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International Road Transport Operations in Germany
Additional Driving Bans
Also affected are the German Federal highways outside of closed localities in both driving directions.
Night Driving Restrictions
Low Emmission Zones
Emmission stickers must be displayed at all times and are available for purchase (€5 - €10) from Vehicle Test Stations or authorised garages. Stickers are valid for an unlimited period.
Germany's LKW-MAUT (Lorry Toll) is a government tax for trucks based on the distance driven in kilometres, number of axles and the emission category of the vehicle. The MAUT system is a GPS-based toll system, there are no toll booths or plazas on the highways instead this system works via the following methods;
Manual payment is available for those vehicles not equipped with an OBU, of which there are over 3,500 toll payment terminals at motorway service stations, border locations or rest areas where drivers can enter the details of their journey and pay the toll in advance by cash (Euros only), or by using a credit or fuel card.
OBU's work via GPS and the on-board odometer or tachograph as a back-up to determine how far trucks have travelled by reference to a digital map and GSM to authorise the payment of the toll via a wireless link.
If for any reason a driver is required to divert off the given route, then he/she must stop and re-book the new route.
In addition to 300 toll checker gantries strategically located throughout the country, Toll Enforcement also relies on mobile patrols, consisting of a fleet of 300 vehicles with 540 officers of the Federal Office of Freight (BAG). The officers patrol the autobahns, checking vehicles and drivers to ensure they have paid the toll or have the OBU installed. BAG vehicles are equipped with an infrared short range DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communications) system that can be used to scan and monitor trucks in motion. The BAG have police powers to request trucks to stop for examination at any point during their journey.
The autobahn system gantries are also equipped with IR detection equipment and high resolution cameras, which are able to pick out trucks via profiling (and record number plates). These units send a DSRC signal to a corresponding transponder (which is part of the OBU) in the lorry to check on the accuracy of the GPS as a back-up and also alert BAG officers to any toll violations. The OBU is also able to work with the new Galileo satellite system for positioning which is being developed in Europe as a more accurate alternative to GPS.
Bridge and Tunnel Tolls
It should be noted that in many EU Countries a Trailer Registration Certificate is a requirement. In all cases, this is a National Requirement, not an EU one. Certificates can be obtained from Vosa Technical Services - 01792 458888.
With more and more EU member states implementing Load Safety Best Practice and penalising operators/drivers for failure to implement. We advise operators to read the EU Load Safety Guidelines, which can be downloaded from the EU commissions website here European Guidelines on Cargo Security/Load Safety. You can also refer to the Load Security page within the Construction & Use/Loads section of this website.
Country Contact Info
Driving restrictions in Europe on specific days and times
Some European countries impose different driving restrictions for heavy vehicles on weekends and public holidays. Here you can find details for driving bans valid in 2015.
Driving ban applies all year long to the entire national road network for vehicles with a legal maximum weight exceeding 7.5 tons and semi-trailers between 00:00 and 22:00 on Sundays and public holidays.
Driving night ban applies all year long to the entire national road network for vehicles with a legal maximum weight exceeding 7.5 tons between 22:00 and 05:00.
Also, from 1 July to 31 August special rules for driving during holidays are applied.
These restrictions do not apply to:
Besides, these motor vehicles should have maximum speed of 60 km per hour, unless otherwise is stated by appropriate road signs.
Driving ban applies all year long to the entire national road network for trucks with a legal maximum weight above 7.5 tons:
No driving bans on Sundays and public holidays.
If any of these days is not a public holiday in a canton or part of a canton, the Sunday driving ban will not apply there either. Driving bans in a canton is not applied to the transit traffic.
Driving bans are also imposed on hazardous goods transport through tunnels.
The night driving ban applies from 22:00 to 05:00 for all vehicles with a legal maximum weight exceeding 3.5 tones (apart from vehicles used for passenger transports), as well as for trucks, tractor units, industry vehicles with a legal maximum weight exceeding 5 tones.
No general driving ban on Sundays and public holidays. In Copenhagen, there is nightly driving ban for trucks with a legal maximum weight over 3.5 tones between 19:00 and 07:00.
On connector roads to and from Madrid and Barcelona there are special traffic restrictions on Sundays and holidays.
No driving ban on Sundays and public holidays.
