Germany


Germany / Practical guidelines


General Information

The Capital

Berlin is Germany's capital and largest city with a population of  3.7 million. It is located on the river Spree and its (documented) history reaches back to the 13th century. The city was divided into East and West Berlin for 28 years. During this time Bonn was the capital of western Germany. After Germany's reunification in 1990 however, Berlin was capital of the country once again. 

Consulates

USA

U.S. Embassy in Berlin
Clayallee 170
14191 Berlin
Federal Republic of Germany
Tel.: +49-30-8305-0

U.S. Consulate General in Düsseldorf
Willi-Becker-Allee 10
40227 Düsseldorf
Federal Republic of Germany
Tel.: +49-211-788-8927

U.S. Consulate General in Frankfurt
Gießener Str. 30
60435 Frankfurt am Main
Federal Republic of Germany
Tel.: +49-69-7535-0

U.S. Consulate General in Hamburg
Alsterufer 27/28
20354 Hamburg
Federal Republic of Germany
Tel.: +49-40-411 71-100

U.S. Consulate General in Leipzig
Wilhelm-Seyfferth-Straße 4
04107 Leipzig
Federal Republic of Germany
Tel: +49-341-213-840

U.S. Consulate General in Munich
Königinstraße 5
80539 München
Federal Republic of Germany
Tel.: +49-89-2888-0


UK

British Embassy Berlin
Wilhelmstraße 70/71
10117 Berlin
Germany
Tel.: +49 (0) 30 204 570

British Consulate General Dusseldorf
Willi-Becker-Allee 10
40227 Dusseldorf
Germany
Tel.: +49 (0) 211 94480

British Consulate General Munich
Möhlstraße 5
81675 Munich
Germany 
Tel.: +49 (0) 89 211090


Emergency

Police: 110
Fire Service / Ambulance: 112

Climate

Germany has a continental climate. The weather can be cool and damp in the spring and fall.

Time Zone

Germany is located in the Central European Time Zone. European Summer Time is used between the end of March and the end of October, meaning clocks are moved forward an hour during that period.

Time differences:
UK: - 1 hour
Canada/USA
East coast: - 6 hours
West coast: - 9 hours

Electricity and Water

Outlets in Germany are 230 volt. Most appliances will require adapters, which can be purchased at airports and locally.

Weights and Measures

Long distances are measured in kilometers in Germany. A kilometer equals about 2/3 mile.

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Shorter distances are measured in meters. A meter is 3.28 feet (1.09 yards).

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Weights are measured in kilos. One kilo equals 2.20 pounds.

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Public Transport

For travel within Germany you can book all train tickets on the website of Deutsche Bahn (www.bahn.de). The website has a language option which can be set to English. There are several special fares available to save on your trip. Most commonly used is the Sparpreis (saver fare). On this fare you can only use the specific train you have booked. The regular fare allows you to use any trains of the chosen connection (more detailed information is available on the website). If you have several (especially longer) train journeys in your itinerary you might want to look into train passes (only available for non-Europeans). These offer more flexibility since you can use all trains on your selected travel dates.
Currently Umfulana cannot book these trains or passes for you since we do not have a cooperation with Deutsche Bahn. 
While you are travelling the app of Deutsche Bahn is very helpful with connections, platform numbers and delays. In the settings you can change the language to English.
The app (DB Navigator) can also be used for local transport in larger cities to help you find the best underground or tram connections.

Postal Service

Stamps can be purchased in all post offices and many Kiosks.

Phone Calls

Country codes for calls placed from Germany:
UK: 00 44 + phone number 
USA/Canada: 00 1 + phone number

Country codes for placing calls to Germany:
UK: 00 49 + phone number 
USA/Canada: 011 49 + phone number

To be paid locally

Fuel costs, costs for fuel service (if applicable), costs for rental cars (see rental car conditions, e.g. one-way rental, permits, child seats, snow chains etc.), tolls, food, costs for excursions booked locally by yourself, private expenses (e.g. costs for souvenirs, medication, etc.), tips, entrance fees (if applicable), transport costs (e.g. taxi, bus, train, ferry), tourism levy (if applicable), parking fees (if applicable).

Arrival and Departure

Getting There

There are 35 or so commercial passenger airports (Flughafen) in Germany, with Frankfurt and Munich being the two biggest. Frankfurt is the main air travel hub, and you can reach all other German airports in an hour or less from there. 

Travel Documents and Formalities

Germany is a party to the Schengen Agreement. U.S. citizens may enter Germany for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay. This regulation is strictly enforced in Germany. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket. 

Driving

(International) Driving License

An international driving license is required.

Road Code

Front and rear seat belts are obligatory in Germany. It is illegal to talk on a hand-held mobile phone while operating a motor vehicle in Germany.

