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What laws should I be aware of before visiting Germany?

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Don’t be late

One old saying says that a German is punctual if he’s five minutes ahead of his schedule. Deadlines, appointments and timetables have the same weight as solemn oaths in Germany. Lateness is a breach of contract.Unless you have a good reason. It’s okay for most people to let you know ahead of time.

Don’t visit unannounced

Unannounced visits to German homes are not a good idea – unless you’re warning the neighbors that their house is on fire. Germans love to be prepared, both mentally and physically. They love the feeling of having everything in order, with plenty of cake and coffee, and a neat home that doesn’t look like it was just hit by a bomb.

Don’t cross on a red light

It doesn’t matter if you don’t see any cars and it doesn’t matter how slow it takes, it’s better not to move and wait until the pedestrian signal turns red. This is especially true if you have parents or children around.If you are a negative example to their children, they will not be happy. It is also a crime to cross the road in red. You can be sure that there will be a self-appointed police officer standing at the red light, who will point out this in a scolding manner.

Don’t call during the late hours

After 8pm, phone calls are considered disruptive to people’s well-choreographed evening routine. Many Germans still have the three pillars of the sofa, supper and small screen as their foundation. Calls between 6 and 7 p.m. on Saturday are not allowed. On Sunday, the crime drama “Tatort” will be broadcast and it’s a ritual to have this hour reserved for it. These calls are often accompanied by lively comments via social media because messages on WhatsApp and Instagram are accepted all day in Germany.

Don’t litter

Germany has stricter rules about how to separate waste than a monastery. Whoever puts waste paper in a bin for organic waste will be punished. There are several pages of guidelines that outline how to dispose of waste paper in the right bin, bag, or container. Germany was one of the first country to recycle, and they take recycling very seriously. Littering the streets is also punishable by law.

Don’t lift your glass without making eye contact

You might be able simply to raise your glass and cheers in other countries. In Germany it’s different. You should always look at your partner straight in the eyes if you want to be happy in love. Crossing arms while toasting is considered a bad sign. This is even true in business circles.

Don’t walk or park in the bike lane

Germany is a country of automobiles but bicycles are taking over its cities. The cars that park on the cycle paths are subject to scratches. And pedestrians who block the path can expect harsh insults. Germans are now taking cycling as a serious practice to combat pollution and climate change.

Don’t ask how are you if not interested

German core competencies do not include trivial small talk. This is where you get to the point. Germans view questions about one’s health as polite greetings in the United States. However, they can be seen by them as an opportunity to talk openly and fully about their children’s school problems, their father-in-law’s hernia, or any other sufferings in the world. If you truly want to find out, ask. But otherwise, a simple Guten Tag! (Good day) will suffice.

Don’t think you can just do anything as a pedestrian

Traffic lights for pedestrians in Germany are as binding and advisory as those for other road users. If a pedestrian crosses a roadway while the pedestrian traffic light turns red, they can face fines. Bystanders may also be subject to a lot of vocal harassment (especially if there are children nearby) as this sets a poor example. Within a few meters of the zebra crossing, the rule is in effect.When crossing a road, pedestrians must do so in a way that doesn’t slow down traffic or create danger. A pedestrian who crosses a road within 50m of a regulated crossing is liable for any damages.

Don’t violate copyright laws

Germany has a higher risk of being punished for illegally downloading, sharing, and streaming copyrighted material than other countries. The penalties for violating copyright laws can include heavy fines or even imprisonment sentences.
German law allows copyright holders and legal firms to request the personal information of copyright violators. Legal firms send an “Abmahnung” letter to the suspect once they have identified the culprit. These letters contain details about the alleged violations, a form letter that the recipient must sign admitting guilt and promising not to repeat it, and a large bill for the investigation. The letters threaten legal action if ignored by the recipient.

Don’t make noise during rest hours

Germany has a number of states and communities that can set ‘Ruhezeiten’ (quiet times). Federal laws also limit the time machines, including those used for gardening maintenance, can be used.
It is important to check that the house in which you live has established quiet periods throughout the day.

These are the near-universal periods of quiet:

  • Between 10pm and 6am (or 7am for some areas). This is the so-called “Nachtruhe” (nighttime quiet period).
  • All day Sundays and Public Holidays

Some communities also have quiet periods around midday. Passau does not have any noise restrictions at mid-day.
Any noise that is made during quiet times should be kept to a minimum. Outside noise should not be heard from your home. This applies to vacuum cleaners, washing machines and TV sets. Sometimes, noise disturbances in quiet times are enough to make people call the police.
Loud noises from outside are not permitted during quiet periods. It may be prohibited to place glass bottles in your local recycling bins during quiet periods. You should have signage at the recycling containers that informs you about any noise restrictions.
There are stricter regulations for the quiet periods on Sundays, public holidays and Mondays. For information on dancing bans that apply on these days, see the following.
Noises from children, church bells and noises while taking a shower or bath are not considered disturbances. A dog that barks only occasionally is not considered a disturbance. However, excessive barking or continuous barking can be considered disturbing.

Don’t organize parties during dancing bans

A law that may seem odd and amusing to some might be the Tanzverbote in Germany. These are ‘dancing bans’ on certain days.
Dancing bans are used to restrain organised events and not individual dancers. They are commonly known as “dancing bans”, but they can also be applied to sporting events, the playing of music (without dance), or general entertainment events.
Violation of a ban on dancing is punishable by a maximum of 10,000 Euros. You must not organize a party during these times.
As you can see, Germans have many laws and customs! Even too many compared to other Western countries. But, as long as you are respectful of the established laws and of the people’s time and common spaces, you are going to be just fine!