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Driving holidays in Europe - Plan your self-drive motoring holiday

Self-Drive Motoring holidays in Germany. Tips on driving abroad in Germany. Motoring rules and regulations in Germany. German motoring laws.

Distance Chart 
International Driving Permit
Interactive Route Planner

Relative Carbon Emissions

Buy Road Maps of Germany

Make sure you Drive Alive! Drive on the right!

  • Be especially careful when setting off from service stations or restaurants on the left side of the road.

  • Take care when overtaking - allow more space between you and the car in front so you can see further down the road ahead.

  • Germany has strict drink driving laws, only allowing 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood - stricter than the UK where the limit is 0.8. 

  • Seat belts front and rear are obligatory everywhere.

  • Speed limits, shown below, are implemented rigorously. Radar traps are frequent in Germany, and heavy on-the-spot fines can be levied. The speed limit in towns and cities is 50 km/h - approximately 30 mph - unless indicated otherwise. The start of the limit is when you pass the town name sign on entering the town and the end of the limit is the same town name sign with a red line across the town name. There may not be a speed limit sign.

  • Remember - Speeding and other traffic offences are subject to on-the-spot fines.

  • When approaching a roundabout give way to traffic already on the roundabout, on your left, unless signed otherwise.

  • There are no tolls to pay on German Autobahns.

  • Low Emission Zones - don't get caught out - many German cities require you to display a sticker confirming your vehicle meets environmental requirements.

Although the autobahns in Germany are not subject to an overall speed limit (the blue speed limit signs, usually showing 130, are suggested maximum speeds), many stretches of autobahn are covered by signed speed limits, which are mostly closely observed by the Germans. But beware; even on unrestricted autobahns you can get a ticket for driving too fast in the prevailing conditions (heavy traffic, bad weather etc).

A full UK driving licence is required. Minimum age for driving in Germany is 18. As in the UK, seat belts should be worn front and rear. Below are motoring regulations relating to Germany.

More and more towns are adopting the priority to traffic coming from the right in the towns. If there is no yellow diamond at a road junction, you MUST give way to traffic from the right, even if you are on the major road. As it used to do in France years ago this is causing accidents, especially in the rain. It is used as a way to slow traffic down in built up areas.

Country Motorway Open Road Town Alcohol mg/ml
Germany none unless shown 100 km/h 50 km/h 0.5

Bulb replacement set is advised, but not compulsory.

Children in cars: children under 12 or 1.5 metres tall are not allowed to travel unless using an appropriate restraint.

Documentation: always carry your driving licence, vehicle registration document (V5), and certificate of motor insurance. If your licence does not incorporate a photograph ensure you carry your passport to validate the licence. If the vehicle is not registered in your name, carry a letter from the registered owner giving you permission to drive.

Drinking and driving: Don't do it. Over 0.05 per cent and you could face fines, endorsement or even imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offence.

Fines: On the spot fines are issued. Just about every possible driving offence can be subject to a fine, even running out of fuel on the Autobahn! Ensure an official receipt is issued by the officer collecting the fine.

First-aid kit is compulsory.

Fuel: All grades of unleaded petrol, diesel and LPG are available as well as lead substitute additive. It is allowed to carry petrol in a can. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, although they probably won't work at automatic pumps. At many garages in rural areas only automatic pumps are available at lunch time, during the evening and weekend, so make sure you're topped up. It's a good idea to let your card issuer know you will be travelling abroad. This ensures they don't suspend your card if they spot it being used in unfamiliar places, which they sometimes do as an anti-fraud measure.

GB sticker: UK registered vehicles displaying Euro-plates (circle of 12 stars above the national identifier on blue background) no longer need a GB sticker  when driving in European Union countries.

Headlamp converters are compulsory.

Low emission zones are now in place in a number of German cities. A special permit is required to drive through these zones. For more info visit our Low Emission Zone page.

Minimum age for driving, provided you hold a full UK licence, is 18 for a car, 18 for a motorcycle over 50cc, and 16 for a  motorcycle under 50cc.

Motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear crash helmets.

Motor insurance: third-party insurance is compulsory. A green card is not required but your insurer should be advised of your trip.

Radar detection of speed cameras: SatNavs and GPS devices (including those on smartphones) in the vehicle which can detect speed cameras are illegal. Either ensure you have the latest software updates (which should disable such functionality) or do not carry the device in the vehicle. Switching off the device is not sufficient.

Seat belts are compulsory for front and rear seat occupants, if fitted.

Snow chains should be carried in Germany during winter, because if you do not carry and fit them when conditions demand the police can prevent you continuing your journey. Click for general information on winter tyres and snow chains.

Visibility Vests are now compulsory in Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Norway, Portugal and Spain (and likely to become compulsory throughout the EU). The rules vary from country to country concerning number of vests required and whether they should be carried in the car or boot. Common sense suggests that there should be a vest for every occupant, and that the vests should be carried in the car, and put on before getting out. Do this and you will not have a problem.

Winter Tyres: as from December 4th 2010 new regulations require all passenger cars and motorbikes including vehicles from foreign countries to be fitted with winter tyres or all season tyres on all axles when conditions are wintry. Winter tyres (or 'all season' tyres) should bear the mark M&S or the snowflake symbol on the side wall. Minimum tread depth should be 3mm. So it seems that winter tyres are not compulsory if conditions are not wintry (snow, mud or ice), but since there is no reliable way to know the conditions throughout what might be a lengthy journey, we feel winter tyres are in effect compulsory. Click for general information on winter tyres and snow chains.

All information on this page is provided as a service to our clients. It is intended as a guide to the more important rules for the different countries to which we offer driving holidays. It is not meant to be a comprehensive document. We try and keep the information on this page up-to-date, but we cannot be held responsible in any way for any consequences arising from any inaccuracies. If you find a mistake or would like to send us some additional information, please email us. Your co-operation is appreciated.