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Preface Last Updated: 4/22/2004 9:58 AM

An assignment to Germany, the heart of central Europe, means living and working in one of the most dynamic, progressive and interesting of European countries. Today, it is an opportunity to witness, and participate in, an important new phase of German and European history. In addition, Germany offers a high standard of living, extensive travel opportunities both within and outside the country, world-class cultural events and recreational facilities for everyone.

Despite its linguistic and cultural affinity and close ties with the U.S., Germany is a distinctly foreign experience and assignment to Germany requires adjusting to a different pace and way of life. As Europeans, for example, Germans are more formal in business and social relationships than Americans. The national culture and its regional variations are shaped by patterns rooted in a long and unique central European history. Although English is a commonplace alternate language in parts of Germany, living in Germany will be more rewarding for those who speak German or who have the interest and initiative to take advantage of the many opportunities to learn the language.

In the 1996–1999 timeframe, Germany’s Government and Parliament and the American Embassy moved back to Berlin, the nation’s historic capital. The immediate postwar era is over. Both Germany and Berlin are whole again. Germany today is the world’s third largest economy and the economic foundation on which the EURO, Europe’s common currency, rests. The years ahead are certain to be filled with exciting new challenges, new issues and new opportunities for partnership with the United States as Germany and Europe reshape themselves for the future.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:00 AM

Unified Germany comprises 16 states (Länder in the plural; singular: Land), of which three (Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg) are city-states. Berlin, with a population approaching four million, is surrounded by the State of Brandenburg, with the Brandenburg Land capital at Potsdam, a city that adjoins Berlin on the southwest. Bavaria is Germany’s largest land. Germany’s population exceeds 82 million and, with a total land area of only 137,800 square miles (slightly smaller than the State of Montana), the nation is one of the most densely populated and urbanized in Europe.

Germany has five distinct geographical areas and widely varying landscapes. From north to south these are:

the flat north German lowlands; the hills and the low mountains of the Mittelgebirge; the west and south German plateaus and mountains (including the Black Forest, the Schwarzwald); the south German Alpine foothills and lake country; and the Bavarian Alps with the Zugspitze (Germany's highest mountain, 9,717 ft.) near Garmisch. The most important rivers are the Rhine, the Weser, the Elbe, the Main, the Oder, and the Danube. The first three flow northward, emptying into the North Sea. The Main is a tributary of the Rhine. The Danube, starting as a spring in the beautiful, historic town of Donaueschingen in southwest Germany, flows east 1,725 miles to meet the Black Sea in Romania. Lake Constance (Bodensee), Germany’s largest lake, lies at the border separating Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

Germany is in the Temperate Zone and enjoys frequent weather changes, sometimes daily. The country has four distinct seasons with rainfall frequent in most months, especially in the autumn. Winter temperatures and snowfall tend to be more extreme in the southern part of the country where the average elevation is higher, but even low-lying Berlin has snowfalls and winter temperatures which occasionally dip below 10°F. Summer temperatures are usually cooler than Washington, D.C., although short summer hot spells are common.

Population Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:02 AM

With a population totaling more than 80 million persons, Germany has one-quarter of the population of the European Union. It is the largest nation in Europe after Russia even though, in size, it is smaller than either France or Spain. Today, over 85 million people speak German as their mother tongue.

Many Americans call Germany home. There are thousands of U.S. military men and women including retirees, Government employees, representatives of U.S. businesses, academics and their family members throughout Germany. Relationships between Germans and Americans are generally very positive. Many older Germans remember the assistance provided by the U.S. Marshall Plan after World War II and the commitment and aid provided by the Berlin Airlift in 1948. America’s steadfast support of German democracy, especially during the crises of the Cold War, adds to the generally positive reputation of the U.S. in Germany. Many Germans travel or have traveled to the U.S. for business or pleasure and many learn English from the earliest years in school. English is a common second language, especially in the western parts of Germany, although some German-language ability is necessary everywhere for a rewarding living and cultural experience.

Recent History. The chronology of German events since the end of the Second World War has been dramatic and extraordinarily eventful. After Germany’s defeat, the country was occupied by the four Allied powers — the U.S., the U.K., France and the Soviet Union. In 1949, the zones under control of the three western nations united to become the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). In the same year, the eastern part of the country, under control of German Communist authorities and the Soviet Union, was declared a separate German State and became the GDR. On October 3, 1990, following the revolutionary changes of late 1989, the Federal Republic and the GDR joined to form a reunified Republic of Germany that extended the constitution and laws of the former West Germany to five new eastern States.

The city of Berlin, surrounded by East Germany, had a special status in the immediate postwar period and was under the military occupation of the four allies under a Four-Power Agreement. By 1948, Soviet violation of Four-Power Agreements from the immediate post-war days increasingly had isolated their zone from those parts of Berlin occupied by the Western powers and the division of the city began to take shape. The Berlin airlift of food and supplies in 1948–49 was an Allied response to Soviet efforts to use their control of overland access to Berlin to force the Western powers from the city. The Berlin Wall, the infamous dividing line between East and West Berlin, went up almost overnight in August 1961 in an effort to stem the tide of East Germans departing for the West. The Wall remained in place as a physical and psychological barrier until November 1989 when, under the pressure of weeks of peaceful protests throughout the GDR and changes in Soviet policy, it suddenly collapsed along with the government that had built it. One year later, Germany was unified. In 1991, the German Parliament, the Bundestag, made the historic decision to move the German Government and Parliament back to Berlin from Bonn where it had been located in a “provisional capital” since 1949.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:04 AM

Democracy in the Federal Republic of Germany is founded on the Grundgesetz (Basic Law), which came into force in May 1949. It provides for a parliamentary democracy and is protected by the Federal Constitutional Court. The constitution contains strong guarantees of individual rights for all. Matters requiring centralized direction, such as foreign policy, foreign trade, defense, and monetary policy, are reserved to the Federal Government. Parliament has two Chambers. The first Chamber of Parliament, the so-called “lower house,” is the Bundestag, which normally comprises 656 members popularly elected every four years. The “upper house,” the Bundesrat, is composed of 69 deputies appointed by the State or Land governments. This Chamber can approve or veto certain important legislation passed by the Bundestag.

Like the U.S., modern Germany is a highly decentralized nation. Each of the 16 States, or Länder, in the German republic has its own state government, with a Parliament and separate executive branch led by the head of government, the Minister-President. Education, social services, public order, and police are under Länder control. The ability of the Federal Government to affect Länder decisions in matters reserved to the states is quite limited, a feature of the German system of government deliberately created as a result of the experiences of the National Socialist period.

The Federal President, whose powers are mostly limited to ceremonial functions as head of state, is elected every five years by the Federal Convention, consisting of the members of the Bundestag and an equal number of members elected by the state legislatures. The Federal Chancellor, Germany’s Prime Minister, is elected by a majority vote of the Bundestag for a four-year term corresponding to the life of the Bundestag. As chief executive, the Chancellor has a strong position in the German system of government. The Bundestag can remove the Federal Chancellor by electing a successor with an absolute majority of votes.

The largest national political parties are the Social Democratic Party (SPD), leaders of the governing coalition following Parliamentary elections in 1998, and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) which operates in tandem with the Christian Social Union (CSU) of Bavaria. The CDU governed Germany during the periods 1949-69 and 1982-98. Germany’s “Greens,” a political party officially known as Alliance 90/The Greens, with roots in the environmental and left-wing movements of the seventies, entered government as junior coalition partner in 1998. The Free Democratic Party (FDP) is a small center-right party that has participated as a partner in most German governments since 1949, with the exception of the periods 1957–61, 1966–69 and after the 1998 elections. The Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) is the successor political organization to the Communist Party which ruled in the former German Democratic Republic. It enjoys limited regional strength, particularly in some districts of Berlin and the states of the former GDR.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:06 AM

Germany has an active and highly innovative theater culture, in both the large cities and smaller communities throughout the country. Theaters and acting companies are usually subsidized although more and more theatres are privatizing, especially in Berlin. Despite this financial dependence, theaters have great artistic freedom guaranteed by the German Basic Law.

For lovers of the visual arts, almost every city maintains art exhibitions and private galleries. Germany has more than 3,000 museums, of which 500 are concentrated in North Rhine-Westphalia, the most heavily populated of the Länder. There are outstanding art museums in Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, Hannover, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Kassel, Stuttgart, and Wiesbaden. The most extensive art collections in the care of a local authority are found in the city of Cologne, including the Wallraf Richartz Museum and the Ludwig Museum of Modern Art. The latter institution contains one of the largest collections of American modern art outside the U.S. Cologne also enjoys a global reputation as a sales center for contemporary art. Every five years, the city of Kassel, in the state of Hesse, hosts the largest festival of modern art in the world. Meanwhile, Berlin is also experiencing a revival in the arts and is seeking to establish the Berlin Biennial as a major international show and marketplace.

Foreign artists are frequently involved in German cultural events. Almost every German opera house has American singers under contract. Several German orchestras have an American conductor, and many have American musicians. Every year major American orchestras and dance companies perform under commercial auspices in Germany, touring several cities. American artists are represented in all major museums, exhibits, and galleries around the country. German-language productions of American plays and musicals are frequently part of the repertoire of German theater companies.

As in the U.S., where education is a State and local function, education in Germany is largely the responsibility of the Länder. The Länder coordinate their educational policies through the “Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs” (Kulturminister-konferenz). The Federal Government can legislate on vocational training and regulations governing the basic principles of higher education and research, and, as in the U.S., it provides important subsidies in these areas.

As an industrial nation lacking raw materials, Germany sees high standards of education and high levels of productivity as essential to the quality of life of its citizens.

Although there are many regional variations in educational patterns and changes under way, certain basic practices remain as the German educational model. Compulsory schooling begins at age six and lasts nine years (in some Länder, 10). As in most European countries, Germany relies on early testing and the track system to select students for vocational training leading to skilled employment or further academic study culminating in the university. Most children are tested at age 10. Options include placement in a Hauptschule or Realschule — vocational high schools or in a Gymnasium, an academic high school. In some Länder there are comprehensive schools called Gesamtschulen. After completion of their compulsory schooling, students may qualify for higher-level specialized vocational training at a Fachöberschule, after which admission to a polytechnic university is possible. The Gymnasium leads to the award of the highly-prized Abitur, a certificate received after successfully passing stringent tests at the conclusion of the 13th year. (Most eastern Länder give the Abitur after only 12 years.) The Abitur degree is required for university entrance. The comprehensive school embraces all these tracks.

There are nearly two million students at institutions of higher education in Germany. There are over 200 advanced institutions of several kinds (universities and technical universities, polytechnic universities, comprehensive universities, teacher training colleges, and fine art colleges). Numerous adult education centers (Volkshochschulen) also offer an attractive spectrum of subjects for personal enrichment.

Study courses at the 70 universities are divided into basic studies (Grundstudium) and specialized studies (Hauptstudium). Basic studies culminate in an intermediate examination or Vordiplom (usually after four or five semesters) and specialized studies in the Diplom or State Examination (after eight or more semesters, depending on the field). American students with two years of full-time college study may be admitted to German universities if they have the required language proficiency. Students with combined SAT scores above 1,300 may sometimes be admitted with less U.S. college credit. Admission requirements for doctoral and other advanced programs vary. There is limited access to the medical fields.

Education in Germany, including university education, is free of charge for all students, including foreigners. There is, however, a registration fee.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:08 AM

The Federal Republic of Germany is one of the world’s leading economic powers. In terms of overall economic performance, Germany is Europe’s major industrial nation, the world’s third largest industrial country (after the U.S. and Japan) and the world’s second largest exporting country. Its per capita income is higher than the U.S. and second only to Japan. Principal German industries include automobiles and other road vehicles, chemicals, machinery, electrical goods, iron, steel, and coal. Germany imports food, raw materials, textiles, oil, natural gas, and various manufactured goods.

International trade is crucial to the German economy and the nation enjoys a steadily increasing trade surplus of almost $60 billion. Principal exports are motor vehicles, machinery, chemical products and electrical engineering products. In percentage terms, over 70 percent of Germany’s trade is with European Union nations. The U.S. is Germany’s third largest export partner, behind France and the U.K. At the same time, the U.S. is the fourth largest importer to Germany.

The German labor market has had to cope with profound changes since reunification. The unemployment rate, and the aging of the population remain major issues. Reforms to stimulate the economy and to create jobs have been at the forefront of government deliberations and public discussion. The employment problem remains most acute in the eastern parts of the country, the former GDR, where an unemployment rate about 50 percent higher than in western Germany persists. About 25 percent of German workers belong to large, powerful trade unions that bargain collectively for wages and working conditions and commonly participate in industrial policy and managerial decisions.


Automobiles Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:06 AM

Private vehicles owned by American staff members accredited to U.S. diplomatic posts in Germany are exempt from vehicle tax and, after proper registration, entitled to special license plates. Holders of the diplomatic list Ausweis from the Foreign Ministry are entitled to diplomatic license plates. A separate series of plates are issued to holders of a non-diplomatic list Ausweis. Direct-hire American Consular Corps employees at Consulates have a consular Ausweis and receive consular license plates. Posts in Germany assist American employees with German automobile registration. Any purchase, sale, or importation of a vehicle must be reported to the Embassy Transportation Office.

Regulations and requirements pertaining to the importation, registration and inspection of vehicles in Germany are the responsibility of the Länder. These may vary in important details from one location to another. What follows is valid for Berlin and is representative of standards throughout the country. Specific questions regarding the importation of automobiles should be addressed to GSO at the American Embassy in Berlin or to the destination post.

All cars imported into Germany must be inspected by the German Technical Inspection Team (T/V) before licensing and then reinspected every other year. Used cars without catalytic converters need to be reinspected annually. New cars shipped directly from the factory must undergo first inspections after three years, then once every two years after that. Cars that do not hold a German title (the KFZ Brief, the proof of ownership) require a technical certification (technisches Gutachten) that includes all the technical data required for the German title and registration paperwork. Waivers for non-conforming cars (i.e., cars built to U.S. specifications, left-hand-drive vehicles, etc.) are usually issued for the duty period of the individual diplomatic assignnment, whether the employee possesses a diplomatic Ausweis or a non-diplomatic Ausweis. The sale within Germany of a registered car for which waivers have been granted to a “non-privileged” person requires modification of the vehicle to conform to German technical standards, as well as (depending on the length of time the vehicle has been in Germany) payment of VAT and other taxes.

Identical models of vehicles sold in the U.S. may or may not be sold in Germany. Even the largest automobile manufacturers often distribute very different models in different countries. It is wise to check through local dealers whether a particular model of car purchased in the U.S. is marketed (and thus serviced) in Germany. Employees importing vehicles not sold in Germany should bring with them, if possible, a “technical data sheet,” typically issued by the manufacturer of the automobile and available on request from most dealers. This will facilitate the technical certification process. This information is required by the inspection process and is not available locally for some vehicles, particularly for certain Japanese-made vehicles.

Tires must have sufficient tread (at least 3 mm deep in summer and 4 mm in winter) on the entire width that touches the road. Tires must be free of breaks or cuts.

Requirements as to tire quality are based on the maximum speed capability as shown by the speedometer markings, regardless of whether the car can actually reach that speed. The higher the speed of which the vehicle is capable, the more demanding the tire specification.

Dangerous projections (e.g., hood ornaments or protruding emblems) must on occasion be removed.

A road safety triangle must be carried in the trunk. These may be purchased locally.

A first-aid kit, according to German standards, must be in the car at all times.

A plate showing manufacturer, year of the manufacture, engine and chassis numbers, and axle-loading weight must be affixed to the engine compartment. Such a plate can be installed at the time of technical inspection for a minimal charge. In view of the rigorous inspection, only roadworthy cars (newer cars in very good condition) should be brought to post. Inspection of personal vehicles brought to post is the responsibility of the individual although posts will offer limited assistance and guidance to the extent possible. Special care should be taken before deciding to import U.S.-specification vehicles since repair facilities for such vehicles may not exist or repairs may require delays while parts are ordered from the U.S. Third-party liability insurance from an F.R.G.-accredited company is mandatory. Several U.S. companies are accredited to offer automobile insurance in Germany. Policy premiums are determined by class types (Tÿpen Klassen) that are reviewed regularly by German insurance companies. If a class type has not been sanctioned for the German market, insurance companies apply rates for the established class type that is most similar. Posts can advise and assist with obtaining automobile insurance after arrival.

Since cars imported into Germany or purchased here are duty free, certain rules apply to selling them in Germany. German law permits the sale of private cars without payment of duty after being registered in Germany for two years. Imported cars can only be sold before the two-year limitation after the payment of import and value-added taxes, which at present are:

Vehicles imported from non-European Union countries: 10 percent import duty from the present value of the vehicle and 16 percent value-added tax from the present value plus import duty.

Vehicles imported from the Common Market countries: Only 16 percent value-added tax from the present value of the vehicle. Germany requires a valid German driver’s license. No one under age 18 is issued a German driver’s license. You can get German and international licenses during registration if you present a valid drivers license either from the U.S. or another country with an appropriate translation into German. A U.S. license must be valid on application. Without a valid license, you have to attend a local driving school to obtain a German license. Tuition rates are high, around Euro 2000-3000 ($2500-3750). A passport-sized photograph is needed for both the German and the international drivers licenses.

A driver’s license issued in the U.S. or any other country brought into Germany is not accepted in Germany unless you can prove that the applicant was a resident in the country where the driver’s license was issued for 6 months or longer.

Incoming staff should make every effort to ship their private vehicle from their previous post with license plates and a valid registration. This will greatly facilitate temporary registration of your vehicle.


Local Transportation Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:15 AM

Germany’s urban transportation system is generally excellent and consists of electric trains, streetcars, and buses. Subways or U-bahns are found in several cities including Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Cologne and Munich. All cities have superb taxi service. Taxi rates are relatively expensive and tipping is customary. Public transportation in Germany is easily accessible, clean, dependable, and safe, and is a common method of getting around cities.

As in other countries of continental Europe, Germans drive on the right-hand side of the road. City speed limits, unless otherwise posted, are usually 50 kilometers or 31 miles per hour; on State highways, 100 kilometers or 62 miles per hour. Sections of the German autobahns have no general speed limits for passenger cars, but certain stretches of roadway often will have posted limits that are strictly enforced by radar monitoring. Most emergency vehicles are painted off-white or red and white, with police vehicles painted green and white; emergency ambulances are lettered and numbered in orange or red. Fire vehicles are red.

