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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Germany

Germany - Consular Information Sheet
September 18, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Germany is a modern and stable democracy. Tourist facilities are highly developed. In larger towns, many people can communicate in English.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required. A visa is not required for tourist/business stays up to 90 days within the Schengen Group of countries, which includes Germany. Further information on entry, visa and passport requirements may be obtained from the German Embassy at 4645 Reservoir Road N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007, telephone (202) 298-4000, or the German Consulates General in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, or San Francisco; and on the Internet at http://www.germany-info.org/newcontent/index_consular.html. Inquiries from outside the United States may be made to the nearest German embassy or consulate.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Overall, the security risk to travelers in Germany is low; however, demonstrations occasionally turn violent and should be avoided. Like other developed countries, Germany has recently experienced an increase in large demonstrations by anti-globalization groups that target international conferences and meetings. These demonstrations have a tendency to spread and turn violent, and anyone in the general area can become the victim of a random attack. All Americans are cautioned to avoid the area around these protests and to check local media for updates on the situation.

Also, hooligans, most often young intoxicated "skinheads", have been known to harass or even attack people whom they believe to be foreigners or members of rival youth groups. While U.S. citizens have not been specific targets, several Americans have reported that they were assaulted for racial reasons or because they appeared "foreign."

CRIME INFORMATION: Violent crime is rare in Germany, but it can occur, especially in larger cities or high risk areas such as train stations. Most incidents of street crime consist of theft of unattended items and pick-pocketing. There have been a few reports of aggravated assault against U.S. citizens in higher-risk areas. American travelers are advised to take the same precautions against becoming crime victims as they would in any American city.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, .

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Good medical care is widely available. Doctors and hospitals may expect immediate payment in cash for health services from tourists and persons with no permanent address in Germany. Most doctors, hospitals and pharmacies do not accept credit cards.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States, and U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services abroad. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties.

Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation, and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or if you will be expected to pay yourself and request to be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Bureau of Consular Affairs' brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov or by autofax at (1-202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at (1-877)FYI-TRIP or (1-877)394-8747; fax (1-888)CDC-FAXX or (1-888)232-3299; or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Germany is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Excellent
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Excellent
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Excellent
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Excellent

Road conditions in general are excellent, although caution should be exercised while traveling on older roads in eastern Germany. The high speed permitted on the German autobahn, weather, and unfamiliar road markings can pose significant hazards, and driver error is a leading cause of accidents involving American motorists in Germany. Rules on right-of-way differ significantly from those in the United States. Notice should be taken that it is generally illegal in Germany to pass vehicles from the right, and that the threshold for determining whether a person has been driving under the influence of alcohol is lower than in some U.S. states. For specific information on travel within Germany, please contact the German National Tourist Board Office in New York at tel. (1-212) 661-7200, fax: (1-212) 661-7174 or via the Internet at http://www.us.germany-tourism.de/e/.

Travelers should also note that railroad crossings are differently marked in Germany than in the United States, and there have been several accidents involving Americans in recent years at railroad crossings. In addition to the standard crossbuck (X-shaped) sign, railroad crossings are often marked by signal lights. Signal lights flash only when a train is approaching. Regardless of the color of the light, a flashing light at a railroad crossing means that a train is approaching and that all vehicles should stop.

Individuals holding U.S. drivers' licenses may drive in Germany for up to six months without acquiring a German driver's license.

For additional information about road safety, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page's road safety overseas feature at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Germany's Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Germany's air carrier operations.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at tel. (1-800) 322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (1-618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS/CURRENCY AND BANKING: Germany's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Germany of certain items such as firearms, military artifacts (particularly those pertaining to the Second World War), antiques, medications/pharmaceuticals and business equipment. Under German law it is also illegal to bring into or take out of Germany literature, music CDs, or other paraphernalia that glorifies fascism, the Nazi past or the former "Third Reich." It is advisable to contact the German Embassy in Washington or one of the German consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Germany's customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, please call 212-354-4480, send e-mail to atacarnet@uscib.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

CURRENCY/BANKING: Germany will adopt the Euro as its official currency on January 1, 2002. German Marks will be accepted for cash transactions, along with Euros, through February 28, 2002. After that day, travelers to Germany must pay in Euros, although banks will change German marks into Euros for some months afterward.

Automatic Teller Machines (ATMS) are widely available throughout Germany. They utilize many of the same account networks that are found in the United States, so it is possible in most cases to get German currency directly from your U.S. bank while you are in Germany.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Germany's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Germany are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: Custody and access issues for children in dual American-German families have been a recent, high-profile concern in Germany. For information on children's issues, including international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (1-202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans living in Germany are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or any of the U.S. consulates and obtain updated information on travel and security within Germany. A new initiative of the American Embassy in Berlin allows all Americans in Germany to obtain automatic security updates and Public Announcements by e-mail. To subscribe to this service, simply send a blank e-mail to GermanyACS@state.gov and put the word "SUBSCRIBE" on the subject line. Individuals planning extended stays in Germany are encouraged to register in person at their local consular section.

U.S. Embassy in Berlin is located at: Neustaedtische Kirchstrasse 4-5;
Tel: (49)(30) 238-5174 or 8305-0;

the Consular Section is located at Clayallee 170;
Tel: (49)(30) 832-9233; Fax: (49)(30) 8305-1215

U.S. Consulates General are located at:

Duesseldorf: Willi-Becker-Allee 10,
Tel.: (49)(211)788-8927; Fax: (49)(211)788-8938;

Frankfurt: Siesmayerstrasse 21,
Tel: (49)(69) 75350; Fax: (49)(69) 7535-2304;

Hamburg: Alsterufer 27/28,
Tel: (49)(40) 4117-1351; Fax: (49)(40) 44-30-04;

Leipzig: Wilhelm-Seyfferth-Strasse 4,
Tel: (49)(341) 213-8418; Fax: (49)(341) 21384-17 (emergency services only);

Munich: Koeniginstrasse 5,
Tel: (49)(89) 2888-0; Fax: (49)(89) 280-9998.

There is also a U.S. consular agency in Bremen located at:

Bremen World Trade Center, Birkenstrasse 15,
Tel: (49)(421) 301-5860; Fax: (49)(421)301-5861.

When calling another city from within Germany, dial a zero before the city code (for example, when calling Berlin from Munich, the city code for Berlin is 030).

* * * * *

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated September 27, 2000, to reflect changes in format, addresses, phone numbers and Internet addresses; to note the creation in 2000 of a U.S. Consular Agency in Bremen; to amend sections pertaining to Safety and Security, Customs Regulations, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions; and to reflect the advent of the Euro as Germany's unit of currency.

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