sunis asked this question 6 years, 11 months ago:

Has anyone traded in your state license for German one?

I'm contemplating turning in my US license for a German license since my state has a reciprocal agreement with Germany.

I'm hoping to hear from someone who's done this. Maybe you could share your experience. Were there any negative results of doing this?

When you went to the German office to do so, did you have to let them keep your original documents (i.e. state drivers license) for an extended period of time while they were processing your new license?

Did it affect your car insurance in any way, if you still had a stateside insurer?

Has it ever affected you renting a car, whether it's in Europe, the US, or elsewhere?

If you visit the state that hosts your Address of Record, do you have any problems with using your German drivers license there?

Does it have any affects if you drive a family member's or friend's car in the US?

I'm especially interested in hearing from those who drive US government vehicles for work. Has it had any effects on you driving a TMP, for example?

Are there any questions I haven't asked? ;-)

I would appreciate any feedback if you've been in this situation, especially for those who might have done this in Kaiserslautern. Maybe you might be willing to share the steps you took?



6 years, 11 months ago

I have no experience with this, but am curious as to why you would want or need anything other than the USAREUR license? Is there some kind of advantage?

6 years, 11 months ago

It may be beneficial for me. I am not term-limited for living here. Since I get so little vacation time, I don't want to be stuck ~having~ to return to my home state at some point for an in-person renewal of my license (every second renewal requires that). Plus, if our German local state ever pulls that stunt again where they won't recognize expired stateside licenses, I'd be in the clear. (My home state allows overseas residents an extra 3 or 6 months to renew an expired license, but last year I heard that Rheinland-Pfalz wasn't honoring agreements like that because of a misinterpretation of the rules until it was resolved.)

I'm also batting around the idea of working on the economy if my current position were to go away. If I trade in my license now, I can avoid thousands of euros in the future to get a German license. However, I only have several more months before I can trade in my stateside license since one only has the first three years to do so.

Basically, I'm trying to figure out if there would be any ill effects to this.

6 years, 11 months ago

Quote by sunis:
It may be beneficial for me. I am not term-limited for living here. Since I get so little vacation time, I don't want to be stuck ~having~ to return to my home state at some point for an in-person renewal of my license (every second renewal requires that). Plus, if our German local state ever pulls that stunt again where they won't recognize expired stateside licenses, I'd be in the clear. (My home state allows overseas residents an extra 3 or 6 months to renew an expired license, but last year I heard that Rheinland-Pfalz wasn't honoring agreements like that because of a misinterpretation of the rules until it was resolved.)

I'm also batting around the idea of working on the economy if my current position were to go away. If I trade in my license now, I can avoid thousands of euros in the future to get a German license. However, I only have several more months before I can trade in my stateside license since one only has the first three years to do so.

Basically, I'm trying to figure out if there would be any ill effects to this.


When you trade your U.S. license for a German one they will keep it. So you'll either need to get another when in the States or tell your State you lost it and need a new one.

Also, the license issue with the State was actually Germany wide. Not to mention the USAREUR reg says you need a U.S. License in conjunction with the USAREUR one. So technically a German license in not going to help you. I have a German license and when that whole thing went down I didn't care because I had a German license. I figured a German cop would only care to see that and not worry about the Customs problem that is the actual issue when someone drives a USAUER plated vehicle without the license.

You can also trade your license regardless if you work the DOD or not. If you or any other Amercian can get a work permit for Germany they can also trade their U.S. License if it's from reciprocal state.

6 years, 11 months ago

Not to mention the USAREUR reg says you need a U.S. License in conjunction with the USAREUR one.


Doesn't matter if sunis is going to just trade the U.S. state license for the German license. sunis won't even need a USAREUR license, correct? Or, is there a reason why having one is required?

Also, I was told by Dan Savedra at the Sembach registration office that you only need to have your stateside license when you first get the USAREUR license. When renewing the USAREUR license, you don't need the stateside license unless you are renewing late. So, as long as renewal is on time, the stateside license is no longer required. Again, this is what I was told.

6 years, 11 months ago

Quote by JOFTAA:
Doesn't matter if sunis is going to just trade the U.S. state license for the German license. sunis won't even need a USAREUR license, correct? Or, is there a reason why having one is required?