Berlin. The Berlin transport system consists of buses, trams, and U-Bahn and S-Bahn trains. There is excellent service to most parts of the city. The four buildings of the U.S. Embassy are easily accessible by public transportation although travel times between sites may vary depending on the time of day or night. A single adult fare (Einzelfahrschein) costs more than $2 in Berlin although a variety of special fares exists for regular users of public transportation.

The large metropolitan areas of Düsseldorf, Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich are also served by excellent S-Bahn and U-Bahn systems along with buses and trams. Leipzig has no subway system although public transportation is excellent and is being modernized.


Regional Transportation Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:17 AM

Germany's largest transport network is the federal railway system (Deutsche Bahn AG) which was privatized and decentralized in 1994. More than 25,000 miles of track connect cities and towns throughout Germany and the system is constantly being upgraded and modernized. In addition to domestic high-speed intercity express service, German cities are connected to cities throughout Europe by frequent international express trains. Rail service between German cities, large and small, is excellent, and most European capitals, including London, can be easily reached within 24 hours. Rail fares in Germany are lower and rail usage much more common than in the U.S.

Due to its geographical position in the heart of Europe, Germany is a hub of European air traffic. Almost all major international airlines operate services to or within the Federal Republic. Frankfurt has the busiest international airport in Europe. Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Munich airports also accommodate international flights including direct flights to and from the United States. The Bonn/Cologne airport is a "feeder" for Frankfurt as well as an intra-Europe airport hub.

Only the United States has a more extensive network of highways than Germany. Because of its well-developed road system, Germany is an ideal country for automobile travel. Most people find a car desirable--sometimes for transportation to and from work--as well as for shopping and recreation. Express highways connect most major German cities, and secondary roads are usually excellent, so all parts of Germany are easily accessible by car.

International road signs are used everywhere in Germany. Drivers need to be familiar with these signs as well as with local driving rules, which are sometimes very different from U.S. driving customs. Parking regulations are rigorously enforced throughout the country and several different systems of paying parking charges may be encountered. Eligible Embassy employees may use Military Exchange (AAFES) gas coupons to obtain duty-free gasoline at most Esso stations in Germany and, on the autobahns, BP stations. Although most Esso Stations accept coupons, it's wise to ask before pumping gas especially at distant locations that may be unfamiliar with the coupons. Exchange coupons are limited to 400 liters per vehicle per month. The cost of gasoline in Germany is usually about $3.50 per gallon. The use of duty-free coupons reduces the cost to around $1.50 a gallon.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:18 AM

Post and telecommunication services in Germany were reformed by a landmark 1995 law in response to European Union requirements and the enormous technical and marketplace changes occurring globally. Further changes resulting from deregulation are continuing. Telephone service in residences is now available through Deutsche Telekom AG, Europe’s largest telecommunications company and the third largest in the world. The company traditionally enjoyed a monopoly on local telephone service in Germany. Telephone service is charged on a “per unit” basis of actual usage and tends to be slightly more expensive than U.S. phone service, especially for high-volume users although deregulation and competition are forcing rates lower. Rental and call charges are paid monthly. Itemized bills are now available. Direct long-distance dialing is available in all German cities to most places of the world. Dialing the U.S. from Germany costs much more than direct dialing from the U.S. to Germany. Collect calls from Germany to the U.S. are charged at U.S. rates. AT&T, Sprint, and MCI credit cards and callback services are currently used by many employees for U.S. calls at considerable savings although international long-distance rates are falling as more and more competition enters the communications marketplace.

U.S. telephones, including most cordless telephones, answering machines, and fax machines will operate in Germany although devices with internal clocks may run slow because of the difference in cycles in the electrical current. Most Embassy housing and most German housing still have German telephone hard-wiring that may not accept American-standard plug-in communications devices or computer modems without adapters. Adapters may be purchased locally.


Telephones and Telecommunications

Wireless Service Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:19 AM Germany has an extensive cellular telephone network covering nearly the entire country and personal telephones are commonplace. Deutsche Telekom offers ISDN service to businesses and residences in most locations and the use of ISDN channels is growing fast. Installation fees and monthly service rates vary but are reasonable.


Internet Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:19 AM

There are scores of Internet service providers (ISPs) in Germany, both local and national, including AOL and CompuServe. Deutsche Telekom offers Internet connections through its T-Online service. UUNET, an affiliate of MCI World Communications, also provides Internet access throughout Germany. Costs to connect to the Internet are somewhat higher than in the U.S. because, in addition to paying the service provider, users must pay for their local calls on a “per unit” basis.


Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:21 AM

APO or diplomatic pouch facilities at posts in Germany are open to all eligible military and Foreign Service employees and their family members. U.S. postal rates apply. It is important to advise the Postmaster at your post of assignment of your anticipated arrival date as well as the names of all family members who will be receiving mail through the APO. With this information, APO staff will be sure to hold your mail for your arrival. Failure to alert the APO to your arrival may result in the return of mail as “addressee unknown.” The following are APO addresses for the U.S. Embassy in Berlin and constituent posts of the U.S. Mission to Germany. Letters and packages may be sent to individuals by name at these addresses:

Berlin American Embassy (Berlin) PSC 120, Box (number to be assigned) APO AE 09265

DLO Bonn PSC 117, Box (check with postmaster for unit designation) APO AE 09080

Düsseldorf American Consulate General Düsseldorf Unit 22115 APO AE 09103

Frankfurt American Consulate General PSC 115 (Agency/office) APO AE 09213–0115

Hamburg (by State Department pouch only) American Consulate General Hamburg Department of State Washington DC 20520–5180

Leipzig American Consulate General Leipzig PSC 120 Box 1000 APO AE 09265

Munich American Consulate General Unit 24520 APO AE 09053–4520

Available APO services in Berlin include certified and insured mail, as well as priority and express mail. Registered mail and the issuance of postal money orders are subject to certain U.S. postal service rules and may not always be available in Berlin. The Berlin APO operates a full service mail center at the Clay building in Dahlem and a limited service office at the Chancery in Mitte. Postal mailboxes are assigned to eligible employees on arrival, usually depending on which building houses their office. You may, however, request a box at either the Clay or Mitte location. Upon request, post box numbers will be assigned in advance of arrival for the use of employees with their changes of address. Such requests should be directed by cable or e-mail to the Postmaster Berlin or to Embassy Berlin’s Information Management Officer.

The German post office provides excellent mail service. The basic rate to the U.S. for airmail letters and postcards is DM 2 with delivery to the east coast in two or three days. All incoming APO mail addressed to the U.S. Embassy or to a constituent post in Germany transits Frankfurt where it is sorted. Outgoing mail is similarly handled before being air-lifted from Frankfurt to New York. Magazine and newspaper subscriptions sent via APO usually arrive with minimum delays although more substantial delays are possible during busy mail periods. For convenience and to avoid delays in German Customs, packages are best sent and received via APO. The three ways of sending or receiving parcels are as follows:

SAM (Space Available Mail) This is the cheapest rate with delivery time of two-four weeks. Mail travels by surface from the U.S. point of origin to destination.

PAL (Partial Airlift) Mail travels at the SAM rate plus an additional fee of $0.40 to $1.20. Mail is airlifted from most parts of the U.S. Delivery is one-three weeks.

Priority mail are the most expensive but delivery is quickest. Mail is airlifted to final destination and delivery time is three-seven days.


Radio and TV Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:23 AM

Germany has both government and commercial broadcasting. Radio and television in Germany are dominated by two major organizations, ARD, a national public broadcasting network combining eleven regional affiliates, each of which has a radio and a TV arm; and ZDF, Germany's national television broadcaster. The regional affiliates generate most of the programming for the main ARD channel, known in Germany as the “first channel.” ZDF is the “second channel” and the regional affiliates, such as WDR or NDR, are the local “third channel.” ARD affiliates and ZDF are neither purely commercial nor government-controlled broadcasters. They are independent corporations operating under public laws and controlled by boards whose members are selected by political parties, churches, labor unions, and other public groups. Television programming in Germany is supported both by viewer/listener fees and by commercials. All programs are produced or dubbed in German, including foreign programs and films. The public broadcasters usually favor a program mix more oriented towards news and documentaries.

The most important commercial television broadcasters include: RTL, SAT 1, RTL Plus, Pro 7, n-tv (the first all-news network in Germany), DSF (German Sports TV), RTL-2, and VOX (an “infotainment” channel). While the public companies broadcast on public frequencies, commercial companies rely mostly on the cable network and their programming emphasizes entertainment. Programs are interrupted by commercials. Households serviced by German cable networks can receive approximately 36 programs from Germany and neighboring countries. Satellite service is also available in Germany. English-language television broadcasting such as BBC World, BBC Prime, CNN International, CNBC and AFTN (Armed Forces Television Network) are available on many cable and satellite services.

Radio broadcasting in Germany is dominated by ARD affiliates. Virtually all of them broadcast on two or three frequencies. One channel typically concentrates on pop music and casually presented features and news. Other broadcasts are reserved for classical music, political magazines, educational programs, and radio plays. The number of commercial radio stations in Germany is growing constantly and there are nearly 200 private radio stations.

It is well-known that transmission standards differ for European and American television (PAL vs. American NTSC). European television sets will not operate in the U.S. and American television sets will not operate in Germany. Similarly, NTSC video products cannot be shown on PAL-only television sets. U.S. military post exchanges, as well as department and appliance stores in Germany, carry multi-system color television sets that receive both U.S. and German color programs and will play VTRs of either standard. Multi-standard sets are required to receive programs where American community cable television systems are operated. CB use by U.S. citizens in Germany is authorized, but it is more restricted than in the U.S. Licensing is obtainable from German civil telecommunications authorities. If turntables for LPs and/or reel-to-reel tape recorders are brought to Germany, remember that the electrical current here is 230v, 50 cycles. Although transformers will reduce voltage to 110v, the 50-cycle adjustment requires replacing the 60-cycle pulley for operation at the correct speed.


Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:24 AM

Germany’s Basic Law guarantees freedom of opinion and freedom of the press. There is no censorship. As a consequence of the strong position of a free press, Germany is as media rich as the U.S. In fact, in terms of the availability of news and information from other countries, Germany, like many other European countries, is far more news-saturated than the U.S. There are, however, significant differences between the media in the two countries. Germany remains principally a newspaper-reading nation but the broadcast media are possibly even more influential in their ability to influence public opinion.

Regional newspapers, many with national circulation, play a larger role than in the U.S. and general newspaper readership far exceeds that of the U.S. A circulation of 200,000 is an average circulation for a German regional paper with even higher figures for several regional papers that circulate nationally. Large circulation newspapers in Germany include the tabloid Bild (Hamburg), Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Frankfurt) Rheinische Post (Düsseldorf), Leipziger Volkszeitung (Leipzig) and the influential Hamburg-based weekly Die Zeit. In Berlin, Berliner Zeitung is the daily with the largest circulation, followed by Berliner Morgenpost and Der Tagesspiegel. In addition to daily and weekly newspapers, about 9,000 periodicals of all sorts are published in Germany. Der Spiegel, a weekly news magazine with a circulation of over one million, is one of the largest. A typical well-educated German household might subscribe to a local paper, a national paper and a weekly news magazine. Many major papers and magazines are openly identified with particular political parties or political viewpoints.

Nearly 75 German newspapers are now on-line with Internet sites. One particularly good English-language site is: Updated every two weeks, the site has translations of the newspaper’s feature stories about Berlin, lots of the latest information about the city and links to many other useful Internet sites with important information about Germany. Another valuable site is:, the home of Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, which features the news of Germany and the world in English and links to other Germany sites. Visitors may also subscribe to Deutsche Welle’s daily English news summary via e-mail.

The German Press Agency (Deutsche Presse Agentur-DPA) is the leading German news agency, with offices worldwide. The leading U.S. news agency, Associated Press, also services German newspapers. The English-language International Herald Tribune, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal are available in most locations. The daily U.S. military newspaper, The Stars and Stripes, is also available in many locations near U.S. military bases. European editions of Time and Newsweek are widely sold along with daily editions of British newspapers. Bookstores in larger cities sell a limited number of English-language books, usually in British editions.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:28 AM

Excellent medical care is available in Germany. The approach to medical care, however, is different. A large number of physicians speak English. In addition, the U.S. military operates a number of clinics and three hospitals in Germany for active duty military. Participants of the State Department Medical Program are eligible to use military facilities for a fee on a space-available basis. The Department of State’s Regional Medical Officer is based in Berlin and is responsible for the operation of embassy medical units in Berlin and Munich, local care provided in the Consulates General of Mission Germany, and at posts in six other countries. Patients who have chronic medical problems requiring scheduled and unscheduled medical follow-up should plan to use local German physicians. Most local German hospitals provide 24-hour emergency care. German medical practice is often different from what is customary in the U.S. and not all hospitals can provide full English-language assistance.

Germany also has excellent medical and educational facilities for the mentally and physically handicapped, but all services are usually in German. English-speaking facilities are scarce. Germany is not necessarily appropriate for all special-needs children. Families with children requiring special facilities should write to the Post Health Unit for up-to-date information relating to the child’s specific needs. Medical bills related to hospitalization of employees and family members are covered by the Department of State Medical Program as a secondary payer after private medical insurance. The payment of outpatient care at local German facilities and at American military facilities is the responsibility of patients and their private insurance plans. Bills for German medical and dental care must be paid by the patient and then submitted to a health insurer. Dental and orthodontic care is available throughout Germany although standards may sometimes vary from U.S. standards. Charges for medical and dental care are standardized by the German Government and tend to be equivalent or somewhat higher than in the U.S.

Berlin. The U.S. Embassy Health Unit in the Clay Building in Berlin is staffed by a Regional Medical Officer, two additional FSN nurses and an administrative assistant. Medical care is available to employees and family members who are covered by the Department of State Medical Program and to members of the U.S. military and their families assigned to the Embassy. The Embassy Medical Unit is a primary provider for acute and routine medical problems. In addition, the Medical Unit offers immunizations, counseling, briefings and assistance to help families step into the German system of medical care.

Well-known German medical institutions near the Embassy’s Clay Building and the American housing clusters in Dahlem include the Waldfriede Community Hospital and the Benjamin Franklin Klinikum, one of Berlin’s finest large university hospitals with a full-service emergency room.

Düsseldorf. Excellent medical care is available from German providers in the Düsseldorf area. The Post maintains a list of English-speaking physicians. The nearest U.S. military medical facility is an outpatient clinic at Geilenkirchen Air Base, over an hour away by car. The nearest U.S. military inpatient facility is the hospital at Landstuhl, more than three hours distant.

Frankfurt. The Consulate General’s Health Unit is staffed by two American nurses and an administrative assistant. This unit provides medical assistance for acute care, health counseling, immunization screening, and assists should there be hospitalizations required. Additional out-patient medical care is available to all official employees and their family members on a fee basis at the Rhein-Main Clinic at the nearby Rhein-Main Air Base in Frankfurt. For certain special medical conditions, appointments and treatment can be obtained, on a space available basis, at Landstuhl Army Hospital, 2½ hours from Frankfurt.

German physicians and hospitals are also frequently used. St. Markus Hospital is conveniently located just minutes from the Carl Schurz Siedlung housing area. Dental care for civilians is not available at military facilities (with occasional exceptions for emergencies). Qualified English-speaking dentists are locally available. The Health Unit provides each employee with a comprehensive health and information booklet that outlines medical care in Frankfurt for our families and identifies locally available services including English-speaking medical care providers in all specialties.

Hamburg. The city and region have many competent and specialized German doctors and hospitals, many of which are internationally recognized and which provide excellent emergency and routine care. Generally, German doctors in Hamburg speak at least some English. The University Hospital of Hamburg-Eppendorf has a number of specialized clinics that treat illnesses and medical conditions of all kinds. For detailed information regarding this hospital, see their Internet site at

Leipzig. The post enjoys excellent relations with local medical establishments capable of handling routine medical problems and emergencies. A number of local medical and dental facilities have reached West German standards. The Bundeswehr Krankenhaus offers high-quality treatment and the Diakonissen Hospital, located a short drive from the Consulate General, offers most medical services. Post personnel, American tourists and business officials have also received satisfactory emergency services from Leipzig University’s clinics and quality dental care from local practitioners. Embassy Berlin’s medical staff can also assist with medical issues.

Munich. Post is staffed with one nurse. Consulate General personnel are encouraged to establish local medical contacts. Excellent medical care is available from German physicians and German hospitals in the Munich area. A list of English-speaking German physicians in all specialty areas is maintained by the post. The nearest U.S. military medical facility is in Bad Aibling, about an hour’s drive from Munich. Bad Aibling has outpatient facilities only, staffed by three General Practitioners. They generally refer cases requiring specialist treatment and/or hospitalization to German hospitals in the area. The clinic is open Mondays through Fridays between 0730 and 1630 hours. It is closed on American holidays.

Health and Medicine

Community Health Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:28 AM

Community sanitation and public cleanliness are similar to or exceed those in comparable American cities. Drinking water, dairy products, fresh vegetables, meats and other food products are under strict German Government control and meet the highest sanitation and health standards. Smoking continues to be a major public health problem in Germany. Germans have the highest rate of tobacco use in Western Europe except for Greece. All buildings of the U.S. Mission to Germany are smoke-free.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 6/17/2004 9:56 AM

Employment opportunities for spouses and family members at U.S. diplomatic posts in Germany vary and depend on many factors including skills, language abilities and available positions. Clearly, there tend to be more opportunities at the larger posts in larger cities than at the smaller Consulates General. As a general principle, within the Mission, posts try to make job opportunities available to spouses and family members to the extent that post size and business allow and recommend. Persons with specific questions or requiring additional information should not hesitate to contact the Embassy Human Resources Office in Berlin or post's Management Officer.

U.S. regulations governing responsibilities, conduct and conflict of interest issues relating to outside employment of spouses and family members are contained in 3 FAM 620. These regulations apply to spouses and family members of all U.S. agencies assigned to U.S. diplomatic posts in Germany. Family members of an employee of the U.S. Embassy or a constituent post who plan to accept employment outside the U.S. Government are required to notify the Ambassador or Principal Officer in writing prior to accepting employment. Similar rules regarding advance notification apply to self-employment outside the U.S. Government. Although the employment of family members of U.S. personnel is governed by a reciprocal agreement (defacto bilateral work agreement) between the U.S. and Germany, family members assigned to constituent posts may be subject to differing rules or interpretations by State officials on the matter of work permits. On all employment matters, the first point of contact is the Embassy or post Human Resources or Management Officer.

