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Germany Country Information
As Germany moves forward into the 21st century, leaving behind a history of division and tyranny, it is a nation embracing its newfound liberalism and redefining a modern cultural identity. Yet even today, visitors to the country can't escape feeling profoundly moved by this country's past and the effects it still has on its people.

Germany's cities each have something unique to offer the visitor. Each year millions of litres of beer are consumed in Munich during the city's Oktoberfest, where locals and visitors discover true German revelry and 'gemutlichkeit' (a word the locals use to describe a comfortable, sociable environment). Berlin, while still recovering from some of the scars of division, contains many sights from the iconic Brandenburg Gate, to the path of the old Berlin Wall. The city's vibrant nightlife is still evocative of its height in the 1920s and 30s, as characterised by the songs of Marlene Dietrich, the theatre of Brecht and the Film Cabaret.

Discover the country that gave us Beethoven and Bauhaus, Goethe and Glühwein, Lager and Lederhosen - you won't be disappointed.

Basic Information
Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October).

Electricity: 220 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are standard.

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

Travel Health: There are no serious health risks in Germany. 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 laws 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 and railway stations in the large cities.

Local Customs: Visitors should carry passports with them at all times. 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 sense of dress is to be adhered to. 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 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. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). The city code for Berlin is (0)30. Note that 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. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international operators. Internet cafes are available in the main towns.

Duty Free: Passengers arriving from non-EU countries can enter Germany without paying duty on either 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars, 250g smoking tobacco, or a proportional mix of these products; 1 litre of spirits with 22% alcohol volume, 2 litres of spirits or aperitifs made of wine or similar beverages with alcohol content lower than 22%, sparkling, still or liqueur wines, or a proportional mix of these; perfume up to 50g or 250ml eau de toilette; 500g coffee; and other goods to the value of €175 for personal consumption. Prohibited items include any poultry or pet birds from poultry and derived products coming from Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam.

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Weather and Climate in Germany

  • Berlin enjoys pleasant, sunny summers when days are long and temperatures can sometimes exceed 86°F (30°C), particularly in July and August. However the summer months are also unpredictable, and odd days can rapidly change from sunshine to cloud. Winter weather in Berlin, by contrast, is bitterly cold and damp, with plentiful snow and frosty days when temperatures hover at or just below freezing. Rain can fall all year round, but the wettest months are June and August, and the driest on average October and February.
  • Munich has a continental climate, strongly modified by the proximity of the Alps. In general summers are fairly warm and very wet, prone to thunderstorms, while winters are cold with light snowfalls. The Alps cause two unique aberrations in the weather in Munich. South westerly winds crossing the Alps can bring warm Föhn conditions, during any season but only on a few days a year, pushing up temperatures markedly even in winter. When north-westerly winds blow from the mountains, however, weather conditions known as Alpenstau occur, most often in spring and summer, which bring unseasonably low temperatures, rain and even snow on odd days.
  • Frankfurt has a temperate continental climate, characterised by warm summers with occasional wet days, and cold winters. Temperatures are not extreme and never severe. Winters can bring occasional violent storms.
  • Hamburg is a fairly wet and windy city, prevailing westerly winds blowing in moist air from the North Sea. Summers are warm but rainy, with occasional brief dry, sunny spells. Winters are cold, sometimes chilling to 28ºF (-2ºC) or below in January, the coldest month, when the Elbe and lakes in the city centre have been known to freeze enough for ice-skating. Snowfall is usually light, starting in early December, with icy sleet being the more common form of winter precipitation. Spring is very pleasant in Hamburg when the city's thousands of trees come into bloom with a new cloak of green, and days start to warm up after the dreary winter.
  • Stuttgart's position at the centre of the European continent plays a major role in its summer and winter temperature extremes. Summers are warm with an an average temperature of 70°F (20°C), the hottest days falling in July and August. Winters last from December to March, the coldest month being January, with snow lasting for several days.

