Chapter 7 – Formalities

  • Shops and (government) offices open and close at set times. If for example the opening hours or “Öffnungszeiten” end at 4 pm (16.00) it is advisable to be there by 3.55 pm (15.55) because by 4.01 pm (16.01) the place may be closed. Trains, buses, etc. also leave at set departure times.

  • Dealing with bureaucracy is sometimes quite complicated and can seem inefficient. Some things take a long time and things are done according to standardized procedures. This can be very frustrating. However, remember, procedures are the same for everybody and are designed to be fair. Offering or accepting bribes is a crime.

  • People in Germany obey the traffic regulations most of the time. They obey signs and stop at red traffic lights even if nobody is in sight. If there is no sign and/or no traffic lights the person coming from the right has the right of way (“Rechts vor Links”).

  • In some places, especially in cities, there are separate paths or lanes only for bicycles. Texting and talking on the phone while you are driving is forbidden. When travelling by car, all passengers must fasten their seatbelts. In a car, children must use a special seat suitable for their size.

  • Telephone calls are usually made during office hours, so until 4 or 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Private calls are usually not made after 9 or 10 in the evening. When making a call, identify yourself by saying your name first.

  • When using public transport, you must buy a ticket beforehand. You can buy tickets at service points or ticket machines. When you get on a tram, bus or city train, you sometimes have to validate your ticket for your ride. (This is the case in cities, like Berlin or Munich.) The procedures and types of ticket available vary from region to region and city to city.