Berlin. Full-time, temporary and part-time employment opportunities within the Embassy are advertised by administrative notice, and in the Quadriga, the Embassy newsletter. All eligible family members may apply by submitting an SF-171. Appointments are made at post. Office management skills and systems familiarity are a great help in obtaining work. Job opportunities requiring technical support skills are sometimes available.

Local employment may also be possible. However, applicants must comply with German laws and receive a work permit from the Berlin Labor Office. The process begins with finding work. The local employer and employee complete the work permit application, which is sent then to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under cover of a diplomatic note. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs asks the local labor office to issue the work permit. Employees who work locally pay German taxes. Assessed local taxes are higher than corresponding U.S. taxes. Fluency in German is necessary in most cases for local positions. Spouses and family members with local jobs must often relinquish their diplomatic IDs and diplomatic immunity during work hours.

A summer employment program for teenagers exists subject to the availability of funds. Numerous volunteer opportunities exist in the American community and some in German communities.

Düsseldorf. The Post has no positions reserved for American family members. Employment on the local economy in Düsseldorf is possible, although this requires a work permit and fluency in German. There are a number of American companies in the region, but the majority of their American staff is on transfer from the U.S.

Frankfurt. Employment opportunities in Frankfurt are good for qualified family members and cover the traditional range of skills. At this writing, there are more than 50 American Family Member (AFM) and Personal Service Contract (PSC) positions ranging from shared Community Liaison Officer (CLO) positions, secretarial and administrative assistants, visa assistants, computer operators, housing inspectors, postal clerks and procurement assistants. Consular staffing is a top priority and those who successfully complete the FSI Consular Course should be able to gain employment. There is also a continuing need for family members with enhanced computer skills.

Some family members have worked on the local economy and at the Frankfurt International School. However, more restrictive policies for local economy work permits are expected to be issued by the German Government. Specific inquiries regarding such positions and present policies in effect should be directed to the Personnel Officer for additional information.

Frankfurt has an active summer employment program for qualified family members age 16 and above. This program will continue, subject to availability of funds. Most of the positions are in the Consular Section and the Regional Support Center, although other sections and agencies sometimes participate.

Those seeking employment at Frankfurt should fax a résume as well as their pay history from previous federal employment to the Personnel Officer (local fax number is 7535–3477).

Hamburg. Because of the small size of the Consulate, employment opportunities for family members are very limited. There is a summer-hire program for dependent teen-agers. Because of the reciprocal work agreement, family members may work on the local economy. However, most employment opportunities require excellent German language skills. The International School may sometimes have positions available, and there are possibilities to teach English at private language schools.

Leipzig. Employment opportunities for family members are very limited, and nearly always require fluent German, though there are sometimes openings for teachers at the Leipzig International School. While family members may occasionally work on special projects (e.g., cost of living surveys), there are no permanent positions at the Consulate General designated for family members.

Munich. The post has a few positions designated for family members, but their availability is subject to change. American companies in Munich are willing to hire family members, but some knowledge of German is normally required, and work permits are not easy to obtain. Spouses and family members should not expect employment at the Consulate General to be readily available. There are presently no family members employed outside the Mission. If the family member finds a job and the employer is willing to sponsor the applicant, then the Human Resources Office will assist in the process of obtaining the work permit.

American Embassy - Berlin

Post City Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:35 AM

After an absence of nearly a half century, the Embassy of the United States officially returned to a united Berlin on August 31, 1998, with the announcement that, until the completion of the Embassy’s move from Bonn to Berlin in 1999, the U.S. Embassy in Germany would henceforth be located in two German cities, Bonn and Berlin. “One Embassy, two locations” was an unusual and innovative concept that, for the final year of the U.S. presence in Bonn, successfully integrated the Embassy’s operations in two cities, prepared Berlin to receive Bonn’s large contingent of offices and staff and proudly returned the Embassy of the United States of America designation to Germany’s largest, most historic and now unified city.

The shift of the U.S. Embassy back to Berlin, the traditional capital, had its roots in the dramatic events of 1989 that resulted in the fall of the wall, the collapse of communism and the reunification of Germany. In 1990, less than a year after the wall disappeared, U.S. Embassy Office Berlin was created to replace the American Embassy in the former German Democratic Republic (located in what was then East Berlin) and the U.S. Mission (located in what was then West Berlin). Meanwhile, following the lead of the German Government, the U.S. began planning for the shift of the U.S. Embassy from Bonn to Berlin in 1999, a decision formalized with the signing of a landmark property exchange agreement with Germany in 1994.

Berlin is a capital city with a turbulent past, the crucible of a century of history. Reduced to rubble by World War II bombing, and starkly divided by the Cold War, the city has survived and prospered through the courage, optimism and determination of its citizens. Today, Berlin has a population of nearly four million. The city is situated on the North German Plain about 100 miles south of the Baltic Sea and 50 miles west of the Oder River, the modern border between Poland and Germany. Berlin is one of three German cities that comprise a separate Land although it is completely surrounded by Land Brandenburg. The city is divided into 20 districts, each with its own name, ruling authority and history. Since 1990, but especially since a huge construction and modernization boom started in mid-decade, the city has experienced a process of radical economic and physical change as well as a significant cultural renaissance. Berlin is once again the seat of Germany’s Government and Parliament and the move of ministries, offices and embassies from Bonn is continuing.

Berlin’s climate is similar to the northeastern U.S. even though the city lies at a much more northerly latitude. Overcast days are not uncommon and summers tend to be cool and rainy although uncomfortable summer heat waves do occur. Winters are cool and temperatures between 20°F and 40°F are usual from December to February although much colder days and nights are not infrequent along with periodic snowfalls. Berlin is one of Europe’s most celebrated green cities with over 20 percent of its area devoted to parks. Although completely land-locked, Berlin is also a lakeside city, with an extensive complex of forested urban parks and lakes where residents enjoy swimming, sailing, water sports and sunning.

There are several Internet sites with Berlin-specific information. A good starting point is: with English-language information about Berlin and excellent links to scores of other Berlin-relevant sites. The Embassy’s popular web site is located at or The site offers information about the Embassy as well as links to other useful sites. From the Embassy’s home page, Internet surfers can travel to home pages for each of the U.S. Mission’s constituent posts, pages that offer current information about the post and its locale.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:37 AM

U.S. Embassy Berlin is housed in four buildings scattered throughout the city. All buildings are conveniently located near excellent public transportation. The Chancery, with the offices of the Ambassador and DCM, the Political and Economic sections, the Office of the Defense Attaché, the Foreign Commercial Service, the Public Diplomacy section and the Embassy’s Information Office, is located in our former East Berlin Embassy building in the Mitte District, Berlin’s historic center. The Mitte Building and the adjoining Annex are located just beyond the eastern end of Tiergarten Park, near the Unter den Linden, the Brandenburg Gate and a short walk from the rebuilt Reichstag, home to Germany’s Parliament.

The Clay Building, in the Dahlem area of Berlin’s southwestern Zehlendorf District, houses the Consulate, the Embassy’s Administrative Section, the Foreign Agriculture Service, the Regional Security Office and the cluster of U.S. law enforcement agencies attached to the Embassy, the Internal Revenue Service and several other offices. The America House is centrally situated in Berlin’s commercial and main shopping district at the western end of the Tiergarten. The Embassy’s Program and Exchanges Section and the Public Diplomacy administrative support unit have offices there. In addition, a large General Services Section with offices, warehouses and maintenance workshops is located in the Curtiusstrasse Annex, in Dahlem/Zehlendorf. The Embassy expects to be housed at these different locations until a future time when construction of a new U.S. Embassy Office Building in Berlin is completed.

Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Both German and American holidays are celebrated. The Embassy’s telephone (the Berlin area code is 030 — the local calling number is 238–5174) is staffed 24 hours daily and Marine Guards are on duty around the clock at the Mitte and Clay buildings.

Newly-arriving staff should plan their arrivals in Berlin on work days and should always advise the Embassy of arrival dates, flight times and other details well in advance. Most international flights and connecting flights from Frankfurt or other gateway cities in Germany arrive at Berlin’s Tegel Airport which is convenient to the Embassy and Embassy housing areas.

The addresses of the four Embassy office buildings are:

The Mitte Chancery Building The Clay Building The America House GSO Curtiusstrasse

Embassy of the United States Mitte Building Neustädtische Kirchstrasse 4/5 10117 Berlin

U.S. Embassy Clay Building Clay Allee 170 14195 Berlin

U.S. Embassy Amerika Haus Hardenbergstrasse 22–24 10623 Berlin

U.S. Embassy General Services Annex Curtiusstrasse 64 12205 Berlin

Visas. Visas are required for holders of Diplomatic and Official passports. All U.S. Government personnel traveling to Germany to work at the U.S. Embassy or a constituent U.S. post in Germany must obtain a German Diplomatic or Official visa before arrival in Germany and before entry will be allowed. This requirement applies only to permanently-assigned staff and does not affect TDY personnel who plan to stay in Germany less than 90 days. Travelers who have questions or doubts about their status should check with the passport office of their sponsoring agencies to ensure that they are in full compliance with German visa regulations.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 1/7/2004 8:08 AM

Embassy Berlin maintains a policy of arrival-ready housing. Housing assignments are made by the Embassy Housing Board based on the A-171 standards and information provided in official travel messages. New arrivals generally move directly into their permanent quarters. There are no temporary quarters or TDY apartments available at post. Welcome kits are available and should be reserved in advance.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:42 AM

Berlin is a limited shipment, furnished-quarters post. At present, most Embassy employees from foreign affairs agencies are assigned to government-owned apartments or houses in the western part of the city, near the Clay building and the German-American John F. Kennedy School. A limited number of short-term leases are being used due to requirements to enlarge the Embassy’s housing inventory to accommodate currently assigned staff. Personnel from non-foreign affairs agencies generally occupy leased quarters although some Department of State and other foreign affairs staff are also housed in leased quarters, both near the Clay Building and at other locations throughout the city. The Ambassador’s Residence, formerly the residence of the U.S. Berlin Brigade Commander, is a newly-renovated, attractive large house and grounds in Berlin’s Dahlem area. The DCM’s home, also in Dahlem, was originally constructed in 1930 and, as an example of the Berlin Bauhaus style, is a historically protected building. It has also been recently renovated and has ample representational space and a large rear yard.

To the extent possible, special needs and preferences regarding housing are considered by the Embassy Housing Board when making housing assignments. Such information, along with complete and accurate information regarding the number of family members or others who reside permanently (more than 50 percent of the year) with the employee, as well as the age and sex of children, should be directed to GSO (Housing). Housing options in Berlin are quite limited so there are no guarantees that preferences can be satisfied, but all relevant information helps the Housing Board decide the best possible match with available housing.

Berlin’s pool of Government-owned housing consists mostly of small to moderately-sized apartments and houses, with very, very limited storage capacity. Pack carefully. Contact your sponsor or the GSO prior to your pack-out if you have questions concerning your housing and/or individual storage facilities. Storage of personal effects at U.S.G. expense at post during your assignment is not authorized.


Furnishings Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:43 AM

Employees not authorized a full HHE shipment are entitled to residential furniture and other equipment in U.S. Government-owned and leased quarters. Government-provided housing includes queen-sized beds in master bedrooms. Employees assigned to Berlin should pack the usual china, glassware, flatware, linens and other personal belongings. Sheer curtains are provided and many units have wall-to-wall carpeting. Other quarters have area rugs over hardwood or tile floors. Query the post for more specific information before planning pack-outs.

The Ambassador’s Residence is fully furnished by the Department of State with high quality representational furniture in spacious public entertainment areas. Similarly, the DCM’s home is also well furnished and equipped for representational duties. State’s Overseas Building Operations (OBO) has details of both residences and furnishings and offers newly assigned Ambassadors and DCMs a full briefing on their Berlin housing.

High-demand items such as bookcases can be in short supply, a fact that should be considered when deciding what personal items to ship to post. With the exception of those housed in apartments, all employees assigned to houses are required to maintain their own grounds. Many yards are very large, and you may wish to check with GSO before packing out to determine if you will need to ship gardening equipment. Lawn mowers are provided to Department of State employees (other agencies have their own policies concerning furnishings and equipment).


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:51 AM

Each Government-owned residence has a telephone line and one telephone included. Adapter plugs are available locally to enable U.S. telephones to be used with German wall plugs. A variety of telephones in all models may also be purchased locally at prices generally comparable to U.S. prices. Telephones can also be rented at a nominal monthly fee from Deutsche Telekom, the local telephone company. Most residences have only one active phone jack and few are equipped for modern computer modems. Additional jacks and ISDN service can be installed by Telekom but installation costs and labor can be expensive and there is a brief waiting period for service. Alternatively, some employees install a second, portable, phone on their line.

Local current is 220v/50 cycles, though some Government-owned residences have both 110v and 220v outlets in the kitchen and bathroom. Items such as electric clocks and turntables may need to be converted to 50 cycles to operate properly. The Embassy provides a reasonable number of transformers. U.S. lamps can be used in Germany with the replacement of 110v light bulbs with locally purchased 220v bulbs. Note that off-sized light bulbs for some antique or specialty lamps are sometimes difficult to find in 220v versions. The post does not usually provide fans, freezers, or air-conditioning, though some of these appliances have been issued on a non-replaceable basis. Microwave ovens are supplied to all Government-owned and short-term leased residences, for employees of agencies that participate in the Embassy appliance program. Many but not all residences have dishwashers in addition to standard kitchen appliances. Please contact GSO for information specific to the quarters to which you have been assigned. Although there are no health concerns about tap water, the water in Berlin is hard, and many families prefer to use water filters or bottled water for drinking.

Berlin offers a rich variety of broadcasting, including English-language television (via cable). Most U.S. Government housing has cable television provided commercially through a local company. Satellite TV is also available.

The situation regarding appliances, utilities and equipment in short-term leased housing varies. As a rule, European kitchens tend to be significantly smaller than American kitchens and appliances are comparably reduced in size. Importantly, the electrical wiring in many older houses and apartments is often unable to accept the operation of American-sized appliances and air-conditioning. Generally, European housing has smaller rooms and less storage than American standards although this is changing as newer apartments and houses are built.

Food Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:52 AM

The availability of food in German food stores is much the same as in the U.S. albeit with some important differences. Retail shopping is tightly controlled in Germany and the inconvenient shopping hours present serious challenges to working couples. Most food shops are closed evenings, Sundays and holidays and are tightly shut by mid-afternoon on Saturdays. Fortunately, loosening restrictions in Berlin have resulted in many major supermarkets remaining open until 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. on weekdays, and popular “warehouse” stores where Embassy staff shop are open as late as 10:00 p.m. on weekdays and 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays.

Outdoor farmers markets and neighborhood groceries are a feature of city life throughout Berlin. Fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent but availability is distinctly seasonal. The German diet usually emphasizes meat (especially pork) at the expense of fish but fresh and smoked fish along with excellent poultry and game are available in most large markets. Fine bakeries are everywhere with huge selections of fresh bread and rolls and other tempting baked goods often made on the premises. German and other European wines and cheeses are widely available. Familiar U.S. products are found in most large supermarkets although favorite breakfast cereals, for example, may be slightly altered for the European palate. Ethnic food shops are scattered throughout the city. Berlin’s famous Kaufhaus des Westens Department Store (popularly known by its initials, KaDeWe, or “Kah-Day-Vay”) has a specialty food hall that rivals Harrod’s in London with a huge (and quite expensive) selection of gourmet-quality fresh and imported food items which can be bought for home or consumed on the premises. Generally, food prices in Germany are somewhat higher than in the U.S. although the quality, variety and freshness of food are also high.

The nearest U.S. military commissary to Berlin is located at the U.S. military base at Vilseck in northern Bavaria, a distance of around 350 kms. in the direction of Nürnberg. Many Embassy families do bulk shopping and use other base facilities there. The drive requires four-five hours and often involves an overnight stay.

Clothing Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:53 AM

Clothing suitable for autumn and winter wear in Washington, D.C. will be ideal for Berlin. The climate is generally much cooler than Washington’s. Clothing for men and women is readily available in Berlin with shops ranging from expensive boutiques offering familiar designer labels to more moderately-priced department stores. Clothing is usually costly in Europe, especially children’s clothes, but quality is high and most goods are European-made. On the other hand, good European shoes are also widely available, usually at prices lower than in the U.S. Priority mail should be requested for mail order clothing from the U.S. Internet ordering significantly lowers telephone charges when dealing with the large U.S. mail order suppliers. The post receives a cost-of-living allowance to partially offset the generally higher prices in Berlin for food, clothing and goods and services.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:53 AM

As with most large European cities, Berlin offers a nearly unlimited range of supplies and services. There are differences, however, between U.S. and European standards and practices that sometimes make locating a particular item or familiar service difficult. Such services as laundry and dry cleaning, hair stylists for men and women, shoe repair and tailoring are readily available in most neighborhoods at prices somewhat higher than in the U.S. A small American Embassy Association store near the principal Embassy housing locations offers video rentals and beverage sales.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:54 AM

Domestic help is difficult to obtain and expensive in Berlin although agencies exist to provide domestic services. U.S. Embassy staff who employ domestic workers are expected to comply rigorously with applicable German immigration and social security laws which control legal status, working conditions and the payment of required taxes.

Diplomatic and consular personnel, including administrative and technical staff, are permitted to bring household staff to Germany. Sponsors are expected to provide non-German domestic employees with a living wage, health insurance and repatriation. U.S. Mission employees planning to bring private domestic staff to Germany should apply for appropriate visas for them at the nearest German Embassy or Consulate General, and notify the Embassy Personnel Office as soon as possible. The Embassy will provide current information about applicable laws and regulations.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 4/22/2004 10:54 AM

Church services and Sunday School activities — both Protestant and Roman Catholic — are held in various Berlin Churches. English-language Protestant services are conducted in the American Church in Berlin. Berlin has a growing Jewish community, now more than 10,000 members, and Jewish services are held at locations throughout the city. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has an active community in Berlin. In addition, there are several other active Protestant denominations, many of which offer services in English, and a particularly large Muslim community.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:37 AM Education

Dependent Education

At Post

One third equally of embassy children attend the John F. Kennedy School, Berlin Brandenburg International School, and the Berlin British School. Very few are currently attending the Berlin International School.


