Driving license validity: all deadlines for exchanges

Although the EU driving license has been around for decades, many drivers still have the red or even gray “rag” in their wallets. However, they are not forgery-proof and the driver’s license holders can hardly be recognized in the decades-old photos. Therefore, all old driver’s licenses have to be exchanged. Around 43 million documents are affected by the obligation to exchange, and the first deadlines are approaching: 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 – provided that their current document was issued up to and including December 31, 1998. 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 statutory step-by-step plan for the exchange obligation.

Deadlines: How long are old car driving licenses still valid?

All Car driving licenses issued before January 19, 2013 are – regardless of whether it is the gray or pink rag or already a card driver’s license – no longer valid indefinitely and must be exchanged for the new EU driver’s license in the coming years.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. A voluntary exchange before the respective deadline is of course possible at any time.

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In general: Class B driver’s licenses issued after January 19, 2013 are no longer valid indefinitely, but only for 15 years – after which they must be renewed.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 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.

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

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.

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 definitely 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.

What if i miss the deadline?

Anyone who is driving with an expired car or motorcycle license does not immediately risk fines. 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.

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. Newer C1 and C1E driving licenses as well as all driving licenses after the first renewal are basically only 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. Attention: 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 the 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 are often no longer recognizable. That – 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. The driver’s license, which is valid for life, is no longer available.

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