No driving ban on Sundays and public holidays.
No driving ban on Sundays and public holidays.
No driving ban on Sundays and public holidays.
Truck driving bans
In Germany, trucks over 7.5 tons admissible total weight and all trucks and cars with trailers are subject to a driving ban from midnight to 10 p.m. on Sundays and on legal holidays.
Legal holidays differ in the various federal states. If a day is not a legal holiday Germany-wide, the ban is limited to the states in which it is a holiday: Transit is thus not possible unless the route is subject to a blanket exception.
Likewise, a driving ban applies to certain routes on all Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the period from July 1 to August 31. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure regularly publishes the affected roads.
The Federal Office for Goods Transport provides information about the German truck driving ban (German language). Bans also exist in other EU countries. Further information can be found here (in German language).
New EU rules tell truck drivers to work less, take more breaks
(BRUSSELS) - New EU-wide regulations came into force on Wednesday restricting the working week for lorry and coach drivers and requiring longer rest stops.
Among the new measures is an obligatory rest of at least 45 consecutive hours every two weeks and a working week of no more than 60 hours, including loading and unloading.
"The application of the new social rules is an important milestone for Europe's road transport sector," said EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot.
"This is clearly a win-win situation: the drivers will enjoy important social advances, the transport companies will compete on equal grounds and all road users will benefit from better safety."
The new rules, adopted by EU member states and the European Parliament in 2005, amends 1985 legislation which allowed a 74-hour driving week for professional drivers.
Now, over a four-month period drivers mustn't work more than 48 hours a week on average.
Minimum rest times are fixed at 11 hours per day, including nine hours consecutively.
Drivers must also take a total of 45 minutes rest for every four and a half hours of driving.
The rules are a minimum requirement and member states are free to impose further restrictions.
They are aimed at "increasing road safety and ensuring adequate social standards in a profession characterised by fierce competition," the European Commission said in a statement.
The binding rules apply, irrespective of the country where the vehicles are registered.
Driving in Germany
It's true: there are no speed limits on many sections of German autobahns. But there are plenty of other regulations you should be aware of.
Driving in Germany can be a delight: the scenery is beautiful and the roads are well maintained. But there are many rules and regulations to observe.
Getting a German Driver's License
Your own driver's license is valid in Germany, at least at the outset. If it was issued by a European Union country, you will never need to exchange it for a German one. If it was issued by a country outside the EU, you can only use it for six months from your date of arrival. If you will be residing in Germany for longer than six months but less than one year, you can obtain a six-month extension to use your existing license.
A national of a non-EU country who will be living in Germany longer than a year will need a German driver's license (Führerschein). In many cases this is a simple matter of exchanging the license for a German one. In other cases it will be necessary to take a written exam, a driving test, or both.
You can simply exchange your license if you come from Canada or the U.S. states of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington State, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
If you come from Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee or Washington D.C. you will need to take the written test, but not the driving test.
In order to get a German driver's license based on a license from any state in the USA, you must have had your stateside license for at least six months before coming to Germany. The German authorities may ask for some sort of proof of that.
If your license is from South Africa or any of the U.S. states not listed, you will most likely be required to take both the written and driving examination. If your license is from New Zealand you may be required to take the written examination depending on which classification of license you now hold or wish to get. If you come from Australia you will most likely be able to directly exchange your license for a German one. There may be an extra requirement for a vision test, depending on which territory issued your current license.
To find out the specific requirements for exchanging a license it is best to contact the local authorities.
The written test, which covers such things as rules of the road and traffic signs, can be taken in a number of languages, including English. It's taken at a drivers' school (Fahrschule), so let them know in advance what language you prefer. Be warned, the test is tough, and 30% of the people who take it fail to pass it on the first try. So you should study for it. There is a book in English, Lehrbuch Englisch (Fahren Lernen B), that many find a big help. You can buy it from a driving school for about €50, or you may find used copies being offered on line.
The test is multiple choice, but there isn't necessarily only one correct answer to each question. Some or all of the answers may be correct. You can get an idea of what it is like, in English with the correct answers checked, at www.osterberger.org/test.html.