Also, I was told by Dan Savedra at the Sembach registration office that you only need to have your stateside license when you first get the USAREUR license. When renewing the USAREUR license, you don't need the stateside license unless you are renewing late. So, as long as renewal is on time, the stateside license is no longer required. Again, this is what I was told.


If sunis wants to drive a usareur played car then yes it's needed. The actual registration regulation says you need a valid US license, but when you renew your usareur one they don't check to see if you still have a US license.

6 years, 7 months ago

I thought I'd give an update on what the eventual outcome of all of this. Before reading: keep in mind that I received a different answer depending on which person I asked so you'll have to do your own research if you're ever in this situation. Be sure to check with your legal channels and get legal advice to learn what's applicable for yourself.

I spoke to just about everyone under the sun - seriously, I spoke to people at the vehicle registration and drivers license office, people at the Rathaus, people at the German-American office, my home Secretary of State, my car insurance company, and even someone from ACS (since she was from the same state I'm from and had considered doing the same thing).

First of all: the vehicle reg/drivers license office doesn't care if you use your stateside license or German license plus the USAREUR license, but you do have to have one in addition to the USAREUR license.

I contacted my particular auto insurance agency (who is in the States) and they didn't care if I had a German DL or an American one.

I contacted my state to see if I would be allowed to drive in the US with a German license and the IDP translation while I was there on vacation. As long as I wasn't back as a resident, they didn't care.

My home state has an agreement with Germany that I can trade in my license for a German one (though this is probably more for non-military affiliated people). My understanding is that one has up to three years to do so- but there's a shorter time period (a year?) that you'd be allowed to actually drive on that license here. Obviously military-affiliated people are a totally different lot and have to get their USAREUR license before being allowed to drive here, and use it in conjunction with their valid, stateside license.

I contacted the German-American Community Office in Kaiserslautern for information. This is what was written back to me, but to be honest - I'm not sure if this is 100% the case: "

As long as you are under the NATO SOFA Agreement, you cannot convert your license."

I decided to go to the Rathaus and try converting my license because I had received other information stating that I could still do this. As I said earlier, each person I asked gave me a different answer - and the majority of the people were from official offices. Who knows what the true answer really is, or if there are indeed different, legally allowed different scenarios!

I had heard that I needed to have a letter from the Secretary of State stating that my driving license was valid and clear so I received that and trotted down to the Rathaus. I speak German (well, mostly - I'm intermediate) so I did this all in German. Bascially, the Rathaus employee couldn't even begin to work on anything until I showed her my (residence) registration with the City of Kaiserslautern (where I live). I don't have one since I'm here under SOFA and I explained that. She told me that after I registered with the city, we could work on this, but she couldn't start without it. That's fair, from their point of view; for normal expats with no SOFA-affiliation, that's what one would do.

However, big WARNING here: if you're here under SOFA status, consult with a legal adviser first before considering this! You probably should NOT register with your city! I asked some other people and they said it would probably open a whole can of worms; I would probably be subject to paying the radio/tv tax, possibly having to pay both German and American taxes on my income, and have the possibility of negatively impacting my SOFA status. It just wasn't worth it to risk all that.

I do have some hope if my employment situation ever changes and I find myself here as a non-DOD affiliated expat: someone told me that I could potentially get a letter (from the drivers license office, maybe) that said that I lost command sponsorship and I might be still able to turn in my stateside license for a German one after the three year window. However, I might still have to take a first aid class for drivers.

So, that was a long message - but the takeaway is: everyone's situation is different so first consult experts/lawyers and be especially careful about negatively impacting your SOFA status!



Oh, and on updating my current license: it was going to expire next year but I wasn't exactly sure when my trip home would be. Well, I was pleasantly surprised by a TDY that sent me back to the States early (am I one of the few people who actually enjoy TDYs? Maybe it's because our office so rarely gets them). Anyway, I was allowed a free layover that was a reasonable driving distance to my home state (the gvmt. allows this if it doesn't cost anything extra). I renewed my drivers license early, which my home state allows one to do up to a year early, so I'm set now for the next 8 years with an online renewal in the middle.

6 years, 7 months ago

My head hurts. LOL

6 years, 7 months ago

I agree - but I've learned from dealing with German and American bureaucracy: always double check your answers and you must be stubborn and steadfast to work through their processes or you'll never get anything done.

