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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Germany, and be aware of the increased threat of terrorism. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia, and monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
  • In June 2017, the German government announced it would introduce temporary border controls for all bordering Schengen countries in the period leading up to and during the G20 summit in Hamburg
  • There is a high threat of terrorist attack in Germany. On 11 March 2017, German Police closed a shopping mall in Essen due to a threat against the mall. There was an attack on a Christmas Market in Berlin on the 19 December 2016. See Safety and security.
  • We continue to receive information that terrorists may be planning further attacks in Germany. An attack could occur at any time. Exercise particular caution around locations known to be possible terrorist targets. Public locations, including shopping malls, cultural, religious and sporting events remain vulnerable and visitors should ensure that they maintain a clear exit plan in the event of a security incident.
  • While the risk of crime is generally low, maintain a high level of personal security awareness in public places, particularly at night. Monitor local sources of information on crime. See Safety and security.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

A number of Schengen countries, including Germany, have introduced temporary immigration controls. Carry a valid passport with you when entering or leaving Germany even if you travel to another Schengen country. Border controls remain in force on the border with Austria. In June 2017, the German government announced it would introduce temporary border controls for all bordering Schengen countries in the period leading up to and during the G20 summit in Hamburg.

Germany is a party to the Schengen Convention, along with a number of other European countries, which allows Australians to enter Germany without a visa in some circumstances. See our travel bulletin on the Schengen Convention for more information.

People travelling directly to or from a country outside the European Union (EU) who are carrying 10,000 euros or more (or the equivalent amount in another currency) are required to declare the cash at the place of their arrival or departure from the EU. Under the legislation, the term "cash" includes cheques, travellers cheques and money orders. Travellers failing to declare the cash or providing incomplete or incorrect information will incur a fine. There is no requirement to declare cash for people travelling to or from another EU country.

As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Germany website for up-to date information.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Safety and security

Terrorism

We assess there is a heightened threat of terrorist attack in a number of European countries, including Germany. This threat is posed by those motivated by the current conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

On 11 March 2017, German Police closed a shopping mall in Essen due to a threat against the mall. On 19 December 2016 a truck drove through a crowded evening Christmas market in Berlin, causing a number of deaths and injuries. 

The German Government has heightened security measures around the country, including at airports and major train stations. Authorities are monitoring a large number of individuals considered capable of violent acts. They continue to arrest and prosecute suspected terrorists.

We continue to receive information that terrorists may be planning further attacks. An attack could occur anywhere and at any time.

Be vigilant in public places and report any suspicious activity to police. Monitor the media and take heed of any warnings or advice issued by local authorities.

Exercise particular caution around locations known to be possible terrorist targets. Recent attacks in European cities have targeted aviation, transport hubs, places of worship, shopping malls, sporting venues and places of mass gathering, including those frequented by foreigners.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.

Crime

Germany has a generally low incidence of violent crime. Street crime occurs, including pickpocketing and theft from unattended vehicles.

Extremist youth groups, particularly in urban areas and in states of the former East Germany, have harassed or attacked individuals for racial reasons or because they appear foreign. 

Maintain a high level of personal security awareness in public places, particularly at night, and monitor local sources of information on crime.

Berlin authorities have reported a rise in incidents of pickpocketing and house burglaries. Police suggest that travellers pay particular attention to their valuables when visiting the districts of Mitte, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf.

Incidents of 'drink spiking' at popular night clubs and at markets, leading to sexual assault, have been reported. Do not accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended. Travellers should attempt to stay in the company of people they trust, particularly in bars and nightclubs. See our Partying safely page for tips and advice.

Civil unrest and political tension

Avoid large public demonstrations as they may turn violent.

There are likely to be large scale demonstrations on 1 May 2017 throughout Germany and in early July associated with the G20 Summit in Hamburg. 

Money and valuables

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

G20 summit

The G20 summit will be held in Hamburg on 7-8 July 2017. There will be an increased demand for accommodation and transport facilities in and around Hamburg during the summit. Expect demonstrations throughout the city centre as well as disruptions to traffic and local public transport. Avoid large crowds or areas where demonstrations are underway.