Teltower Damm 95 – 123

14167 Berlin, Germany

The JFK school is located near most Embassy housing. Founded in 1960, the JFK School is a bilingual, bicultural American College preparatory school with approximately 1,400 students from kindergarten through grade 13. A private bus service, covered by the education allowance, is available.

Unlike an international school, JFK School is a German public school organized under the auspices of the Berlin Senat. The Berlin Senat and the school district of Zehlendorf are jointly responsible for the overall operation of the school. A ten-member Educational Directorate, comprised of representatives of the U.S. State Department, the Berlin government, and the parent body, works with the school administration in shaping policy.

The secondary school (grades 7-13), which is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, offers students either an American High School Diploma and/or the German Abitur.

Extra curricular activities are available for both elementary and high school students. Musical performances and drama productions are particularly strong features of the school’s program. For older students, class trips to the U.S., England, France, Austria, and within Germany provide unique opportunities to foster American-German integration among students.

There are no facilities at JFK for children with special learning needs.

Inquiries should be directed to John F. Kennedy School, Teltower Damm 87-93, 14167 Berlin Germany. Tel: 632105701/5711. Their web address is .The e-mail address is:


Am Hochwald 30/2 14532 Kleinmachnow

Director Mr. Stephen Middlebrook Phone 033 203 80360


School web address:

The Berlin-Brandenburg International School (former Berlin-Potsdam International School) was founded in 1991 but moved to its present Am Hochwald campus in 2001. The school has developed a comprehensive educational program from pre-school to Grade 12, leading to the International Baccalaureate Diploma. The school follows the International Baccalaureate Program in all grades.

The new campus features a cafeteria, gym, all types of classrooms including science labs, computer labs, two libraries, a theater hall and many other facilities to serve the international community. The school is close to Embassy housing areas.

BBIS students and staff comprise more than 20 nationalities. The language of instruction is English. German is taught from Grade 1, French from Grade 5. Admission of students is possible all year round depending on class capacity. A regular bus system is available for all students.


Dickensweg 17-19, 14055 Berlin-Charlottenburg

Tel: 304 22 05/37 80; Fax: 304 38 56

Headteacher: Mr. Gary D. Benfield


For allowances purposes the Berlin British School has been made the baseline school.

The BBS offers an educational program for students 3-18. The curriculum is based on the International Baccalaureate but has been adjusted to roughly match those of other international schools. Senior students prepare for the IGCSE ( International General Certificate of General Education) and the International Baccalaureate. The language of instruction is English. The BBS is a 15-25 minute drive from Embassy housing.


Lenzallee 8/10, 14195 Berlin-Dahlem

Tel: 82 00 77 90

Adm.Director: Peggy Bleyberg-Shorr

The school opened in August 1998. It teaches students 3-18 in both English and German. Primary language is English. It offers the Abitur in English with one major exam in German and the International Baccalaureate as of 1999. The school is located about 15 minutes from the embassy’s residential area. The school has about 450 students in total of which 170 attend high school.

Web address:




Heerstrasse 465, 13593 Berlin

Tel: 36439820; Fax: 36439821

Academy Program Coordinator: June McTaggert

The Nord Anglia Education Group for international students aged 3-18 opened the for-profit BBIS. Students are taught in English following the syllabus of an adapted English national curriculum, including German language, literature, history, and geography. The school is housed on a green campus, about 45 minutes from the Embassy housing area.



The educational allowance is set to cover all fees, including bus transportation for the baseline school. The post is working closely with the Office of Overseas Schools so that the at-post-educational allowance will also fully cover costs at other accredited international schools in Berlin.

The away-from-post education allowance is equal to the at-post allowance due to the adequacy of the local schools.

In addition there are other schools in Berlin with international student bodies. Together with the schools mentioned here, there are an increasing number of school options in Berlin providing Embassy parents with a good number of schools to choose from.


Dependent Education

Away From Post Last Updated: 4/22/2004 11:01 AM The away-from-post educational allowance is equal to the at-post allowance due to the adequacy of local schools.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:40 AM

There are three large universities in Berlin: the Humboldt University, founded in 1910, and located in Berlin’s Mitte District; the Free University of Berlin, founded in the post-war period and located in Dahlem; and the Berlin Technical University located in Charlottenburg. Instruction at Berlin’s universities is in German. Several U.S. universities offer extension and correspondence courses in Berlin. Check with the Embassy’s CLO Office for the latest information. German-language instruction is available from private tutors, commercial language schools and the Goethe Institute’s cultural centers in Berlin. The Embassy also offers German language instruction, which is administered by Human Resources.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:24 AM

Berlin offers many private and public athletic facilities open to Embassy personnel and their families. These include private and semi-private golf courses, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, sailing facilities and outdoor sports fields throughout the city.

Although Berlin’s terrain is flat, a few natural snow slopes exist for downhill skiers. Most nearby ski areas are for cross-country skiing, a popular German wintertime recreation when snow conditions permit. Ice skating is also popular and there are several rinks open in winter. The Botanical Gardens and Museum and the extensive Grunewald and Tegel Forests provide extensive sites for family outings and parts of the Grunewald and Wannsee areas are designated nature preserves. The Wannsee is home to one of Europe’s largest lake beaches. Running along city streets or pedestrian sidewalks is not customary in Europe (although not uncommon in Berlin). There are many trails and paths reserved for biking and running, especially in the Grunewald which is crisscrossed with bike and pedestrian paths. The Tiergarten, Berlin’s Central Park, and the grounds of Charlottenburg Palace also offer good runs for joggers.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:26 AM

Berlin’s reputation as a great city for art suffered from the depravations of war and political division but now, with the reunification of Berlin, and the shift of the heart of the city eastwards to its historic and cultural center that had been East Berlin, the city is enjoying a cultural rejuvenation. A dramatic new center for culture has opened at the edge of the Tiergarten near the reconstructed Potsdamer Platz and is the new location for museums of modern art and the 18th and 19th century collections of the Gemaldegalerie, formerly situated in Dahlem. Meanwhile, in the Mitte District, Berlin’s Museuminsel, home to the “old” National Gallery and museums of classical art, is undergoing renovation with plans for a dramatic new work by architect I.M. Pei on the drawing boards. Charlottenburg Palace houses several museums including Berlin’s well-known Egyptian Museum, home to the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti.

Berlin is one of Europe’s greatest cities for serious music. The Berlin Philharmonic is one of the world’s premier orchestras. It performs in a sparkling new Philharmonic Hall in the Tiergarten complex. In addition, the city has three opera houses. The Berlin music season is long and features performances annually by nearly all the world’s finest companies, dancers, musicians, conductors and singers, with both traditional and modern programs. Theater is a Berlin staple and, although most productions on the Berlin stage are naturally in German, there are local English-language theater groups and occasional visits by English-speaking touring companies.

Most American films reach Europe about three months after their U.S. openings. Foreign films (and television programs too) are dubbed in German although films are shown in their original language at some Berlin movie theaters. The Berlin Film Festival brings many of the world’s best films to Berlin each February.

Berlin after dark offers plenty of entertainment for night-owls. Cabarets, dance clubs, rock and jazz joints and bars proliferate in all parts of the city. Fine restaurants at all prices are everywhere offering German and continental cuisine in addition to a huge variety of ethnic restaurants for every budget. In summer, the city blossoms with sidewalk restaurants and outdoor cafes fine for eating, drinking or just plain people-watching. Kids will love Berlin’s famous Zoo, especially the giant Pandas, the bridge over the reptile pit and the attached Aquarium with 9,000 varieties of fish.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities Last Updated: 4/22/2004 11:05 AM

There are probably more opportunities in Berlin for making contact with the local American and international community than hours in the day. Many social contacts tend to flow from professional relationships although several more traditional community and church-based organizations exist and have active social programs and sponsor fund-raising activities. The Berlin Chapter of the Steuben-Schurz Society brings Americans together with prominent Berliners for lectures by distinguished speakers. The Berlin American Chamber of Commerce provides a forum for business contacts and activities with a commercial-economic focus. The Society of Parents and Friends of the John F. Kennedy School offers opportunities for parents to be involved with the school and to meet Berlin officials involved in supporting bilingual education. The by-laws of the JFK School provide for Embassy representation on the school’s Board of Education.

Official Functions Last Updated: 4/22/2004 11:06 AM

Official functions in Berlin are similar to those that occur at most large European Embassies. The Ambassador, the Deputy Chief of Mission, the Military Attachés and Embassy officers at the Minister-Counselor level have extensive representational responsibilities and active calendars of events. Functions tend to be far less casual than the American norm with protocol rules more close adhered to as is often the custom in Europe. Business wardrobes should be adequate for receptions and the occasional event requiring formal wear. Courtesy meetings with the Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission should be arranged soon after the arrival of new Embassy staff. Calling cards are very necessary and may be obtained in Berlin at prices somewhat higher than in the U.S. The best procedure is to check with your predecessor about the content of calling cards and the quantities of cards required.

Special Information Last Updated: 6/17/2004 9:47 AM

Office of the Defense Attaché and the Defense Liaison Office (DLO Bonn).

The Office of the Defense Attaché is located in the Mitte Building Chancery of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. Following the unification and the move of the German government to Berlin, the Ministry of Defense and other specialized German military agencies remained in Bonn. Accordingly, elements of the Defense Attaché Office also remain in Bonn and is known as USDAO Branch Office, Bonn. The Defense Attaché Branch Office is housed in portions of the former U.S. Embassy building in Bonn-Bad Godesberg.

Military Uniforms for Officers

General. Attachés, assistant attachés, and staff members generally wear uniforms when visiting Ministry of Defense offices and German military installations during diplomatic events, and occasionally during visits of U.S. or German officials. All officers and NCOs should bring service required issue. Other special items are addressed separately by service. Black-tie or informal uniforms are worn to most official social events and on other special occasions. Authorized ribbons and aiguillettes must be worn with uniforms.

Army. Army attachés, including assistants and the Operations Coordinator, should have at least one Army Blue Uniform. The Army White Uniform is suitable during summer, but is not required. Battle Dress Uniforms are required for visits to field units or on exercise observations.

Air Force. Air attachés, including assistants, should have two Service Dress Blues, one Mess Dress Uniform, and one set of BDUs.

Navy. Service Dress Blues are worn year-round in Germany. Mess Dress Blues are worn for formal functions. Summer White, Mess Dress White, Dress Whites, and Summer Kakhi are NOT worn by attachés in the performance of duties. SW & SK are, however, appropriate when visiting U.S. military installations in Germany.

Warrant Officer and Enlisted Personnel. The Operations Coordinator should have one Army Blue Uniform. Formal dress uniforms are optional for all enlisted personnel regardless of service. All personnel are required to have their service equivalent Class A Uniform.

Civilian Attire

Attachés. During duty hours all attachés wear civilian suits or slacks and sport jackets while on duty. Conservative suits are worn at informal receptions and at small informal dinners at home. A civilian tuxedo is not required, but can be useful.

Warrant Officer and Enlisted Personnel. All male personnel wear suits or slacks and sports jackets while on duty. Female personnel wear dresses, or skirts and blouses, or slacks/pants suits in the office.

Language Requirements Attachés, assistant attachés and spouses should speak fluent conversational German. Private tutors are available locally at around $20 per hour. Depending on available funds, some financial support may be available to meet the cost of language tutoring.

Calling Cards Calling cards for DAO personnel are a must in Berlin and Bonn. These are usually engraved or printed with raised lettering. Block letters are recommended for legibility. Official invitations are always in script. Cards, invitations and other printing needs can be met locally. No cards are required for warrant officers, enlisted personnel or U.S. civilian employees.

Post Orientation Program The Community Liaison Office (CLO) is usually the first point of contact for Embassy new-comers following arrival and, for persons newly assigned to Berlin, in advance of arrival as well. CLO answers educational queries and provides briefing materials, community information and periodically organizes Embassy orientation programs for staff and family members. In Berlin, the CLO Office is located on the ground floor of the Clay Building. Address queries to the Embassy CLO Office through the U.S. Embassy Berlin APO, or by telephone to the CLO office at (49) 30–8305–1550. The CLO fax number is (49) 30–8305–1551.

Strategic Networking Program (SNAP) Berlin is one of 18 missions worldwide participating in a pilot Department of State initiative called the Strategic Networking Assistance Program (SNAP), created to help eligible family members to pursue professional development and employment outside of the Embassy. This may include furthering education, employment on the German economy, or making a difference through volunteer community work. SNAP is managed by a Local Employment Adviser (LEA), who networks with local and international employers, organizations, educational institutions and associations.

To sign up for SNAP, contact:

Local Employment Advisor, LEA

Strategic Networking Assistance Program

U.S. Embassy Berlin

Clay Annex (room 3083)

Phone: ++49 (30) 8305 1578

Fax: ++49 (30) 8305 1555

Consulate General - Düsseldorf

Post City Last Updated: 4/22/2004 12:27 AM

Düsseldorf is the capital of the German Land of North Rhine-Westphalia and a major political, commercial and cultural center. The city has a population of over 575,000 and the State, 17 million, about a quarter of Germany’s total, making it one of Europe’s most densely populated regions. The post’s Consular district or area of responsibility is the entire state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which includes the cities of Cologne, Bonn, Essen, and the Ruhrgebiet, Germany’s heavy industrial center located northeast of Düsseldorf. The Ruhrgebiet is Europe’s largest industrial region and Germany’s principal producer of power for the entire nation. Today, the Ruhr’s economy is more broadly based than ever before with less than five percent of the work force employed in the old coal and steel industries, but it still suffers from double-digit unemployment rates.

Düsseldorf is a large, cosmopolitan city with a flourishing arts community including opera, ballet, art galleries and concerts. The city has a sophisticated retail sector, including the famous Königsallee of exclusive shops and upscale restaurants. It is also the seat of the German fashion industry and site of some of the largest commercial fairs in Germany. Although Düsseldorf International Airport is Germany’s third largest airport, it is not served by any American carriers.

Located in the lower Rhine Valley, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg are all within a few hours’ drive or train ride of Düsseldorf. The city and its suburbs are built on the valley floor and are rimmed by low hills to the south and west. The Rhine is a major commercial thoroughfare and Düsseldorf is a major inland port. Much of the city was destroyed during the Second World War and has been rebuilt in a modern style, although Düsseldorf boasts a large and diverting Altstadt or old town full of charming restaurants and specialty shops. The city has incorporated suburbs on the opposite bank of the river, which include large parks and greenbelts, and there are a number of parks in the Innenstadt or downtown. Further information on Düsseldorf is available from the Internet at or its German-language companion,

The climate in Düsseldorf is similar to the northern Atlantic seaboard of the U.S. with more rain throughout the year and much cloud cover. Significant snowfalls are rare. Summers are short and cool, particularly when compared to Washington, D.C.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 4/22/2004 12:29 AM

The Consulate General occupies two floors of an office building near the city’s central train station at Willi-Becker-Allee 10, 40227 Düsseldorf (telephone 0211–788–8927). At present, there are three American officers and 11 other employees at the Consulate General in Düsseldorf in addition to the Public Diplomacy staff in Cologne. The post has a Political/Economic section, an American Citizen Services section and a Management section. The Consulate’s Public Diplomacy section is located in the Amerika Haus in Cologne, about 25 miles away from Düsseldorf. The Foreign Commercial Service is also present and colocated with the Consulate in Düsseldorf. Working hours at post are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. There are no Marine security guards at post. A duty officer can be reached after hours (telephone 0172–970–2456).

Public Diplomacy is managed from the Amerika Haus in Cologne, a distance of about 25 miles or 45 minutes from Düsseldorf at most times of day. Cologne, with a population of over one million, is Germany’s fourth largest city, and lies south of Düsseldorf on the Rhine. Its profile is marked by one of Europe’s most beautiful Gothic cathedrals ( The city is a leading media and business center, hosts Germany’s largest university (65,000 students) and also occupies a prominent place as a national cultural and arts center. The Consulate General’s Amerika Haus (Apostelnkloster 13–15, 50672 Köln, telephone 0221–209–010) is staffed by an American officer and nine FSNs. Through the Amerika Haus, the Consulate General conducts a comprehensive public affairs program throughout North-Rhine Westphalia, working closely with important national broadcast and print media, and managing an information resource center as well as a targeted speaker program to promote U.S. interests. The Amerika Haus will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in June 2005.

Housing Last Updated: 1/7/2004 2:47 AM

Officers in Düsseldorf are housed in leased quarters in the suburbs. The Public Diplomacy Officer in Cologne currently lives in a leased residence thirty minutes from the Amerika Haus. Quarters are ordinarily fully furnished including refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, stove, draperies, washer and dryer. Appliances should be 220 volts although transformers are available through the post. Düsseldorf and Cologne have excellent road systems as well as efficient and relatively cheap mass transit. Gasoline is expensive in Germany, although discount coupons can be purchased through the Embassy or American military installations. Personnel posted to Düsseldorf or Cologne should contact the post Management section for specific details about quarters and household effects.

Food Last Updated: 4/22/2004 12:30 AM

German groceries and markets offer a wide variety of good quality foods. Most communities have open-air or farmers’ markets selling fresh produce, meat and dairy products. The nearest American military commissary and Post exchange are over an hour’s drive from Düsseldorf in the Netherlands. The British military commissary and exchange is about a half-hour drive from the Consulate General. All types of clothing and footwear are available locally from a wide range of shops and department stores although prices may be higher than those encountered in the U.S. American personnel can also order catalogue items through the APO. Historically, American personnel have received a cost of living allowance in addition to their normal salary.

Clothing Last Updated: 4/22/2004 12:30 AM

Clothing needed is similar dress for the northeastern United States. Standard business attire is worn in the office. Most social events do not require formal dress although there are a few occasions where it is needed or appropriate (e.g. opera, holiday balls, etc).

Supplies and Services Last Updated: 1/7/2004 2:50 AM

Domestic help is available although very expensive. Accommodation exchange is available through the post cashier. It is often possible to use an American ATM card at German bank cash machines connected to the PLUS or CIRRUS networks, though the exchange rate obtained is significantly lower than that through the post cashier. American account checks may also be cashed at most U.S. military exchanges. For convenience with bill paying and for receiving Euro funds electronically, most Americans at post also have local currency accounts with one of the German banks, which have numerous branches throughout the region.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 4/22/2004 12:31 AM

English language services are held at Anglican (Episcopal), Baptist, Methodist and Roman Catholic churches in the Düsseldorf area.

