The Black Forest Travel Information
GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October).
220 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are standard.
German is the official language. English is also widely spoken and understood.
There are no serious health risks in Germany. The German health service is excellent. There is a reciprocal health agreement with the UK and most EU countries, whose citizens are entitled to free medical and dental treatment on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Nationals of other countries should take out medical insurance.
German law stipulates that all prices, menus and bills include both tax and a service charge, so tipping is not necessary in restaurants. Cleaning staff, hairdressers, taxi drivers etc. appreciate small tips.
A visit to Germany should be trouble free, but take normal precautions to avoid mugging, bag-snatching and pick-pocketing, especially at airports and railway stations in the large cities.
Visitors should carry passports with them at all times. Smoking in public places such as bars and restaurants is illegal.
In Germany, business is conducted in a very formal manner. A conservative, formal sense of dress is to be adhered to. Punctuality is vital at all meetings and it is considered rude to be late. Germans love titles; men are referred to as 'Herr' and women as 'Frau', followed by their last names until otherwise specified. Meetings are often purely business and may not occur over lunches, which are generally more social. Shaking hands at the beginning and end of the meeting is common. The exchange of business cards is common but there is no accompanying ritual. Decisions are often made behind closed doors. Business hours are generally 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday, with an hour taken over lunch.
The international access code for Germany is +49. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). The city code for Berlin is (0)30. Note that telephone numbers in Germany can range from four to nine digits. There are surcharges on international calls made from hotels; it is often cheaper to use public telephone boxes in post offices, which use phone cards. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international operators. Internet cafes are available in the main towns.
Passengers arriving from non-EU countries can enter Germany without paying duty on either 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars, 250g smoking tobacco, or a proportional mix of these products; 1 litre of spirits with 22% alcohol volume, 2 litres of spirits or aperitifs made of wine or similar beverages with alcohol content lower than 22%, sparkling, still or liqueur wines, or a proportional mix of these; perfume up to 50g or 250ml eau de toilette; 500g coffee; and other goods to the value of €175 for personal consumption. Prohibited items include any poultry or pet birds from poultry and derived products coming from Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam.
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