Germany Basics

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The Basics

Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2, Apr - Oct)

Electricity: 230 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are standard.

Money: The unit of currency is the Euro (EUR), divided into 100 cents. ATMs and exchange bureaux are widely available. The major credit cards are widely accepted in large shops, hotels and restaurants, although Germans themselves prefer to carry cash. The quickest and most convenient way to change money is to obtain cash from one of the ATMs that are ubiquitous features on all German streets. Banks are closed on weekends, but exchange bureaux at airports and main railway stations are open daily.

Currency Exchange Rates

EUR1.00 = USD 1.11GBP 0.86CAD 1.45AUD 1.62ZAR 16.16EUR 1.00NZD 1.75
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: German is the official language. English is also widely spoken and understood.

Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months after the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: British passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar, only need to be valid for period of intended stay in Germany. All other endorsements require at least three months validity beyond the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is not required for passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 190 day period for holders of passports with any other endorsement. Holders of identity cards issued by Gibraltar authorities, and endorsed 'Validated for EU travel purposes under the authority of the United Kingdom', do not require a visa to visit Germany.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the intended period of stay, and a valid Schengen visa, to enter Germany. Note that Temporary passports will not be recognised.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival in Germany. A visa is not required.

Passport/Visa Note: The borderless region known as the Schengen Area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option, and which allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all the aforementioned countries. Additionally, non-EEA members require proof of (i) onward or return tickets, (ii) the necessary travel documentation for their next destination, and (iii) sufficient funds to support themselves while in Germany. Note that citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the USA are exempt from the requirement to hold onward tickets. It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: There are no serious health risks for visitors to Germany and no vaccinations are required. The German health service is excellent. There is a reciprocal health agreement with the UK and most EU countries, whose citizens are entitled to free medical and dental treatment on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Nationals of other countries should take out medical insurance.

Tipping: German law stipulates that all prices, menus and bills include both tax and a service charge, so tipping is not necessary in restaurants. Cleaning staff, hairdressers, taxi drivers etc. appreciate small tips.

Safety Information: A visit to Germany should be trouble free, but take normal precautions to avoid mugging, bag-snatching and pick-pocketing, especially at airports, railway stations and markets in the large cities.

Local Customs: Visitors are not required to carry their passports with them at all times in Germany, but carrying some form of identification is advised. Smoking in public places such as bars and restaurants is illegal.

Business: In Germany, business is conducted in a very formal manner. A conservative, formal dress code is the norm. Punctuality is vital at all meetings and it is considered rude to be late. Germans love titles: men are referred to as 'Herr' and women as 'Frau', followed by their last names, until otherwise specified. Meetings are often purely business and may not occur over lunches, which are generally more social. Shaking hands at the beginning and end of the meeting is common. The exchange of business cards is also common but there is no accompanying ritual. Decisions are often made behind closed doors. Business hours are generally 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday, with an hour taken over lunch.

Communications: The international access code for Germany is +49. Telephone numbers in Germany can range from four to nine digits. There are surcharges on international calls made from hotels; it is often cheaper to use public telephone boxes in post offices, which use phone cards, or to purchase a local SIM card. Free wifi is available in most hotels, cafes, restaurants and similar establishments.

Duty Free: Passengers arriving from non-EU countries, over the age of 17, can enter Germany without paying duty on the following items: 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g smoking tobacco. 4 litres of wine and 16 litres of beer and 1 litre of spirits over 22 percent volume or 2 litres of spirits under 22 percent volume. Other goods to the value of €430 for travellers arriving by air or sea, and €300 for travellers arriving by land.