Visa and Entry Information

  • Entry requirements for Americans: US nationals require a passport for travel to Germany. A visa is not required.
  • Entry requirements for UK nationals: UK nationals require a passport. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days in six months if the passport is endorsed British Citizen, British National (Overseas), British Overseas Territories Citizen with the right of abode in the UK, or British Subject with the right of abode in the UK. If the intended stay exceeds 90 days, British Citizens can obtain a visa after arrival. In all other cases a visa is required.
  • Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians require a passport for travel to Germany. A visa is not required.
  • Entry requirements for Australians: Australians require a passport for travel to Germany. A visa is not required.
  • Entry requirements for South Africans: South African nationals require a passport and a Schengen visa, which must be obtained prior to departure. Entry is not allowed on a temporary passport.
  • Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand citizens require a passport for travel to Germany. A visa is not required.
  • Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals require a passport for travel to 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 and Sweden. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all. Also required for non-EEA members are onward or return tickets, sufficient funds to provide financial support, and documents for further travel. Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, USA and New Zealand do not need to hold onward or return tickets.

Note: Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.

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Germany Attractions

  • Brandenburg Gate - The impressive and symbolic Brandenburg Gate that lay forlorn for so long in the no man's land behind the Berlin Wall, is now once again renovated and accessible, along with the newly reconstructed Pariser Platz that links the gate to the beautiful Unter den Linden Boulevard.
  • Checkpoint Charlie - The infamous border crossing point in the wall dividing West and East Berlin has now become a shrine to the wall's memory with the addition of a museum, Haus am Checkpoint Charlie.
  • Marienplatz - The Marienplatz is the heart of Munich and the site of its most important historic buildings. The square is dominated by the Neo-Gothic Town Hall featuring its famous Glockenspiel, both built in the 19th century.
  • The Rhineland - The wide, deep and sluggish Rhine River flows from Switzerland into the sea in the Netherlands, and most of its length in the process meanders through the mountains and plains of Germany.
  • Mercedes-Benz Museum - Opened shortly before the start of the Football World Cup in Germany, the impressive Mercedes-Benz Museum is housed in a slick, contemporary building, an icon of modern architecture.
  • Wilhelma Zoo - Europe's only combined zoological and botanical garden, the Wilhelma Zoo never fails to leave a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of all who explore her confines.

Germany Events

  • Oktoberfest - At the end of September/beginning of October each year all roads in Munich lead to the Theresienwiese, a giant grass meadow about the size of 20 football fields near the centre of the city.
  • Berlin International Film Festival - The coveted Silver and Golden Bears of the Berlin International Film Festival are the symbol of achievement in one of the top events in the film industry.
  • Christmas Markets - During the festive season more than 40 Christmas markets around the city attract visitors with typical arts and crafts, Christmas lights and decorations, and the smell of Glühwein, gingerbread and roasted nuts.
  • German F1 Grand Prix - In 2006 it was reported that from 2007 onwards, there would be only one Grand Prix per year in Germany. Since 1995 there have been two Grand Prix every year, the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim and the European Grand Prix
  • Frankfurt Book Fair - The Frankfurt Book Fair is the largest international book fair in the world receiving over 250,000 visitors and book dealers from over 100 countries.
  • JazzFest Berlin - The Berlin Jazz Festival is one of the world's premier jazz festivals and the highlight on the Berlin musical calendar, with concerts taking place all over town.

Airports in Germany

Berlin-Tegel Airport (TXL)

  • Location: The airport is situated five miles (8km) north west of the centre of Berlin.
  • Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in April).
  • Contacts: Tel: +49 180 50 00 186.
  • Getting to the city: The most convenient and cost effective way to get to and from the airport is by bus. They connect with the subway and overground train stations. Taxis are readily available outside the airport terminals on both levels and cost around €15. The journey to Berlin takes around 20 minutes.
  • Car rental: Vehicle hire companies represented at the airport include Budget, Avis, Hertz, Europcar and Sixt.
  • Airport Taxis: Taxis are readily available outside the Berlin-Tegel Airport’s Terminal A1. A taxi to the centre of Berlin takes approximately 20 minutes and costs between €35 and €40. Avoid touts and unlicensed taxis. Private hotel shuttle services to and from Berlin-Tegel Airport are also available.
  • Facilities: Facilities include banks, bureaux de change, ATMs, a post office, business centres and baby rooms. There are several shops, including duty-free, and a selection of restaurants. Disabled facilities are good; travellers with special needs should contact their airline in advance.
  • Parking: There are several long and short-term parking lots at the airport.
  • Departure Tax: None.

