Driving in Germany is a dream come true. The roads are in perfect shape and the drivers are very well behaved. The scenery is also magnificent , so all you need to do is rent a car and enjoy your vacation.
Renting a car in Germany
If your driver’s license is issued by a country part of the European Union, you can use it in Germany without any problems. If it’s issued outside of EU , you can use it for half a year, before needing to exchange it for a German license. Some US nationals can simply exchange the license without any tests but others (i.e. from Connecticut, Florida, Oregon, etc) need to take a test. South African and New Zeeland nationals need to take both a written test and the driving examination.
The legal age for driving in Germany is 18 but you need to be at least 19 to rent a car. Some rental companies require an international driving license , so check ahead of time. Also, do your homework before you leave for Germany (the rates are better if you book in advance). Please note that most cars come with manual transmission (gear shift). If you need an automatic car, make sure to tell this to the rental company.
Technically, if you travel within Europe you are allowed to take the rental car across the border . However if you travel to non-Schengen states you’ll pay a surcharge. Or you might not be able to drive the rental car, at all. So make sure to double check before you make any plans.
An eco-friendly economy car (i.e Open Corsa) costs from €74.20 per day if you book online and includes the Loss Damage Waiver, as well as limited mileage. An economy car (i.e. VW Polo) costs from €42.70 per day but can cost up to €90.24 if it includes Collision Damage Waiver, Personal Accident Insurance, Liability Insurance and Theft Protection. So, it’s important to check exactly what it’s included in the rate before you choose to book a car.
Prices depend on the company and the pick up location (airports and train station pick ups include a surcharge). Some companies include a surcharge based on the driver’s age, too.
Some of the car rental companies you can choose from are:
Driving in Germany
The autobahn might not any speed limits in various parts, but don’t think this applies to the other roads, too. If you go over the speed limited by 30 kmph you’ll lost the license (and by the way: you are not stopped when you are caught, they send you the speeding ticket in the mail). The speed limit on the autobahn is 130 kmph (unless signaled otherwise). In build-up areas the speed limit is 50 kmph and 100 kmph elsewhere.
Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers. A €30 fine is applied on the spot for each person not wearing a seat belt. The only exception is the old cars which don’t have seat belts installed for the passengers in the back of the car.
Pay attention in intersections as there is no set rule. So you much check all possible angles. Blinking yellow light means you need to stop and then pass if it’s clear. You can only pass vehicles on the left. The alcohol limit is 0.5 mg per ml of blood. If higher, your license if suspended on the spot.
When a bus signals that it’s about to stop, you are not allowed to pass it. When the bus has stopped, it’s ok to pass it. If you drive during winter with summer tires, you’ll lose the insurance coverage (and also pay a fine).
You must stop for anyone using a pedestrian crossing (“zebra”). Other signs (blue sign with the direction of travel, stop sign, yield sign) are just like everywhere else in Europe.
Failing to pay traffic violations can lead to imprisonment. Fail to pay the fines often and you’ll get a hefty fine, get your license suspended and most often end up in jail, too.