Education Last Updated: 4/22/2004 12:32 AM

The International School of Düsseldorf has over 800 students in grades kindergarten through thirteen (postgraduate or international baccalaureate). Approximately one fourth of the students are American; Japanese and Germans are similarly represented with the balance from Britain, The Netherlands, and other nations. The language of instruction is English. Children at post may also attend the British military dependents school in nearby Rheindahlem or the U. S. military school in Brunssum, over an hour’s drive away in The Netherlands. Other options include the German public schools, the Japanese international school or the French Lycee. Adult education in English is limited although some courses are available through university extension programs offered at nearby American military installations. There is no accredited international school in Cologne.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 4/22/2004 12:32 AM

There are a wealth of recreational and social activities in both Düsseldorf and Cologne. Among the spectator sports are tennis, soccer, horse racing, and ice-hockey. Participatory sports include tennis, soccer, hiking, horseback riding, golf, ice-skating, and bicycling on the extensive paths along the Rhine river. There is an American professional football franchise — the Rheinfire — which has a regular spring season and is scheduled to return to Düsseldorf when the new stadium is completed in 2006.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities Last Updated: 4/22/2004 12:33 AM

There is a large and active American community in Düsseldorf and NRW. Many events are held under the aegis of an American Women’s Club that has several hundred members. The club hosts monthly lunches, a charity ball in December and a number of outings and tours. Contact the post for the names and addresses of club officers. The American Chamber of Commerce is active in Düsseldorf as are a number of German-American friendship groups which host social and cultural events. Cologne enjoys an active sister-city partnership with Indianapolis. The Principal Officer and the Public Diplomacy Officer in Cologne have large representational responsibilities that frequently include other officers at post.

Consulate General - Frankfurt Am Main

Post City Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:26 AM

Germany's fifth largest city and most important transportation hub, Frankfurt am Main is Hesse's urban center (the state capital is nearby at Wiesbaden). The city is located on the Main River, near its confluence with the Rhine at Mainz. Frankfurt's population is 650,000, and one million people live in the Frankfurt metropolitan area.

Frankfurt is continental Europe's leading financial center, host to the European Central Bank and over 300 other financial institutions, and one of Europe's most important commercial marketplaces. The city also has a large Fair and Exhibition Center (Frankfurter Messe), one of the world's principal sites for trade events including the Motor Show (the world's largest) and the annual International Book Fair. The Frankfurt airport is among Europe's largest passenger and cargo hubs, with over 500 flights daily to destinations worldwide (including 19 cities in the US). 86 countries maintain consular representations in Frankfurt, although many are small or honorary operations. Frankfurt has seventy theaters (several in English), leading museums of culture and science, and over a hundred art galleries. Frankfurt's zoo and botanical gardens are also leading attractions.

Frankfurters are proud of the city's long and distinguished history. The Free City of Frankfurt was a center for trade and banking for some 700 years. Until German unification, holy Roman emperors were elected and crowned in Frankfurt, and the historic "Roemer" City Hall in downtown Frankfurt remains the traditional symbol of the city. The city was the heart of Germany's democratic uprising in 1848. Frankfurt also has long and illustrious ties with the New World: early visitors included such distinguished Americans as William Penn, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, and the first U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt opened in 1829.

More detailed information about the city of Frankfurt can be found on the Internet, at English-language sites such as:

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany's leading daily newspapers, publishes an English-language weekly at

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:41 AM

The Frankfurt Consular District includes the southwest German states of Hessen (capital, Wiesbaden), Baden-Wuerttembert (Stuttgart), Rheinland Pfalz (Mainz), and Saarland (Saarbruken) with a total population of about 20 million people. The U.S. Consulate General in Frankfurt is at Siesmayerstrasse 21, in a mixed residential and business area but near the main business district.

The Consulate General employs almost 400 direct-hire Americans and over 380 locally engaged staff members in several separate facilities in Frankfurt. The Consulate General provides administrative assistance to 16 attached agencies including several very large regional offices.

The Consulate Office Building is home to the Executive Section, the Political/Economic Section, the extensive consular and INS operations, and several smaller offices. The Consulate General office facilities also include two large, connected Annex buildings in the housing/office complex known as the Carl-Schurz Siedlung; the RSC building on Luebeckerstrasse; the GSO building in the Siedlung; the Amerika Haus on Staufenstrasse with the Consulate General’s Public Diplomacy Section; and several facilities at the Rhein-Main U.S. Air Force Base. In 2005, all elements of the Consulate General will be consolidated in a renovated facility.

Newly assigned employees should receive a welcome-to-post message that provides current information on post procedures important to all transfers to Frankfurt and to Germany. Each arriving employee is assigned a community sponsor by the Community Liaison Office (CLO) and an office sponsor by the employing office or agency. Designation of sponsors is key to adjustment to post. New personnel arriving at Frankfurt should be sure to advise parent offices and the CLO of arrival details.

Consulate General office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The switchboard telephone number is (49-69)7535-0. A night duty clerk answers the phone after duty hours and can pass calls to the duty officer. Additionally, Marine Security Guards are on duty at all times.

Employees and authorized family members receive mail at the following addresses:


PSC 115 (name of parent office/agency)

APO AE 09213-0115

Mail through the international postal system should be addressed to:


American Consulate General

Siesmayerstrasse 21

60323 Frankfurt am Main, Germany


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:42 AM

New arrivals generally move directly into permanent quarters if they are provided furnished housing by their parent agency, as in the case of State Department staff. Others may be required to occupy rented temporary quarters either in the Community Services Association (CSA) guest quarters in the Carl Schurz Siedlung or in local hotels. Those employees moving directly into their permanent quarters can be provided welcome kits complete with kitchenware, dishes, glassware, flatware, small appliances, blankets, sheets, and towels from CSA for a fee. These kits should be placed in your assigned housing unit by sponsors prior to your arrival.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:44 AM

The Carl Schurz Siedlung is a combined housing and office complex, conveniently located in Frankfurt and within walking distance of both the Consulate Office Building and the RSC. Transportation to and from Consulate facilities is not provided. The Siedlung has over 300 apartments in 25 three-story, walk-up buildings. Each building has two stairwells with six apartments sharing each stairwell. These apartment buildings were originally constructed in the early 1950s. Most apartments overlook grassy areas bordered by trees and shrubs. The housing compound is adjacent to the offices of Germany's federal bank, the Deutsche Bundesbank. Despite the fact that vehicle access to the housing compound is restricted to residents, parking can be tight.

Frankfurt is renovating and upgrading its apartment buildings to improve facilities and institute energy-saving measures. This project is ongoing and while in progress, the flexibility of housing assignments will be limited, as entire buildings need to be reserved for renovation. Additionally, there may be a requirement to relocate employees and their families during their tour in order to vacate buildings for programmed renovation.

The housing compound has an assortment of apartments to accommodate most families. Assignments are made by the Interagency Housing Board. These apartments have a living/dining room area, bedrooms, kitchen, and bathrooms. Any special housing requirements should be brought to the attention of the General Services Office as soon as possible.

Post also has a growing portfolio of leased residences to accommodate its growing population. Employees of non-foreign affairs agencies can expect to be assigned to leased housing.

The Consulate General has access to six senior officer residences. Frankfurt's Interagency Housing Board assigns employees to these fully furnished residences. Details on the Consul General's residence, a 1930s villa, are available from A/FBO in Washington.


Furnishings Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:45 AM

All major appliances (stove, refrigerator, washer, dryer) are furnished to all tenants assigned quarters in the Siedlung. Microwaves and freezers are not provided. Furniture and furnishings, including draperies, are provided to employees of agencies participating in Frankfurt's furniture program. Employees should consult with their agencies to verify their respective support program. Each apartment has an assigned basement storage room, however, some families find that the storage space within their storage room and apartment is limited, so post recommends that employees be somewhat conservative in what they actually ship to post. No GSO storage facilities for excess furniture are available.

Leased housing has 220-volt power. Power in the Siedlung housing compound apartments is also 220-volt, though as apartments are renovated, two 120-volt power outlets are installed in kitchens.

Your American telephone instrument (including cordless) will operate in Germany, but you will need to purchase an adapter to fit the wall socket. German telephones can also be purchased locally and at U.S. military exchanges. Internet is available from Deutsche Telekom. There is a short waiting period for Internet subscriptions at the time of this writing.

Food Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:45 AM

The German economy offers a great selection of foodstuffs. In addition, direct-hire employees and their eligible family members have access to the U.S. military commissaries and shoppettes in Germany. Several of these facilities (i.e., Rhein-Main, Wiesbaden, and Hanau) are within about 30 minutes' drive of the Siedlung. The selection of items in these stores is comparable to what one would expect at large general-service supermarkets in the U.S. at comparable or slightly higher prices reflecting transportation and other handling costs. Americans use German shops and markets as well. These are amply stocked with excellent fresh produce, dairy products and baked goods and a different mix of local and imported items. Affordability fluctuates with the Dollar/Euro exchange rate. Most fruits and vegetables can be found throughout the year, although prices rise for imported, out-of-season goods. Ethnic food and ingredients--particularly Asian and Middle Eastern--are easier to find in Frankfurt than at most other German posts.

Clothing Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:46 AM

Weather in Frankfurt can often be overcast but its location along the Main River generally helps moderate the temperature extremes. Since, historically summer temperatures have been relatively mild, few German facilities are air-conditioned but this is changing as new office buildings are constructed and others renovated. The frequency of misty or rainy weather also prompts regular use of umbrellas. Winters can be quite cold but snow seldom accumulates.

Because Frankfurt is Germany's financial capital, dress tends to be "banker conservative," although many contemporary designers are represented in trendy Frankfurt wardrobes. US-sponsored formal events are rarely held in Frankfurt but black tie is useful for such functions as the Marine Corps Ball. Local stores offer a full range of clothing in European sizes. Prices tend to be more expensive than US department store standards. The American military exchanges carry a limited selection of name-brand American clothing although shoe selection is generally more limited. Most employees shop by catalogue from the US and receive shipments through the APO.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:48 AM

Military exchange (AAFES) and commissary facilities at near-by US military bases provide major US name-brand products. The variety of stock is similar to that provided by medium-sized department stores such as Walmart or K-Mart and major grocery chains in the U.S. Certain items such as tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, are often priced lower than in the US, but are subject to ration controls. Direct-hire employees assigned to the Consulate are entitled to shop at these facilities with ID cards provided by the Consulate General.

Other supplies are available on the economy, and the Frankfurt area has several warehouse stores similar to Sam’s Club or Price Club. Some items actually prove to be cheaper in local stores than in military facilities. All locally bought items are subject to a Value Added Tax (VAT) of 5-16 percent, included in the purchase price. Major purchases in local stores can qualify for VAT rebates, but the rebate procedure is complicated and requires a minimum purchase of 100 Euros from the vendor.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:50 AM

All services such as tailoring, shoe repair, dry cleaners, laundry, and beauty/barber shops are available on the German economy and at some AAFES facilities on nearby US military installations. CSA also offers a beauty/barber shop in the Siedlung housing compound. Many community residents have bank accounts for local and U.S. banking needs at branches managed by Bank of America operating under contract with the Department of Defense at military locations. AAFES also manages gas stations that accept either cash or gas coupons for tax-free purchase of gasoline. These gas coupons can also be used at Esso gas stations in Germany and Aral and BP gas stations on the autobahns.

CSA provides satellite cable-TV service throughout the Siedlung for a reasonable monthly fee. This service is in both English and German languages. Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) is included in CSA programming with five stations. AFRTS transmissions are in the American NTSC format and other programs are in PAL or SECAM, so a multi-system TV is recommended to receive all programs. Multi-system television sets and video recorders can be purchased at local US military exchange facilities and local stores. The US military also provides radio programming in English.

Local Internet-access providers, in English, include IBM, CompuServe and AOL. Deutsche Telekom (T-OnLine) and UUNET, a division of MCI, also provide Internet access locally as do many other smaller providers. Prices for local access providers are about equal to US rates, and a wide choice of services exist, varying in price, quality and accessibility.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:51 AM

Anyone considering employment of domestic help is required to contact Human Resources (HR) for assistance at least five months prior to arrival. HR provides post policy information that helps explain the various German requirements. Sponsorship is tightly controlled with wages subject to the legal minimum as stipulated by the German Government. Sponsors must certify the payment of required salary. Sponsors are also responsible for the purchase of relatively expensive German health insurance for domestic employees; this too, is reported to the German Government. Should sponsors terminate the employ of domestic employees (or if domestic employees are in-country for five years), sponsors must guarantee payment for the return of the terminated domestic employees to their country of origin.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 4/22/2004 12:55 AM

U.S. Military chaplains conduct regular Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Jewish services. Latter-Day Saints, Baptists, Lutherans, Christian Scientists, and Episcopalians are active in the English-speaking community. There is one local Catholic Church that provides English-language services.

Education Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:54 AM

The Carl Schurz School, located in the Consulate General’s Siedlung housing area, provides a pre-school for children 18 months – four years.

Parents with school-age family members have a number of choices in educational facilities. All students receive an education allowance, which will cover tuition and fees to schools listed below. Any costs exceeding the approved educational allowances must be paid by the parents. For example, costs for field trips associated with the school’s program will normally be the parent’s responsibility. It is also important to note that in the schools below special needs programs are very limited. Contact HR, CLO or the Health Unit if you have questions. If newly assigned personnel are interested in obtaining additional information regarding the schools, they should write to:

Frankfurt International School (FIS)

An der Waldlust 15

D-61440 Oberursel

International School of Frankfurt

Albert-Blank-Strasse 50

D-65931 Frankfurt am Main

Halvorsen-Tunner American School

(DoDDS – elementary)

Rhein-Main Air Base

Bldg 610, Gateway Gardens

60549 Frankfurt

Note: Rhein Main Airbase is scheduled to close in summer 2005; students will then attend the Wiesbaden schools.

H. Arnold High School (DoDDS)

Texas Strasse Geb. 190

65189 Wiesbaden/Hainerberg

The DoDDS High School is accredited by the North Central Association; the FIS High School by the Middle States Association and the European Council of International Schools; the ISF school is a Sabis-affiliated school and is not yet US-accredited. Bus transportation is provided from the housing area to FIS and the DoDDS schools while a taxi service is used by the ISF school. All schools offer athletic and extracurricular activities throughout the school year.

Post management is represented on the School Board of FIS and the Carl Schurz School to help ensure that the interests of our families are properly considered. Additional, specific information on the programs, facilities, student bodies, and staffs of Frankfurt’s schools is available from the Community Liaison Office (local tel. 49/69 7535-3760/1), from the Department of State’s Intranet, or individual School websites.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:55 AM

In addition to full-time university studies in Mannheim, the European program of the University of Maryland offers a variety of evening classes at local U.S. military facilities. The Education Center at Rhein-Main Air Base may be contacted to answer questions concerning costs and requirements. There are also classes offered through the City Colleges of Chicago, Troy State University, and the University of Oklahoma. The Community Liaison Office maintains a library of other self-study or correspondence courses. German language training is available at a number of local institutions, but proves to be expensive. Language training is offered through the Human Resources Office of the Consulate General on a funds-available basis.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:56 AM

A great variety of participant and spectator-sports is available in Frankfurt. Tennis is played on three hard courts in the Siedlung for members of this CSA-sponsored activity. There is also an exercise equipment facility in the Siedlung sponsored by CSA, an outdoor basketball court and a volleyball area. The Consulate General community has its own bowling league using the bowling center at Rhein-Main Air Base. Other sports, including golf and swimming, are locally available. Professional sports in Frankfurt include soccer, basketball and a professional American football team, the Frankfurt Galaxy, with regular games in the European league.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:57 AM

Opera, ballet, concerts, music recitals and theater are available in Frankfurt and nearby Wiesbaden. Additionally, Frankfurt boasts excellent English-language theater with regular productions in the heart of the city. First-run movies in English are also available at several theaters in addition to movie theaters at U.S. military installations, including a popular theater at the Rhein-Main Air Base area known as Gateway Gardens.

CSA operates its Community Center in the midst of the Siedlung community and this facility is host to a variety of small, neighborhood events. The Field House offers breakfast and lunch during workdays as well as special dinners. This facility also has a small bar, outdoor barbeque area, and a children's playground. U.S. military organizations also provide dining and dancing opportunities. The CLO organizes trips and programs for employees and family members. The USO publishes a bimonthly brochure that highlights its activities, which include trips to various parts of Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:57 AM The American Women's Club of the Taunus is a particularly active organization with special programs and events. Other activities include the Consulate General's Community Outreach Group (COG) and the USO, both of which sponsor extensive programs available to the community. All of these organizations are involved in charity and welfare activities as well. Most U.S. military bases in the Frankfurt region have support organizations with activities that welcome new participation.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

International Contacts Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:58 AM Many international contacts develop through participation in the activities of Frankfurt International School (FIS) or the International School of Frankfurt. Local community programs include PTA, scouting, and church programs.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:59 AM

Frankfurt has a large number of consulates and honorary Consulates. Generally the Consul General and/or his designee attend social interactions involving other consulates. Also, official events hosted by local German government, industries, banks, or US mililtary commands offer opportunities for participation. The Consul General does receive more invitations than can be personally accepted and this permits opportunities for other senior personnel to participate in selected official functions. Virtually all social gatherings are informal.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 6/7/2004 2:59 AM

Officers generally carry business cards when attending official events and/or meetings. Business cards can be created on your PC and Laser Printer. Directions are stated on Administrative Policy Nr. 16-01 dated March 26, 2001. Invitation cards can be purchased at reasonable cost in Frankfurt.

Special Information Last Updated: 6/7/2004 3:02 AM

Post Orientation Program

The CLO provides newcomers with orientation documents that include post procedures, housing information, and information on Frankfurt, including local places of interest. These documents are supplemented by mandatory check-in processing procedures coordinated by the Human Resources Office. As a further measure, the Regional Security Office provides security briefings for new arrivals and adult family members.

Strategic Networking Program (SNAP)

Frankfurt is one of 18 missions worldwide participating in a pilot Department of State initiative called the Strategic Networking Assistance Program (SNAP), created to help eligible family members to pursue professional development and employment outside of the Consulate. This may include furthering education, employment on the German economy, or making a difference through volunteer community work. SNAP is managed by a Local Employment Adviser (LEA), who networks with local and international employers, organizations, educational institutions and associations.