Frankfurt Airport (FRA)

  • Location: The airport is situated eight miles (13km) south west of the centre of Frankfurt.
  • Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in April).
  • Contacts: Tel: +49 (0)69 6900.
  • Transfer between terminals: The two terminals are connected by the Sky Line people mover.
    Getting to the city: Frankfurt Airport has trains from two railway stations; the long-distance railway station is at the AIRail Terminal, and there is a local railway station for S-Bahn, regional and local trains at Terminal 1, Level 1. Both railway stations are linked to Terminal 2 via buses and the Sky Line. Buses leave regularly for Frankfurt and other destinations from outside Terminals 1 and 2, tickets can be bought from the bus driver. Airline shuttles, including Lufthansa Airport Shuttle and Hahn Airport shuttle, depart from Terminal 1 outside Arrival Hall B. Taxis are available outside both terminals, the journey to central Frankfurt takes 20-30 minutes.
  • Car hire companies are represented in both terminals.
  • Car rental: Car hire companies represented in both terminals at the airport include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt.
  • Airport Taxis: From Franfurt Airport taxis can be found outside either terminal and will take 20-30 minutes for the 8-mile (13km) drive to the city centre. Taxis are metered and prices are around €24 into town. Be careful of taxi drivers taking longer routes to increase the fare.
  • Facilities: Frankfurt Airport is one of the best-equipped airports in the world; it even offers a casino. There are numerous restaurants, shops, bars and cafes in both terminals, and banks, bureaux de change and ATMs are in both Arrivals and Departures. A business centre offers Internet, fax and secretarial facilities. Other facilities include a hairdresser, chapel and children's play areas. Disabled facilities are good; travellers with special needs should ideally contact their airline in advance.
  • Departure Tax: None.

Hamburg Airport (HAM)

  • Location: The airport is situated five miles (8km) from Hamburg.
  • Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in April).
  • Contacts: Tel: +49 (0)40 5075-0.
  • Getting to the city: The Airport Express runs frequent buses to the Central Station (Hauptbahnhof). The TRAVELPorter Airport transfer service provides a door-to-door service within the local area. Hamburg Bus Lines service the city centre and other suburban areas. Taxis are readily available outside all terminals, they take around 30 minutes to the city centre.
  • Car rental: Avis, Europcar, Hertz, Budget and Sixt are all represented in Terminal 2.
  • Facilities: There are several restaurants, shops, bars and cafes throughout the airport, as well as banks, currency exchange and ATMs in Terminals 1 and 2. There is wireless Internet access in all terminals. Disabled facilities are good; passengers with special needs should contact their airline in advance.
  • Departure Tax: None.

Munich International Airport (MUC)

  • Location: The airport is situated 18 miles (29km) north east of the centre of Munich.
  • Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in April).
  • Contacts: Tel: +49 (0)89 975 00. Flight Information: +49 (0)89 975 213 13.
  • Getting to the city: Frequent commuter trains run by day and most of the night to various Munich stations, including the main stations for connections to major European cities. Taxis are available, as are buses to many regional destinations and the main train station. It takes about 20 minutes by train and about 45 minutes by road to reach the city centre.
  • Car rental: Car hire companies represented include Avis, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt.
  • Airport Taxis: Taxis are available, as are buses to many regional destinations and the main train station. IsarFunk Taxizentrale operates services form Minuch airport. Tel: (089) 45 0540. The journey time to the city centre is approximately 45 minutes and costs around €35 to €55.
  • Facilities: The airport has several restaurants and bars, duty free and other shops, shower facilities and a pharmacy. ATMs and currency exchange desks are available in Arrivals and Departures. Disabled facilities are good; passengers with special needs should contact their airline in advance.
  • Departure Tax: None.

Dusseldorf International Airport (DUS)

  • Location: The airport is situated six miles (10km) north of Dusseldorf.
  • Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from March to October).
  • Contacts: Tel: +49 211 4210.
  • Getting to the city: There are plenty of transport options available at the airport, including taxis (which will cost around €20 to the city centre), limousines, local buses, a Skytrain Shuttle Bus, and the fast and efficient S-Bahn.
  • Car rental: Car rental companies at the airport include Alamo, Europcar, Hertz, and Avis, among others.
  • Facilities: Facilities at the airport include ATMs, banks, a laundry, dental practice, restaurants, cafés, snack-bars, Wireless Internet access and baby-changing facilities.
  • Parking: Long and short-term, as well as valet parking, is available.
  • Departure Tax: None.

