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What age can you drive in Germany?

In Germany, there are specific age requirements that must be met in order to legally drive a vehicle. The age at which someone can begin driving depends on the type of vehicle and license being sought. Generally speaking, the minimum driving age in Germany is 18 years old for a full regular driver’s license that allows operating cars and motorcycles. However, there are also options for teenagers aged 16 or 17 to obtain restricted licenses with limitations and requirements for supervision.

Driving age requirements overview

Here is a quick overview of the different driving age requirements in Germany:

Age 14

– Can obtain a Moped license for vehicles with max speed of 25km/h

Age 16

– Can obtain a AM license for mopeds and light motorcycles up to 125cc
– Can obtain a Learner’s permit for cars

Age 17

– Can obtain a Class B license for cars with supervision

Age 18

– Can obtain a full unrestricted Class B license for cars
– Can obtain licenses for larger vehicles like trucks and buses

So in summary, teenage driving is permitted in Germany but there are graduated steps and restrictions along the way before getting full privileges at age 18. The minimum age to operate a car independently and unsupervised is 18.

Driving age 14 – Moped license

In Germany, it is possible to start driving a limited class of vehicle at age 14. At age 14, teenagers can apply for a AM license which allows them to drive small mopeds that have a maximum speed of 25km/h.

To get the AM moped license at age 14, applicants must pass a theory test on traffic rules and regulations. This test can be taken starting at age 13 years and 9 months in preparation of applying for the license at 14. There is no practical driving test required for the AM license at this age.

With the AM moped license, 14 year olds are restricted to only driving mopeds that meet the 25km/h speed restriction on public roads. They must obey all standard traffic laws and are also required to wear a helmet when riding the moped.

Key facts about driving age 14 in Germany:

  • Can obtain AM license for mopeds up to 25km/h
  • Must be age 14
  • Must pass moped theory test
  • No practical driving test required
  • Must wear a helmet
  • Can only drive on public roads, not highways

Overall, having the option to start gaining experience on mopeds from age 14 allows German teenagers to gradually build their traffic awareness and skills in a low risk setting under supervision. However, the 25km/h speed restriction ensures safety is maintained for the young drivers and other road users.

Driving age 16 – Moped and motorcycle license

At age 16, German teenagers can upgrade their moped license or apply for a motorcycle license as well.

Specifically, a 16 year old can obtain an AM class license which allows driving mopeds with a maximum speed of 45km/h and a light motorcycle up to 125cc.

To qualify for the motorcycle AM license at age 16, applicants must pass a theory test on traffic regulations and safety procedures. There is also a practical test which assesses basic motorcycle maneuvering skills in a closed course. If these qualifications are met, 16 year olds can ride mopeds faster than 25km/h and additionally can operate approved motorcycles up to 125cc engine size. These motorcycles often have a power restriction of 11kW (15 horsepower).

Here are some key facts about the driving age 16 motorcycle license:

  • Can obtain AM license for mopeds up to 45km/h
  • Can obtain AM license for motorcycles up to 125cc
  • Must be age 16
  • Must pass moped/motorcycle theory test
  • Must pass practical riding test
  • Permitted motorcycles have max 11kW (15hp) power
  • Only allowed to carry one passenger after age 18

This intermediate AM motorcycle license gives 16 year olds the opportunity to gain experience riding powered two wheelers in a controlled manner. However, restrictions on carrying passengers and motorcycle power output aim to limit risks.

Driving age 17 – Learner’s permit for cars

German teenagers can also start learning to drive a car from age 17 with a learner’s permit.

At age 17, they are eligible to apply for a learner’s permit license (BF17 class) which allows them to practice driving a car only under the supervision of an approved accompanying driver. The supervising driver must be at least 30 years old and have held a full German driver’s license for at least 5 years.

To qualify for the BF17 learner’s permit, the 17 year old must pass the standard car theory test. This covers topics like traffic signs and rules, safety procedures, and first aid. However, there is no practical driving test required at this initial learner stage.

Here are some key requirements for 17 year olds with a BF17 learner’s permit:

  • Must be accompanied by approved supervisor in passenger seat
  • Supervisor must be over 30 with 5+ years driving experience
  • Only allowed to drive with supervisor, not independently
  • No driving on highways/motorways permitted
  • Zero alcohol tolerance for driver and supervisor

Gaining supervised driving experience with a learner’s permit is an important step. However, restrictions on independent driving and motorway access aim to keep young drivers safe as they build skills.

Driving age 17 – Moped license changes

In addition to gaining a car learner’s permit at age 17, some other changes also occur to moped and motorcycle licenses.

At age 17, someone with an AM class moped license can now drive mopeds up to 45km/h unsupervised. Previous restrictions on carrying passengers are also lifted at age 17 for moped riders.

For 17 year olds with a motorcycle license, they are now permitted to carry one passenger on motorcycles up to 125cc. But some other restrictions still apply, such as no driving between 11pm and 4am.

So in summary, the movement to supervised car learning along with expanded moped privileges help provide practice for German teenagers as they approach the minimum age for a full license.