Fahrschule cars for the driving examination are equipped with dual controls so that the instructor can take over any time the student gets into serious trouble. The law sets minimum durations and mileage for each aspect of the driving instruction: at least 225 minutes and 50 kilometers per session on highways or country roads: at least 135 minutes on the Autobahn with each journey lasting at least 45 minutes, and 90 minutes for driving in twilight or darkness, half of this on highways or country roads.
Those attending a driving school won't necessarily be treated as beginning drivers. Many schools have set up simplified courses for experienced drivers, which will cost you about €500 as opposed to the over €1,400 - €1,500 that a beginner would have to pay. If a school tells you it doesn't offer such a course, find one that does.
The driver's license is issued by an agency of the local police. To exchange your license you should take it to your local driver's registration office (Führerscheinstelle). You should have a certified translation. You can get a translation from the ADAC automobile club. (Their office in Hesse charges €36 for members and €46 for non-members.) A person must present an application, a passport, a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis), two passport-sized photos, proof of attendance at a Fahrschule if required, proof of completion of a first aid course and certification of a vision test which either an optometrist or the Technische Überwachungsverein (TüV) may administer.
Some Americans who work and live in the German states of Hamburg, Hesse, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein and Saarland may now have it easier. In some cases it may be possible to convert licenses without any written or driving exam no matter what US state they come from. The rules differ somewhat in each of those four German states. In some cases your work must be with an American firm, and in some cases spouses are not allowed to make the simple conversion.
Go to www.amcham.de/services/drivers-license/us-citizens-in-germany.html or check with the local authorities for more information on this and a complete list of the States that have reciprocal agreements with Germany.
This may seem quite a hassle, but once you've weathered the storm you'll have a license that's good for a long time. All German driver licenses issued before 2013 are valid until December 31, 2032. As of 2013 licenses will be valid for 15 years.
When visiting the local motor vehicle registry (Autozulassungsstelle) a person needs proof of ownership, proof of insurance and, if the car was purchased in Germany, the Kraftfahrzeugbrief, a document that is supposed to accompany the car through all owners from assembly line to scrap yard. The new or used car dealer from whom the car was purchased will usually handle the registration.
The vehicle must also pass a safety inspection. Tests are conducted by the Technischer Überwachungsverein nationwide. Cars that were purchased new must be inspected after three years, and thereafter all cars must be inspected at two-year intervals.
Laws governing the condition of cars and motorcycles are strict. The engine, chassis, frame and all other components, including brakes, tires, horn, wheel alignment, windshield, lights and mirrors will be checked. Vehicles that fail inspection usually do so because of rust or faulty lights, exhaust, brakes or tires. The basic rule is that if an item is mounted on the vehicle, it must function and be completely serviceable even if not essential to operation.
Before a person can register a car in Germany he or she must have proof of third party liability coverage for all damage or injury to another person, car or object. While collision or comprehensive insurance isn't required by law, most institutions financing the purchase of a vehicle do require it. This can raise the insurance bill considerably, and insurance is not cheap in Germany.
There are numerous factors in addition to coverage that influence the insurance price. Beginning drivers pay more than experienced drivers; those driving big, powerful cars pay more than those with more modest vehicles; those living in urban areas pay more than those in rural areas, and those who have been found liable in accidents pay more than those who haven't.
If you have a good driving record in your home country you can get credit for it here. Get a letter from your insurance agent back home. If the German agent says you can't get this credit try another agent. Some insurance agents in Germany are geared to getting the expatriate through these complexities.
Don't let the high speeds on German roads fool you into believing that there are no reduced speed zones. There are, in fact, many sections of the German Autobahns that have speed limits. The speed limits are prominently posted in heavily traveled sections of Autobahns around cities. You'll also see speed limit signs on other seemingly open parts of the Autobahns in the countryside. So, keep an eye open for them. Usually, speeders will not be stopped at the time of the offense but will get a speeding ticket through the mail. This may be as long as two or three months after the incident. The German police use special cameras to catch speeders. Persons exceeding the limits by more than 30 kilometers an hour can count on losing licenses for a period of up to three months, plus a stiff fine. (See the sidebar.)
A tough, computerized point system is used to get dangerous drivers off the road. Increasingly strict penalties are the order of the day especially where drugs or alcohol are involved, and especially if there was an accident. Except where posted because of construction or traffic problems, there are no speed limits on the autobahns, although the recommended maximum is 130kph (about 80mph).
