Truck drivers facilitate the transportation of goods and services in Germany, but in order to do so they must comply with certain rules and regulations to avoid any trouble with the law. There are 16 states in Germany, and some of them have additional rules that you must obey while running your business in their state. That’s why it’s important to understand all the rules and legal requirements you must meet to drive safely in Germany.
Below are some of the rules you need to know.
In this section, we will walk you through the conditions for driving in Germany, as well as the penalties that come with violating them.
Driving with a valid driver's licence is one of the basic rules for driving a vehicle in Europe and Germany. However, driving a truck comes with a high level of responsibility and risk, so there are some requirements you must meet to move freely in Germany.
For starters, there are different categories for obtaining a driver's licence for trucks in Germany, and depending on the class you fall in, you must obtain a licence that is suitable for your truck in order to avoid unwanted penalties from the authorities. These categories include the following:
This is one of the requirements if you want to get a C1 driving licence. A Category B licence allows you to drive a truck with a maximum weight of up to 3,500 kg, designed to carry 24 passengers or more. It also allows you to tow a vehicle or detachable cargo holder with a gross vehicle weight of less than 10,000 Pounds. Some examples of Category B vehicles include large buses, delivery trucks, dump trucks with small trailers, and straight trucks.
if you want to drive a light commercial vehicle, you must have a C1 driver's licence. It is regarded as an entry into commercial goods transport, and it covers vehicles with a total weight of over 3,500 kg to a maximum of 7,500 kg. The Class C1 also allows you to drive a trailer, but only if it weighs less than 750 kg.
If you depend on higher trucks, you need a C1E driver's licence. It allows you to drive a trailer that exceeds the 750 kg permitted in the C1 category.
This category is for heavy commercial vehicles and is suitable for truck drivers interested in transporting very large masses. With a category C driver's licence, you are not subjected to driving commercial vehicles at a maximum weight of 7,500 kg or trailers of about 750kg, and you are also permitted to drive the C1 vehicles at the same time.
This is the highest class among truck driving licence categories. When operating with a CE licence, you will automatically receive the C1E, T, D1E, and BE license categories. You can also use it to tow trailers of over 750 kg. However, it is ideal for people who want to transport goods in large quantities.
The minimum age for driving in Germany is 18 years. However, this depends on the type of vehicle you want to drive. For instance, the minimum age for driving a truck is 21, so even if you are up to 18, you will still be fined for driving a truck.
Keep in mind that these are just the age requirements for obtaining a license—you will still need to pass some driving tests to prove that you are qualified to drive.
As a driver, wearing a seat belt is mandatory. In fact, according to the law, everyone in a vehicle must wear a seat belt no matter where they are seated. Failure to comply with these rules can lead to fines and penalty points added to your driver's license.
The table below shows the penalty points for different offenses.
You can find more information about the fines and point deductions on this website.
As is the case everywhere, don't drink and drive in Germany. This is deemed a serious offense and could lead to severe penalties. The blood alcohol limit for driving in the country is 0.05%. If caught driving above this limit, you could lose your licence, face fines, and sometimes be jailed for several days. However, it is considered acceptable if a driver consumed a small beer about 0,33l=0.3 Promile), but keep in mind that this only applies to drivers causing no harm, accidents, or repetitive danger to others.
The penalty for drunk driving depends on several factors. For example, if you are a first-timer, you might be fined about €1200 and a license suspension of up to two months. However, the penalty will be more severe for repeat and serious offenses.
For commercial trucks, there are bans on driving at certain times. However, these rules are in place to keep you safe and reduce traffic. In this section, we will provide you with detailed information on the rules for driving a truck in Germany.
Generally, the truck driving ban applies on Sundays. This means you cannot move your truck if it weighs over 7.5t from 12 a.m. to 10 p.m. There is also a driving ban on public holidays, and they include the following:
In addition, the truck driving ban applies on Saturdays during the main holiday period, which means for example, the summer holiday (1 July-31 August). This means that you are not allowed to drive on Saturdays, when cars are moving in huge numbers to go on or come back from holiday between 7 a.m and 8 p.m.
There are also specific holidays for some parts of Germany. For example, The Feast of Corpus Christi (Fronleichnam) is celebrated in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saarland. The Reformation Day is celebrated in Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony roads, and Thuringia—while All Saints Day (Allerheiligen) is a public holiday in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saarland.
According to German law, the working and resting time regulation states that a truck driver must rest for at least 11 hours each working day (24 hours long). This period can be divided into two parts: initially, you can have three hours of rest, then after some time, you can have another eight hours. You can also reduce the daily rest to around nine hours if 11 hours is too much for you. However, you can only reduce the daily rest period three times within seven consecutive working days.
Furthermore, it is also mandatory for drivers to have a break after 4-5 hours of driving for 45 minutes, which could be obviously divided into two break times of 15 and 30 minutes. They are also entitled to 45 hours of rest after working for six days. The longer rest break must be spent at least once in four weeks at the employer’s site or at the driver's place of residence.
The weight limit of trucks in Germany varies based on the location and the type of goods you are transporting at that moment. The table in this section shows an overview of the weight limit of trucks on German roads.
Direct Truck Transport
Maximum weight on German roads= 40 tons
Rail/Road & Barge/Road Combined Transport
Maximum weight on German roads = 44 tons
The speed limit on highways for vehicles with trailers and trucks that weigh over 3.5 tons is 80 km/h (50 mph), 60km/h (37 mph) on non-urban roads and urban roads just 50 km/h or trucks that weigh over 7.5 tons; the general limit is set to 60 km/h and 80 km/h on the highways (autobahn). These trucks must have a built-in speed limiter for a maximum speed of 90 km/hr (56 mph). However, there are a few exceptions for police, fire brigade, and other purposes.
If you are planning a trip to Germany, it is crucial to understand the penalties for violating laws. These laws are made to protect you, so it is in your best interest to comply with them. If you are caught breaking any of them, such as a truck driving ban, you will be fined up to €100. If your employer encouraged you to violate the law, they could be charged over €500. So it’s better to stick to the rules to drive safely to your destination.
The table below shows how costly these offenses can be.
The local bans and driving rules apply to all parts of Germany. However, some cities have extra rules to ensure the safety of their people and environment. For example, there are additional bans for vehicles that weigh over 3.5 tons in cities like Munich, Stuttgart, and Darmstadt to reduce air pollution and prevent traffic.
Furthermore, there are public holidays in each state that drivers should be aware of, as mentioned in the section “What are the Driving Bans for Trucks?” above.
Driving in Germany can be annoying due to regulations and restrictions regarding truck driving. However, these rules were made to reduce traffic and ensure your safety. So it is vital to follow them in order to protect yourself and avoid unwanted problems with the authorities.