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Mobility, some ways to explore Germany

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Germany is very well known throughout the world as a country of cars. But you can easily travel by plane, bus, train or bicycle as well, we are thankful to our well-developed network of airports, roads, railways and bike paths. The next section explains how you can travel in Germany and abroad using your preferred means of transport.

See Also: Life in Germany, a place where you feel at home

Is your driving licence valid in Germany?

Citizens of the EU, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway: Hop in and go, it’s that simple. Your driving licence is valid in Germany, just as it is in your home country. There will be no need to have it converted to a German licence.

Citizens of other countries: You can drive for six months with your entitled driving licence, starting with the day you register your residence in Germany. But, at the end of that period, you would need a German licence. Whether or not you will have to take a test depends on the country where you obtained your own driving licence.

Registering and testing your car

All cars in Germany need to be registered, you can find and do this at the nearest car registration office. You will need your vehicle title, evidence that the car belongs to you, and your motor vehicle insurance policy.

If you are bringing a car with you from another country, go and find out from the car registration office what additional documents are required.

After they are registered, all cars in Germany have to pass a general inspection. This means that a mechanic must confirm that your car is safe and meets the official issue standards. A vehicle inspection sticker will then be affixed to your car’s number panel. The general inspection can be performed by an authorised workshop near you, for example. Inspections have to be repeated at regular intervals. There is a charge for both the general inspection and for registering your vehicle.

Just note that in many German cities, low-emission zones have been created to reduce the quantities of particulates and nitrogen dioxide in the air.

If you want to drive into one of the these low-emission zones, you need a sticker, Umweltplakette, showing that your car has sufficiently low emissions. This can be obtained for a fee from the licensing authority or other trusted agencies.

Driving in Germany

Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in Germany. The speed limit in the most cities is generally 50 kilometres per hour, 30 in some areas. The limit is usually 100 kilometres per hour on the country roads. Unless signalled otherwise, there is no general speed limit on motorways, but a limit of 130 kilometres per hour is simply recommended. However, there are also special limits on certain portions of the motorways, particularly on heavily or dangerous travelled sections.

You should always have your driving licence and vehicle registration with you while driving, because you may need to show them to the police if you are stopped.

There are often specially made parking spaces for disabled people. These are located in key positions in car parks. Women will also often find specially designated parking spaces for them in multi-storey and underground car parks. These are usually under the video surveillance, making them safer.

More and more people in Germany are making use of car-sharing. If you want to be able to make use of these services, you have to register with a car-sharing service provider. After than, you can simply hire a car at short notice. Car-sharing can be worthwhile if you drive only a few kilometres per year but still want to be somehow mobile. There are a variety of car-share service providers in numerous cities and towns (vehicle manufacturers or independent providers) with different concepts and vehicle fleets.

Riding a bicycle

Germany has a very dense network of bike paths. Remember that you are subject to the same rules and penalties when biking as when driving a car. That’s why It is important to make sure that your bicycle is in proper condition (especially its lights) and to accept the rules of the road when riding your bike.

Travelling by bus or train

Public transport is a comfortable option for travel in and between cities. The public system includes buses, trams and the underground, as well as the fast trains run by German Railways and its competitors.

  • Buses, trams and the underground: Within easy reach of your home, you will find a stop where a bus, train or underground departs several times an hour during the day, in large cities every 10 or 15 minutes. Tickets can be purchased from a machine at the stop, from the driver or at a sales outlet of the transport organization that operates the buses or trains. If you use public transport regularly, it is a great idea to purchase a weekly, monthly or annual ticket. The longer the ticket’s validity, the lower the price for each trip.There are lower prices for children. Certain groups, such as students or the disabled, receive a discount upon giving their identification. Many transport associations have special offers for senior citizens.
  • Travelling by train: Trains are a great option when travelling to other cities in Germany or abroad. German Railways, formerly a state-owned organization, is the primary provider. It owns all of Germany’s rail network and leases certain routes to regional competitors. All kind of train tickets can be purchased at a ticket counter, from a German Railways machine at the train station or on the German official Railways website. Trains are a comfortable and rapid means of transport in Germany; on some segments some of the long-distance trains reach speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour.
  • International bus lines: Buses are another great option for travel from Germany to other parts of Europe. International bus lines stops in every big city, at least at the main train station.

Another possibility is air travel

If you need to travel fast from one part of Germany to another, or to another country, a plane is a good alternative to a train or car. Depending on the distance, international and national  flights may be available for less than 100 euros if you book far enough in advance.

See Also: Work Contract, one more step before Germany

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