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Tricky Question: German Driving License In USA?  
User currently offlineBirdwatching From Germany, joined Sep 2003, 3767 posts, RR: 51
Posted (1 year 7 months 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 4959 times:

Here's a question for the experts. I have a German class B driver's license and I am planning to rent a large van in the US with some friends. We may or may not be more than 9 people. Now I understand that my German license is valid in the US (I've rented tons of cars and been pulled over a couple of times and it was never a problem), but I'm curious about the number of passengers.

Question: In Germany I'm only allowed to drive 8 passengers + myself = 9 total. Also, I believe I'm not allowed to drive a car that has more than 9 seats, even if I have fewer passengers. But I'm not sure about this. How are things if I rent a Ford Econoline E350 (12 seats)? Will I be allowed to rent / drive it if we're LESS than 9 people total, and question part B, will I be allowed to drive it with MORE than 9 people total?

I assumed that the same rules of my German license apply in the US, but I read that my license is considered equal to a US class A license which apparently does not have the 8 passenger + 1 limit.

Any experts on this subject? Thanks a lot for any input!

Soren   


All the things you probably hate about travelling are warm reminders that I'm home
16 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinefr8mech From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 5086 posts, RR: 12
Reply 1, posted (1 year 7 months 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 4944 times:

Far from an expert, and it will depend on the state you are traveling in, but I'm pretty sure that as long as you are not charging for the ride, you're in the clear.


When seconds count...the police are minutes away. Never leave your cave without your club.
User currently onlineKaiGywer From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 12163 posts, RR: 36
Reply 2, posted (1 year 7 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 4917 times:
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Quoting Birdwatching (Thread starter):
I assumed that the same rules of my German license apply in the US, but I read that my license is considered equal to a US class A license which apparently does not have the 8 passenger + 1 limit.

Your license is equivalent to a US class C or D depending on state. A is basically a BECEDE in Europe. A is a commercial drivers license.

That being said, a "normal" drivers license here allows you to drive a vehicle less than 26,000lbs with no more than 15 seats. So rent your van, don't say anything about German rules and you'll be fine  



911, where is your emergency?
User currently offlineAirstud From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 2539 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (1 year 7 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 4891 times:

Quoting Birdwatching (Thread starter):
my license is considered equal to a US class A license

There is no such thing as a "US class A license." Driver's licenses are issued by the states; not by the US government. You really need to find out info for the specific state(s) you'll be visiting.

Here in Minnesota, a basic, everyday, sedan/coupe/station-wagon-hauling-your groceries-your friends-and-your-ass license is a Class D license. In Massachusetts, where I was first licensed, the every day license is also called a Class D.

In Califonia, where I used to live, that's called a Class C license. (If you want to drive a motorcycle in California, you need either an M2 license, which lets you drive motorbikes or scooters that have less than 1500cc engine displacement, or an M1 which lets you drive any motorbike or scooter; Minnesota and Massachusetts only issue one type of motorcycle license IIRC.)

A Ford Econoline is very likely going to be covered under an everyday license; I don't know of a state that requires a different license based on number of passengers; most states seem to base license classes on vehicle size. In Cali, even if you aren't charging your passengers, you need a non-commercial Class A license if you're towing a trailer that ways more than 10K pounds; a non-commercial Class B for a "housecar" more than 40 feet in length (but not more than 45).

In any event, do a google search with the name of the state you'll be in + "dmv" (Department of Motor Vehicles - the exact department name will vary from state to state, but "dmv" should get you sufficient search results). That's where you can find the specific info you need.



Pancakes are delicious.
User currently onlineKaiGywer From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 12163 posts, RR: 36
Reply 4, posted (1 year 7 months 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 4879 times:
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Quoting Airstud (Reply 3):
There is no such thing as a "US class A license." Driver's licenses are issued by the states; not by the US government. You really need to find out info for the specific state(s) you'll be visiting.

Actually I think the A is the only one that is common across all states. Commercial license for the largest semis and buses  



911, where is your emergency?
User currently onlineKaiGywer From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 12163 posts, RR: 36
Reply 5, posted (1 year 7 months 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 4878 times:
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[quote=Airstud,reply=3 (If you want to drive a motorcycle in California, you need either an M2 license, which lets you drive motorbikes or scooters that have less than 1500cc engine displacement, or an M1 which lets you drive any motorbike or scooter; Minnesota and Massachusetts only issue one type of motorcycle license IIRC.)[/quote]
MN actually only has an endorsement on your regular ABCD license for motorcycle, not a separate license.



911, where is your emergency?
User currently offlineLufthansa411 From Germany, joined Jan 2008, 692 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (1 year 7 months 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 4869 times:

I had a similar issue a couple of years ago while working for a summer camp. The short answer is that you'll be fine as the number of pax would not be the limiting factor.

The longer answer is that in the US for the most part they only divide between a regular driving license, commercial driving license and motorcycle license- unlike in most of Europe where there are several more distinctions. Despite popular belief, CDL standards are regulated by the US federal government, and not the states. A CDL license is done by the weight of the vehicle. As such, you will be fine since the threshold where a CDL license is needed is quite heavy (I don't remember the exact weight). What I do remember is getting an explanation about how the limiting factor was the weight of the vehicle, not the number of passengers. With a normal DL you can carry up to 16 pax- but by the time you get over 15 you will need a vehicle designed for heavier loads, which will most likely fall under the CDL anyway. A German license for a PKW will even get you a fairly large rental truck with air brakes in the US if you wanted one.



Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood.
User currently offlineAirstud From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 2539 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (1 year 7 months 1 week 2 days ago) and read 4850 times:

Quoting KaiGywer (Reply 4):
Actually I think the A is the only one that is common across all states. Commercial license for the largest semis and buses

  

wha....?!?!?

Never 'eard of it. Live and learn.



Pancakes are delicious.
User currently offlineLTBEWR From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 12877 posts, RR: 12
Reply 8, posted (1 year 7 months 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 4782 times:

The best answer would be to check with the company you are renting the van from. They must have experience of renting to non-USA citizens. I would suspect your basic non-commercial drivers license should work for a van of such a capacity.

Generally in the USA the categories or endorsement categories of driver's licenses are:
CDL - a national standard required for those driving vehicles of 26,000 lbs./ 11,500 Kgs or where transporting hazardous materials

Omnibus licenses - required to operate a bus for hire, charter bus, transit bus or large capacity limos for those vehicles with 12 or more seats.

Schools buses - most, if not all states require a separate endorsement to operate a school bus due to their unique operating characteristics, and for a number of years background checks to check if a registered sex offender.

Motorcycle - Many states require a separate endorsement to operate a motorcycle although some states don't.

General drivers license.

As to driving a van perhaps you should be more concerned about understanding the risks in operating such a vehicle. There have been a number of serious accidents with Econoline like 'stretch' people vans due to their higher center of gravity as to other vehicles and other factors that makes it require more attention, like not make sharp moves at highway speeds, crosswind affects and so on.


User currently offlinego3team From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3266 posts, RR: 17
Reply 9, posted (1 year 7 months 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 4676 times:

In the US - Class A, B or C licenses should indicate a Commercial Drivers License. This should be standard across all states to eliminate confusion from one state to the other. In order to haul 16 or passengers, would one not only need at minimum a class C, but a Passenger Endorsement as well.

You should not need a special license to carry less than 16 passengers.



Yay Pudding!
User currently onlineKaiGywer From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 12163 posts, RR: 36
Reply 10, posted (1 year 7 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 4596 times:
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Quoting go3team (Reply 9):
In the US - Class A, B or C licenses should indicate a Commercial Drivers License. This should be standard across all states to eliminate confusion from one state to the other. In order to haul 16 or passengers, would one not only need at minimum a class C, but a Passenger Endorsement as well.

Some states use C as personal DL... Threw me for a loop first time I saw one. I think A and B are the only more or less standardized ones



911, where is your emergency?
User currently offlineMaverick623 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 5428 posts, RR: 6
Reply 11, posted (1 year 7 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 4575 times:

Quoting Airstud (Reply 3):

There is no such thing as a "US class A license." Driver's licenses are issued by the states; not by the US government. You really need to find out info for the specific state(s) you'll be visiting.

CDL's are regulated by the federal government.

In short, you'll need a certain class of CDL to operate a vehicle that is either over 26000GVW, is placarded for hazardous materials, or has seating for 16 or more (including the driver).

Quoting Birdwatching (Thread starter):


I assumed that the same rules of my German license apply in the US, but I read that my license is considered equal to a US class A license which apparently does not have the 8 passenger + 1 limit.

It may be "equal" by standards, but the US does not recognize German CDL's at face value, although they do work as normal (Class D) licenses.


In short, you'll be fine with a 9 passenger van.



"PHX is Phoenix, PDX is the other city" -777Way
User currently offlineAesma From France, joined Nov 2009, 6094 posts, RR: 9
Reply 12, posted (1 year 7 months 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4498 times:

When you say your German license is recognized in the US, I'm guessing you mean as a tourist and not someone living there ?


New Technology is the name we give to stuff that doesn't work yet. Douglas Adams
User currently offlineMaverick623 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 5428 posts, RR: 6
Reply 13, posted (1 year 7 months 4 days ago) and read 4440 times:

Quoting Aesma (Reply 12):
When you say your German license is recognized in the US, I'm guessing you mean as a tourist and not someone living there ?

Correct. Non-resident visitors are not required to obtain an in-state driver's license. Most state laws establish residency for the purpose of licensing at 6-7 months. Remember, each state has it's own regulations for non-CDL licenses.

However, the reason his German license is good in the entire US is because the US is a signatory to the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, and as a treaty, is the "law of the land" on par with a Constitutional amendment.



"PHX is Phoenix, PDX is the other city" -777Way
User currently offlinevarigb707 From United States of America, joined May 2006, 1362 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (1 year 7 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 4418 times:

As long as your renting a passenger vehicle, you should be alright. Have a good time while in the Great US of A.And stay until November, if you can, to celebrate Obama's re-election.

Aufdersein!!!



"Hey Now!"
User currently offlinegarnetpalmetto From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 5327 posts, RR: 53
Reply 15, posted (1 year 7 months 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 4399 times:

Quoting KaiGywer (Reply 10):

Some states use C as personal DL... Threw me for a loop first time I saw one. I think A and B are the only more or less standardized ones

Exactly - when I lived in South Carolina, the personal DL was a Class D. Now that I live in North Carolina, my driver's license is a Class C.



South Carolina - too small to be its own country, too big to be a mental asylum.
User currently offlineAirstud From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 2539 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (1 year 7 months 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 4349 times:

Quoting garnetpalmetto (Reply 15):
Now that I live in North Carolina, my driver's license is a Class C.

And, when I was first licensed in Massamachusetts, that sort of license was called Class 3.

I hereby officially declare that to be interesting.



Pancakes are delicious.
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