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 Frankfurt is German but a large number of people in the country’s other major cities also speak English.
Frankfurt has a varied climate with moderate winters and mild springs. Summers are hot (though not boiling) and dry, and this good weather carries into early autumn.
If you need to buy medical products the only place you can buy products for minor health problems is in a pharmacy (Apotheke). For more serious problems you will have to bring a prescription to obtain certain medications. In case of emergencies call 01805 304505. Hospitals prepared to deal with emergencies are dotted all over the city.
Frankfurt 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 Frankfurt 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.
There is a tourist office conveniently located in Frankfurt’s main train station, Hauptbahnhof. Another is around Römer Square in the city’s old town. They open at 9am and stay open until approximately 8pm (6pm on Saturdays and Sundays).
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
Foreign currencies can be exchanged and used in unlimited amounts. You can get cash around-the-clock at cash machines with an ATM card which is valid overseas (Cirrus) and with international credit cards (American Express, Visa, Diners Club, Euro Card and MasterCard), which can be used for payment practically everywhere. One of Berlin’s bureau du changes is at the American Express Office on Uhlandstrasse173. Deutsche Verkehrs-Kredit Bank also offers good rates and charges 1% commission on traveller's cheques.
Electricity in Germany is 220 Volts AC/50Hz.
The international calling code for Germany is +49 and the area code for Munich is 069. To dial from abroad you dial the international access code of the country you are in followed by 49, the local area code 69 (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.
Public telephones (Telefonzellen) can be found in all post offices as well as train and bus stations. You will also find one on most street corners. In other words, they are not hard to find, you just need to keep your eye out for them. Most are phones use phonecards and you can buy them (Telefonkarten) at post offices, newsstands or the major train stations.
Frankfurt’s main post office is located on the ground floor of Hertie department store which on the Zeil. It is open from 9.30am-8pm Mon-Fri and 9am-4pm on Saturdays.
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 Christmas.