All that residents of EU member states require to enter Germany is an up to date passport. The same requirement applies to citizens of the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand but they will also require a visa if staying for longer than three months. South African citizens do need a visa to travel to Germany and nationals of all other countries should contact the German Embassy in their home country before travelling.
The currency used in Germany is the Euro which is made up of 100 Cent. Notes come in denominations of €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5 and the coins in use are €2, €1, 0.50C, 0.20C, 0.10C, 0.05C, 0.02C and 0.01C.
The language spoken is Dresden is German but a large number of also speak English.
Dresden’s climate is a moderate continental one. Winters tend to be cold while summers are warm. Lowest temperatures are generally seen in January and sometimes slip below freezing. July and August see the highest temperatures, with 18ºC as the average high. The summer months also tend to be the wettest.
Visitors from EU countries are entitled to medical treatment under the EU Reciprocal Medical Treatment agreement. Before you travel you should collect a form, E111, from your local social security office.
Dresden is the Central European Time zone which is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
Most shops in Dresden are open from Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 6.00pm and on Saturdays from 9.00am until 2.00pm. Many now open late on Thursdays until 8.00 or 9.00pm. They also open on certain Sundays.
Dresden’s tourist information centre can be found in the Prager Spitze shopping centre, located across from the main train station. This centre is open on Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm.
The price of most goods and services in Germany includes a fifteen percent value added tax or Mehrewertsteuer. This includes restaurant and hotel bills as well as items which you purchase in stores. You should note that stores displaying a ‘Tax Free’ sticker will give you a Tax Free Shopping Check when you are paying for your purchases. When leaving the country you need to get this check stamped by the customs officials as proof of legal export. Once you complete and return this check you will get your cash refund. Some of the major airports, train stations or ferry terminals will process this for you. Otherwise you need to send it to Tax-Free Shopping Service, Mengstrasse 19, 23552 Lübeck, Germany.
You can get cash around-the-clock at cash machines with a valid ATM card or with international credit cards (American Express, Visa, Diners Club, Euro Card and MasterCard). These credit cards can also be used for payment practically everywhere. Bureau de changes facilities are also available at various locations in Dresden.
Electricity in Germany is 220 Volts AC/50Hz.
The international calling code for Germany is +49 and the area code for Dresden is 0351. To dial from abroad you dial the international access code of the country you are in followed by 49, the local area code 351 (you drop the 0) and the local number. If you wish to call abroad from Germany, again you dial 00, followed by the international calling code for your particular country, the local area code and then the local number. It is worth noting that you need to drop the first zero from the local area code for both types of call.
If the service charge is not included on the bill, you should leave a tip of between ten and fifteen percent. If it has already been added on, you will see the word Bedienung at the end of the bill. For taxi fares, you should round up the total to the nearest euro and, with regard to luggage, you should tip €1 per item.
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel to a country as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day.
In Germany they are New Years Day (January 1st), Good Friday and Easter Monday (late March/early April), Ascension Thursday (40 days after Easter), Labour Day (May 1st), the first Monday in June, Day of German Unity (October 3rd) and December 25th and 26th.