COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Germany is a modern and stable democracy. Tourist facilities are highly developed. In larger towns, many people can communicate in English. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Germany for additional information on the U.S.-Germany relationship.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or travel to Germany, please take the time to tell us about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
U.S. Embassy Berlin
Clayallee 170, 14191 Berlin
Tel. (49) (30) 8305-0 (emergency services only)
Tel. (49) (30) 8305-1200 (routine calls, 2-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday)
Fax (49) (30) 8305-1215
American Citizen Services e-mail: ACSBerlin@state.gov
U.S. Consulate General Frankfurt
Giessener Str. 30, 60435 Frankfurt am Main
Tel. (49) (69) 7535-0 (emergency services only)
Tel. (49) (69) 7535-2102 (routine calls, 2-4 p.m. Monday-Friday)
Fax (49) (69) 7535-2252
American Citizen Services e-mail: GermanyACS@state.gov
Passport Inquiries e-mail: FrankfurtPassports@state.gov
U.S. Consulate Leipzig (emergency services only)
Wilhelm-Seyfferth-Strasse 4, 04107 Leipzig
Tel. (49) (341) 21-8418
Fax: (49) (341) 213-8417
There is also a U.S. consular agency in Bremen at:
Flughafenallee 18, 28199 BremenTel. (49) (421) 301-5860
Fax: (49) (421) 301-5861
Consular services are only provided at the Consulates General in Hamburg and Dusseldorf through periodic visits by consular staff from Berlin and Frankfurt, respectively.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: Germany is a party to the Schengen Agreement. As a U.S. citizen, you may enter Germany for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Your entry into Germany begins the 90-day limit for the entire Schengen area. For further details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet. You may also contact the German Embassy in Washington, for the location of German consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, or San Francisco to obtain the most current visa information.
If you are transiting Germany en route to other countries, make sure you know all of the entry and exit requirements for your final destination. If you don’t have the right documentation, you might be denied boarding to your connecting flight. For example, some countries (e.g., South Africa) require a certain number of blank visa pages, or more than six months remaining validity on your passport.
We are unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to, or foreign residents of Germany.
You can find information about dual nationality or the prevention of international parental child abduction on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: German authorities are vigilant in combating terrorism and other threats to security. They have uncovered specific threats and prosecuted suspects, though Germany itself has been largely free of terror incidents. However, like other countries in the Schengen area, Germany’s open borders with its European neighbors limits its ability to track suspect individuals entering and exiting the country with anonymity.
Germany’s robust democracy is often expressed in large, public demonstrations on a variety of political and economic issues. Such demonstrations are common on politically significant holidays, such as German Labor Day on May 1, and during international summits hosted in Germany. In order to stage a demonstration, groups must obtain prior police approval, and police routinely oversee participants and passersby. Nonetheless, these demonstrations can attract counter-demonstrations and have the potential to turn violent. Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations and check local media for updates on the situation and traffic advisories.
In addition, hooligans, most often drunken “skinheads,” have been known to harass or even attack people whom they believe to be foreigners or members of rival groups. On occasion, U.S. citizens have reported that they were assaulted for racial reasons or because they appeared “foreign.” In addition, U.S. citizens should also exercise caution when congregating in areas known as expatriate hangouts such as restaurants, bars, and discos frequented by high numbers of resident U.S. citizens and/or U.S. citizen tourists, as this could attract unwanted attention from disorganized groups of rowdy patrons seeking to start a fight.
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CRIME: Violent crime is rare in Germany, but can occur, especially in larger cities or high-risk areas such as train stations. There have been several reports of aggravated assault against U.S. citizens in higher-risk urban areas. However, most incidents of street crime involve the theft of unattended items and pick pocketing. Take the same precautions that you would in any large city.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, but by purchasing them you could also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
We also maintain information on our website on where to get help in child abuse situations.
In Germany, there are two separate phone numbers that correspond to 911 in the United States: In an emergency, dial 112 for an ambulance and 110 for the police.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While traveling in Germany, you are subject to its laws, even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. While you are overseas, U.S. laws do not apply, and if you do something illegal in your host country, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what is legal and what is not, as criminal penalties vary from country to country. There are also some things that may be legal where you are traveling, but illegal in the United States; for example, if you engage in sexual conduct with children or use or disseminate child pornography in a foreign country, you can be prosecuted in the United States.
