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Germany

General

Germany is a member of the EU.

Time

The time in Germany is the same as Amsterdam, Paris and Rome and one hour ahead of London.

Language

German, but you can usually get by in English.

Border formalities

Many formalities and agreements about matters such as necessary travel documents, car papers, requirements relating to your means of transport and accommodation, medical expenses and taking pets with you do not only depend on the country you are travelling to but also on your departure point and nationality. The length of your stay can also play a role here.

We advise you to consult the relevant authorities before your departure about:

  • which travel documents you will need for yourself and your fellow passengers
  • which documents you need for your car
  • which regulations your caravan must meet
  • which goods you may import and export
  • how medical treatment will be arranged and paid for in your holiday destination in cases of accident or illness
  • whether you can take pets. Contact your vets well in advance. They can give you information about the necessary vaccinations, proof thereof and obligations on return. It would also make sense to enquire whether any special regulations apply to your pet in public places at your holiday destination. In some countries for example dogs must always be muzzled or transported in a cage.

You will find plenty of general information on www.europa.eu but make certain you select information that is relevant to your specific situation.

For the most recent customs regulations you should get in contact with the authorities of your holiday destination in your country of residence.

Read more

Currency

The currency in Germany is the euro. Approximate exchange rates September 2016: £1 = € 1.18.

Credit cards

You can pay by credit card in most places.

Opening times and Public holidays

Banks

There are no standard opening times for banks. Most of them close at 16:00.

Shops

Opening times are Monday to Friday from 09:30 to 18:00. On Saturdays shops in larger cities are open till 18:00.

Chemists

Chemists are open Monday to Friday until 18:00; and on Saturdays until 12:00.

Public holidays

Entire Federal Republic:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter
  • 1 May (Labour Day)
  • Ascension Day
  • Pentecost
  • 3 October (German Reunification Day)
  • Christmas

Individual Federal States:

  • 6 January (Epiphany) in: Bayern, Baden-Württemberg and Sachsen-Anhalt.
  • 27 February (Rose Monday) in: Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Baden-Württemberg and Bayern.
  • 15 June (Sacrament day) in: Baden-Württemberg, Bayern, Hessen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rheinland-Pfalz and Saarland.
  • On 15 August The Assumption is celebrated in Saarland and the Catholic parts of Bavaria.
  • 15 August (The Assumption) in: Saarland and the Catholic parts of Bayern.
  • 31 October (Reformation Day) in: Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt and Thüringen.
  • 1 November (All Saints Day) in: Baden-Württemberg, Bayern, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland and Sachsen.

Communication

(Mobile)phones

The mobile network works well throughout Germany. There is a 3G network for mobile internet. You can make international calls from all payphones.

Wifi, internet

You can make use of a WiFi network at more and more public locations, often for free.

Post

Generally open from Monday to Friday until 18:00. On Saturday till 12:00.

Roads and traffic

Road network

Remember, all traffic in Germany drives on the right and overtakes on the left! Headlight deflectors are advisable to prevent annoying oncoming drivers. Germany uses the metric system, so distances are measured in kilometres (km) and speeds in kilometres per hour (km/h). You can use emergency phones on motorways to call the ‘Straßenwachthilfe’. If you don’t do this the ‘Straßendienst’ will come and you will have to pay for assistance. Elsewhere you should call the ADAC: tel. 01802-222222 or the ACE: tel. 01802-343536.

Traffic regulations

All traffic from the right has priority, except on roundabouts. If you are driving on a roundabout you have priority over drivers wishing to enter the roundabout. The rule on narrow mountain roads is that the vehicle that can move over more easily gives priority. Take note! You may not indicate a direction when approaching or joining a roundabout.

An alcohol level above 0.5‰ is an offence. Use of dipped headlights is not compulsory, except in tunnels. Drivers may only phone hands-free. You may not repair your vehicle by the side of the motorway. You must be towed away in all circumstances. At tailbacks on main roads you should wherever possible move to the right or left to leave room in the middle for emergency services. Cars in Germany (including tourists' cars) are required to take extra precautions in winter conditions. This means they need to be fitted with winter tyres and have sufficient antifreeze in the windscreen washers.

Navigations

Notification of fixed speed cameras by navigation systems or mobile phones is not permitted.

Caravans, motorhomes

Take note! In Germany you need to have one green card for your car and another one for your caravan, if it weighs more than 750 kg. The environmental badge is required if driving a motorhome. You will find more information under 'Environmental Badge'. An overtaking ban for lorries also applies to motorhomes heavier than 3500 kg.

Tempo 100 exemption

To tow a trailer or caravan at maximum 100 km/h you need a so-called ‘Tempo 100’ exemption. Your car and caravan must meet a number of test requirements. You can get more information about this from TÜV: www.tuv-uk.com.

Maximum allowed measurements of combined length

Height 4 metres, width 2.55 metres and length 18 metres (of which the trailer maximum 12 metres).

Environmental Badge

More and more German cities require you to display an environmental badge on your car windscreen. Cost: € 13.95. The badge may be red, yellow or green depending on the environmental requirements. This rule applies also to non-German registered cars. You will see traffic signs in these specific towns with the word ‘Umweltzone’. You may only enter this zone if you are displaying a sticker.

If you enter this zone without a badge you risk a € 40 fine. Older diesel vehicles and cars without a catalytic converter are not allowed in the centre of these cities. The badge can be ordered (also online) from TÜV Nord. More information: www.umwelt-plakette.de.

Fuel

Lead-free petrol and diesel are widely available and LPG is becoming more available. Since 2011 German filling stations are changing over to the new E10 fuel. Euro 95 will remain available at the pumps for the time being.

Filling stations

Filling stations are generally open between 08:00 and 20:00. Service stations on motorways are generally open day and night.

Tolls

German roads are free of toll for private cars.

Emergency number
  • 110: the emergency number for police
  • 112: the emergency number for fire and ambulance

Camping

German campsites are among the better in Europe. Campsites specialise increasingly to target groups such as families with children, hikers and cyclists or wellness enthusiasts. The number of comfort pitches and motorhome pitches with service stations has been sustained.

Nearly all campsites operate a lunch break (usually between 13:00 and 15:00) which is strictly enforced.

Practical
  • Tourist Offices in Germany are open from 10:00 to 16:00.
  • Make sure you have a world adaptor for electrical equipment.
  • It is safe to drink tap water.
Fishing

A recreational fishing licence is mandatory in Germany. You will also need a fishing permit for specific fishing areas. You can get this permit and additional information from the local tourist office.