EU directive The pink paper German driver's license will become history

BERLIN · Over 43 million driving licenses will have to be exchanged in the coming years. The new EU licenses are not free of charge and not every driver’s license will be exchanged automatically.

 Der rosafarbene Papierführerschein ist bald Geschichte, weil alle Autofahrer den EU-Führerschein im Scheckkartenformat bekommen sollen.

Der rosafarbene Papierführerschein ist bald Geschichte, weil alle Autofahrer den EU-Führerschein im Scheckkartenformat bekommen sollen.

Foto: Andrea Warnecke

Anyone still on the road today with a German grey or pink paper driver's license will sooner or later have to part with it. The conversion to cheque card format is obligatory - sooner for some, later for others.

The background to this is an EU directive that Germany is now implementing. By January 19, 2033 at the latest, all driving licenses issued before mid-January 2013 must be exchanged. Depending on the year of birth of the owner or the year in which the document was issued, many of the old licenses will have to be exchanged earlier.

This applies to countless motorists: Gerrit Reichel of automobile club ACV estimates that there are around 15 million paper driver’s licenses issued up to 1998 and a further 28 million plastic cards issued between January 1999 and 2013.

No one will lose their driver’s license

Jürgen Kopp from the Federal Association of Driving Instructors' Associations explains that there will be some changes in the categorization of classes of licenses but nobody has to fear losing their driving license as a result of the exchange. This is legally not possible.

A special application must be filed to exchange the old license to the new cheque card (credit card) size format. In case there are any questions or doubts, you can always obtain proof of all driving authorizations obtained from a copy of the file card issued by the authority that originally issued the driving license.

Restriction for those who tested with automatic cars

Anyone who has taken the driving test in an automatic car will have a restriction being noted in the new driving license by the key number (SZ) 78.

These small numbers in the new driving licenses provide information about restrictions or extensions. Driving schools and automobile clubs offer an overview of the figures, the ADAC automobile club has also compiled one online.

A recent passport photo is required

To exchange your license, you will need to present a recent biometric passport photo, a current driver’s license and an identity card or passport.

The new EU driving license will not be valid indefinitely, in contrast to the previous German licenses. After 15 years, it must be renewed. According to the ADAC, the new document will also be issued without having to take a driving test or health examination.

A new license will cost you

Criticism has been leveled at the fact that the exchange of driving licenses is not free of charge. "The 25 euros are one of several unpleasant aspects of this compulsory exchange," complains Reichel.

Those who fail to get their new European Union driver’s license and are checked by police, will receive a ten euro warning fine, explains traffic lawyer Daniela Mielchen from Hamburg.

According to the ADAC, no information will be sent to motorists informing them that they need to exchange their old license. Every citizen is responsible for taking care of the matter on their own.

(Orig. text: dpa, Translation: ck)

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