Germany’s popularity as a world-renowned vacation destination continues to grow exponentially. Each year, more people visit Germany from hundreds of countries spread throughout the world. Over 2.2 million Americans made Germany their choice for travel in the first six months of 2006 alone. Your travels throughout this magnificent country can be enhanced greatly by knowing a few laws and regulations native to Germany and Europe.
Entry and Travel in Germany
A valid passport is required to enter and move about Germany. For business visitors staying less than 90 days, a Visa is not required for Germany and other countries that are members of the Schengen Group that includes neighboring countries Belgium, Netherlands, France, Denmark, and Austria.
European regulations require that passports be stamped for documentation of entry into countries, but not all German points of entry are staffed to ensure this function is carried out. It may be necessary to arrange in advance to ensure that a proper stamp is available upon entry. Travelers without this stamp may be questioned at their time of exit without this proper documentation.
Safety in Germany
No matter how rare occurrences happen, travelers should always be aware of possible terrorist organization activity. While these instances occur in Germany much less frequently than in other parts of the world, its open border agreement with other European nations should be noted. Additionally, there have been a few, isolated past incidents of racial discrimination and aggravation of travelers. It is recommended that travelers avoid as much as possible areas where protests and demonstrations take place to maintain a maximum level of security. Know the locations and emergency contact numbers of local German law enforcement whenever traveling in Germany.
Driving in Germany
Driving in Germany can be a surprisingly pleasant experience for many visitors from other countries due to Germany’s distinct courtesy standards that its citizens enjoy and follow.
For many, a vacation in Germany wouldn’t be complete without a drive down the world-famous Autobahn, which has stretches that are devoid of speed limits. Accidents and automobile fatalities are notoriously low even on high-speed stretches of highway due to Germany’s laws governing driver courtesy. It is generally illegal to pass on the right side, where slower traffic is to stay. Additionally, the legal blood-alcohol limit can be significantly less than in other countries than in Germany, helping to ensure public safety.
Seatbelts are required to be worn by all vehicle passengers in Germany. Traffic officers can typically collect fines on-the-spot in routine traffic stops. If the driver does not have the funds to pay the ticket immediately on hand, the vehicle may be impounded until the fine is collected in certain circumstances.
Be sure to review local German laws regarding BAC limits and driver safety before getting behind the wheel.
Germany has particularly stringent laws that apply to bringing in items and paraphernalia that pertain to World War II. Additionally fascist, racist, and Nazi propaganda in print or on computer or audio media is strictly forbidden to be transported in or out of country unless for very select circumstances – usually reserved for official historical and research purposes only.