The Embassy has learned of some incidents of German lawyers, working on behalf of media companies, aggressively identifying individuals who are illegally downloading copyrighted content and then billing those people 1000 Euros or more per incident. If these cases are brought to court, German courts will likely rule in favor of the companies. You are strongly advised not to download media content except from reputable legal sites.
Arrest Notifications in Germany: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Germany has strict customs regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Germany of items such as firearms, military artifacts (particularly those pertaining to the Second World War), antiques, medications/pharmaceuticals, and business equipment. Under German law it is also illegal to bring into, or take out of Germany any literature, music, or paraphernalia that glorifies fascism, the Nazi past, or the ”Third Reich.” Contact the German Embassy in Washington or one of the German consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Surprisingly, credit cards are not accepted as widely as they are in the United States. However, automatic teller machines (ATMs) are widely available throughout Germany. They utilize many of the same account networks that are found in the United States, so it is possible in most cases to get Euros directly from your U.S. bank while you are in Germany, without paying inordinate currency exchange fees.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Germany, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation different from what is found in the United States. Many existing buildings, as well as public transportation systems, are less adapted to individuals with disabilities. You should check with your hotel or destination to learn more about options to accommodate disabled traveler needs before visiting Germany. At German airports, Lufthansa and Air Berlin offer services for disabled travelers, and the German National Railway, Deutsche Bahn, maintains a mobility resource webpage. The German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA) and the German Hotel Association (IHA) maintain directories of accessible accommodations. You can find more information on accessibility by visiting the German National Tourist Board website.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Germany has good medical care and facilities. If you are not a resident of Germany, doctors and hospitals may expect immediate payment in cash. Most doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies do not accept credit cards.
Due to Germany’s strict customs regulations, generally you are not allowed to receive prescription medication by mail without special permission. During your trip, you should only carry the amount you plan to use. For more information, please visit the German Customs website regarding medicine.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You cannot assume your insurance coverage will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas webpage.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: In Germany, road conditions can be significantly different from those in the United States. If you hold a valid U.S. driver’s license, you can drive in Germany for up to six months without acquiring a German driver’s license.
German road conditions in general are excellent, although you should exercise caution while traveling on older roads in eastern Germany. Contrary to popular belief, there are posted speed limits on large stretches of the highway, or Autobahn, mostly when traveling through urban areas or when the road has many curves. The high speed permitted on the Autobahn, adverse weather conditions, and unfamiliar road markings can pose significant hazards. Driver error is a leading cause of accidents involving U.S. citizen motorists in Germany.
Bicycles are another cause of mishaps. Many German streets and sidewalks have dedicated bike lanes. Whether you are driving or walking, be aware that bicycles have priority use of these lanes. If you are walking, watch for bicyclists before crossing or stepping into bike lanes. Bicyclists also have priority over cars when turning onto side streets. If you are driving, check whether a bicyclist is approaching from either direction before attempting to enter side streets, even when the light is in your favor. If you are turning into a side street and hit a bicyclist using a marked bike lane, you will be held responsible for any injury or damage caused.
Driver right-of-way rules are different from the United States. Unless you are traveling on a priority road, vehicles coming from the right have the right-of-way. It is generally illegal in Germany to pass vehicles on the right.
The threshold for determining whether a person has been driving under the influence of alcohol is lower than in the United States. Under German law it is illegal to operate a vehicle if the blood level is 0.5 per mill or higher. The law imposes a penalty and the withdrawal of the driver’s license for specified periods of time depending upon the gravity of each violation. For more information, please visit the U.S. Embassy’s webpage on “ Driving in Germany.”
It is illegal to use your cell phone while driving in Germany. If you would like more specific information on travel within Germany, please visit the website of the German National Tourist Board
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Germany’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Germany’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Germany dated June 07, 2012 to update the sections on Country Description and Threats to Safety and Security.