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This sucks.

One of the notorious “things one must do” when moving, is deal with your friends at the Department of Motor Vehicles. In our case, we had to update our licenses from US licenses to German ones.

Now, here is the really fucked up thing about the process. Janet and I both had Massachusetts licenses back in 1993, when we were starving students back in Boston. We had a letter from the DMV stating that we had a valid license, and even had those (now expired) licenses, with the “hole punch of invalidity”. Why is this important?

Well, as the process goes, only certain US states have privileges for re-writing their licenses into German licenses. Germany asks for a reciprocal agreement: if you will re-write a German license to that state’s license, then Germany will rewrite licenses from that state. It’s a quid pro quo sort of arrangement.

Well, surprise, surprise. California isn’t on that list. But Massachusetts is.
Unfortunately, with our current licenses being from California, that left us in a dilemma. Pay almost 1000 Euros for driving lessons and tests, or go back to the states and update our state of residence.

We chose the latter. Legally, we needed for tax purposes a domicile somewhere in the states, and a friend in a state that had a reciprocal arrangement with Germany said that we could use his house as our legal US residence. So, not only would we be able to go and get the new license, but also not have to worry about the State of California trying to attach any of our wages from Germany in 2004.

Legal, ethical, and a winning combination, right?

All we needed to do is get the new licenses and apply for the re-write.

Anyway, after a quick jaunt to the states to change the license over, we made our trip to the Führerscheinstelle on Tuesday, new licenses in hand. After a 45 minute wait, we went in for the conversion.

They said we couldn’t do it. Even though nowhere on the US Consulate site, the German Consulate site, or the Führerscheinstelle site did it say only the license you were possessing when you entered Germany could be converted, and there is no law mandating this, that was their policy. Even though I had first received my license in Massachusetts, and even though I had legally received a license in another state, and even though I had no residence in California, the only legal license they would accept is the one California.

I even went back the next day to speak with the Überchef of the Drivers License division. He said that it was against policy. The company lawyer got involved. Same answer. We were fucked. Now, not only did we need to take the written and driving tests, by law we needed to take a first aid class (six and a half hours tonight from 4pm to 10:30pm – essentially ruining a nice Saturday), a vision test (also done today) and register with a driving school (Monday) before we can go back and wait in line to make an application to convert our licenses, which then takes 4 weeks before a tester can be assigned, pass the tests (which includes a 45 minute practical driving test) and then wait another 4 weeks for the license. All of which I would have done 5 months ago if it was stated ANYWHERE had I known that as a US citizen could not change their legal state of residence after moving to Germany and be able to change the license from the new state over.

But you know, as much as I hate having to do this, I am not pissed off at the Germans. Well, I am pissed off at the fact that this unwritten rule was never listed on their website.

I’m pissed off at America.

I’m pissed off that the State Department didn’t make a nationwide arrangement with Germany and the rest of the EU for reciprocal licensing agreements and instead left it to the fucking Chamber of Commerce.

I’m pissed off that the state department didn’t publicize this issue that only the license you enter the country with can be converted – citizen services, my ass.

I’m pissed off that California, with the highest concentration of IT employees moving back and forth to the EU doesn’t have a reciprocity agreement, yet they still want a chunk of my tax money for my German earnings for the rest of 2003.

And I’m pissed off at the hack from my company’s HR department in the states who is supposed to be the relocation “specialist” who never brought this little issue to my attention before I moved (as I could have taken care of the license issue back then and this would never have been a problem). I hope they dock her pay for the close to 1000 Euros it will now cost the company to get us our driver licenses. You fucked this one up quite nicely. Thanks.

I need a beer big time.

Posted in General Ramblings, Munich Life.

6 Responses

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  1. tom says

    I came from Colorado a couple of years back and had similar fun except that Colo. has an agreement. They took my license np problem, but they wouldn’t accept my motorcycle certification. As of yet I have received no credible explanation as to why

  2. Avery says
  3. Chris says

    Was there something specific you filled out that allowed them to know what your originating state was?

  4. Avery says

    When you go to get your license in Munich, you need to submit your Anmeldung, the original document that establishes your residency. The Anmeldung shows your last address before the registering in Germany, and your date of entrance.

    In this case, the date on the Arizona license was after the date on the Anmeldung – which meant that it was not the license we had in hand when we moved here.

    May I ask why you are interested in this?

  5. Someone in germany says
  6. Avery says

    Damned trolls.

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