To sign up for SNAP, contact:

Local Employment Advisor, LEA

Strategic Networking Assistance Program

U.S. Consulate General, Frankfurt

T: 069-7535-3433

Consulate General - Hamburg

Post City Last Updated: 4/22/2004 1:02 PM

Hamburg, the second largest city in Germany (1.7 million inhabitants) is best known for its port. That image, however, is only a small part of a city that, for most Americans, is one of the best-kept secrets in Europe. Built around the Alster, a lake that is the size of Monaco, the city is graced with large open spaces (half the area is either water or parkland), elegant architecture and a thriving cultural life. Hamburg has the highest per-capita income of any region in the European Union, and the city is noted for stylish boutiques as well as a large and varied selection of fine restaurants.

The relatively modern look of Hamburg belies its age. In 1189, Hamburg was granted the right to a free trade zone and, in 1321, joined the Hanseatic League. Because of wood construction, the city was repeatedly destroyed by fires, the latest being in 1842. In the last decades of the 19th century, Hamburg underwent a building boom and the city took on its current outline by adding port areas, parks, and beautiful buildings and homes constructed in Jugendstil architecture. During World War II, over sixty percent of Hamburg was destroyed. The city rebuilt many architectural treasures while maintaining a low skyline of new buildings of brick, steel and glass that reflect the city’s maritime tradition.

Trade is still the backbone of Hamburg’s prosperity. The city boasts the second largest port in Europe and the fifth largest container port in the world, despite the fact that ships must travel 68 miles down the Elbe River to reach the North Sea. In addition, the city is a center for media (print, TV, and multi-media), insurance and aerospace (it has the second largest number of workers in the aircraft industry after Seattle). Hamburg boasts 95 foreign consulates and is second only to New York City in consular representation.

The weather in Hamburg is generally rainy and can be quite cool. Spring is lovely, with blooming tulips, daffodils and other flowers around the Alster and parks. Hamburgers take advantage of all sunny days (sometimes they are few) and can be found walking or having coffee or a beer at an outdoor cafe. Sweater-weather is common even in the summer although, on the occasional hot day, the weather can be humid and sticky. Winter days are frequently overcast, with temperatures similar to Washington but with the north German darkness approaching by 4:00 p.m.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 4/22/2004 1:04 PM

The Consulate General is housed within two 115-year old villas overlooking the Alster. Designed by the Hamburg architect Martin Haller, the focal point of the building is a large ballroom where over 40 events are held each year. The building is within walking distance of the city center and the Dammtor train station. The office is located at Alsterufer 27/28, 20354 Hamburg and office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Telephone: +49–40–411–71–0, After hours: +49–40–411–71–211, Fax: +49–40–411–71–222. Hamburg, along with the rest of Germany, is on Central European time, a difference of six hours from Washington, D.C.

The American Consulate in Hamburg was established in 1790 and was elevated to a Consulate General in 1903. The Consular District covers the five northern German states (Länder) of Hamburg (, Schleswig-Holstein (, Lower Saxony (, Bremen ( and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (

At present, the Consulate General consists of six American officers and 25 FSNs. The Consulate General includes the Office of the Consul General, Political/Economic Section, Consular Section, Administrative Section, a Public Diplomacy section, the Foreign Commercial Service and the Foreign Agricultural Service. As in 1790, the major focus of the Consulate is promoting trade with the U.S. Some ten percent of all U.S. exports to Europe come through the ports in the consular district. The Consular Section provides American Citizen Services for the approximately 25,000 American living in the district. Visas are issued only in Berlin and Frankfurt. In addition, three U.S. agricultural commodity associations also maintain offices within the Consulate General.

Language. Some knowledge of German is highly recommended for spouses and family members. Activities such as shopping, household repairs, community, cultural and sport events are all greatly facilitated by at least an elementary understanding of German. While educated Germans are often fluent in English, many working class and older Germans speak little or no English. In Hamburg, Consulate General families live on the economy with little assistance from the Consulate General for day-to-day living activities. There are numerous opportunities for language classes to fit all schedules and budgets.

Housing Last Updated: 4/22/2004 1:05 PM

The Consul General’s residence is a four-bedroom apartment located at the upper end of the Alster. The house is fully furnished, including representational china and flatware. For further information about the CG’s residence, contact FBO/IFD at the Department of State.

All other American employees live in U.S. Government-leased quarters, which can vary from an apartment to a single-family house, and can be located in prewar buildings or newly built. Housing assignments depend on rank and family size. Commutes to the Consulate General can be as little as an eight-ten minute walk or up to an hour-long drive depending on the residence location and traffic conditions. Families with school-age children may prefer to live in the vicinity of the International School—about a 45-minute commute from the Consulate General. All housing is convenient to excellent public transportation. There is no temporary housing at post. Permanent quarters are ready on arrival for all personnel assigned to Hamburg.


Furnishings Last Updated: 4/22/2004 1:05 PM

American staff receive furnished quarters. All housing is equipped with basic furnishings, such as curtains, lights, carpets, stoves, refrigerators, dishwashers, microwave, washer and dryer and wardrobes. Linens, tablecloths, decorative items, household goods, and small appliances are not provided. Welcome kits are provided for new arrivals and consist of linens, kitchenware, flatware, pillows and towels for a family of four. Larger families or families with special needs should contact the Consulate General in advance. Electric current is 220V; a limited number of 220–110V transformers are available in most residences.

Food Last Updated: 4/22/2004 1:06 PM

Almost all foodstuffs are available on the local market. There are many types of markets ranging from small mom-and-pop stores to large hypermarkets to open-air markets. German food quality and sanitation standards are extremely high. In general, most food items can be more expensive and a few baking ingredients and some processed foods may be more difficult to find; however, this is changing monthly. Many families do monthly shopping at one of the U.S. military facilities that are between five to six hours by car from Hamburg.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 4/22/2004 1:07 PM

Well-stocked German stores sell all European-style household items and are generally well made, but can be more expensive. Stores are generally open from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., with the larger stores open until 8:00 p.m. during the week. Saturday hours are from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. On Sundays, all stores are closed except those located at train and gas stations.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 4/22/2004 1:08 PM

All normal services are available on the local economy in Hamburg although prices and, in some cases, quality may differ from U.S. standards. A variety of Internet Service Providers (ISP) exist, such as CompuServe, AOL, UUNET and Deutsche Telekom’s T-OnLine, for local Internet connections. Prices tend to be more expensive than in the U.S. Local phone charges especially are more expensive than in the U.S. Surfing the Internet for an hour, for example, may cost DM 7 (around $4) plus the charges of the ISP itself.

Postal Services. The Consulate General does not have APO service. The nearest APO services are located at the U.S. military facility in Bremerhaven, a two-hour drive from Hamburg. Department of State pouch service is available at the Consulate General. The pouch address is:

Name American Consulate General Hamburg Department of State Washington D.C. 20520–5180

International and domestic mail service by the German post office is excellent. Letters and postcards usually reach the U.S. East Coast in about five days although customs formalities make the use of the international mail for parcels from the U.S. difficult.

Automobiles. All automobiles must pass German car inspection standards. U.S. specification autos require some conversions to meet German standards, at a cost up to several thousand DMarks. Please contact post for more detailed information prior to shipping or buying a car. There are no garages that specialize in U.S. specification vehicles and parts must be specially ordered.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 4/22/2004 1:08 PM

Household help is available, but generally expensive. More information about locating household help is available at post.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 4/22/2004 1:08 PM

English-language services are held at the Lutheran Petrikirche, International Baptist Church, the English Church of St. Thomas a Becket, the Methodist Church, St. Elisabeth Roman Catholic Church, International Christian Fellowship and the Church of the Latter-Day Saints. Orthodox services are also available, but not in English. There is one Orthodox Jewish synagogue (services are in Hebrew and German.) There is a large Muslim community with several Mosques.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 4/22/2004 1:10 PM

Most school-age American family members attend the International School of Hamburg (ISH), which is situated in the western section of the city, about 45 minutes from the city center of Hamburg. This is the only school in Hamburg in which the principal language of instruction is English. The school is divided into two sections, the Early Learning Center/Junior School (equivalent to preschool through grade 5 in the U.S.) and the Secondary School (grades 6 to 12). ISH is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and as well, offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program. All students are tested before official acceptance. Children must be at least five years old by October 1 to enter the ISH kindergarten program.

There are 520 students representing 45 nationalities. Classes are generally small, from 14 to 20 students. Music, art and drama classes are offered; however, sport programs are not as comprehensive as in an American public school. The school is in the process of a major expansion program that should be completed by 2000.

The school arranges bus transportation to and from the ISH campus for children in kindergarten through grade 5 who live in the downtown area. Secondary students are not offered this option, but public transportation, the norm, is quite convenient and safe.


Special Needs Education Last Updated: 4/22/2004 1:10 PM

Certain opportunities exist for students with special needs at ISH and are considered on a case-by-case analysis every year. Contact the school in advance for more details.

For further information or applications for ISH, the address is:

The International School of Hamburg Holmbrook 20 22605 Hamburg, Germany Tel: (40) 8830010 Fax: (40) 88300199 E-mail:

German public and private schools accept foreign students, but instruction is in German. There is also a French Lycee for those interested in the French school system. There are many good German kindergartens (equivalent of American preschool), but waiting lists may be long for some of these kindergartens.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 4/22/2004 1:11 PM

Four different universities in the area offer a variety of degree programs in English. Rice University in collaboration with the University of Bremen and the City of Bremen is establishing an international, private, research university in Bremen that will grant undergraduate and graduate degrees similar to U.S. universities. Purdue University in collaboration with the State of Lower Saxony is establishing a private business school in Hannover and will offer MBA degree programs. The University of Hamburg is establishing an International Center for Advanced Studies, which will offer an international MBA degree program. The Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg offers Bachelor and Master degree programs in engineering.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 4/22/2004 1:28 PM

Hamburgers are quite serious about sport and exercise, and because of this, Hamburg has a wonderful selection of sports and sport facilities. Swimming is available year-around, with exceptionally nice, inexpensive and numerous indoor swimming pools. In the winter, there are several popular outdoor ice-skating rinks. The centrally located Alster Lake and many miles of intertwining canals offer wonderful opportunities for rowing and sailing in the summer, with a number of rowing, sailing and windsurfing schools available. Tennis and horseback riding are also very popular and many schools can be found in the area.

Hamburg abounds with playgrounds and parks. The Alster Lake, beautiful open areas and woods in the vicinity offer opportunities for walking and picnics. A pleasant way to discover the city and the surrounding countryside is by bicycle. Hamburg has an extensive system of bike paths, which make most of the city easily accessible by bicycle.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:20 PM

As a major European city, Hamburg provides something for everyone, from the prestigious opera and ballet to its many museums, from the Harbor Birthday to a night out on the world-famous Reeperbahn. The Hamburg State Opera is considered one of the world’s leading opera houses and is the oldest in Germany. The Hamburg Ballet is world class and has been under the direction of an American since 1973. Three important orchestras are based in Hamburg. Jazz music enthusiasts will not be disappointed; the city offers year-round quality entertainment. Hamburg has some 30 theaters that are considered among the best in Germany. The English Theater group presents plays several times a year with professional actors recruited from London. The Hamburg Players, an amateur theater group, also presents plays in English. In German cinemas, most films are dubbed into German, but “original version” English language films are shown at more than one city location. There are several video stores with a large selection of current and classic English language videaos. Most are in the PAL format, with a few in NTSC. For up-to-date information in English on events in Hamburg, see the Internet site

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities Last Updated: 11/30/1999 6:00 PM

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:21 PM There are eight American-related clubs in Hamburg, which cover a wide range of interests such as social contacts, business networking, volunteer activities, and current events.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

International Contacts Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:21 PM Again, there are a number of international clubs that hold meetings and lectures and conduct activities to promote international understanding and friendship through the English language. The International School is an important venue for international contacts for those with school age children. There are also numerous activities of the Consular Corps, depending on one's rank and function.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:22 PM

As the U.S. Consulate General is the most prominent in the city, the Consul General and other officers have many representational activities, many of which include spouses. Business attire is the norm for most official events. There are also a number of formal events during the year. Men may wish to have their own tuxedo, as local rental costs can be expensive. For women, these events require formal dress, with preference for dark, understated and elegant clothing. Women’s formal wear is more expensive than in the U.S. and petite sizes are difficult to find.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:23 PM

North Germans, particularly Hamburgers, are protocol-conscious, punctual and generally reserved. When meeting someone in Germany, it is customary for everyone to shake hands. Guests invited to German homes always arrive with flowers or a small gift. Business cards are exchanged. Officers should bring business cards to post, as local printing costs can be quite expensive.

The Consul General must be received by the Lord Mayor of Hamburg before undertaking official activities. The Consul General will also make introductory calls on the Ministers-President of the other Länder, as well as leaders of the Consular Corps. Other officers will normally call upon their counterparts in the government and the Consular Corps.

Consulate General - Leipzig

Post City Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:25 PM

The Consulate General in Leipzig is the only U.S. Government representation in the former German Democratic Republic outside Berlin. The Consular District includes the States of Saxony, Thuringia, and Saxony-Anhalt. Leipzig, the area’s primary commercial center, has a population of 500,000. Other prominent towns in the district include: Dresden, Chemnitz, Halle, Dessau, Magdeburg, Wittenberg, Erfurt, Weimar, and Jena.

Situated in the center of the former GDR’s industrial triangle, famous for its chemicals, steel, heavy engineering, and publishing, Leipzig has a proud heritage as home to the world’s first and longest-running trade fair, more than 825 years old. Leipzig has an impressive music heritage which it supports extensiverly; besides Johann Sebastian Bach, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Wagner made their homes here. An impressive fairground facility, between downtown Leipzig and the Leipzig-Halle Airport, was opened in April 1996. Banking, communications, and the service sector have largely replaced heavy manufacturing since German reunification.

Although Leipzig still bears scars of neglect and mismanagement, first at the hands of the Nazis and later under the yoke of the Communists, thousands of buildings have been restored or renovated, new construction abounds, and the infrastructure is on its way to becoming state-of-the-art. Eastern Germany already has the finest telephone system in Europe, and thousands of miles of roads have been widened, repaired, or replaced in the last ten years.

Leipzig’s citizens played a primary role in toppling the Communist regime, demonstrating bravery en masse with peaceful demonstrations that sealed the end of the GDR in the fall of 1989. Throughout the Consular District, the United States, its people and policies, remain a source of considerable interest and curiosity; countless sister-city relationships, exchange programs, economic partnerships, and the like have been created in the past decade, and many more are in the planning stages. Additional information about Leipzig in English and German can be found on the Internet at

The climate in Leipzig is moderate, although each summer there are generally several days above 90ºF and each winter temperatures go down below zero F. Rain is frequent (average 20–30 inches annually), and it generally snows several times each winter. Neither the Consulate General nor its residences are equipped with air conditioners; fans are used in offices on the hottest days. In winter, heating is adequate, although the high ceilings, particularly at the Principal Officer’s Residence, tend to disperse heat quickly.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:26 PM

The Consulate General was officially reopened on June 30, 1992, fifty-one years after it closed during World War II, although the offices are now housed in more spacious quarters. The Department of State, the Foreign Commercial Service and an active Public Diplomacy Section have offices on the consulate compound, which includes a Jugendstil villa and the adjacent Gartenhaus at Wilhelm Seyfferth Strasse 4 in Leipzig’s attractive Music Quarter. (The Consulate General’s telephone number is [49] (341) 213–840, fax 213–8417.) The combined staff at present includes three Americans and 15 German and third-country nationals. The Consulate General’s public diplomacy office operates an Information Resource Center, as well as programming, press, and exchange operations.

Because of the Consulate General’s small size, nearly all staff are multifunctional. As the Consulate General operates under the Special Consular Program, Leipzig relies on Embassy Berlin for visa and passport services as well as for administrative backup. The Consulate General provides notarial and emergency American citizens services, but does not provide visa services. The Consulate General focuses on political and economic contact-building, support for American business representatives (well over 100 American companies are represented in the district), and public diplomacy programs, including active speech and interview programs by American staff and visiting experts from the United States.

Housing Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:27 PM

All American employees, including the Consul General, are housed in attractive, newly-restored short-term leased apartments within 5 to 10 minutes’ walk from the Consulate General and a 10-minute walk from the heart of downtown. All apartments have a living room, dining room, kitchen, study, and two bedrooms. Storage space is limited, and laundry facilities are generally in one of the bathrooms. The Consul General’s residence is furnished by the Office of Foreign Buildings’ Interior Design and Furnishings Division; the other residences are furnished with standard furniture and equipment, including washer, dryer, and vacuum cleaner. The CG and PAO have parking garages; parking is also available at the Consulate General compound.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:28 PM

Water, electricity, and central heating are provided for all units at U.S. Government expense. Telephone service is provided at the occupant’s expense. Employees (except the Principal Officer) should bring their own ironing board and iron. One large transformer is provided per housing unit. All personal electronic items brought to post should be 220v, 50 cycles, or 100/60 usable with a transformer. Items not converted to 50 cycles tend to burn out rapidly. Owners of computers and other expensive equipment may consider investing in a voltage stabilizer.

Food Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:28 PM

Local markets are well-stocked with all types of food items, with prices comparable to Washington, D.C. Store hours are becoming more flexible, but few are open past 8 p.m. on weekdays and almost all are closed on Sundays. Neighborhood markets near the Consulate General are augmented by large discount retailers located in newly built shopping malls, as well as the Leipzig Central Station, where stores are exceptionally permitted to remain open on Sundays and until 10 p.m. on weekdays.

Employees may use facilities of the U.S. military in Germany after obtaining ID cards in Berlin. The driving time to the closest military exchange facility is approximately three hours.

Leipzig as well as other major cities in the district offers a wide variety of excellent restaurants in all price categories, ranging from Saxon specialties to Italian and Asian delicacies. Fast food outlets abound. Prices are similar to those in the Washington, D.C. area.

Clothing Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:29 PM

Standards for street and business dress are similar to those in Washington, D.C. Formal attire is rarely required. For most evening functions, a dark suit or cocktail dress usually suffices. Given the variable climate, a flexible wardrobe is useful. Since many of the streets are cobblestone, several good pairs of walking shoes are advisable. Raingear and umbrellas get frequent use most of the year. Boots for snow and rain are also useful. Prices in local stores are high in comparison to the United States, but most types of clothing are readily available.

Supplies and Services Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:29 PM

A wide array of toiletries, cosmetics, and household products is available in Leipzig. Although all American brands are not represented, in nearly all cases there is an adequate alternative. Prices are, however, somewhat higher.

