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Germany Travel FAQ Sheet

What currency does Germany use? What can I bring in and out of the country? Do I need a visa? DW-WORLD answers 14 basic questions on travel in Germany.


  1. Do I need a passport or visa? Citizens of some EU countries can enter on an official identity card, but it is advisable to always travel with your passport. Either document must be valid for at least three months beyond your intended stay. U.S. citizens, Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders and Japanese just need a valid passport, and are not required to have an entry visa. Without a visa, your stay is limited to 90 days every half year. Otherwise, you must take up gainful employment requiring a residence/work permit.
  2. Should I get vaccinated? No vaccinations are required.
  3. What is Germany’s currency? Since Jan. 1, 2002, euro bills and coins have been in circulation in Germany and 11 other EU member nations. (Actually, the euro has been the official currency since 1999.) There are 100 cents in a euro.
  4. What do I do if I have old D-Mark coins and bills? Coins can no longer be converted into euros, but bills can. You can take them to one of the branches of Germany's federal bank, the Deutsche Bundesbank, where they will be converted free of charge. Regular banks no longer perform this service.
  5. Where and when can I change money? In banks, post offices, change bureaus, airports, railway stations, and major hotels. You can get cash from automatic teller machines (ATMs) at most banks and in many retail locations using a credit card or debit card, if the card shows the symbol of an affiliated international banking organization. Bank opening hours are generally 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, Thursday until 6 p.m. in main cities. MoneyGram and Western Union are money wiring services. MoneyGram: 0800 66639472, Western Union: (0681) 933 3328. Both may be located in airports or major train stations.
  6. Are credit cards accepted in Germany? In major hotels, upscale restaurants and big department stores, yes. However, they are not nearly as widely accepted as in most other European countries, Canada or the United States, with about 60 percent of stores and restaurants still refusing them. You can buy train tickets with a credit card but not tickets for local transportation or taxis.
  7. What goods can I bring in to Germany? If arriving from a non-EU country, you may bring in the following:
    1. Tobacco (person bringing goods must be at least 17 years old): 200 cigarettes OR 100 cigarillos OR 50 cigars OR 250 grams of tobacco.
    2. Alcohol (person bringing goods must be at least 17 years old): 1 liter spirits with alcohol content of greater than 22% OR 2 liters spirits/aperitif made of wine/alcohol with 22% alchohol or less, OR 2 liters sparkling wine /liqueur.
    3. Coffee (person bringing goods must be at least 15 years old): 500 grams of coffee OR 200 grams instant coffee.
    4. Perfume and eau de toilette: 50 grams perfume AND 0.25 liters eau de toilette.
    5. e) gifts valued at up to €175. Further information on duty free goods is available at the customs offices on the Internet
    6. Will I need an electricity transformer or plug adaptor? Travelers from the UK, Australia and New Zealand will need to bring a plug adaptor for their appliance, as the standard household electrical outlet in most of mainland Europe has two round prongs. Like the rest of Europe, German outlet voltage is 220-240, twice the standard household voltage in North America, which means unless they have a multi-voltage appliance, travelers from the United States and Canada will also need to bring a voltage transformer or converter.
    7. What happens if I get ill? Germany has very good medical care. In case of medical emergency, dial the telephone number 112. If possible, have the receptionist at your hotel or pension assist you. If you need help at night or on a weekend, there is emergency medical service available -- some doctors even make house calls. Emergency service numbers are listed in the phone book. Pharmacies are open on nights, weekends and holidays on a rotating schedule. A list of which one is on duty hangs in the window of the nearest pharmacy.
    8. Should I take out health insurance? Ask your health insurer if you are covered while in Germany, and if so, how it works. If not, you should take out private travel insurance before leaving your home country. Should you be uninsured and need medical help, expect to pay for the services out of pocket.
    9. Is there Internet in Germany? Of course! Most bigger towns and cities have Internet cafes. And most hotels offer Internet connections.
    10. What time zone is Germany in? Germany has Central European Time. CET is one hour later than Greenwich Mean Time.
    11. What are store opening hours? Store hours in Germany are among the most restrictive in Europe. Shops are now allowed to stay open until 8 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, although many close earlier outside of city centers. Sunday is a strict day of rest. However, you can usually get the bare essentials at the railway station, and gas stations open Sunday often carry staples and convenience foods .
    12. How can I best travel within the country? Germany's national railway, Deutsche Bahn, continues to invest millions in modernizing its service. The ICE high speed trains travel up to 280 kilometers/hour and run regularly between all major towns and cities. Look out for special offers such as weekend passes for up to five people. Also, Germany has a modern network of motorways, connecting all major cities. Motorways in eastern regions are of a reasonable standard but this may not be the case for secondary roads. Rental cars are available in most towns at railway stations. Also, cheap domestic fares make air travel a good alternative, with some fares considerably lower than the price of a train ticket.