Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
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Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

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Germany Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

357,022 sq km (137,846 sq miles).

Population

82,293,457 (2018).

Population density

236 per sq km.

Capital

Berlin.

Government

Federal Republic.

Head of state

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier since 2017.

Head of government

Chancellor Olaf Scholz since December 2021.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are used.

Misunderstood by many, Germany is one of the most varied and charming countries on the continent. Anyone expecting a homogenous nation conforming to old Teutonic stereotypes is in for a shock.

As a destination, it offers a clutch of truly lovely cities, culture served up in hefty portions and rural scenery so pretty you'll wonder why it isn't on every tourist hit list.

The country occupies a prime position at the heart of Europe – both literally and figuratively. It is home to the biggest economy on the continent, has more inhabitants than anywhere else in the EU and shares land borders with no less than nine other nations.

It's no surprise, then, that today's Germany is more diverse and cosmopolitan than old stereotypes suggest; mixing time-honoured traditions with multicultural modernism and self-confidence.

It’s the nation’s urban highlights that immediately draw the attention. Berlin is the definition of dynamism, having forged a good-time reputation for groundbreaking creativity while still keeping sight of its past.

Elsewhere, the likes of Cologne, Munich and Hamburg provide the capital with able support. Not only are they rich in history, whether in the forms of classical music, fine art or medieval architecture, but they also put pay to the notion that Germans don’t do gastronomy. These days, you can dine and drink extremely well in Deutschland.

Then there's the beautiful German countryside. From the sky-scraping peaks of the Bavarian Alps and pale cliffs of the Jasmund National Park to the castles of the Rhine and moors of the Mecklenburg Lake District, it's nirvana for hikers, cyclists, boaters, motorists and skiers alike.

Travelling around this country is a piece of Black Forest gâteau. Costs are manageable, overcrowding is rare and, despite its size, it could not be easier to get from A to B thanks to an incredibly efficient public transport network. Which proves some of those old German stereotypes do hold true.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:

  • advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
  • information for women, LGBT and disabled travellers

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Germany set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact Germany’s embassy or consulate in the UK.

COVID-19 rules

Countries may restrict travel or bring in rules at short notice. Check with your travel company or airline for changes.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Visit TravelHealthPro (from the UK’s National Travel Health Network and Centre) for general COVID-19 advice for travellers.

Passport validity requirements

If you plan to visit an EU country (except Ireland), or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino or Vatican City, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.

Your passport must be:

  • issued less than 10 years before the date you enter the country (check the ‘date of issue’)
  • valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave (check the ‘expiry date’)

You must check your passport meets these requirements before you travel. If your passport was issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added to its expiry date.

Contact the German Embassy in the UK if you think that your passport does not meet both these requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

If you hold a valid residence permit, passport validity requirements are less strict. In this case, your passport only needs to be valid for the duration of your stay (check the ‘expiry date’). Before applying to extend a German residence permit, you will need to renew an expired passport and present your new passport to the local Foreigners Authority (Ausländerbehörde).

Passport stamping

At German border control, you may need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket
  • show you have enough money for your stay

Check your passport is stamped if you enter or exit the Schengen area through Germany as a visitor. Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area. If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.

You can show evidence of when and where you entered or exited the Schengen area, and ask the border guards to add this date and location in your passport. Examples of acceptable evidence include boarding passes and tickets.

If you live in Germany, read our Living in Germany guide for passport stamping information.

Visa requirements

You can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel:

  • as a tourist
  • to visit family or friends
  • to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events
  • for short-term studies or training

If you are travelling to Germany and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.

To stay longer (for example, to work, study or for business), you must meet the German government’s entry requirements. Check which type of visa or work permit you need with the German Embassy in the UK.

If you are travelling to Germany for work, read the guidance on visas and permits. The German Embassy has detailed information on employment regulations.

If you stay in Germany with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

Proof of residence

If you live in Germany, read our Living in Germany guide for information on carrying proof of residence while travelling.

Vaccination requirements (other than COVID-19)

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check what vaccinations and vaccination certificates you may need in TravelHealthPro’s Germany guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into and out of Germany. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Taking food and drink into the EU

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food needed for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.

Taking money into Germany

British nationals have been arrested for having counterfeit currency. Only change money in banks or legitimate currency exchange offices.

You must declare any amount above 10,000 euros in cash or other payment types. You can find more information on the German Federal Foreign Office website.

Terrorism

There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Germany

Terrorists are very likely to try and carry out attacks in Germany.

Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in public places frequented by foreign nationals such as:

  • restaurants
  • markets
  • shopping centres
  • places of worship and religious sites, including synagogues

Recent terrorism attacks in Germany include:

  • in 2020, one person was killed and another seriously injured in a knife attack in Dresden city centre
  • in 2020, 8 people were killed and 5 injured in 2 mass shootings in shisha bars in Hanau
  • in 2019, 2 people were shot and killed close to a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle

Crime

Protecting your belongings

Crime levels are similar to the UK. Take sensible precautions to avoid mugging, bag snatching and pickpocketing. Be particularly vigilant at airports, railway stations and crowded public gatherings. Do not leave valuables unattended.

Passport theft

If your passport has been lost or stolen, get a police report from the nearest police station.

Laws and cultural differences

Personal ID

You don’t have to carry your passport with you in Germany. However, if you’re asked to show your passport and don’t have it with you, police may escort you to where your passport is being kept so that you can show it to them.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism

Skiing and avalanches are a risk in some areas. Always check the local snow and weather conditions when you arrive. Read more information about avalanche risk from the European Avalanche Warning Service.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Germany, see information on driving abroad and read the RAC Germany guide.

Licences and permits

You need either a 1968 international driving permit (IDP) or a valid UK driving licence to drive in Germany. The 1949 IDP is not accepted anymore. You cannot buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel. If you’re driving a vehicle that doesn’t belong to you, you may also need written permission from the registered owner. The minimum age for driving a car in Germany is 18.

Driving a British car abroad

You may need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. These have replaced GB stickers. Check the guidance on displaying number plates if you are driving outside the UK.

The German Federal Transport Ministry has more information on the validity of non-German driving licences.

If you live in Germany, check the Living in Germany guide for information on requirements for residents.

Driving regulations

Some inner city areas have an environmental zone (‘Umweltzone’). Only vehicles that meet specific exhaust emission standards can enter. See the German Environment Agency and Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection for more information. It is illegal to take part in motor vehicle races or rallies on German roads.

The Euro 2024 tournament will take place in Germany from 14 June to 14 July 2024.
If you are travelling to attend:

  • sign up to get email updates on Germany’s travel advice and download the official Euro 2024 app and check the official Euro 2024 website to stay informed of anything that might affect your travel or plans whilst in Germany
  • keep your personal belongings and valuables safe, if your passport is lost and stolen, check the Getting help page
  • respect local cultural sensitivities (and be aware of possible repercussions). For more information, read the UEFA human rights declaration

Visa and entry requirements

Check the entry requirements for Germany, especially information on passport validity and visa-free travel within the 90-day limit.

Health insurance

Make sure you have appropriate health cover abroad before travelling.

Travel insurance

Get appropriate travel insurance as soon as you book. Check that it covers the places you will visit, the duration of your visit and any planned activities.

Match tickets

Check the Euro 2024 website for ticket information. Only buy match tickets from UEFA. Tickets will be digital and you will need to download them to the UEFA Mobile Ticket App. Make sure your phone is charged and take into account roaming charges in Germany – check with your phone provider before you travel.

Match tickets bought through unofficial means may not be valid. If you sell tickets through unofficial means, you could be prosecuted.

Stadium entry

Entry restrictions may be different for each stadium. Check the Euro 2024 venues guide for more information, as well as the Euro 2024 app. You are allowed to carry a small power bank so that you have enough power on your phone to show your ticket. Make sure you have a valid form of ID on you.

Transport to the event

Transport routes around the stadiums will be very busy during the tournament. Local authorities may ask you to enter or leave the stadium by specific routes. Make sure you:

  • plan your journey
  • leave plenty of time, particularly on match days

Ticket holders will have access to discounted national and international train tickets, as well as a 36 Hour Travel Pass for public transport.

For more information on travel in Germany during the Euro 2024 tournament, see the official Euro 2024 website or use the Euro 2024 app.

Alcohol

Beer can be stronger than in the UK, so drink responsibly, know your limits and respect local laws. You may not be let into the stadium if you drink too much.

Fan zones and public viewings

Each host city will host the EURO 2024 Festival, with multiple sites in each host city where fans can spend time before and during the matches. Restrictions on what you can take into football villages and live viewing areas may vary between cities. Check the Euro 2024 venues guide for more information as well as the Euro 2024 app.

Before you travel, check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Dial 112 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

For more information, read guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe.

Vaccinations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip check:

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Germany, including mountainous regions. More information about altitude sickness is available from TravelHealthPro.

Medication

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

TravelHealthPro explains best practice when travelling with medicines.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Healthcare facilities in Germany

View FCDO’s list of English-speaking doctors in Germany.

Health insurance cards

Apply for a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC, it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.

The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state-provided medical treatment necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as German nationals. If you do not have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team.

It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. An EHIC or GHIC does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.

EHIC and GHIC cover state healthcare only, not private treatment. You will be responsible for the cost of any treatment from a private doctor or private clinic.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Germany

Ambulance: 112

Fire: 112

Police: 110

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you’re involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

You can also contact FCDO online .

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

Risk information for British companies

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.