The driver card registers all your travel, driving and rest periods and must be carried on each individual commercial journey with a truck of more than 3.5 tonnes. As a driver, you are responsible for this. You must apply for the driver card yourself and, if necessary, have it replaced or extended.
How the EC recording device with the chart works
The recording equipment, also called the tachograph, reads the driver card. It only works when the card is inserted. You can’t do much wrong here. If you do not insert the card correctly, the tachograph itself will warn you with an exclamation mark. If everything is in order, the device records the duration of your journey times and rest periods as well as driving time interruptions. In Germany, the driver card is valid for five years, after which you must have it renewed.
Where you can apply for your truck driver card
You can apply for your driver card at your local driving licence authority, at the Federal Motor Transport Authority, at DEKRA or at TÜV in Germany. It is best to check out the corresponding websites. Here you can see where you need to go and you can also download and complete the application directly. This saves you time on site. In most cases, you can make an appointment online, or you can pick up the phone. You must submit the application yourself on site.
A tip: Get an appointment early! The authorities may be busy at the moment and there might be a delay in you receiving your driver card. To be on the safe side, give them some lead time, because if you are caught driving without a driver card, you will have to pay a hefty fine.
What you need for the application
If you have already printed out and completed the application form at home, you should of course bring it along with you. When you attend this appointment, you should also take:
- your identity card or passport
- your EU card driving licence or the corresponding driving licence of one of the EEA or EU states
- a biometric, recent photo of you with dimensions of 3.5 x 4.5 cm
- your existing driver card in case of extension or defect
In order to apply for a driver card in Germany, you must have a permanent residence in Germany. The details from your driving licence are transferred to the card. This means that it is only valid for you and cannot be transferred to anyone else. You must therefore always present your driving licence and card during a check.
You should expect these fees
The driver card is not free. But how much you have to pay depends on the federal state. In principle, twelve euros in fees go to the Federal Motor Transport Authority, but administrative fees and postage costs are added when the finished card is sent to you. In total you pay between 33 and 46 euros. If you pick up the card yourself, you will of course save postage. The fees for the driver card are not reimbursed by your employer – you pay them out of your own pocket.
Driving a truck without a driver card: exceptions are possible
In a few cases you may drive without the driver card. However, this too is always subject to conditions: If you discover that your driver card has been lost, stolen or is no longer working, you must inform the relevant authority as soon as possible. You must also have submitted the request for a replacement within seven days.In such an instance, you may travel for up to 15 days without a driver card. During this time, however, you will have to fill in printouts from your tachograph by hand. When did you set off? When and for how long did you take a break?
Another exception that allows you to drive without a driver card is when you are travelling privately instead of commercially by truck. Set the tachograph accordingly and make a printout in which you note the details of the private journey. So you can prove them if necessary. But be aware – private journeys with a truck weighing more than 7.5 tonnes are not permitted!
Driving a truck without a driver card can be expensive
It is better to hurry when applying for a replacement (even if you have to renew your card after five years). Each day you are on the road after the permitted 15 days without a driver card will cost you a 50 euro fine. If you are caught without a driver card, although it is neither stolen nor defective nor expired, the fine even goes up to 250 euros. If the card or the tachograph is deliberately damaged, you will be asked to pay 250 euros yourself and your employer 750 euros.
Summary: Apply early enough
Applying for a driver card is mandatory for every truck driver. It is your responsibility to make an appointment early enough so that you do not have to travel more than 15 days without your driver card. For the application itself you do not need much, only the form, your identity card, a current photo and if applicable the old card. You pay the fees yourself.