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Three out of four driver's licenses lose their validity - you have to do that now

In the coming years, 43 million Germans will have to exchange their driving licenses.

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Three out of four driver's licenses lose their validity - you have to do that now

In the coming years, 43 million Germans will have to exchange their driving licenses. The reason: An EU directive is intended to ensure that driving licenses will be standardized and forgery-proof throughout Europe in the future.

The EU's plans involve a great deal of effort. In Germany alone, around 15 million paper driving licenses and 28 million credit card driving licenses have to be exchanged. WELT offers you an overview of validity, deadlines and costs.

There is a good chance that you too will soon have to replace your old driver's license with the new model: three out of four driver's licenses will become invalid in the coming years.

All Germans who acquired their driver's license before January 19, 2013 are affected by the exchange. But not everyone will have to exchange their driver's license at the same time. In order to avoid a bureaucratic collapse of the authorities, the deadlines differ depending on the date of issue and date of birth.

For driving licenses issued up to and including December 31, 1998, the driver's year of birth is decisive. For drivers who obtained their driving license after 1999, the year of issue - not the year of birth - is decisive for the exchange.

Now it's the turn of the baby boomers: for the baby boomers born between 1959 and 1964, the deadline is January 19, 2023.

Driving licenses issued up to 1998

The year of birth of the driver counts:

People who were born before 1953, i.e. who are already of retirement age today, can take their time until January 2033 with the exchange.

Driving licenses issued from 1999 onwards

The year in which the driving license was issued counts:

Although your general driver's license remains in place, your old driver's license document loses its validity when the period expires. Failure to do so will result in a fine being issued. The new credit card driver's license will then be valid for 15 years.

If you want to apply for an exchange of your driver's license, you must contact the local driver's license office or driver's license authority. There you can submit a corresponding application, which is associated with costs of around 25 euros.

There are also costs for a biometric passport photo, which range between 10 and 20 euros depending on the photographer. As an inexpensive alternative, some photo booths are also suitable for biometric passport photos.

You must bring these documents with you:

You only need a copy of the index card if your old paper driving license was not issued at your current place of residence. The copy can be requested from the authority that issued the driver's license.

The GDR driver's license remained valid after German reunification. But the old “rag” is also affected by the EU directive: anyone who has a GDR driver’s license will also have to exchange it in future. The same deadlines apply.

Even those who have applied for a digital driving license are not exempt from the exchange obligation. The digital driving license is only an additional offer and does not replace the physical model.

Due to the individual expiration dates, younger people in particular still have time to take care of the application. But by 2033, it will affect everyone who obtained their driver's license before 2013. We therefore advise you to take care of a renewal in good time.

This article was first published in September 2021.

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