A mixture of slow-moving trucks and high-speed autos are on the same roads at the same time and defensive driving is a must. Autobahn chain-reaction pileups occur periodically, partly because of high speeds. The most common causes of accidents involving expatriates are failing to yield the right-of-way, following too closely and failure to maintain control. Accidents occurring at speeds of over 130 kph on the autobahns can result in insurance payment claims being annulled regardless of who was at fault.
The basic speed limit is 50kph (about 30mph) in built-up areas and 100kph (about 60mph) elsewhere. If you are hauling a trailer the speed limit is 80kph (50mph) on roads and autobahns.
If you see a blinking yellow light at an intersection it means stop, then proceed if the intersection is clear. Run a red light and you'll probably be caught: many intersections have radar-controlled cameras hooked up to traffic lights.
All vehicles in Germany are required to have serviceable seat belts for all persons in the car, including those riding in the back seat. And the law requires that they be worn. There is a €30 on-the-spot fine for each person in a car not using a seat belt. An exception is made for back-seat passengers in older-model cars that didn't originally come equipped with rear seat belts. Children under 12 are not allowed to ride in the front seat of a car and must use car seats certified by the German government.
There is no general rule in Germany that prohibits passing in an intersection. The driver making a left turn must therefore check for rear traffic at least twice and, because of the rearview mirror's "blind spot," should not rely on it alone.
In Germany, a driver can be forced to submit to a blood test. The blood alcohol limit is 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per milliliter of whole blood. Persons exceeding this limit will be fined and face a license suspension of up to three months for the first offense. Just how many drinks it takes to give a person a 0.5 blood alcohol count depends on size and other factors, but two small beers, a quarter of a liter of wine or a jigger of hard liquor will probably get one close.
German law requires that all automobiles have a portable red reflective triangle and a first aid kit in their trunk. If a car is stopped for any reason, the triangle must be placed 200 meters behind it if on the autobahn and 100 meters behind it on all other roads. The car's emergency flashers should also be turned on. You can only pass vehicles on the left. There's a stiff fine for passing on the right.
Driving with parking lights alone is prohibited. You must use your headlights (low-beam) at night and during inclement weather. Motorcyclists must wear helmets and drive with the headlight on at all times. The Germans also have a complicated right of way rule. Unless otherwise posted, the driver coming from the right at an intersection has the right of way. Just because you are on what looks to be a major road, you may not be on the "priority" road. A diamond-shaped sign (yellow in the center surrounded by a white border) tells you if you are on a priority road.
The yield sign is an inverted triangle with a red border and white interior and means that you must yield the right-of-way. You don't have to stop, though, if the way is clear. An eight-sided stop sign means that you must first come to a complete stop before proceeding.
Traffic calming zones (Verkehrsberuhigungenzone), indicated by a sign showing a pedestrian and a child kicking a ball, are often found in residential areas. In them playing children may use the entire street and traffic must stop for pedestrians and move at no more than 7kph.
You must stop for anyone using, or preparing to use, a white-striped "zebra" pedestrian crossing.
Round blue signs with white arrows inside them show permitted directions of travel. For example, if there are arrows pointing both up and to the right it means you have your choice of straight ahead or right, but left is prohibited. If there is a single arrow pointing left it means "left turn only."
If you're involved in an accident, do not leave the scene. As the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident you must remain at the scene for at least 30 minutes before leaving, if alone. If you are involved in an accident with others, you must exchange personal and insurance information. Leaving the scene of an accident can lead to severe financial penalties and, depending on whether personal injury to others or extensive property damage is involved, you could be incarcerated or lose your license.
Failure to pay traffic violations (citations for parking in clearly marked "no parking" zones or parking in a handicap space and other relatively small infractions) can lead to imprisonment. If the violations date back far enough and failure to pay is constant, your final payment will be a hefty fine (known as Bussgeld), accompanied by loss of your license and quite possibly a "go straight to jail" card.
Some fines may be collected on the spot, provided the driver has enough ready cash on hand; otherwise, your name and address will be taken and a ticket will be mailed to you later with an accompanying payment slip.
