CONTRIBUTED BY MRS. B
Getting your International Driver’s License (IDL) in Germany is technically an easy process, but getting all the information to do so is not quite so easy. I wanted to share our journey to get our IDL so that it may hopefully help someone else, or at least provide you with a ‘glimpse’ into the process. For OPSEC purposes I won’t post building numbers of the places on base, or exact locations, but once your here that info is easy enough to obtain 🙂 You need an IDL if you plan on driving anywhere outside of Germany, and with other countries so close I can’t see not driving outside of Germany.
First you need to take the USAREUR drivers test and pass. Make sure you study beforehand because you have to watch 40 mins video before taking the test, and if you fail you’ll have to watch the video again! It’s painfully boring but I will say that I did learn two things that helped with answers on the test. Our son was abel to get is USAREUR drivers license last week. To drive here you need to be 17 years old AND have a valid US drivers license (which he does) or you have to wait until they are 18 years old. He’s one of the few kids at the High School who can actually drive here. I just wanted to mention this as we got all kinds of conflicting information about whether or not he’d would be able to drive over here and at what age.
After passing the test you will get a temporary license, your hard copy will be mailed to you in about 2-3 weeks. After your hard copy arrives you can go get your IDL. Here is what you need to know to successfully go get it done.
Take your USAREUR driver’s license (hard copy) to the SFS building, room 208 to get the form you need to take to get your IDL. The office is on the 2nd floor at the end of the hall. The form is only good for 7 days so make sure that when you are getting it you will be able to go within that time period.
The back of the form has all the information that you need about locating the Bitburg Courthouse, the hours, as well as needing 15€ per person, and a biometric photo.
Next you will need to go to the Music Video Exchange store (MVX) to get a photo taken. The photo size needed for the IDL is German passport size which is 45mm x 35mm (1.77 in x 1.38 in), US passport photos are 2 in x 2 in. So our US passport photos are just a bit too big. At the MVX you can get the biometric photo taken and printed on the spot for $5 per person. The process took about 5 minutes and we each got a sheet with 8 photos on it, but you only need 1 for the IDL.
Your final stop will be the Bitburg Courthouse where you will take your USAREUR license, IDL form, photos, and ID card to get your IDL. The courthouse was easy to find using a GPS and the address located on the IDL form. I’m a very visual person so I’ve included photos 🙂
This is a view of the Bitburg Courthouse from the street. There is free parking along on the street in front of these horse statues, make sure to use your blue parking disc. Set your blue parking disc to the time you arrived. You should have gotten one of these at in-processing if not you can get one from the AFRC.
When you enter there will be an information widow on the right if you’d like to ask where to go. When you through these doors you go left and up a small set of stairs. Take another left and walk down the hall to room 122, it will be on the left. There are chairs in a waiting area across from the door.
This is the room door, notice the sign on the upper right with the red light? If it is red it means to please wait, so do not try to enter, someone else is being helped inside. When they come out wait until the light turns green and then you may enter.
After you enter you will need to give your ID card, USAREUR license, and photo to the person helping you. You will also have to fill out a short form with some information. After she gets the IDL’s ready you will have to go down stairs to pay the cashier and then come back up to get the IDL and your ID’s.
To get to the cashier you leave room 122 and take the stairs on the left down to room 1. Pay 15€ per person, make sure you have € with you. Then return to room 122 to get all your items.
It was really a simple process and was pretty quick. There was 1 person ahead of us when we arrived so we only had to wait 5 minutes. Then to get it all done it took about 10 minutes and we were on our way, legal to drive outside of Germany! If you still feel like it’s too overwhelming there is a lady on base who does the grocery shopping trips (call AFRC to get her info) and she does a monthly trip to the courthouse to help people get their IDL.
The IDL’s are big, little bit bigger than our passports, but you only need to carry them when driving outside of Germany so we just carry them with our passports when we do so. We’ve already put them to good use and made a trip to Luxembourg to see a castle the next day.
If your coming in to Spangdahlem I hope this is helpful information so that you can easily get your IDL. I also hope it provides a glimpse into the process of what it’s like to live overseas and what is involved with doing so, we love being expats, but there many to-do items after you arrive!
Notes from the editors:
Thank you to Shannon for laying out the IDL process at Spang!
In Kaiserslautern, you will need to follow the same steps, with different locations of course! The form needed for to bring to the courthouse is available in the same place you took the USAREUR drivers test. You can get your biometric pictures at MOMS and find the courthouse in downtown K-town (# 8 Lauterstrasse 8 67657 Kaiserslautern). Here is a website outlining the other IDL locations in the KMC.
You can also obtain your IDL before moving to Germany. They are available at AAA offices in the United States. However, the AAA’s IDLs are good for one year and the IDLs obtained in Germany with these steps are good for three years.
Do you know where to go if you are stationed at a different base/post? Please comment below!
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Note: Mrs. B originally posted this article on her site, but has graciously shared it with us here as well. Danke!