GW Expat Forum Archive

German Way Expat Forum Highlights

Forum Topic Threads
The German Way Expat Forum is a discussion group for expats concerned with daily life and the cultural and language aspects of the German-speaking world. Here in the archives we have selected various topic threads that have been discussed recently in the forum.

NOTE: Although we think these excerpts from forum discussions offer useful information, the opinions expressed are those of the persons who posted the original messages. Not all of the statements and information given are necessarily factual. Although in most cases the information is true and based on personal experience, no one should simply accept all of the statements without checking other sources for a second opinion and more current information. None of the statements below should be construed as legal advice.

The Archives
The posts found below were written mostly by English-speaking people living in a German-speaking country. We have organized them into topics of interest to expats in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, or expats-to-be who will soon be there. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Ask in the Forum!

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German Way Forum Topic 1

TOPIC: Autobahn speed limit?

Can anyone answer the questions put in the first page of the excerpt of this book in the amazon link, especially the contradiction between the love for rules and the lack of a speed limit in motorways?


Re: Autobahn speed limit?

Autobahn: Machismo….. and this from a car guy….. but that is how I see it. They build powerful machines and like to put them through their paces. …


Re: Autobahn speed limit?

I agree with K’s observations and explanations, but just wanted to bring up another angle:

>> Autobahn: Machismo…… They build powerful machines
>> and like to put them through their paces.

I find this true for that part of the population that drives Mercedes and BMWs aggressively on the highways. Most of my acquaintances drive other models and feel threatened on the road by those drivers. This seems just to fuel the machismo of the former (also a few of whom I know). There is a lot of talk about introducing a speed limit (yeah, talk).


Re: Autobahn speed limit?

“lack of speed limit”??

There is a speed limit on the Autobahn:
130 km/h (Richtgeschwindigkeit)

You “can” drive faster, but if you are involved in an accident, you’ll be in trouble.


Re: Autobahn speed limit?

For all of you taking your driving test… is this true? Is there really a speed limit of 130 on the autobahn?

Gee, I better slow down!


Re: Autobahn speed limit?

>> 130 km/h (Richtgeschwindigkeit) …

The key here is ‘RICHTgeschwindigkeit’ (suggested speed). But many stretches of the autobahn network have posted speed limits of 100 or 120 or so. While there is no overall speed limit on the German autobahn, there are fewer and fewer sections where you can drive as fast as you want. In CH and A there is a definite speed limit.


Re: Autobahn speed limit?

The correct term for the 130km/h limit is the “recommended limit.” It is not an absolute speed limit and if you exceed it you will not get into trouble so long as you are driving safely.

As H points out, there are many areas with true speed limits and they seem to grow in number every day. Generally speaking, any time you are near an area like the Kölner Ring or the Aachener Ring (two areas I know well) the speed limits can be as low as 80km/h. Particularly when the weather is bad.

German Way Forum Topic 2

TOPIC: International Driver’s Permit (IDP)

Is it possible to get an IDP even though I’m already in Germany? Everything I search says to get one at the AAA office in the US. I wish I had done that. Can you get one while in Germany?


Re: International Driver’s Permit (IDP)

Why do you need an IDP?

Perhaps you already read this at the GW site:

“…an IDP, despite its name, is not a driver’s license. It is only a translation document that goes with your U.S. or other license, and it is only valid with the original license. It must be obtained in your home country (from AAA in the U.S.) before you leave.”

(See: Drivers License Reciprocity)

I’ve never needed an IDP to drive in Germany or to rent a car. But then I’ve never had any traffic law problems either. Anyone out there who recommends having an International Driving Permit?


Re: International Driver’s Permit (IDP)

If you really need one, try the www.ADAC.de. But will that really help you? When living in Germany, you will need a German permit.

Period.


Re: International Driver’s Permit (IDP)

I think first you need to tell us the reason you think you need one. Your US license is recognized in Germany, and an IDP doesn’t give you any special privileges and would only let you drive here for 6 months anyway before you would need to apply for a German license. If you’re just visiting, your regular license is fine.

If you need one to travel to to other countries that don’t recognize a US license as it stands, you could enquire at your local Führerscheinstelle or perhaps contact the ADAC, the German automobile club – www.adac.de.


Re: International Driver’s Permit (IDP)

I guess this answers my question – I don’t need to get an IDP. I thought I did because I’m renting a car and they say it’s “highly recommended”.

I’ll be here for three years and am planning to use public transportation mostly and only occasionally rent a car. However, I’ve heard that rental agencies like your license to be at least two years old. So when I get a German license does that mean I won’t be able to rent a car for two years? Or maybe I can just show them the German and the U.S. license together.


Re: International Driver’s Permit (IDP)

I’ve rented cars many times over many years in Germany with my US license — and never once was asked for an IDP.

> … So when I get a German license does that mean I
> won’t be able to rent a car for two years?
> Or maybe I can just show them the German
> and the U.S. license together.

Once you have your German license, you can rent a car with that. If you go back to the States for a visit, you could renew your US license. Technically, after one year, you can’t drive with a US license [in Germany], but I suspect you could still rent a car with a valid US license and a US passport (and billing a US credit card) — but I’m not recommending that.


Re: International Driver’s Permit (IDP)

> I’ve rented cars many times over many years in Germany with
> my US license — and never once was asked for an IDP.

Actually, most rental car companies are just franchises and leave it to individual agencies to decide whether to accept a US DL or not. In January, I rented a car from Europcar at Frankurt Intl for a one-way drive to Saarbrücken, where I returned it to the local branch. The following weekend, I reserved a car at that same Saarbrücken Europcar branch (the online system will not warn you about the need for an IDL), and when I showed up, they refused to give it me because I did not have an IDL [sic].

I did not find it very funny at that time, as you can imagine, but in retrospect his explanation was very entertaining. He told me: “If you had a Vietnamese DL, I would not know what to do with it, so you see the IDL would give me an English
translation that I would understand” No use telling him that an English translation of my US license would not read too different than the original!

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