Germany has many traffic rules and signs. We will only name a few particular features here, but you can find a comprehensive list of German road signs, with English explanations, at ADAC
Important notice: many people travel on foot or by bike in Germany. There are special cycle paths or lanes on normal streets. It is very important to pay attention to other road users when using these paths.
(if there is no sign indicating the speed limit):
Built-up areas: 50 km/h
Non-built-up areas: 100 km/h
Recommended speed on motorway: 130 km/h
So-called Blitzer (speed cameras) are used frequently to monitor speed. Some speed cameras are permanent, others are mobile. Driving at an excessive speed can lead to official warnings, fines and sometimes the loss of your driving licence. The penalty calculator can inform you about the fines incurred by each offence.
Alcohol and driving
Germany operates a tolerance limit of 0.5 mg per gram (alcohol level of 50 millilitres). However, if you are a novice driver or have just done your driving licence in Germany and are still in the probationary period, the tolerance limit is 0.0 millilitres. Anyone who causes an accident or drives in a noticeably irregular manner and has an alcohol level of 30 millilitres has committed an offence. You may also receive a warning if you ride a bike under the influence of alcohol. If a high level of alcohol is detected, your driving licence may be taken away from you.
Right before left
One of the most important traffic rules in Germany is right before left. This means that cars coming from the right have right of way, unless a sign indicates otherwise.
Zebra crossings indicate that pedestrians cross the road at this point and they have right of way. This means that you must always stop and allow pedestrians to cross.
Driving licence – validity and transference
You can obtain information as to whether, and in which form, your foreign driving licence is valid in Germany from the driving licence office. A general overview can be found under the link in the sidebar.
Unlike some other European countries, there is no specific time period during which winter tyres must be used. In Germany, tyres should be changed according to the weather conditions. This means that there is a “situational winter tyre obligation” with black ice, packed snow, slush or slippery ice. If you are unsure about the right choice, purchase and exchange of summer and winter tyres, almost every garage, tyre shop and car dealer can provide you with help and advice.
Parking is not free in many places in Wolfsburg and the surrounding towns. In car parks or multi-storey car parks you have to take a ticket on arrival, which must then be paid at a machine before you leave. Prices are normally displayed on a sign at the entrance.
There is also a fee for parking in public car parks. Here, you have to buy a ticket for the time you wish to stay there. Price and further information can be found at machines labelled with a P. Tickets must be placed in the windscreen inside the car so they are visible from the outside.
Filling up with fuel
Petrol is relatively expensive in Germany and prices fluctuate on a daily basis. You can find information on current prices on the internet. Independent petrol stations are often a cheaper alternative to the large petrol station chains. Independent petrol stations are located, for example, at supermarkets.
The type of petrol you need depends on your car. The required fuel is indicated in the petrol tank cap. It is important to distinguish between diesel and petrol engines: filling your tank with the wrong type of fuel can cause damage to the engine.
This can be confusing at petrol stations, so we’ve listed the types of fuel currently on offer:
- Normal 91: can be used for all petrol cars
- Super 95: can be used for all petrol cars
- Super 95 E10: see car manufacturer’s approval
- Super Plus 98: can be used for all petrol cars
- Diesel: only suitable for diesel cars
German petrol stations normally work on a self-service system. Only a few operators offer a fuelling service. Petrol is paid for directly in the petrol station or at a counter after filling the tank (remember the petrol pump number).
It is prohibited to wash your car at home, on your driveway or in the street, so that no dirt and mud gets into the groundwater. There is often a car wash located at petrol stations, where you can choose from a range of offers to clean the exterior and interior of your car.