Oktoberfest

The annual Oktoberfest festival will be held at the Theresienwiese in Munich, Bavaria, from 16 September to 3 October 2017.
There will be an increased demand for accommodation and transport facilities in Bavaria during Oktoberfest. Expect delays and plan your travel accordingly.
We urge all Australians attending Oktoberfest to behave responsibly and to respect local laws and customs. Australians have been detained by German authorities for lengthy periods on charges of antisocial behaviour and assault. Lengthy Schengen bans have also been issued to offenders.

Visitors carrying large bags and backpacks will be denied entry to the Oktoberfest. Discretionary pat downs of visitors and inspections of smaller bags (e.g. handbags) may be conducted at all entry points by security staff. We recommend leaving and securing large bags and non-essential items at your hotel. Your passport should always be kept in a safe place. We recommend holding a copy of your passport and another form of photo identification (such as your driver's license) with you, should you be asked to show ID.
We recommend not accessing the Oktoberfest via the subway stop “Theresienwiese” due to possible congestion. Expect waiting times at all entry points due to the additional security measures. Dress suitably and avoid wearing thongs or sandals as there may be broken glass on the ground.
Follow the instructions of the security and police officers and report any suspicious behaviour to the police immediately.
Should you need medical assistance during Oktoberfest, bear in mind that Australia does not have a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Germany, and medical bills can be very expensive. Take out comprehensive travel insurance and always carry the 24-hour emergency number.

For up-to-date information, please visit the official Oktoberfest website

To obtain consular assistance during Oktoberfest 2017, see the ‘Where to get help’ section of this advice.

Local travel

Since 2015, there have been significant pressures on border controls in Europe due to the movement of asylum seekers.  Carry your passport when crossing borders, even within the Schengen zone.  Monitor local media and other information from transport providers for up-to-date information on entry and exit changes and delays. 

Bicycles are numerous and often have their own pathways (usually coloured red) and traffic lights, located between the pedestrian footpath and the roadway. Pedestrians should avoid walking on these pathways as cyclists usually travel at speed and have right of way. Accidents and injuries resulting from collisions between cyclists and pedestrians are common. Bicycles also have the right of way over vehicles turning into side streets.

Acquaint yourself with German road rules if driving in Germany. Certain stretches of the German autobahn network do not have set speed limits and drivers should be aware of the potential for fast-moving traffic.

Vehicles must be fitted with specific tyres (mud and snow) if there is snow, ice or frost on the road.  Although there is no set time period, and varies from region to region, it is generally required that winter tyres be fitted between October and Easter. This requirement also applies to rental cars, check that appropriate tyres are fitted to rental cars before accepting the vehicle.  Fines are payable and insurance coverage may be voided if inappropriate tyres are fitted.

The minimum driving age in Germany is 18. Drivers under 18 are not allowed to drive even if they possess a valid Australian driver's licence. Drivers must have a valid driver's licence, insurance and vehicle documents in the vehicle at all times.

An Australian driving licence can only be used in Germany in some circumstances. For details, please visit the German Embassy in Australia website.

For further advice on road safety, see our road travel page.

Air safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Germany.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Germany, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

The use or display of any Nazi symbols, salutes, songs or material (e.g. flags, memorabilia) is illegal.

You are not required by law to carry your passport with you while in Germany, but the local authorities can request to see it. Carry your passport and photo identification with you at all times.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
 

Information for dual nationals

See our Dual nationals page.

Health

Take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health pages also provide useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of medical facilities and care in Germany is high. Australia does not have a reciprocal health care agreement with Germany. Hospitals will require confirmation that the patient has insurance or the funds to meet the costs of treatment. Medical practitioners will request up-front payment. Costs are generally higher than in Australia.

Travel in forested areas, particularly in the states of Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemburg in the south, brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis. Ticks are very common in country areas and are active from spring to autumn.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

For criminal issues, contact the local police. Always obtain a police report when reporting a crime. The national police emergency number is 110. For Fire and Ambulance, call 112.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the provider directly.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:

Australian Embassy, Berlin

Wallstrasse 76-79
10179 Berlin
Federal Republic of Germany
Telephone: +49 30 880088 0
Facsimile: +49 30 880088 238
Website: germany.embassy.gov.au
Email: consular.berlin@dfat.gov.au

and

Australian Consulate-General, Frankfurt

Main Tower-28th floor
Neue Mainzer Str. 52/58
60311 Frankfurt/Main
Federal Republic of Germany
Telephone: +49 69 90558 0
Facsimile: +49 69 90558 119

See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the Embassy or the Consulate-General, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Additional Resources