Dry cleaning services are uneven, although American personnel assigned to Leipzig have found several that are satisfactory. Hairdressers are generally very good. Most repair services are more than adequate. To assist newcomers, the Consulate General maintains a list of service providers used and recommended by post personnel.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:32 PM

Regular Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Russian Orthodox, and Jewish religious services are offered in German by various congregations in Leipzig. A British pastor offers English-language services at the Anglican Church in Leipzig on a regular basis.

Education Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:32 PM

Leipzig International School currently offers classes from Kindergarten through Grade 12 in English, based on an International Baccalaureate program for the high school grades. Musical instruction is also available at the musical secondary school for qualified applicants. Leipzig is also home to Leipzig University and institutes offering training in music, art, and book design at the University level. However, most classes at the university level are offered only in German.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:33 PM

Leipzig has University, Music Academy, Art Institute, and Volkshochschule (adult education institution) courses for those with German-language ability. Leipzig University is one of the oldest German-speaking universities. The French, British, and Polish governments also have active cultural centers in town.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:34 PM

The Leipzig region offers opportunities for exploration of the area’s rich cultural and historical heritage and is blessed with extensive parklands. Leipzig has a long history of amateur and professional sports with many opportunitives for active participants and also hosts many sporting events. (Leipzig is currently one of the cities competing to host the 2012 Olympic games.) Recreational facilities include swimming pools, bowling alleys, and fitness centers. Horseback riding is available nearby. Saxony’s Erzgebirge offer opportunities for winter sports as does Thuringia’s Rennsteig. Tennis and golf are available but on a more limited basis. The Cospudener See near Leipzig offers a beach-like setting for swimming and boating.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:36 PM

Cultural opportunities in this part of Germany are particularly extensive. Leipzig’s world-famous Gewandhaus Orchestra, innovative Opera and renowned boys’ choir perform most of the year, augmented by guest performances in the Gewandhaus’s first class philharmonic hall. Other theaters include Leipzig’s Schauspielhaus and the Musikalische Komedie, which offer a wide variety of drama. Leipzig’s Kabaretts, well-known throughout the German-speaking world, serve up a special brand of biting political humor. The region is also home to no fewer than eight other opera companies within a two-hour radius, including Dresden’s world-famous Semperoper. Dresden’s Zwinger complex offers an Old Masters art collection to rival the leading collections in Western Europe, and the nearby Albertinum houses the treasures of the “Grunes Gewolbe.” Weimar, the European Cultural Capital in 1999, is the home of the Goethe and Schiller houses and a splendid “Schloss” decorated in the Classical style, and Eisenach’s Wartburg is the medieval castle whose “Singers’ War” was made popular by Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser. Local movie theaters offer recent releases, generally dubbed into German. Leipzig hosts several museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, located in temporary quarters while a new facility is built, the Grassi Ethnographic and Decorative Arts Museum, the Bach Archives, the Egyptian Museum, and several collections covering the historic Battle of Nations, scene of Napoleon’s defeat in 1813. Travelling exhibits are often displayed in the various institutions.

Leipzig’s traditional Christmas Market sets the tone for holiday activities, while Dresden’s Strietzelmarkt is the oldest Christmas market in Germany. The region is home to a number of festivals and celebrations, many related to its rich musical history.

Leipzig’s nightlife revolves around various bars and discotheques, as well as more down-to-earth entertainment catering to the city’s 13,000 university students. The Moritzbastei, a university-associated club, offers space for some 1,000 revelers in deep underground caverns. Leipzig’s arena frequently hosts rock concerts or other musical events.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:38 PM

American staff members make official courtesy calls on senior German officials at the State and local levels, and consular officers of other countries, and maintain ongoing contact with an exceptionally wide range of interlocutors, from Ministers of state to ministers of religion and from investment advisers to former GDR civil rights activists. The Consulate General has traditionally played an important facilitation role, bringing contacts together with one another, through informal functions, roundtables, and other representational activities. Travel is extensive throughout the Consular District, reflecting the grass-roots nature of the Consulate General’s business and the need to make up for decades of absence by establishing and nurturing contacts. Since few of the Consulate’s interlocutors speak English, German-language proficiency is important. The Principal Officer has an active public speaking and interview schedule, with a wide range of audiences, and the Political/Economic Officer and Branch Public Affairs Officer also engage in lectures and interviews. Particularly for the Consul General, representational activities, except during holiday periods, are demanding and frequently formal. Representation for other officers can be equally heavy, but most officers concentrate on lunchtime entertaining due to interlocutors’ long work hours. Officers will need as many as 800 calling cards, which can easily be obtained from the Embassy Berlin print shop, during a three-year period.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 4/22/2004 2:39 PM

Outside of representational responsibilities, social life in Leipzig is informal. It consists mainly of small reciprocal parties among Germans, Americans, the business community, foreign consular personnel, and officers of the regional Bundeswehr command. These events including informal dinners, luncheons, and parties. In addition to the U.S., Russia, Italy, Greece, and Poland operate Consulates General in Leipzig; Switzerland and the Czech Republic are represented in Dresden.

Regional German-American groups include Consulate General personnel and Germans from professional circles. These include the German-American societies in Chemnitz and Erfurt, the Dialogue Center in Magdeburg, and the German-American Club and German-Atlantic Society in Dresden. There are also a number of clubs which one may join in Leipzig (Rotary, Lions, Economic, Marketing, etc.). There is also an International Women’s Club in Leipzig. Both Saxony and Thuringia have chapters of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany, and there is a Leipzig chapter of the American-German Business Club; consulate officers are active in support of both organizations.

Consulate General - Munich

Post City Last Updated: 4/26/2004 3:49 PM

Munich, capital of Bavaria and a metropolis of almost 1.3 million people, is the dominant commercial, travel, and political center of southern Germany. It attracts numerous conventions, meetings, trade shows, and exhibits with a broad range of economic activities. Munich is one of the world’s outstanding cultural and entertainment centers. The city’s excellent theaters, museums, and galleries present unending high-quality cultural performances and exhibits, while the traditional Bavarian love of fun sustains a wide variety of festivals, atmospheric nightspots, and entertainment. Munich is a dynamic city with a multitude of recreational and intellectual possibilities.

Germany’s second largest city after Berlin and Hamburg, Munich long ago outgrew its medieval walls, leaving a well-defined inner city, or downtown area. Munich is also Germany’s fastest-growing major city. Expansion continues at a fast pace with construction of new suburbs, U-Bahn lines, and freeways. Part of this growth is due to Bavaria’s drive to become the electronics, information sciences, aerospace, biotechnology, and media center of Germany.

Munich is about 1,600 feet above sea level on the southern edge of a flat plain stretching from the foothills of the Alps, about 25 miles away, north to the Danube River. The Isar River flows through eastern Munich on its way to join the Danube. The climate is similar to that in the northern U.S. Winters are cold but not severe. Temperatures rarely fall below 0°F but two–three feet of snow may blanket the ground in January and February. In spring and fall, pleasant, clear, warm weather is interspersed with prolonged stretches of rain and cloudiness. Temperate summers are short with a fair amount of rain. Individuals interested in further information about Munich and Bavaria should also look at the following internet web sites:

All three sites provide excellent information on everything from the latest business news to calendars of upcoming cultural events in the region.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 4/26/2004 3:49 PM

At present, the Consulate General staff numbers 39 Americans and 100 Germans and other foreign nationals. In addition to sections concerned with political/economic, consular, public diplomacy and administrative affairs, the International Broadcasting Bureau and the Foreign Commercial Service of the Department of Commerce (FCS) are also represented at the Consulate General. The Consulate General’s public diplomacy program works closely with the Bavarian-American Center (formerly called Amerika Haus) in Munich as well as the German/American Institutes in Nuremberg and Regensburg. The Branch Public Affairs Officer conducts an active program with the media and leading Bavarian cultural institutions.

The Consulate General office building is at 5 Koeniginstrasse, 80539 München (telephone: 089–28880), a few blocks from the center of downtown. The International Broadcasting Bureau’s (IBB) transmitter and receiver stations are northeast of the city.

The Munich International Airport, served by three U.S. airlines, is located north of the city about 20 miles from downtown. Transportation to the airport by car can take anywhere from 30–90 minutes, depending on traffic and weather conditions. Public transportation is available. The trip from the main railway station to the airport by train takes about 50 minutes.

Office hours of most facilities are 8:30 am to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, with some units operating on an 8 am to 5 p.m. schedule. Duty officers stand duty during hours when the Consulate General is closed. The Consulate General has an active sponsor program for new arrivals and every effort is made to meet new arrivals at the airport or railway station.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 1/8/2004 7:20 AM

The Consulate General makes every attempt to move new arrivals directly into their permanent quarters. If these are unavailable at the time of arrival, hotel arrangements will be made for newcomers due to the shortage of temporary quarters.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 4/26/2004 3:51 PM

All personnel (except Foreign Commercial Service) of the Consulate General and attached U.S. Government agencies have furnished U.S. Government-leased housing. Quarters are assigned by an Interagency Housing Board which considers such factors as rank, family size, and date of arrival, as outlined in the 6-FAM 728.4 housing regulations. Welcome Kits consist of blankets, bed linen, towels, dishes, glassware, silverware, and pots and pans. The General Services Section (GSO) also provides televisions on a temporary basis. Sponsors provide each new family with an orientation manual about Munich and a Consulate General telephone book. A sponsor is assigned to new personnel to help him/her adjust to the post and have a pleasant and easy transition period.

The principal officer’s residence, a U.S. Government-owned building, is located in a quiet, well-maintained residential area. A two-story building of brick stucco, it has a garage at one side and a large garden with swimming pool in the back. The ground floor consists of an entry hall with half bath, a hallway, living room, dining room, study, and master bedroom suite with dressing room and bath. The second floor has two wings; one consists of three guest bedrooms and two bathrooms; the other has three small rooms with one bath (suitable for live-in servants), plus attic storage. Laundry and storage areas are in the basement. The fully furnished residence is equipped with representational china, flatware, and glassware.

The Consulate General maintains leases in three areas of the city. One area is a complex of two apartment houses within walking distance of the office building. The Consulate General also leases a few apartments in two-story garden-type apartment buildings in Harlaching, in the south of Munich, about six miles from the office. The third housing area is in Perlacher Forst, about five miles from the office, consisting of single-family dwellings. The Koeniginstrasse apartment compound consists of seven four-bedroom units and five two-bedroom units. The Marine Guard quarters are on the ground floor in one of the two buildings. The Harlaching apartments consist of four-bedroom and three-bedroom units. The houses in Perlacher Forst have four bedrooms each. All housing (except the Foreign Commercial Service) includes refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, microwave oven, draperies, wall-to-wall carpeting in the bedrooms, hard wood floors in the living rooms, and washers/dryers. GSO also provides one area rug per housing unit. By summer 2004, all housing units will have small A/C units in some rooms. All have limited storage space. All quarters are fully furnished with furniture from the State Department furniture contractor. Personnel should bring china, silverware, glassware, kitchen utensils, appliances, and linen. Appliances should be 230v/50 cycles, as only two transformers will be provided. There is one queen size bed per quarter; all other beds are twin size. Apartments have a hook-up to communal cable TV and/or satellite dishes, and personnel should consider bringing or purchasing a multi-system television to take advantage of the full range of English-language international broadcasts. Single-family houses are connected to local cable TV only. It is the occupant's responsibility to arrange for satellite dishes/receivers if required.

Personnel assigned to Munich should correspond directly with the Consulate GSO Office for more housing information.

The drawdown of military forces in Germany has had a major impact on Munich and the services and facilities that had previously been available to the Consulate General community. Consequently, the closest military facility is in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, about a one-hour drive from Munich. It has modest PX and commissary facilities. More extensive facilities are available three hours away at Leighton Barracks in Wurzburg.

Food Last Updated: 1/8/2004 7:46 AM

German food stores offer a wide variety of food items of excellent quality, but exchange rate fluctuations can make local shopping more expensive. The sidewalk fruit and vegetable stands have beautiful, fresh produce, and the large open-air market, the Viktualienmarkt, just behind the Marienplatz, offers almost any fresh food you can imagine, but at slightly higher prices.

Although Munich has Italian and Oriental food stores, personnel assigned to Munich should consider bringing a supply of their favorite specialty or ethnic food products. The closest military commissary for typical American items is in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. All housing units have a standard refrigerator with a top freezer unit and also an upright freezer to allow for bulk shopping. Munich has large grocery stores, a Walmart, and a Walmart-like Real on the outskirts of town.

Clothing Last Updated: 4/26/2004 3:52 PM

Clothing required is similar to that required in the northeastern U.S. During July and August, heavier weight summer clothes are needed. Only a few days will be over 90°F and, even then, evenings cool off quickly. Men and women are comfortable working in suits or lightweight wool dresses. Most entertaining in Munich is semi-formal, and a business suit or dress is appropriate. However, consular list personnel may attend some black-tie affairs, so women should bring cocktail dresses and one or two long dresses. Due to Munich’s frequent rainfall, a raincoat, preferably one with a removable liner, an umbrella, and suitable footwear are needed. Good boots are a must for the winter.

Munich is a fashion center. Beautiful and well-made clothing can be purchased here. Although major U.S. retail outlets such as Gap and Eddie Bauer are gaining a foothold in the Munich area, clothing of similar quality to U.S. items is frequently more expensive in Germany. Catalog shopping is available through the APO, but service can be significantly slower than in the U.S.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 1/8/2004 7:55 AM

Personnel should bring a sufficient supply of special toiletries, cosmetics, and over-the-counter or prescription drugs until they feel comfortable shopping at the PX or local German stores. Some favorite products, such as liquid aspirin/Tylenol for children, are unavailable locally. Consulate General personnel can buy cigarettes, other tobacco products, wine, beer, and liquor tax free through the military exchange system.

Electronic items, such as calculators, computers, fax machines, microwave ovens, TVs and VCRs, stereos, etc., are available, but prices are sometimes higher than in the U.S.

The Garmisch-Partenkirchen PX has a limited selection of home electronic equipment. You may find it more convenient and economical to purchase these items in the U.S. Personal computers and television sets are available with automatic voltage and cycle switches. Many items can now be purchased with dual voltage/cycles. A multisystem TV, VCR, and DVD player are recommended to receive German PAL format television.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 4/26/2004 3:53 PM

All the normal necessities for comfortable living are readily available in Munich on the local economy. These include tailors, shoe and watch repair, laundry and dry cleaners, photo developing, small appliance repair, picture framing, and bicycle repair. Barbershops and beauty shops are in every neighborhood, but they are more expensive than in the U.S.

Finding English-language reading materials will require some effort, at least until you gain a familiarity with the city. The International Herald Tribune is available locally at some newsstands. The Stars and Stripes can be ordered by subscription and picked up at the Consulate General. A locally published English-language magazine called Munich Found is very helpful in providing information and events in Munich and where to find certain things. Larger bookstores carry some English-language books and magazines, but the selections and supply are somewhat limited and are more expensive than in the U.S. There is one English-language bookshop in the vicinity of the Consulate General. A private membership English-language lending library exists in the center of town. In addition, kiosks at the main train station carry a wide range of English-language newspapers and periodicals. Of course, subscriptions can be received through the APO mail. If you are an Internet user, books can be ordered on-line and mailed through the APO.

There are a number of Internet providers in Munich, including CompuServe, AOL and Deutsche Telekom’s T-Online. A variety of non-subscription services are available that charge by the minute. ISDN and DSL services are readily available.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 4/26/2004 3:53 PM

Few families have domestic help, but such help is available on a daily basis. Domestic services are, however, hard to find and quite expensive. Consequently, when a good house cleaner is found, many families will arrange to share his or her services.

Germany has strict laws regarding bringing household staff into the country, and U.S. Mission employees must abide by those laws. Please see section titled “Domestic Help” in the Berlin portion of this post report for more information.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 1/8/2004 9:25 AM

English-language services in downtown Munich are held by the following churches: Seventh-Day Adventist, Baptist, Christian Science, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Methodists and the Munich International Church (interdenominational). The American Church of the Ascension, (Episcopal) holds regular Sunday and Sunday School services in Harlaching. The University chapel, Kaulbachstrasse Jesuit Chapel, and St. Killian's Church also hold Sunday Catholic masses in English. There are also a synagogue, a mosque, and a Thai-Buddhist temple in Munich.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 1/8/2004 9:43 AM The Office of Overseas Schools approves two local international schools for attendance by Foreign Service children. Both are accredited and well-respected. The Munich International School (MIS) is located in the southern outskirts of Munich. The Bavarian International School (BIS) (see also is located north of Munich, near the international airport. The at-post educational allowance is based on the tuition costs and other fees of these two schools.

The Munich International School is operating at its full capacity of almost 1200 students in kindergarten through grade 12. MIS offers the full International Baccalaureate program beginning with the Primary Years Program at the age of four, continuing through the IB Middle Years Program at the age of eleven, and ending with the IB Diploma Program in grades 11 and 12. Most Consulate General children attend MIS, but some children have been denied admission based on academic performance, a history of learning disabilities, or because a particular grade was overcrowded. The school has more applications for admission than places available, and this situation is expected to continue for some time.

The Bavarian International School (BIS) is located in the northern part of Munich. BIS has the backing of the Munich business community, the international community, and the Bavarian Ministry of Education and Culture. Two Consulate General children currently study there. BIS is currently offering grades kindergarten (age four) through grade 12 to 625 students. BIS has its own Board of Directors that meets regularly with the MIS Board. BIS and MIS work together in a cooperative agreement to assure consistency of administration and curriculum for both schools. Tuition costs are structured by agreement of the joint Boards.

Ride times to both schools vary by location: From the Consulate General to MIS is between 30 and 45 minutes and from the two residential compounds Perlacher Forst and Harlaching is between 35 minutes and an hour, depending on traffic. BIS is about a 45-minute to one-hour bus ride from the Consulate General housing area.

Families with school-aged children should contact the post Management Office as soon as possible after being assigned so that arrangements for schooling can be thoroughly discussed. Prospective post employees should also check the Overseas Briefing Center for information on educational possibilities.

Special Advisory. The Munich International School offers only a very limited program for children with physical, emotional, or learning disabilities, but the Bavarian International School has more facilities for this.

