Fire and rescue services
Terrorists have staged attacks and threaten more. Recent attacks have targeted transport hubs and places visited by foreigners, including Christmas markets. Always be alert. Report anything suspicious to the police.
Violent crime isn't common but does happen. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and theft from cars and trains, is common. Take care of your belongings.
Racial harassment occurs. Take care in cities particularly in the former East Germany.
Watch out for drink spiking. It can lead to sexual assault. Stick with people you trust in bars.
Full travel advice: Safety
Take care in forests, particularly in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Tick-borne encephalitis is a risk. Ticks are active from spring to autumn. Check your body for ticks and remove them as soon as possible.
Medical care and facilities are good.
If you don't have insurance, hospitals may ask for up-front payment. Costs are higher than in Australia.
Full travel advice: Health
Nazi symbols, salutes, songs or material, such as flags or memorabilia, are all illegal.
Always carry photo ID.
Full travel advice: Local laws
Germany is part of the Schengen area. You can enter Germany without a visa in some cases. In other situations, you'll need to get a visa.
Always carry your passport when crossing or travelling near the border, even in the Schengen area.
Learn the road rules before you drive. You'll usually need winter tyres between October and Easter. Bicycles usually have the right of way.
Full travel advice: Travel
There's a threat of terrorist attack in Germany. This includes by people motivated by conflict in Iraq and Syria.
The German Government has increased security measures, including at airports and major train stations.
Authorities continue to arrest and charge suspected terrorists.
Recent attacks include:
December 2016 — a truck drove through a crowded Christmas market in Berlin, causing several deaths and injuries
November and December 2016 — several attempted attacks at Christmas markets, despite tightened security
July 2016 — a stabbing attack on a train in Bavaria, injuring 5 people (Daesh claimed responsibility)
July 2016 — a suicide bomber injured 15 at a bar near a music festival in Ansbach, Bavaria
Terrorists may plan more attacks that could happen anywhere at any time.
Recent attacks in European cities have targeted:
planes and airports
public transport and transport hubs
places of worship
places of mass gatherings, including those frequented by foreigners
Christmas markets and New Year's celebrations remain vulnerable.
To protect yourself from terrorism:
be alert to possible threats
be cautious around known targets
report suspicious activity or items to police
monitor the media for new threats
take official warnings seriously
follow the advice of local authorities
If you visit Christmas markets, avoid busy times. Have an exit plan if there's a security incident.
If there's an attack, leave the area as soon as it's safe. Avoid the affected area in case of secondary attacks.
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Violent criminal attacks, not linked to terrorism, have occurred:
December 2018 - a man drove his car into a crowd in Bottrop injuring 4 people
October 2018 — a hostage was taken at a train station in Cologne
July 2018 — a man stabbed and injured 12 people on a local bus in Lübeck
October 2017 — a man stabbed and injured 8 people in Rosenheimer Platz in Munich
Despite these incidents, violent crime isn't common.
Monitor the media for news on crime.
Street crime, such as pickpocketing and theft from unattended vehicles, is common. Bags and personal items are often stolen on trains.
To protect yourself from petty crime:
pay attention to your personal security, particularly at night
secure your valuables when visiting the central districts and larger-city train stations
Extremist youth groups have harassed or attacked people for racial reasons or because they seem foreign. This occurs more often in urban areas and in the former East Germany.
Drink spiking can occur at popular nightclubs and markets, often leading to sexual assault.
To protect yourself from drink spiking:
don't accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks alone
stick with people you trust in bars and nightclubs
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
Severe weather can affect your travel overseas. Monitor local media for updates.
If you're visiting an area affected by severe weather:
confirm your plans with your tour operator or travel provider
check the condition of infrastructure and facilities with local tour operators and hotels
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
what activities and care your policy covers
that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
have a basic health check-up
ask if your travel plans may affect your health
plan any vaccinations you need
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Germany. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
what the medicine is
how much you'll take
that it's for personal use
Health risks are broadly similar to those in Australia.
Tick-borne encephalitis is a risk in forested areas, particularly in the states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Ticks are common in country areas and are active from spring to autumn.
