Electricity

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

Language

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

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. 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.

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 and other menial services appreciate small tips.

Health

There are no serious health risks for visitors to Germany and no vaccinations are required. The German health service is excellent and there is a reciprocal health agreement with most EU countries, whose citizens are entitled to free medical and dental treatment on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). After Brexit, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for UK citizens. The GHIC allows UK citizens access to state healthcare during visits to the EU. The GHIC is not valid in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, nor is it an alternative to travel insurance. Nationals of other countries should take out travel insurance.

Safety

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.

Doing business

In Germany, business is conducted in a formal manner, with a conservative and formal dress code being the norm. Punctuality is vital at all meetings and it's considered rude to be late. Germans use titles often, with men referred to as 'Herr' and women as 'Frau', followed by their last names.

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. Business hours are generally 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday, with an hour taken over lunch.

Duty free

Passengers arriving from EU countries can enter Germany without paying duty on 800 cigarettes or 400g cigarillos or 200 cigars or 1kg tobacco; 90 litres of still wine; 110 litres of beer; and 10 litres of alcohol stronger than 20 percent or 20 litres of fortified wine, sparkling wine or other liqueurs up to 22 percent.

Passengers arriving from non-EU countries, over the age of 17, can enter Germany without paying duty on 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.

Communications

The international access code for Germany is +49. Travellers will find it easy to use a local SIM card, Skype, WhatsApp or similar apps. Free WiFi is available in most hotels, cafes and restaurants.

Passport & Visa

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.

Entry requirements

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.

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 180 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.

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.

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.

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.

Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival in Germany. A visa is not required.

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.

Useful contacts

German National Tourist Board, Frankfurt: +49 (0)69 751 903 or www.germany-tourism.de

110 (Police); 112 (Ambulance/Fire)

Embassies / consulates in other countries

German Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 298 4000.

German Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7824 1300.

German Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 232 1101.

German Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6270 1911.

German Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 427 8900.

German Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 269 3011.

German Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 473 6063.

Embassies / consulates in Germany

United States Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 83050.

British Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 20 4570.

Canadian Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 203 120.

Australian Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 880 0880.

South African Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 220 730.

Irish Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 220 720.

New Zealand Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 206 210.