Time for some more paperwork! I always knew I would have to get around to changing my Canadian driver’s license to a German one. I wasn’t exactly prepared for how the process would go but assumed it would be a pain as has been my experience with other bureaucratic proceedings since arriving here.The 411: a Canadian can drive for 6 months in Germany using a Canadian license. However, after 6 months, you need to apply for a German license. When I first moved here at the end of July 2013, I thought, “6 months is so far away, I’ll deal with the license changeover later”.
It’s the end of January which means that it is now 6 months since I moved here (!), so I’ve been scrambling around all week to make this change happen. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if I’d waited longer, I just wouldn’t have been able to drive until I got my new license. In any case, I decided it was worth the hassle to just take care of business now.
First, collecting the necessary documents. What do you need? Your old license, your passport, a vision test (see below), biometric photos (more on that in a sec), a translation of the license into German by an approved translator (ughh…), and a record of your residency in Germany.
Old license? No prob, got that in the wallet. Passport? Got that too. Vision test? Hmm, does my eye exam from 2 years ago count? Probably not. Cut to me finding an optometrist office near my German school at the last minute to get this test. I wondered how the interaction would go; it’s kind of hard to carry on a formal German conversation when you’re flustered and have no idea what to expect. Nevertheless, the staff person and I got through the experience, even though it was my first test of this kind and clearly her first time administering this test! Basically you have to look into a little machine at 25 little circles and say where the opening of the circle is (ex. at the 12 o’clock position, 6 o’clock position, etc). 10 minutes later and 6.43 Euros poorer, I was out of there with my passing grade.
Cut to me rushing into this tiny photo booth (7 minutes into break time) with German-only instructions. I popped in the first Euro coin. I tried to put in the 5 Euro bill and had the comical in-out, in-out, flip over, in-out, in-out situation with trying to feed a bill into a machine. I got so flustered (9 minute mark), especially when the machine decided I took too long putting in my money and was going to take a photo of my anyway (just not the biometric photos I needed, but some other random photo booth photo)! So what did a I do? Not wanting to waste my 1 Euro coin, I sat for the picture. Now I have 16 tiny (like 15 mm x 15 mm) photos of myself that look like a mug shot (since I wanted to practice for my biometric photo)!
Annoyed at the ridiculousness of the situation (12 minute mark), I realized I really had to get my act together. Fortunately, there was ANOTHER photo booth right next to the one I was in. This time, I read the instructions more carefully and picked the biometric photo option BEFORE putting in my money. Bing bang boom, I am now the owner of 4 photos of myself looking like a grump (does anyone look good in photos when they don’t smile)?
As for the translation of the license, it turns out I wouldn’t need one after S called City Hall to check. My advice to you if you find yourself in the same situation – always call to check! Sometimes the rules aren’t quite as stiff as they appear to be.
I had to leave my class early to get to our town’s City Hall. The office hours of German businesses can be really frustrating (everything closed on Sundays and some weekdays just open for 3 or 4 hours in the morning or not at all). Thursday is the one day of the week when the office is open until 6pm. S and I got to the office at 5:30pm and of course there was a huge lineup. Finally, at about 6:03pm, it was our turn. Fortunately, the process was pretty straight forward and I handed in my documents without any issues. No time frame given on when I’ll receive my new license, but at least I squeezed in before the 6 month mark!
Thanks for hanging in until the end of this post.