new driver’s license cost?

A fee of around 25 euros is due for the exchange. In addition, there may be costs for a current, biometric passport photo. The following documents are also required for a successful exchange:

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

Is the motorcycle license (class A) also limited in time?

The motorcycle driving license (class A) has so far been valid for an unlimited period, but in the future it will also have to be, like the car driving license, at the latest every 15 years be extended. Another test or a health certificate are also not necessary. The same exchange period applies to the motorcycle driving license as to the car driving license.

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 which an extension is necessary, for which a health examination and an ophthalmological test are required. Newer C1 and C1E driving licenses and all driving licenses after the first renewal are basically only valid five years valid. Only drivers who have their old class 3 driver’s license rewritten (by December 31, 1998) can use classes C1 and C1E indefinitely.

The driving licenses for the heavy trucks of 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. Anyone who has an old class 2 driver’s license can hold 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.

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Together with the necessary examinations, the extension of the truck driving license costs around 150 to 200 euros. Attention: Unlike with a car driver’s license, driving a truck with an expired driver’s license threatens higher fines. 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 driving 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 function and performance test. Here, too, there is a risk of criminal proceedings for driving without a license if the extension is missed.

Why the new driver’s license?

Many license holders have had their license for several decades. The people in the photo can often no longer be recognized. This – and the demand for the most up-to-date protection against counterfeiting – has prompted the European Union to issue uniform EU driving licenses and to issue simplified regulations on the period of validity. This regulation has also been implemented in Germany since 2013 – and the days of a lifelong driving license are numbered.

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