The Black Forest Travel Information
GMT +1 (GMT +2, Apr - Oct)
230 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 for visitors to Germany and no vaccinations are required. 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, railway stations and markets in the large cities.
Visitors are not required to carry their passports with them at all times in Germany, but carrying some form of identification is advised. Smoking in public places such as bars and restaurants is illegal.
In Germany, business is conducted in a very formal manner. A conservative, formal dress code is the norm. 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 also 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. 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, or to purchase a local SIM card. 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, over the age of 17, can enter Germany without paying duty on 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g smoking tobacco, or a proportional mix of these products; 4 litres of wine and 16 litres of beer and 1 litre of spirits over 22% volume or 2 litres of spirits under 22% volume; and other goods to the value of €430 for travellers arriving by air or sea, and €300 for travellers arriving by land.
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