Germany is UTC+2.
Germany has warm summers and typically has mild winters. Rainfall is common throughout the year. May to October are the busiest months for tourists.
The official language is German.
In 2016, there were 3,214 road deaths in Germany, a reduction of 7.1 percent from the previous year.
What Side of the Road to Drive On
Unless otherwise posted the speed limits on roads in Germany are:
- 50 km/h in urban areas
- 100km/h on rural roads
- No limit on motorways (signs usually show 130km/h as a suggested maximum)
Look out for road signs indicating a different speed limit in force. Speed limits are maximum speeds in ideal conditions and may vary depending on road conditions. Law enforcement takes place beside the road.
All grades of unleaded petrol, diesel and LPG are available. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted. Some petrol stations have automatic pumps that only accept credit cards.
If your hire vehicle breaks down in Germany, you should follow the procedure described by your rental company.
If you are a member of an Automobile Association or in your own country, it is worth checking before you travel whether you have cover in Germany.
Along motorways, emergency telephones are situated every 2km. Black arrows on poles indicate the location of the nearest telephone. Breakdown assistance can be requested at some telephones via a dedicated button.
Only drivers of vehicles over 7.5 tons have to pay on the toll roads in Germany.
License and Documentation
Driving licences issued in EU and EEA countries are accepted in Germany. International driving permits are recognized but not compulsory. The minimum age to drive is 18. Carry your driving licence, passport, proof of vehicle ownership and proof of insurance (or rental documents) with you.
You’ll find most major international car hire companies in Germany offering a wide range of vehicles for hire. It’s recommended that you book your rental vehicle in advance, particularly during summer season. Bookings can be made without making an advance payment.
It’s advisable to find out how new the hire vehicle is that you’re intending to use.
A valid driving license (see above), passport and credit card. Most car hire companies will only rent vehicles to drivers aged 21 or over although drivers under 25 may have to pay a surcharge.
Payment is typically made via credit card. Often the price quoted for hiring a vehicle won’t include all applicable taxes or insurance waivers. You will usually have the option of paying extra to reduce the amount payable should you be involved in a collision. Always ask when hiring a vehicle what the price includes. Some things to look out for include the amount of the insurance waiver, whether you are covered for third-party damage and whether the price includes airport surcharges.
Driving a Manual / Stick-Shift
Both manual and automatic vehicles are available for hire in Germany.
The drink-driving limit is a maximum BAC of 0.05%. Random breath testing is carried out.
By law, cars must be equipped with reflective jackets, warning triangle, first-aid kit.
Motorcyclists and passengers must wear safety helmets. Motorcycles must be ridden with passing lights on, regardless of time of day.
Drivers must not overtake or pass a school bus that has stopped to let passengers on or off.
“No overtaking” signs mean it is prohibited to overtake a vehicle with more than two wheels.
Seat belts must be worn by all vehicle occupants and children must be seated in correctly fitting child restraints.
Using a hand-held phone while driving is illegal.
Police officers can impose and collect fines of up to €35 on the spot if a driver violates traffic regulations. The fine must be paid during the following week or legal proceedings will start. A security deposit exceeding €35 may be collected as security deposit for a higher expected fine.
A vehicle is considered parked if it is stationary for more than three minutes so be aware of parking restrictions when stopping temporarily.
Click here for a full list of driving rules in Germany.
Roads and Drivers
Roads in Germany are kept in excellent condition. They are also well sign-posted.
Germany has almost 650,000 km of roads over the total road network.
Most visits to Germany are trouble-free.
There is no specific crime advice in place for visiting Germany, other than to take sensible precautions to avoid mugging, bag snatching and pick-pocketing.
Always Lock Your Vehicle
Even when leaving your vehicle unattended for only a few seconds. Never place items of value in your car and then leave it unattended. If you have to leave something of value in your vehicle, place it in the trunk.
Never Leave Items on Display
Never leave anything connected with work in an unattended vehicle.
Drive With Your Windows Closed and Doors Locked
Remove the key from the ignition when paying for fuel at a garage. Drive with your doors locked and windows shut. In the event you are attacked follow the car-jackers’ instructions to the letter – it may save your life.
Try to park away from places that could hide potential attackers. Avoid unattended parking lots and those situated away from main roads where the streets are likely to be quieter.
When parking at night choose a well-lit area. You will be able to see your vehicle clearly and have a better chance of seeing anyone who is hanging around.
Keep People Informed
Provide someone in your native office with an itinerary for your day so that they know where you plan to be at all times. Give them your mobile number and a number for each of your planned destinations.
Report an Incident
Call 112 for emergency response.
Take a 15-minute break from driving every two hours or sooner if you feel sleepy.
Ensure that you get a good night’s sleep before making any long journey. If you are tired, do not drive. Remember that traveling and jet-lag can affect your usual sleeping patterns and that you might be affected by fatigue more than usual during a business trip overseas.
Always abide by the speed limit.
Slow right down in towns and built-up areas, particularly around schools.
On rural roads, slow down for curves and avoid passing / overtaking.
Maintain at least a three-second gap between your vehicle and the vehicle in front in good conditions. Increase this to suit weather and traffic conditions.
If you’re using GPS to help you find your way around set it up before you start driving. If you need to change your route pull over somewhere safe before attempting to interact with the device.
Avoid using your mobile phone while driving. You need your full attention on the road and what’s happening all around you.
Don’t eat or drink on the move as reaching over for a sandwich or opening a drink will take your attention from the road.
Avoid in depth conversations with passengers, it is vital that you maintain your concentration on the road ahead.
Alcohol and Drug Use
Don’t drive if you have consumed alcohol or taken illegal drugs. Check the label of prescription drugs for fatigue related side-effects.
Be aware of the ‘morning after’ effect of alcohol. Limit the amount you consume the evening before driving, particularly when traveling between time zones. You might not realize how little time the alcohol has had to leave your system before driving.