It is generally difficult to find a place to park during working hours, though in many cases you may be able to park in the evening at places where it's barred during the day. Be forewarned: German towing fees are very high! Round signs with red borders and a blue interior and an "X" mean no parking or stopping whatsoever. Similar signs with a single diagonal line mean restricted parking, or parking for a limit of three minutes only. Signs with only a red border and white middle mean no vehicles of any type are permitted.
Motorists may not pass a bus that signals with its blinker that it is approaching one of its stops. Once the bus has stopped it's OK to pass it, but at what the Germans call Schrittempo. That means moving so slowly that the needle on your speedometer doesn't register. Cars headed in the opposite direction must also use Schrittempo when a bus is stopped with its blinker going. This is because of the danger that people, particularly children, may try to cross the street in an effort to catch the bus. If any do, the car must stop and let them cross.
Driving on snow-covered roads is permitted only if your car is equipped with the proper tires. There are dedicated winter tires as well as all weather tires that may be acceptable. Use of regular summer tires in snowy or icy conditions can result in a fine and, much worse, loss of your insurance coverage in the event of an accident. Check with your local mechanic, dealership or repair shop to make sure you have the proper tires on you car.
Driving time and rest periods
Regulation (EC) 561/2006 provides a common set of EU rules for maximum daily and fortnightly driving times, as well as daily and weekly minimum rest periods for all drivers of road haulage and passenger transport vehicles, subject to specified exceptions and national derogations. The scope of operations regulated is tremendously diverse, it includes: passenger transport and road haulage operations, both international and national, long and short distance, drivers for own account and for hire and reward, employees and self-employed.
The aim of this set of rules is to avoid distortion of competition, improve road safety and ensure drivers' good working conditions within the European Union.
These rules establish that:
The compliance with these provisions is subject to continuous monitoring and controls, which are carried out on national and international level via checking tachograpgh records at the road side and at the premises of undertakings.
Reporting from the Commission
Every two years the Commission prepares a report based on information submitted by Member States regarding the implementation of the EU social legislation in the two-year period. This concerns the rules on driving times, breaks and rest periods established by Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 and the working time provisions laid down in Directive 2002/15/EC . The national data include the number of controls carried out at the roadside and at the premises of companies, the number and types of offences detected, the number of undertakings and drivers checked and others. The current report covers the period 2011-2012. The next report will cover the years 2013-2014. Member States are expected to submit their national statistics on the application of the social rules by 30 September 2015.
Latest report [COM(2014) 709] on the implementation in 2011-2012 of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road transport and of Directive 2002/15/EC on the organisation of the working time of persons performing mobile road transport activities (27th report from the Commission on the implementation of the social legislation relating to road transport).
Commission staff working document [SWD(2014) 342] accompanying the report.
Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the application of the derogation provided in Article 8(6a) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council (12-day rule), COM(2014) 337
This report follows the monitoring requirement set out in Article 8(6a) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 on driving times and rest periods. It provides for an overview of the use by Member States of the so called "12-day rule" derogation allowing drivers to postpone their weekly rest, if specific conditions are fulfilled. The report is based on information submitted by Member States to the Commission.
Note to users: In the last paragraph of Section 3 of the Report there is a reference made to Annex II. Please note that there are no annexes to this report, as adopted by the Commission. An overview of the answers to the questionnaire on the use of 12-day derogation is available on request at the following functional mailbox: firstname.lastname@example.org
National exceptions from drivers' hours rules
Article 13 (1) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 sets out a list of possible national derogations from application of provisions on driving times, breaks and rest periods (Articles 5 to 9 of the Regulation). It is within the competency of each Member States to decide whether any of the listed possible national derogations will be granted or not.
Article 14 (2) of the Regulation stipulates that Member States may grant in urgent cases exceptions from the application of Articles 6 to 9 up to maximum 30 days to transport operations carried out in exceptional circumstances. This table gives an overview of the exemptions notified to the Commission in accordance with Articles 14 (2).
Temporary relaxation of drivers [156 KB]
The Court of Justice of the European Union judgements concerning social rules in road transport
Certain Court judgments under earlier legislation which has been repealed remain relevant as interpretative guidance on key provisions carried over into the current legislation. However, the relevance of Court rulings for the application and interpretation of Regulation 561/2006 should be assessed on a case by case basis.