Handedness of road traffic
Germany is a right-hand traffic country.
The general speed limits in Germany are presented in the table:
|Type of vehicle / Conditions||Built-up areas||Rural||Expressways||Motorways|
|Motor vehicles ≤ 3,5 t||50 (31)||100 (62)||100 (62)||No limit (Suggested: 130 km/h or 80 mph)|
|Passenger cars with trailers||50 (31)||80 (49)||80 (49)||80 (49)[note 1]|
|Visibility < 50 m||50 (31)|
- For vehicle combinations up to 3,5 t and certain trailers a limit of 100 km/h applies. You can check with the Trailer Industrie Verband e.V. if the limit of the 100 km/h applies in your case.
- Driver's license. EU/EEA citizens can use the license issued by their countries' authorities. For citizens of other countries International Driving Permits are recognized as well as official translations of the license.
- Registration certificate.
- Roadworthiness certificate.
- Certificate of Motor Insurance plus International Motor Insurance Card (Green Card).
Items required in cars or with motorcycles
- One refelctive jacket, regardless the number of the passengers. The vest can be red, yellow or orange and must comply with EN ISO 20471:2013 standard.
- Emergency warning triangle (Compulsory for vehicles registered in Germany, including rental cars.)
- First aid kit. (Compulsory for four-wheeled vehicles registered in Germany, including of course rental cars.)
In wintry conditions (like ice, slush or snow) vehicles < 3,5 t must be equipped with tires marked with the Alpine symbol (3PMSF) from 1 January 2018 on all axle positions. M+S tires produced before 1 January 2018 are accepted as suitable winter equipment until 30 September 2024.
Use of snow chains is mandatory when indicated by the [Sign 268] of the StVO during wintry conditions. Studded tires are prohibited.
Motorcyclists should drive with headlights on all day long. Head lights must be on during night driving or if the visibility is impaired due to weather conditions. Low-beam should be used and driving in parking lights alone is prohibited.
Pumps are normally self-service. After filling your car you pay in the shop in cash or with a credit / debit card. Be aware that some stations accept only Maestro cards.
Unmanned stations are not that common. Pay at the pump systems usually accept Maestro cards.
- Unleaded petrol / gasoline – (German: Bleifrei benzin).
Petrol is commonly called at the pump Super when it has an octane rating of 95 RON or Super Plus when it has a rating of 98 RON.
The labels E5 and E10 that characterize unleaded petrol refer to the percentage of ethanol in the mix with it being 5% or 10% respectively and the rest of the mix consists of standard unleaded fuel.
Big suppliers, such as Aral or Shell for example, offer 100 RON petrol.
- Diesel (which has the same name in German)
- LPG. It's also called: Autogas, and Flüssiggas (Transliteartion Flousigas). A list of stations that sell LPG is available by following the link at the start of the sentence.
- CNG. A list of CNG stations can be found by following the previous link.
Indicatively some sources of locations of fuel stations and real time prices of fuel in Germany:
- clever-tanken.de also available for Android, iOS and Windows Phone.
- Cheap Refuel for Android.
- Gas Prices (Germany) also for Android.
A complete list of all the providers of fuel prices in Germany can be found on Federal Cartel Office's (Bundeskartellamt) website: Market Transparency Unit for Fuels.
Electric vehicle chargers
Road user charges
There is not any road pricing system for passenger vehicles in Germany. There is only a distance based charging system for large goods vehicles > 7,5 t called LKW-Maut, so passenger cars and motorcycles can use the entire road network of Germany free of charge.
Urban Access Regulations
Many cities in Germany have low emission zones, where only cars that belong to certain emissions groups are allowed to enter. Motorcycles can enter in the environmental zones unrestrictively. Cars get an emission sticker (German: Umweltplakette) that belongs to one of the three following classes:
- Class 2 - Red sticker
- Class 3 - Yellow sticker
- Class 4 - Green sticker
according to their Euro emission standard they meet (if that's not mentioned in the car's registration, then the date of first registration is used instead of the class) and their type of engine (petrol or diesel) as shown in the following table:
|Euro Level||Emissions Class||First registration||Sticker|
|EURO I or Pre-EURO I||Class 1||Before 1 Jan. 1997||None|
|Euro II||Class 2||From 1 Jan. 1997 to 31 Dec. 2000||Red|
|Euro III||Class 3||From 1 Jan. 2001 to 31 Dec. 2005||Yellow|
|Euro IV||Class 4||From 1 Jan. 2006||Green|
|Pre-EURO-I without catalytic converter)||Class 1||Before 1 Jan. 1993||None|
|EUR I and higher||Class 4||From 1 Jan. 1993||Green|
Cars that belong to class 1 don't get a sticker and can't enter in any of the environmental zones. Cars that have a sticker can enter in enviromental zones according to the sign at their entry point. The sign may show:
- one sticker (green) and as a result only cars with a green sticker can enter in the environmental zone
- two stickers (green and yellow), so only cars with yellow or green stickers can enter in the restricted zone
- all three stickers allowing cars with any of the 3 stickers enter in the enviromental zone, banning only Class 1 cars that don't have a sticker.
In the following image you can see an example of the sign in the entry point of an environmental zone where all three class from 2 to 4 are permitted to enter, as well as on the right the sign that marks the end of the enviromental zone:
You can buy emission stickers at:
- TÜV SÜD Service centers in Germany for 6 € including VAT or order it online for 5 € including VAT and shipping cost.
- TÜV NORD stations or oder it online for 17,50 for vehicles not registered in Germany including VAT and shipping cost.
- DEKRA stations
- A.T.U branches for 6,99 € including VAT
- or order online for the city of Berlin for 6 €. The shipping cost will be calculated before payment.
Be aware that if you buy the sticker in Germany you should do so before entering in any city's environmental zone, because cars without a sticker are not allowed to access any environmental zones at all.
The list of German cities with environmental zones can be found here, in the list on the left named "Low Emission Zone". By choosing a city you can find more info about it including a map depicting the limits of its environmental zone.
The emissions sticker is placed inside the windscreen of cars. Vision is least impaired if the sticker is placed at the top or bottom right or top left of the windscreen.
The city of Stuttgart has also a smog alarm (German: Feinstaubalarm). When the alarm is active people in Stuttgart are called not to use their cars wherever possible (as well as fireplaces that are not their main heating system) and instead use alternate options of transportation as public transport. For a full list of the alternative options check here the section titled: "Alternative transport options" after clicking the title for the text to expand.
The city of Stuttgart triggers a fine dust ("Feinstaub") alert when pollution is expected to be particularly high. You can check the alarm's status here.