I've turned into a very stubborn goat by living here. I've also found out that it's much, much easier to do things the right way than to try to fix mistakes later.

6 years, 7 months ago

Quote by sunis:
I agree - but I've learned from dealing with German and American bureaucracy: always double check your answers and you must be stubborn and steadfast to work through their processes or you'll never get anything done.

I've turned into a very stubborn goat by living here. I've also found out that it's much, much easier to do things the right way than to try to fix mistakes later.


You are absolutely correct!

6 years, 7 months ago

Quote by sunis:

I


However, big WARNING here: if you're here under SOFA status, consult with a legal adviser first before considering this! You probably should NOT register with your city! I asked some other people and they said it would probably open a whole can of worms; I would probably be subject to paying the radio/tv tax, possibly having to pay both German and American taxes on my income, and have the possibility of negatively impacting my SOFA status. It just wasn't worth it to risk all that.




If you have a POQ, you should have already have been registered in your local town. That is how your county places you on the tax roles.

* This does not apply if you are renting.

6 years, 7 months ago

Quote by OPLAW11:
If you have a POQ, you should have already have been registered in your local town. That is how your county places you on the tax roles.

* This does not apply if you are renting.


Not exactly. Owning property does not register you automatically. As a matter of fact the legal informer put out by JAG (December edition) actually states you can not and should not be registered if here under the SOFA agreement.

6 years, 7 months ago

I spoke with Herr Moddlemog, Germany-American Attorney, Kleber, before I registered. If you have a solar system (photovoltaic), you have to register and register as a business in order for the electric company to pay you back your share of energy credits. This can be done, but needs to be looked at in "totality" (i.e. is the spouse German, are you here on orders, etc.). So, again, every situation is different and rather than just take the printed material as legal advice, speak with a lawyer.

6 years, 7 months ago

Quote by OPLAW11:
I spoke with Herr Moddlemog, Germany-American Attorney, Kleber, before I registered. If you have a solar system (photovoltaic), you have to register and register as a business in order for the electric company to pay you back your share of energy credits. This can be done, but needs to be looked at in "totality" (i.e. is the spouse German, are you here on orders, etc.). So, again, every situation is different and rather than just take the printed material as legal advice, speak with a lawyer.


Registering as a resident and as a business are different as well. I have a house and have POQ and am not registered. It was a pain because to get trash cans you have to registered. I had to show orders to get trash cans without being registered. Normally the landlord registers military as renters and the trash is registered to the landlord with a SOFA user.

I just looked at the informer I mentioned. It's written by the lawyer you spoke with. Check it out on page 5:

http://www.eur.army.mil/21TSC/SJA/LegalAssist/News%20Letters/NewsletterFall2015.pdf

6 years, 7 months ago

You're right, but you have to be registered as the homeowner in order to get the energy credits. Even if you were not registered as a business, which would be problematic as the "German IRS" requires you to file monthly VAT forms for a photovoltaik business.

Many new renters may not realize that the energy credits they get when renting, actually go to the home owner. That's the law, the utility company does not have an option of doing it differently. If the home is touted as "energy-efficient" the renter needs to ask the owner how much can they expect to save on their electric bills. if not, the renter will get the bill and the owner will get the credit. For my home, it is over 3K Euro a year. However, I have to caveat that the photvoltaik at my home does both heating and electric.

6 years, 7 months ago

Quote by OPLAW11:
You're right, but you have to be registered as the homeowner in order to get the energy credits. Even if you were not registered as a business, which would be problematic as the "German IRS" requires you to file monthly VAT forms for a photovoltaik business.

Many new renters may not realize that the energy credits they get when renting, actually go to the home owner. That's the law, the utility company does not have an option of doing it differently. If the home is touted as "energy-efficient" the renter needs to ask the owner how much can they expect to save on their electric bills. if not, the renter will get the bill and the owner will get the credit. For my home, it is over 3K Euro a year. However, I have to caveat that the photvoltaik at my home does both heating and electric.


Not necessarily...the solar panels on a house don't always belong to the house or the owner of that house. You could sell your panels and leave them in place. Then become a customer. There are all kinds of options to include leasing your roof to someone who owns the panels and is running it as a business as you do with your own panels.

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