Cologne-Bonn Airport (CGN)

  • Location: The airport is located eight miles (12km) southeast of Cologne and 10 miles (16km) north of Bonn.
  • Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from March to October).
  • Contacts: Tel: +49 (0)22 0340 4001.
  • Transfer between terminals: The two terminals are linked by a walkway.
  • Getting to the city: There are several transport options available, including taxis (which cost around €30 to Cologne and around €40 to Bonn), the local bus service, and the S-bahn.
  • Car rental: Car rental agencies at the airport include Budget, Hertz, Avis and Alamo, among others.
  • Facilities: Facilities at the airport include ATMs, left luggage, a dry cleaning service, shops and restaurants.
  • Parking: Long and short-term parking is available.
  • Departure Tax: None.

Stuttgart International Airport (STR)

  • Location: The airport is located 8 miles (13km) south of Stuttgart city centre.
  • Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October).
  • Contacts: +49 (0)1805 948444.
  • Getting to the city: The airport is connected to central Stuttgart by commuter trains, both serving Stuttgart central station. There are several direct bus links to destinations in and around Stuttgart, as well as a 24-hour taxi service, both departing from outside Terminal 1.
  • Car rental: Car hire companies include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, and Sixt.
  • Facilities: Facilities at the airport include two banks, ATMs and bureaux de changes. There are restaurants, bars and fast food outlets, a variety of shops, including duty free shops and wireless Internet access available throughout the terminal building.
  • Departure Tax: None.

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Driving Information

Drinking and driving:
If the level of alcohol in the bloodstream is 0.050 per cent or more, penalties include fines and the licence holder can be banned from driving in Germany. The blood alcohol level is nil percent for drivers aged under 21 or
drivers who have held their licence for less than 2 years, should even a small amount of alcohol be detected in the blood the fine will be charged.

Driving licence:
Minimum age at which a UK licence holder may drive a temporarily imported car and/or motorcycle 18.

On-the-spot fine or deposit. Should a foreign motorist refuse to pay their vehicle can be confiscated. Motorists can be fined for such things as exceeding speed limits, using abusive language, making derogatory signs and running out of petrol on a motorway.

Wheel clamps are not used in Germany but vehicles causing obstruction can be towed away.

Unleaded petrol (95 and 98 octane), diesel and LPG available. No leaded petrol (lead substitute additive available).

Petrol in can permitted but forbidden aboard ferries and Eurotunnel. Credit cards accepted at most filling stations; check with your card issuer for usage in Germany before travel.

Driving Distances:

Berlin Paris
9hrs 59mins
Berlin Nice
13hrs 2mins
Berlin London
10hrs 57mins
Berlin Rome
13hrs 48mins
Berlin Venice
10hrs 55mins
Berlin Milan
10hrs 10mins
Berlin Barcelona
16hrs 47mins
Berlin Hamburg
2hrs 50mins
Berlin Frankfurt 5hrs 10mins 547km
Berlin Munich 5hrs 34mins 590km
Berlin Dusseldorf 5hrs 28mins 563km
Frankfurt Paris 5hrs 18mins 573km
Frankfurt Nice 9hrs 36mins 974km
Frankfurt London 7hrs 38mins 708km
Frankfurt Rome 11hrs 58mins 1252km
Frankfurt Venice 9hrs 11mins 907km
Frankfurt Milan 6hrs 44mins 665km
Frankfurt Barcelona 12hrs 2mins 1334km
Frankfurt Hamburg 4hrs 31mins 496km
Frankfurt Munich 3hrs 40mins 396km
Frankfurt Dusseldorf 2hrs 19mins 229km

Please click here http://www.viamichelin.com/ for more driving distances

It is recommended to use dipped headlights at all times. It is compulsory during daylight hours if fog, snow or rain restrict visibility.

Driving with sidelights (parking lights) alone is not allowed. Vehicles must have their lights on in tunnels.

