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

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:

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. 

About FCDO 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.

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

This information is for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK. It is based on the UK government’s understanding of the current rules 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 the German Embassy in the UK.

COVID-19 rules 

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Germany.

Passport validity requirements 

Germany follows Schengen area rules. Your passport must:

  • have a ‘date of issue’ less than 10 years before the date you arrive – if you renewed your passport before 1 October 2018, it may have a date of issue that is more than 10 years ago
  • have an ‘expiry date’ at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave the Schengen area

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

If you have a residence permit, you must have a valid passport for the duration of your stay. Renew it before the expiry date.

Visa requirements

You can travel without a visa to the Schengen area, which includes Germany, for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. 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

The requirements for working in Germany are different.     

If you’re travelling to other Schengen countries as well, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries in the 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.

Make sure you get your passport stamped on entry and exit.

If you’re a visitor, border guards will look at your entry and exit stamps to check you have not overstayed the 90-day visa-free limit for the Schengen area.

If your passport is missing a stamp, show evidence of when and where you entered or left the Schengen area (for example, boarding passes or tickets) and ask the border guards to add the date and location in your passport.

At German border control, you may need to:

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

Staying longer than 90 days in a 180-day period

To stay longer, you must meet the German government’s entry requirements. Check which type of visa or permit you need with the German Embassy in the UK

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

Read about passport stamping if you live in Germany.

Vaccine requirements

For details about medical entry requirements and recommended vaccinations, see 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 into Germany

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions such as powdered baby milk, baby food and special foods or pet feed required for medical reasons.

Taking money into Germany

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. Stay aware of your surroundings 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 to carry out attacks in Germany.

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

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

Examples of recent attacks include:

  • in 2021, 5 people were stabbed and injured on a train in Neumarkt, Bavaria
  • in 2020, one person was killed and another seriously injured in a knife attack in Dresden
  • 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 after a failed attempt to enter a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle

German authorities regularly report that they have disrupted planned attacks and made arrests.

Crime

Protecting yourself and 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 in crowded public places or gatherings. Do not leave bags unattended.

Counterfeit currency

Only change money at banks, ATMs or official money exchanges. Check your change when paying in cash. British nationals have been arrested for trying to pay with counterfeit currency.

Laws and cultural differences

Personal ID

It’s not a legal requirement to carry ID. However, if you cannot show ID when asked, police can escort you to get your passport.

They will ask for a passport and, if you are a resident, for your residence card as well.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism

If you’re taking part in organised outdoor activities, check that the company is reputable and has documented safety procedures.

For sports activities like skiing, potholing and mountaineering, and for sports classed as particularly dangerous (for example off-piste skiing, mountain biking, climbing or paragliding), your insurance should include:

  • mountain rescue services
  • helicopter costs
  • repatriation to your country of residence or possible transfer to neighbouring countries for treatment

Hiking

Check weather forecasts and conditions and make sure you’re properly equipped for the worst-case scenario with items such as a map, compass, GPS and telecommunication equipment.

Risks are greater if you undertake any activity alone. You may want to hire a guide for expert advice. Always leave copies of your itinerary with someone.

Winter sports

Read about preparing for winter sports abroad.

Take advice on weather and avalanche conditions before you travel. Follow local skiing laws and regulations.

Off-piste skiing is very dangerous and can invalidate your travel insurance. Avalanches are a risk in some areas. Follow safety instructions carefully and go with a qualified guide. Check ahead on the European Avalanche Warning Service website. 

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Germany, see information on driving abroad and check the rules of the road in the RAC’s Germany guide. The guide lists driving regulations and other legal requirements you need to be aware of. 

You can drive in Germany for up to 6 months with your UK photocard driving licence. If you stay longer, you’ll need to have both the 1968 version of the international driving permit (IDP) and your UK driving licence with you in the car. You cannot buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.

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

If you’re driving a vehicle that does not belong to you, you may need to show written permission from the registered owner.

Check if you need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK.

If you live in Germany, check the driving requirements for residents.

Low emission zones

Some inner-city areas have an environmental zone (‘Umweltzone’). Only vehicles that meet specific exhaust emission standards can enter. See Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection for more information.

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 quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccine recommendations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip:

See what health risks you’ll face in Germany

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Germany, including mountainous regions. Read more about altitude sickness on 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.

Healthcare in Germany

FCDO has a list of medical providers in Germany, where some staff will speak English.

Health insurance cards

To get medically necessary state healthcare in Germany, you need a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

The NHS’s getting healthcare abroad webpage has details about:

  • how to apply for a GHIC
  • how to get temporary cover if you lose your card or it does not arrive in time
  • who qualifies for a new EHIC instead of a GHIC
  • what treatment counts as medically necessary

A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. You may have costs your GHIC or EHIC does not cover, including:

  • changes to travel and accommodation bookings
  • additional standard costs for treatment
  • medical repatriation to the UK
  • treatment that is ruled non-urgent
  • private healthcare
  • private clinics

There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Germany.

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.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you’re in Germany and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in Berlin.

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 in Germany 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.