Motorways (Autobahn) will be labeled with an A: i.e. A3 and the signs are blue.
Highways (Bundesstrasse/Landstrasse) will be labeled with a B: i.e. B327 and signs are yellow. 

Be careful about drinking and driving: A driver whose blood alcohol level exceeds 0.3 will be considered legally intoxicated.

Speed Limits

Speed limits:
In towns: 50 km/h (30 mph)
On motorways: None unless indicated
On highways: 100 km/h (62 mph)
There is generally no speed limit on German Autobahns, although the recommended maximum speed is 130 km/h (80 mph). You should be careful when pulling into the left lane, as cars may be coming from the rear at high speed. Impatient drivers will flash their headlights, which means get out of the way. All German motorways are toll-free.

Parking

Very little free parking is available in downtown areas and car parks are generally very tight. We therefore recommend choosing a parking building or public car park. Parking along the street often requires feeding a parking meter, which may be located some distance from the car. After you've settled the required fee, the meter will produce a ticket that must be placed in the front windshield. 

Be careful about observing no-parking signs, as violations may result in your car being towed away. The main parking signs are:

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Breakdown and Accident

An emergency telephone number will be included in the documents you receive from your rental car agency. Emergency phone calls can be made free of charge from any public telephone. Emergency phone numbers are: 

Police: 110
Medical emergency: 112

German Automobile Club (ADAC):
From a public phone: 0180 22 22 22
From a mobile phone: 22 22 22

Petrol

The main choices are Bleifrei (unleaded), Super-Bleifrei (super unleaded) and Diesel. The German word for petrol is Benzin. A petrol station is called a Tankstelle.

Directions and Maps

Although brief directions are included in your travel documents, we recommend buying a good road atlas.

When you come to a road closure (Umleitung), not all navigation systems give you the option to find an alternative route. However you will often find road signs that will lead the way around the obstacle. They are generally numbered if there is more than one Umleitung (detour) in the area so make sure you stick to one number. In order to get around the closure simply follow the U signs with the same number until you get back onto your road.


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Navigation System

The best solution is always a GPS. While rented units are often available, downloading an offline software for your smartphone is a good alternative. Free service is available from "HERE Maps". Although you won't be able to search by coordinates when offline, you can do so while connected to WIFI in your hotel and save places to favorites. The directions from HERE are not very detailed. If you prefer a more detailed navigation, other products are available from TomTom or Navigon at an annual fee. Should you already own a GPS unit you can download the relevant maps prior to departure.

Accommodations

Check-In

The check-in time is normally between 4 pm and 7 pm unless otherwise stated in your travel documents. Earlier arrival can be arranged with your hosts. Please notify your hosts if you will be arriving after 8 pm.

Money Matters

ATMs

ATMs are widely available. All common international credit cards are accepted. English instructions are usually available.

Health

Medical Insurance

Check to make sure your health insurance covers travel abroad. If your health insurance policy provides coverage outside the United States, remember to carry both your insurance policy identity card as proof of insurance and a claim form. If not, you would be wise to take out travel insurance. 

Citizens from the EU (Europe Union), EEA (European Economic Area – EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) or Switzerland are allowed healthcare on the same basis as German nationals if they are travelling to Germany or are temporary visitors. To be eligible for state healthcare, you’ll need to get an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), typically before you arrive. 

Local Health Care

In Germany, outpatient care (ambulante Versorgung) is mainly provided by self-employed doctors, dentists, psychotherapists and other health care professionals in their own practices. Most doctors and dentists have a “Kassenzulassung” (statutory health insurance accreditation), enabling them to treat anyone with statutory health insurance.
When people are ill or have other health problems, they usually go to see their family doctor (Hausarzt) first. In Germany, general practitioners, internists and pediatricians are considered to be family doctors. EU citizens can use their EHIC card and will receive treatment. Travellers without the EHIC card will need to pay for the services and will need to claim expenses back on their travel insurance. 

Outside opening hours of medical practices (usually weekdays only 9am - 5pm, with Wednesday and Friday being short days where the practices close at midday), most hospitals have after hours GPs. To find out where to go please call 116117 from any German phone. You might want to ask your host for help as chances are the operator does not speak English. 

In an emergency go to the hospital or call 112.

Most hospitals in Germany treat all patients, regardless of whether they have statutory or private health insurance. If you have to stay overnight in a hospital for treatment, it is referred to as “inpatient treatment” (stationäre Behandlung). Additional fees are charged for accommodation and meals that are not covered by statutory insurers. These fees are stipulated in a “contract” between the patient and the hospital before the treatment is carried out.

Etiquette

Tipping

Service is normally included in the restaurant check. Nevertheless, it is common to round up amounts by about 10% or to the next euro for smaller amounts.  A tip for public lavatory attendants is often left on a saucer near the door.