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Germany

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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Germany. Use common sense. Look out for suspicious behaviour. Monitor the news and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.
  • There is a high threat of terrorist attack. In March 2017, police closed a shopping mall in Essen due to a threat against the mall. In December 2016, there was an attack on a Christmas Market in Berlin. See Safety and security.
  • We continue to receive information terrorists may be planning more attacks in Germany. An attack could occur at any time. Exercise particular caution around locations that could be terrorist targets. Public locations, including shopping malls, cultural, religious and sporting events remain vulnerable. Maintain a clear exit plan in the event of a security incident. See Safety and security.
  • While the risk of crime is low, be alert 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

Visas

Germany is a part of the Schengen area, along with a number of other European countries. This allows you to enter Germany without a visa in some circumstances. In other circumstances, you'll need a visa.

More information: Schengen Convention

A number of Schengen countries, including Germany, have introduced temporary immigration controls. Carry your passport with you when entering or leaving Germany, even if travelling to or from another Schengen country.

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, or visit their website, for the most up-to-date information.

Passport

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia. Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to get access to your passport by deception.  If you're forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

Declare cash of €10,000 or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you're travelling between Germany and any non-European Union (EU) country. This includes notes and coins, money orders, cheques and travellers cheques. If you don't declare, or you give incorrect information, you'll be fined. You don't need to declare cash if you're travelling to or from another EU country.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world, but 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 conflict in Iraq and Syria.

The German Government has introduced 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.

There have been a number of recent attacks.

  • In December 2016, a truck drove through a crowded evening Christmas market in Berlin, causing a number of deaths and injuries.
  • In November and December 2016, there were several attempted attacks at Christmas markets, despite tightened security at some locations.
  • In July 2016, a stabbing attack occurred on a train between the towns of Treuchlingen and Würzburg in Bavaria, injuring five people. Islamic State claimed responsibility.
  • In July 2016, a suicide bomber injured 15 at a bar near a music festival in Ansbach, Bavaria (to which the attacker had tried to gain entry).

We continue to receive information terrorists may be planning more attacks. An attack could occur anywhere at any time. Recent attacks in European cities have targeted aviation, public transport and transport hubs, places of worship, sporting venues and places of mass gathering, including those frequented by foreigners. Christmas markets remain vulnerable.

  • Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places.
  • Exercise particular caution around locations known to be possible terrorist targets.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Monitor the media for any new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • If you choose to visit Christmas markets, avoid peak times and have a clear exit plan if there is a security incident.
  • If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately, if it's safe to do so. 

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Crime

There have been some violent criminal attacks in Germany which haven't been linked to terrorism. 

  • In October 2017, a man stabbed and injured eight people in Rosenheimer Platz in Munich.
  • In July 2016, a man stabbed a person and injured several others in a machete attack in Reutlingen.
  • In July 2016, an attack with firearms occured at the Olympia shopping centre in Munich, killing nine people

Despite these incidents, violent crime is not common but there is frequent street crime, such as 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. 

Incidents of 'drink spiking' at popular night clubs and markets, leading to sexual assault, have been reported.

  • Pay attention to your personal security in public places, particularly at night.
  • Be particularly careful with your valuables when visiting the central districts and train stations of larger cities.
  • Don't accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended.
  • Stick with people you trust in bars and nightclubs.
  • Monitor local sources for information on crime.

Civil unrest and political tension

Avoid large public demonstrations as they may turn violent.

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 area. Keep up-to-date on border conditions by checking local news sources and asking transport providers directly.

Road travel

Road conditions are similar to those in Australia but some basic rules differ.

  • Certain parts of the autobahn (highway) network don't have set speed limits. Be prepared for very 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 it varies region to region, winter tyres usually need to be fitted between October and Easter. Check appropriate tyres are fitted to rental cars before accepting the vehicle.  Fines are payable and insurance claims may be rejected if inappropriate tyres are fitted.
  • Bicycles have the right of way over vehicles turning into side streets.

Familiarise yourself with German road rules before you drive or ride a vehicle.  

Pedestrians and bicycles

Bicycles are common. Many roads have bicycle pathways (usually coloured red), located between the pedestrian footpath and the roadway, and bicycle traffic lights.

Don't walk on these pathways. Cyclists usually travel fast and have right of way. Accidents and injuries resulting from collisions between cyclists and pedestrians are common.

More information: Road safety and driving

Driver's licence

The minimum driving age is 18. Drivers under 18 years of age aren't allowed to drive, even if they have an Australian driver's licence.

Always have your driver's licence, insurance and vehicle documents in the vehicle while you're driving.

Your Australian driver's licence can only be used in some circumstances. Check the Embassy of Germany website for details. Get an International Driving Permit before you travel.

Motorcycles

Check your travel insurance covers you when riding a motorcycle. Always wear a helmet.

Taxis

Beware of taxi drivers touting for business in public places such as the airport as they may charge you more. Metered taxis are freely available from official taxi ranks. Rideshare services such as Uber are legal and are widely used.

Public transport

Germany has a well-developed bus and rail transport system. Take care with your personal belongings as petty crime occurs on public transport, particularly on trains, and in major transport hubs. Don't leave bags unattended on trains, even briefly, as theives can take a bag very quickly.

Sea travel

Some international cruise lines stop over in Germany. There are also cruises on major rivers. More information: Cruises

Air travel

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

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

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.

Other laws

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

You're not required by law to carry your passport with you, but the local authorities can request to see it. Ensure you can get your passport if needed. Always carry photo identification with you.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you can be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Germany recognises dual nationality. More information: Dual nationals

Health

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

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 won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and aren't covered under your policy
  • that you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Carry sufficient prescription medicines so you remain in good health. Always carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Health risks are broadly similar to those in Australia.

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

Medical facilities

The standard of medical facilities and care is high.

Australia doesn't have a reciprocal health care agreement with Germany. Hospitals will require confirmation you have insurance or the funds to meet the costs of treatment. Medical practitioners will request up-front payment. Costs are higher than in Australia.

Natural disasters

Severe weather can have an impact on your travel overseas. Monitor local media for up-to-date information.

If you're visiting an area recently affected by severe weather:

  • confirm your plans and activities with your tour operator or travel provider
  • check the condition of infrastructure and facilities with local tour operators and hotels.

More information: Severe weather

 

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Firefighting services: 112
  • Medical emergencies: 112
  • Criminal issues, contact police: 110.  

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

For non-urgent criminal issues, contact the local police.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

For consular assistance, contact the Australian Embassy in Berlin or Consulate-General in Frankfurt.

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

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

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

If you're unable to contact the Embassy or the Consulate-General in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Additional resources