Germany

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Monday, 15 September 2014.   We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Germany.

Germany overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Germany.
  • Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • The German Government continues to express concern about possible security risks in Germany and maintains heightened security measures around the country, including at airports and major train stations.
  • There is an ongoing risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities, such as Glasgow, London, Madrid and Moscow. Targets have included public transport and transport hubs, and public places frequented by foreigners. In addition, a number of planned attacks have been disrupted by European security services in recent years, underscoring the continuing interest of terrorists in attacking European locations.
  • See also our general advice for business travellers, backpacking and partying safely.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

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 the German Embassy’s websitefor the most up to date information.

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.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions while in Germany. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

The German Government continues to express concern about possible security risks in Germany and maintains heightened security measures around the country, including at airports and major train stations.

German authorities are monitoring a large number of individuals considered capable of violent acts. As part of its ongoing monitoring, German law enforcement authorities continue to investigate, arrest and prosecute suspected militants and terrorists.

There is an ongoing risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities, such as Glasgow, London, Madrid and Moscow. Targets have included public transport and transport hubs, and public places frequented by foreigners. In addition, a number of planned attacks have been disrupted by European security services in recent years, underscoring the continuing interest of terrorists in attacking European locations.

Civil unrest/political tension

You should avoid large public demonstrations as they may turn violent.

Crime

Germany has a 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.

In early 2014, Berlin authorities reported a continued rise in incidents of pickpocketing. 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, leading to sexual assault, have been reported. It is important that you 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.

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. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Review the general advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

Local travel

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.

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 Mission in Australia website.

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

Airline 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

When you are in Germany be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research local laws before travelling.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

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

German police can ask for identification. We advise you to carry your passport 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 Australian overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Information for dual nationals

Dual nationals who are registered as permanent residents in Germany may be obliged to undertake military and/or civil service.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you 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 page also provides 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 insurance provider in the first instance.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police. You can also call the national police emergency number on 110. For Fire and Ambulance, call 112.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service 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 www.germany.embassy.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

and

Australian Consulate, Munich

This post is headed by an Honorary Consul.

Sternstrasse 5
Munich 80538
Federal Republic of Germany

To make an appointment with the Honorary Consul, contact the Consular Section, Australian Embassy in Berlin on +49 30 880 0880. Please note that the Honorary Consul does not provide the same range of consular services provided by the Embassy in Berlin or the Consulate-General in Frankfurt.

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

If you are travelling to Germany, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

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.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links:



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.