A Holidaymaker’s Guide to Driving in Germany

21st October, 2021, in Travel Advice & Guides

Germany is an ideal destination for a driving holiday, with the quality Autobahn and wonderful scenery across the country.

There are a few rules you’ll need to remember when driving in Germany – like driving on the right side of the road if you’re used to driving in the UK. Our below guide sums up some of the need-to-know information for a road trip to Germany. Don’t forget our Germany car hire directory, that way you’ll pick up the best value hire cars the moment you arrive!

What Documents Do I Need to Drive in Germany?

To drive in Germany, you’ll need a full, valid UK driving licence. You’ll also need a proof of ID, such as your passport.

If you’re renting a car, the minimum age is usually 18, although this can sometimes vary depending on the type of vehicle. Some car hire companies will need you to have held your driving licence for at least one to three years. You’ll sometimes need a credit card for the deposit. It will be a good idea to carry the car rental documents with you in the hire car.

What Do I Need in My Car in Germany?

Safety is a big priority in Germany, so you’ll need to make sure you’re carrying the following items to avoid getting an on-the-spot fine:

  • Warning triangle (compulsory in every vehicle that has at least four wheels)
  • Reflective jacket or vest
  • Headlamp beam deflectors (which can be deflector stickers or a manual adjustment)
  • First aid kit (only mandatory if the vehicle has four wheels and is registered in Germany)
  • Winter or all-season tyres (advised in wintery conditions – whilst not illegal, if you have an accident and don’t have the right tyres, you’ll be held at least partly to blame)

If you’re renting a car, these items might already be available in the vehicle. You should check with your hire company when you pick up the car.

Speed Limit in Germany

Speed limits in Germany are displayed in kilometers per hour. Unless there is signage stating otherwise, the following speed limits apply:

  • Built-up urban areas: 50kph (31mph)
  • Outside built-up areas: 100kph (62mph)
  • Motorways: 130kph (80mph)

Parts of the motorway, or Autobahn, don’t have any speed limit. This will be indicated by a white circular sign with five black lines. 130kph is the advised speed limit, but you should drive at whatever speed you feel safe. You should be aware that some cars may be driving faster.

Other German Road Rules

The legal limit for alcohol in the blood for private drivers is 0.05%. This is lower than in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales, but the same as Scotland. For drivers with less than two years’ experience, or drivers aged under 21, the limit in Germany is 0%. Random testing is common in Germany, and if you’re found to be over the limit, you could face a large fine.

If your vehicle has seatbelts fitted, they must be worn by the driver and all passengers.

Children under three must travel with a child seat. A child aged over three must travel in the rear seats, and if they’re aged under 12 or less than 150cm tall, they must have an appropriate child seat or restraint. A fine of €60 may be issued if you have any children who are not travelling with the right safety requirements.

There are no toll roads for private vehicles in Germany. However, there is a motorway tax on all vehicles exceeding 7.5 tonnes, which includes vehicles that may be towing, like a caravan.

If you have an accident or emergency in Germany, you can dial 112 who will be able to direct you to the right emergency services.


If you’re planning a road trip around Germany, you should make sure to get European excess car hire insurance so you’re covered in an emergency. Direct Car Hire Excess offers excess car insurance from just 12p a day, so you won’t have to pay out for any hefty excess costs if you have an accident driving abroad. Get a quote today or contact us to talk to our knowledgeable team about your excess insurance needs.

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