To protect yourself from disease:
make sure your accommodation is insect-proof
always use insect repellent
wear long, loose, light-coloured clothing
During and after visiting forested areas:
check your body for ticks
remove whole ticks as soon as you can
monitor the tick site for any signs of infection
The standard of medical facilities and care is high.
Australia doesn't have a reciprocal health care agreement with Germany. Medical bills can be very expensive.
Hospitals will need you to confirm you have either:
appropriate insurance, or
enough money to pay for treatment
Medical practitioners will ask for up-front payment. Medical costs are higher than in Australia.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
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.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of drugs, even small amounts, include heavy fines and prison sentences.
It's illegal to use or display Nazi symbols, salutes, songs or material such as flags or memorabilia.
You don't have to carry your passport with you, but local authorities can ask to see it. You may need to produce it on request. Always carry photo ID.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Germany recognises dual nationality.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders.
Make sure you meet all entry and exit conditions. If you don't, the Australian Government can't help you.
Germany is a part of the Schengen area. This means you can enter Germany without a visa in some cases.
In other situations, you'll need a visa.
Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact the nearest German embassy or consulate for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
Some Schengen countries, including Germany, have temporary immigration controls in place. Always carry your passport when near the border or when you enter or exit Germany, even when travelling within the Schengen area.
Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
The currency in Germany is the Euro (EUR).
If you're travelling between Germany and a non-EU country, declare amounts over 10,000 euros or equivalent. This covers all forms of currency, not only cash.
If you don't declare it or give incorrect information on entry or exit, you'll be fined.
You don't need to declare it if you're travelling to or from another EU country.
Pressure on border controls in Europe has increased due to mass movement of asylum seekers.
Make sure you:
carry your passport when crossing borders, including within the Schengen area
monitor border conditions by checking local sources and asking transport providers directly
During Oktoberfest, there will be an increased demand for accommodation and transport facilities, expect delays and plan your travel accordingly.
You must be at least 18 years old to drive in Germany.
Always have your driver's licence, insurance and vehicle documents in the vehicle while you're driving.
You can only use your Australian driver's licence in some cases. Check the Embassy of Germany.
If you plan to drive, get an International Driving Permit (IDP) before you travel.
Road conditions are similar to those in Australia, but some basic rules differ.
Parts of the autobahn (highway) network don't have set speed limits. Be prepared for very fast traffic.
Bicycles have the right of way over vehicles turning into side streets.
Vehicles must be fitted with specific tyres (mud and snow) if there's snow, ice or frost on the road.
You'll usually need winter tyres between October and Easter. However, there's no set time period and it varies region to region.
Check for appropriate tyres before accepting a rental vehicle. If the wrong tyres are fitted, you could get a fine and your insurance company may reject any claim.
Get to know the local road rules before you drive or ride a vehicle.
Bicycles are common.
Many roads have bicycle pathways, usually coloured red, between the pedestrian footpath and the roadway, as well as bicycle traffic lights.
Don't walk on these pathways. Cyclists travel fast and have right of way.
Accidents and injuries resulting from collisions between cyclists and pedestrians are common.
E-Scooters are common in larger cities:
You don't need a driver’s licence to ride them but you must be over 14 years of age.
They must be insured and not be driven on pedestrian footpaths
You can't take passengers on E-Scooters
Make sure your travel insurance covers you when riding a motorbike, quad bike or similar vehicle.
Always wear a helmet.
Taxi drivers who look for business in public places such as the airport may charge you more.
Metered taxis are available from official taxi ranks.
Rideshare services are legal.
Germany has a well-developed bus and rail transport system. However, petty crime still happens.
Take care with your personal belongings, particularly on trains and in major transport hubs. Don't leave bags unattended on trains, even briefly.
Some international cruise lines stop over in Germany. There are also cruises on major rivers.
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Germany's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
family and friends
For non-urgent criminal issues, contact the local police.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
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 the Consulate-General in Frankfurt.
Federal Republic of Germany
Phone: (+49 30) 880088 0
Fax: (+49 30) 880088 238
Consular Facebook Group: Australians in Germany – Embassy Consular and Passport Advice
Main Tower-28th floor
Neue Mainzer Str. 52/58
Federal Republic of Germany
Phone: (+49 69) 90558 0
Fax: (+49 69) 90558 119
Check the Embassy website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
+61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
1300 555 135 in Australia
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.