At some point, most of us who own cars in Germany are probably going to get slapped with a speeding ticket or a parking fine.
The latter are especially common. Signs and parking regulations in cities can seem confusing to expats and visitors alike who are not familiar with traffic regulations.
We take a look at some of the watch-outs and explain what you should expect as part of the process.
How to deal with German parking fines and speeding tickets
Both parking fines and minor speeding offences are considered as Ordnungswidrigkeiten in German legal speak.
In simple terms, this means that pleading guilty by paying the fine usually means that the matter is considered closed.
A court appearance is not necessary for minor offences.
Received a fine and you’re not resident in Germany?
Paying these fines is usually only possible by bank transfer to the relevant police or municipality’s bank account.
If you’re not from a Eurozone country, then the best (and cheapest) way will be to use a money transfer service such as CurrencyFair or Transferwise to make this transfer. Check out this short PDF guide from Transferwise to show you step by step how to make your transfer.
Both options are much cheaper than using your bank. They don’t charge commission and will also give you the interbank exchange rate. CurrencyFair will also waive the fee for your first 3 transfers using the links in this article.
Despite it being 2019, it is unlikely that you will be able to pay the fine by credit card.
Germany is still firmly stuck in the 1990s in this regard.
Even though you don’t live here, you still have to pay (obviously). Although the consequences if you don’t will differ, depending on your situation…
For fines passed onto you by rental car companies, they will typically forward the fine onto you and charge you anything from €25 and €40 for the privilege as an “administration fee” (or pocket lining, if you will). They will not only chase you to pay their admin fee but also pass on details of the registered driver to the authorities if you don’t pay up.
If you have an EU or Swiss registered car and you received the fine while travelling through Germany to another country, then most European Union countries have reciprocity agreements with one another.
Fines don’t get written off, so you’re kind of at the mercy of how belligerent a police officer or municipality (depending on the severity of the offence) wants to be in chasing this up.
Paying up is the only safe way to make it go away!
I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t ask me what the consequences are of not paying.
German parking fines are mostly issued by the Ordnungsamt who work for the city / municipality.
These guys are essentially a second-tier local police force who can hand out fines and deal with minor disturbances but do not have the power to make arrests. The municipal road traffic department (Strassenverkehrsamt) are in turn responsible for collecting the revenue.
What should you expect? Well, it really depends what the offence is.
Minor German parking fines, such as parking in a residents only parking zone without a permit, or parking on the street in a permitted parking zone without a ticket (or an expired ticket) are usually the mildest of all of these. This will most likely cost you less than the price of a meal out.
If you have impeded traffic or pedestrians the fine could be more costly, depending on the situation. Some more serious (and expensive) examples include blocking access to a residential parking garage / private spaces, obstructing either a bus lane, loading / unloading area or cycle lane, parking in an area which prevents wider vehicles such as buses or trucks from passing, or completely blocking a pavement and forcing pedestrians to walk on the road to circumnavigate your car.
All of these, depending on the circumstances, could result in heavier fines and in some cases even your car being towed.
If your car does get towed, then expect to pay the release fee as well as the fine. Both of them together will often be upwards of €250. A lot of money for a stupid mistake.
Parking in a private parking spot on somebody else’s property (residential or commercial) can also lead to clamping or a hefty fine if a private contractor is called out to remove or clamp your car.