Use of dipped headlights during the day compulsory. The wearing of a crash helmet is compulsory for both driver and passenger of a moped and motorcycle.

Drivers of trikes and quads capable of exceeding 20 km/h must wear a helmet unless the vehicle is constructed with seat belts and they are worn.

Motor Insurance:
Third-party compulsory, including trailers.

Passengers / Children in cars:
A child less than 1.5m and under 12 years old travelling in any type of vehicle must be seated in an approved child seat or child restraint. Where a child restraint / seat is not available because other children are secured by a child restraint/seat, a child three years and over must travel in the rear seat of the vehicle using a seat belt or other safety device attached to the seat.

A child under three years old may not be transported in a vehicle without a suitable child restraint/seat. It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that all children are safely restrained.

Seat belts:
Compulsory for front and rear seat occupants to wear seat belts, if fitted.

Speed limits:
Standard legal limits, which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers: In built-up areas 31 mph (50 km/h), outside built-up areas 62 mph (100 km/h) and on dual carriageways and motorways a recommended
maximum of 80 mph (130 km/h).
Minimum speed on motorways: 37 mph (60 km/h). Different speed limits apply in bad weather conditions.

The maximum speed limit for vehicles with snow chains is 31mph (50 km/h).

Other rules / requirements in Germany:

It is not compulsory for visiting UK motorists to carry a warning triangle, but they are strongly advised to do so, as all drivers must signal their vehicle in case of breakdown, and it is a compulsory requirement for residents.

It is also recommended that vehicles weighing more than 3.5t carry a yellow portable flashing light.

It is recommended that visitors equip their vehicle with a first-aid kit and set of replacement bulbs.

Slow-moving vehicles must stop at suitable places and let others pass. It is prohibited to overtake or pass a school bus that is approaching a stopping point. In all other cases of passing buses it has to be with caution. A fine will be imposed for non-compliance.

Spiked tyres are prohibited.

A GPS based navigation system which has maps indicating the location of fixed speed cameras must have the ‘fixed speed camera PoI (Points of Interest)’ function deactivated.

The use of radar detectors is prohibited.

All motorists have the obligation to adapt their vehicles to winter weather conditions. This includes but is not limited to winter tyres and anti-freeze fluid for the washer system. Extreme weather may additionally require snow chains.

The law does not specify which type of tyre is 'appropriate' the general opinion is that any type of tyre except summer tyres is appropriate, including all-year tyres.

Winter tyres must bear the mark M&S or display the snowflake on the side wall.

Motorists, whose car is equipped with summer tyres while there is snow and ice, may not take the car on the road. Motorists in violation face fines. If they actually obstruct traffic, the fine will be charged.

Restrictions on the circulation of vehicles are enforced in several German cities, in order to reduce the levels of emission of fine particulates in some areas. The areas where restrictions apply will be indicated by signs “Umweltzone” showing coloured vignettes ("Plakette") - green, yellow or red. To enter these areas, drivers will have
to stick a vignette on their vehicle windscreen, this can be obtained from technical inspection centres or approved garages, fine for non-compliance €40.00. The owner of the vehicle (German or foreign) is required to present the registration certificate of the vehicle and pay a fee of 5 to 10 Euros. The colour of the vignette issued will depend on the type of engine and the Euro classification of the vehicle. The fee is a ‘one-off’ charge and remains valid as long as it remains valid in any German City as long as it remains fixed in the vehicle. Owners of foreign-registered vehicles can obtain a sticker by sending an email to the Berlin vehicle registration authority at kfz-zulassung@labo.verwalt-berlin.de attaching a copy of the vehicle registration certificate specifying the emission code or a manufacturer’s certificate (preferably pdf files).

Upon verification of the documents, the registration authority will send a payment request by advance email including the bank details to the applicant. A fine administration/handling fee will be charged per sticker. The sticker will be sent to the applicant by direct mail. As order processing may take two to three weeks, stickers should be ordered well in advance.

Alternatively you can now obtain a sticker from the Cologne vehicle registration office by sending an application including a copy of the vehicle documents and €5 (cash or crossed cheque) to Kfz-Zulassungsstelle, Max-Glomsda-Straße 4, D-51105 Köln.

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