Driving age 18 – Unrestricted car license

Age 18 is the milestone year when German teenagers can first obtain a full unrestricted driver’s license for cars and light vehicles.

At age 18, drivers can apply for the standard Class B license after passing an extended theory test, first aid training, and a practical driving test. The practical test thoroughly examines real driving ability and safety skills over a wide range of maneuvers and traffic situations.

Once the Class B license is passed, 18 year old drivers have full privileges to operate cars and light trucks without restrictions. This includes being able to drive independently on all road types, at all hours, and carry multiple passengers.

Some key facts about the full Class B driving license at 18:

  • No restrictions on when or where they can drive
  • No requirement for supervisor in car
  • Allows driving manual and automatic cars
  • Valid for cars and light trucks up to 3.5 tonnes
  • Requires passing extensive theory test
  • Requires passing thorough practical test

Meeting the full licensing requirements shows the teen driver has gained sufficient knowledge, skill and responsibility to operate a car independently in a broad range of conditions.

Older age licenses – Trucks, buses, emergency vehicles

For driving larger and specialized vehicles in Germany, the minimum age requirements are older than 18 years old.

Here are some examples:

Class C1 license (age 18)

– Medium trucks between 3.5-7.5 tonnes

Class C license (age 21)

– Heavy trucks over 7.5 tonnes
– Large buses with more than 8 passenger seats

Class D license (age 21)

– Mini buses between 9-16 seats

Class E license (age 21)

– Combination vehicles like road trains
– Licensed to tow trailers

Emergency vehicle license (age 21)

– Driving ambulances, police vehicles, fire engines

The higher age minimums recognize the increased skill and responsibility required to operate these types of motor vehicles compared to regular passenger cars. Strict testing procedures for knowledge, maneuvering ability, medical fitness must also be passed before licenses are granted.

Exceptions and special cases

While the general minimum driving ages in Germany are clear, there are also some exceptions and special use cases to be aware of:

Supervised practice from age 17

– A 17 year old can practice driving a car if accompanied by an approved supervisor with 5+ years experience. This is intended to allow pre-learning before getting a license at 18.

Hardship licenses from age 17

– In remote regions where public transport is poor, special rural hardship licenses can be granted from age 17 for limited car driving if required for apprenticeships or work.

Medical disability exceptions

– If a medical condition impairs use of public transport, special permission may be given for a suitable adapted vehicle from age 16.

Driving school training vehicles

– Student drivers may practice driving dual-control cars provided by driving schools from age 17. An instructor must be present.

Private property

– There is no minimum age for driving on private property not open to the public. This allows early practice on farms or closed tracks.

So while there are legal options for driving before the standard minimum ages, these are only granted under special circumstances with appropriate supervision, training and locations. The regular public road driving age limits still widely apply.

Comparisons of minimum driving ages across Europe

Compared to other European countries, the driving age requirements in Germany are moderate but still focus on graduated learning.

Here is an overview of the minimum ages for unsupervised car driving in other major European countries:

Country Minimum age for unsupervised driving
United Kingdom 17
Ireland 17
France 18
Spain 18
Norway 18
Netherlands 18
Belgium 18
Germany 18
Sweden 18
Denmark 18
Finland 18
Poland 18
Austria 18
Switzerland 18
Italy 18

This shows that Germany’s minimum age of 18 is typical across most of Europe. However, the UK and Ireland stand out with their lower minimum of 17 for full licenses. Overall, allowing supervised learning from younger ages combined with a later minimum for unrestricted licensing matches Germany’s focus on gradual skill building for teenage drivers.

Recent debate about changing driving age rules in Germany

While the established system has worked well, there has been some debate in Germany around modifying license rules to allow more supervised learning at younger ages.

Some of the key considerations in this debate include:

Pros of reducing minimum ages:

  • Allow more supervised practice to build experience sooner
  • Match learner ages with normal school graduation at age 16
  • Reduce illegal unlicensed driving by reckless teens
  • Bring Germany closer to other EU country rules
  • Make rural transport access easier for youth

Cons of reducing minimum ages:

  • Younger drivers are less aware of risks
  • Germany’s roads are very high speed vs other countries
  • Multi-phase training is safer and reduces youth crashes
  • Minimum age of 18 aligns with other legal responsibilities
  • Increased insurance costs if teens allowed to drive sooner

However so far, the evidence and data does not strongly justify reducing the minimum licensing ages in Germany. While adding flexibility around supervised practice for 16-17 year olds could be beneficial, most experts agree keeping the minimum age at 18 for full unrestricted licenses maintains an important safety buffer for young road users.


In summary, Germany enforces age-based requirements for holding different classes of driver’s licenses. Although teenagers can learn to drive mopeds from age 14 and practice car driving under supervision from 17, the minimum legal age for obtaining a full passenger car license remains 18 years old. This graduated system balances mobility access for youth with statistically higher risks for younger drivers. The minimum age approach used in Germany closely matches practices across most other European nations. Overall, the licensing rules aim to produce experienced and responsible independent drivers from age 18 onwards.