Foreign Language Education. German elementary schools (Volksschulen) with free tuition, in each section of the city, are open to American children. These schools may be extremely crowded, however, and the ratio of students to teachers is high. Children normally attend school only half-day and have several hours of homework to complete at home. Older children sometimes enter German secondary schools, but language may be a barrier. Many German kindergartens accept American children, but they are also crowded and frequently have long waiting lists.

The French School, operated by the French Consulate General for their children, has classes for the full range of grades, from kindergarten through the baccalaureate course. Instruction is in French. Children of other nationalities are enrolled on a space-available basis. The European School, is run primarily for children of government officials of the European Union. Children must attend classes in more than one language, and space is limited. Available spaces are allocated by a lottery.


Dependent Education

Away From Post Last Updated: 1/8/2004 9:44 AM The closest boarding school is the Salzburg International Preparatory School (SIPS) located in Salzburg, Austria.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 4/27/2004 9:21 AM

The University of Munich, the largest in Germany, offers numerous courses. To enter, you must have an excellent knowledge of the German language, and have already completed two years at a U.S. college or university. A German course for foreigners is taught only to those who have completed two years at a U.S. college or university. The nearest U.S.-affiliated academic facility is a four-year branch of the University of Maryland in Schwaebisch Gemuend, approximately 200 kilometers from Munich.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 4/27/2004 9:37 AM

Bavaria is a sports paradise. World-renowned German, Austrian, and Swiss ski resorts are within easy reach of Munich. Many resorts feature learn-to-ski weeks. Several Munich sport shops sponsor ski weeks at popular resorts, as well as special ski plans that provide transportation and instruction at a different slope each weekend. Most large sport shops also rent ski equipment. The Munich International Ski Club organizes both day trips and longer trips throughout the ski season for its members. The Armed Forces Recreational Center (AFRC) in Garmisch offers ski packages to eligible Consulate General staff. In addition, both the Bavarian International School and the Munich International School organize “ski Saturdays” for families attending the school.

The U.S. Army Recreation Center in Garmisch is open to all U.S. Government civilian personnel and their dependents. The center has hotel facilities and features golf, skiing, swimming, and hiking. Basic sports equipment may be rented or purchased. All military recreation facilities are heavily used, and reservations should be obtained well in advance of planned trips.

Munich has three large public ice-skating rinks, many large outdoor swimming pools and several larger indoor swimming pools. Several golf courses are also available, but greens fees are very expensive and many are operated by private clubs that require membership. Horseback riding enthusiasts use several riding clubs.

The 1972 Olympic facilities give Munich the opportunity to host frequent international sporting events (e.g., equestrian competitions, soccer matches and cycling competitions). Automobile racing is also a popular spectator sport.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 4/27/2004 9:38 AM

Walking and bicycling tours through Munich are popular. From various observation towers you can see both the city and the German Alps. Many old churches represent an architectural style that is not be seen outside of Bavaria. Numerous art galleries and museums provide ample cultural opportunities regardless of particular taste. The Deutsches Museum, for example, is the world’s largest technical museum and is filled with interactive displays. Several large castles in and around Munich are well worth a visit. The Alpine regions and the Isar Valley on the outskirts of Munich offer outdoor enthusiasts many miles of pleasant and scenic trails. The largest park in Munich, the English Garden, starts across the street from the Consulate General building. Trips to Munich’s Botanical Garden and to its Hellabrunn Zoo, one of Europe’s largest, are also easy and enjoyable.

The proximity of the Alps and a host of interesting cities offer unlimited touring opportunities. Bavaria has more interesting museums, castles, and architectural monuments than can possibly be visited during a two-year tour. Perhaps the most impressive points of interest are the towering Alps of Upper Bavaria and the Austrian Tyrol, with world-famous spas and sports facilities. Although skiing is particularly popular, the beautiful scenery, picturesque villages, and friendly people offer year-round attractions.

Numerous interesting cities are within a few hours’ drive; including Nürnberg, Ulm, Innsbruck, Augsburg, Salzburg, Regensburg, and Bayreuth, site of the annual Wagner Music Festival. The so-called Romantic Road connects the 16th century walled towns of Dinkelsbühl, Nördlingen, and Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Eastern Austria, the Czech Republic, Northern Italy, and Switzerland all lie within a day’s drive.

Bavaria is also an excellent hunting and fishing region. Game includes deer, boar, chamois, capercaille, black cock, hare, fox, pheasant, partridge, and duck. Streams are well stocked with trout, and there is some river char and pike fishing. German hunting and fishing licenses are required, and you should check on appropriate procedures for importing weapons.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 4/27/2004 9:42 AM

Consulate General employees have many opportunities to attend the theater and opera. The large Bavarian State Opera House and about 40 theaters have nightly performances. Concert lovers will find the musical fare frequent, varied, and of outstanding quality.

Munich’s world-renowned Oktoberfest, a combination folk and beer festival, lasts about two weeks starting in mid-September. Fasching (carnival) begins in early January and ends on Shrove Tuesday. Visitors should not miss the last day of Fasching on the Viktualalienmarkt. Munich is famous for its excellent beer, and the city features many beer halls. Visitors will be hard pressed to sample them all. Europe’s largest circus has its home in Munich and its performance season runs from Christmas until the end of March. Several theaters in downtown Munich feature recent English-language (usually American) films.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 1/9/2004 9:19 AM The principal and senior officers maintain social relations with officials of American agencies and with local American business representatives. The American Chamber of Commerce in Munich invites officers from the Consulate General to monthly luncheons. Democrats Abroad and Republicans Abroad both have chapters in Munich, and there is also a chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

International Contacts Last Updated: 4/27/2004 9:42 AM The principal and other senior officers maintain active social and official contact with a multitude of German officials at various levels and with personnel of other consulates.

There are long-standing German-American clubs for men and women in the Munich community which combine social activities with charity work and which welcome Consulate General staff as members. The Columbus Society, a German-American society for all ages, offers a varied program of lectures, social gatherings, and outings. Munich also has several Rotary Clubs of which one is international and in English, and numerous Lions Clubs. Membership is also available in international clubs such as the International Federation of Business Women, Zonta Club, Soroptomists Club and Lyceum Club. There are two international women’s clubs conducted in English in Munich.

Many opportunities for social contact with Germans are available, but initiative is required. Various sports (including American football for teenage boys), hobby clubs, and other social groups usually welcome German-speaking Americans. The Bavarian-American Center also sponsors exhibits, lectures, concerts, etc., during the year. These programs are well attended by Germans and offer a good opportunity to establish contacts with host-country nationals.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 4/27/2004 9:43 AM

Black-tie attire is required for infrequent formal occasions; at most other functions a dark business suit is worn. Women find afternoon dresses appropriate for most cocktail parties, and long evening-dresses appropriate for black-tie dinners or dances. Women should bring one long evening gown.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 1/9/2004 9:25 AM

Only the principal officer must make official courtesy calls on senior German officials and consular representatives of other countries. New arrivals, however, will find it useful to establish contacts in the German community according to their responsibilities.

Most officers have found business address cards more useful than the usual calling card. Such cards can be printed locally but it is usually cheaper to purchase good-quality cards in the U.S.

Basically, social life in Munich includes small dinner parties, official and semi-official receptions, and informal get-togethers. The principal officer and several other supervisory officers can expect sometimes demanding representational duties, with the City of Munich, the State of Bavaria, the military, private enterprises, political parties, and other important organizations.

Consular list officers also will be required to attend certain social or representational functions but at a less demanding pace.

Special Information Last Updated: 1/9/2004 9:26 AM

Post Orientation Program

Newcomer orientation is informal with an orientation program offered in the early fall, or more often throughout the year as required. Orientation Kits, which include information about the structure and objectives of the Consulate General, are provided, as well as a personal briefing to newly assigned personnel by the management and security officers. Prior to arrival, newcomers are assigned a sponsor to assist their introduction to the post.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 4/27/2004 9:46 AM

All Travelers. Frankfurt International Airport, continental Europe’s largest airport, is the principal gateway city in Germany for international air connections. With the advent of code-sharing agreements between U.S. and European airlines, however, it is not always necessary to transit Frankfurt to comply with U.S. Government travel regulations. In many cases, other European cities may serve as convenient gateways to Germany and conform with travel rules. U.S. airlines serve many German cities directly from U.S. locations, including cities in Germany where American diplomatic posts are located. Schedules and services change frequently. For travel to Germany from the U.S., Government travelers in most cases must use a “city pair” carrier that holds the U.S.G. contract for service between specified cities. Pair fare rates are in effect for travel to and from the U.S. and various German locations, including Berlin and Frankfurt. Travelers are responsible for conforming with all government travel regulations and should check current schedules, routes and applicable regulations carefully with travel offices.

Note. There is a U.S.O. office on the ground level of Terminal 1, section C, at the Frankfurt Airport. While this office is designed primarily to support military personnel, the experienced personnel there may be able to help any traveler with difficulties.

Military Travelers. Military personnel who are authorized to fly only on Military Airlift Command (MAC) “Cat B” will arrive at Rhein-Main U.S. Air Force Base (the military side of Frankfurt Airport). If arrangements have not been made to be met at Rhein-Main, passengers should take a taxi to the civilian side of the airport from where train/flight connection(s) can be made to the final destination.

Shipment of household goods and personal effects for both military and civilian personnel is governed by provisions of the Joint Travel Regulations and Military Service Regulations as further implemented by the Department of Defense. Weight limitations are normally stated in travel orders. Military employees stationed in Bonn usually are authorized full JTR-allowance.

Make shipments as early as possible since government quarters may be available immediately upon arrival. Household goods shipments from the continental U.S. normally take about two months to arrive at post.

General Shipping. For shipments of unaccompanied baggage to Berlin by air, the destination airport is Berlin/Tegel. In forwarding HHE and personally owned vehicles to posts in Germany, no special arrangements are necessary for packing, crating, or shipping other than those specified in Foreign Service Travel Regulations. Consign air freight shipments as follows:

Employee’s name c/o (Destination, Post)

No restrictions are made as to the size of boxes or lift vans forwarded by surface freight. Cars usually arrive from the U.S. uncrated. Cars from other posts can also be shipped uncrated unless the shipment originates at a post where crating is necessary. Bremerhaven is the port of entry for Germany. The Embassy’s contract forwarder for HHE and personally owned vehicles is the firm of Phoenix Transport Services, Bremerhaven. Except for residence-to-residence or through container-type shipments, the bill of lading for shipments consigned to a post in Germany must bear the notation “NOTIFY PHOENIX TRANSPORT SERVICES.” Consign all HHE and POV shipments to:

Name of employee c/o (Destination, Post) Container Terminal Nord II 27568 Bremerhaven Tel. (0471) 9442360 I

Send immediately the original bill of lading and the packing list to post and send advance information, followed by one original bill of lading, to the Phoenix firm using the following address:

Regular Mail: Phoenix Transport Services GmbH Postfach 120452 27568 Bremerhaven, Germany

Special Delivery Mail (and Telegrams): Phoenix Transport Services GmbH Container Terminal Nord II 27568 Bremerhaven

Coordinate HHE shipments within Europe by truck with the destination post for direct delivery and to avoid involvement of non-contract carriers. After shipment has left the losing post, cable shipping data immediately to the destination post in Germany. Although very little breakage and pilferage in shipment from the U.S. has occurred, marine insurance is advisable. No customs restrictions exist on free entry of HHE and cars unless otherwise stated. Adequate commercial storage facilities are available. In most cases, local packers handle valuable or delicate items competently.

Note. Those assigned to Hamburg should contact the post for specific shipping instructions. Air freight shipments to Leipzig should be sent through to Leipzig-Halle airport, not to Frankfurt or Berlin.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:12 AM

American personnel assigned to Germany have usual duty-free entry privileges for personal belongings, HHE and personal-use vehicles.

The Embassy follows, in principle, the rules established by the U.S. Army and Federal Republic of Germany regarding importation of certain goods. American staff members of the Embassy and Consulates General must follow these rules. At present, not more than the following quantities of rationed goods listed may be imported in accompanied baggage:

Cigarettes — 200 pieces (1 carton) or Tobacco — 250 grams or 100 zigarillos or 50 cigars Coffee — 500 grams Alcoholic Beverages —1 liter

U.S. military sales stores in Germany sell a wide variety of wines, liquor and tobacco products. Therefore, free entry for these items is authorized only in small quantities.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Passage Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:14 AM

Visas are required for holders of Diplomatic and Official passports. All U.S. Government personnel traveling to Germany to work at the U.S. Embassy or a constituent U.S. post in Germany must obtain a German Diplomatic or Official visa before arrival in Germany and before entry will be allowed. This requirements applies only to permanently-assigned staff and does not affect TDY personnel who plan to stay in Germany less than 90 days. Local identity cards (Ausweise) are issued by the German Government following arrival. Applications for Ausweise are completed as part of the Embassy check-in procedure. Personnel and eligible family members should carry both their Ausweis and their passport for international travel to and from Germany.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Pets Last Updated: 4/27/2004 9:50 AM

Germany is a pet-loving country and dogs especially are familiar companions in all German cities. Dogs and cats imported from abroad must be accompanied by a valid health certificate and a certificate of vaccination against rabies. These certificates should be issued by an official veterinarian in the country of origin. The health certificate must state that the pet is in good health, free from contagious diseases, and that no cases of rabies had occurred within an area of 20 kilometers of where the pet had previously resided. Rabies certificates must certify that the animal has been vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days prior to entry but not longer than one year before. Travelers should understand that animals may be refused entry if fewer than 30 days have passed since the rabies inoculation was administered. This health certificate itself should be less than ten days old when the pet arrives. The German Embassy in Washington provides a formal form for use when importing pets although experience has shown that officials at the entry port, particularly at Frankfurt International Airport, rarely demand the form when handling pets arriving from the U.S.

Animals without health certification may be admitted if they are found to be in good health after inspection by an official veterinarian at the airport and payment of the applicable veterinarian’s fee. In the event that an animal thus imported becomes sick or dies within three months after importation, the owner must report the incident to the official veterinarian at the animal’s place of domicile.

Birds of the parrot family and exotic animals are admitted only by special permission. Contact the Embassy’s General Services Officer for questions regarding the importation of animals other than dogs and cats.

While walking your dog outside your own yard, it must be kept on a leash at all times. Canine varieties specified in German law as “dangerous” must wear a muzzle in addition to being leashed. (Please contact GSO for a list of those designated as dangerous.) Only in designated areas may dogs roam freely without running afoul of the law. German law also requires the removal by the dog owner of waste, when deposited on public property. Pet owners should plan to purchase inexpensive liability insurance available locally for pets, especially larger dogs. German pet owners typically carry such insurance. Excellent veterinary and dog grooming services are available everywhere in Germany. There is no heartworm (filaria) in Germany.

Animals sent by airfreight should arrive between 9:00 a.m. Monday and 5:00 p.m. Friday, since Customs offices are closed weekends and holidays. Travelers should carry the airway bill number to facilitate animal identification.

If you intend to walk a dog freely in Berlin, it is imperative to obtain the appropriate dog tax decal. House pets or dogs kept in one’s own yard are not subject to this tax. Dog owners should contact the General Services Office upon arrival. GSO can assist with all necessary documentation.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 4/27/2004 9:51 AM

The importation, possession and use of firearms in Germany is allowed only for lawful sporting purposes (hunting or organized target shooting) and requires prior approval by the Chief of Mission. Other uses, such as home security or self-defense, are illegal. There are no exceptions for U.S.G. personnel. The Embassy Rod and Gun can assist U.S. Government personnel and their family members (sixteen years or older) in obtaining a German hunting license or membership in a sanctioned marksmanship club. Post will assist with mandatory registration of all firearms with local authorities. Licensed hunters may register any number of hunting long arms, but only a maximum of two handguns. Bow and muzzle-loading hunting is not permitted. Sports shooters may only register types and caliber of firearms with which they are specially training or competing. Gun collecting is allowed only by special police permit to recognized researchers. Before shipping firearms, you must notify the Embassy’s Regional Security Office to secure Chief of Mission approval well in advance for each firearm you intend to import. To obtain permission to import firearms, provide a detailed description of the weapon, serial number, intended use as well as quantity and caliber of ammunition. The request to import a firearm may be strengthened with descriptions of weapons training and membership in hunting or marksmanship organizations, if any.

Under agreements currently in force, special exemptions in this regard apply to U.S. military personnel and their family members, as defined by the NATO Status of Forces Agreement and the Supplementary Agreement in the Federal Republic of Germany and Berlin. Military personnel seeking to import firearms should contact their parent agencies and adhere closely to applicable regulations.

U.S. Mission staff should contact the General Services Officer at posts to assist with the necessary documentation for weapon's permits. German law requires that persons possessing firearms carry third-party liability insurance before weapons can be registered.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:21 AM

The EURO became Germany's currency in 2002, replacing the Deutsche Mark (DM). One Euro is divided into one hundred Euro cents. Germany has no currency restrictions affecting the import, export, purchase or sale of normal amounts of U.S. or German funds for personal use. Mission personnel have occasion to use both German and U.S. currencies: Euro for all local transactions and American currency for APO services and transactions at U.S. military facilities.

Although credit cards are used throughout Germany, especially in hotels and restaurants, their use in retail shops is not as ubiquitous as in the U.S. Most payments in Germany are made in cash, personal checks in Euro or via direct bank transfer. Personal checks drawn on U.S. banks are not accepted. Most employees open a local bank account to handle bank transfers, and employees with local accounts can then use so-called EuroChecks, the nearest equivalent to U.S. personal checks. Cash machines are available for use almost everywhere and most — but not all — provide cash withdrawals on credit cards. American ATM cards affiliated with major U.S. bankcard systems (such as the PLUS or CIRRUS networks) can be used at many bank cash machines.

Personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Berlin may convert a limited daily amount of U.S. dollars into Euro through the Embassy cashier. There are no U.S. banks providing retail banking services in Berlin. At other posts, accommodation exchange is provided by Embassy cashiers on a limited basis according to post policies. Exchange services are also available from German banks and offices of American Express although most charge significant service fees.

Department of Defense-authorized Community Banks provide accommodation exchange and other banking services for members of the military, authorized civilians and their family members at U.S. military facilities in Germany under the terms of a DoD contract. The contract sets the fees, charges, and business conditions to offset the expense of providing banking services. Additional fees are usually charged for services to non-account holders.

Most American employees of the Mission find Euro bank accounts with a national German bank useful even though German banks tend to be more rigid and less customer-oriented in practices and services than is customary in the more competitive U.S. market. Nevertheless, local banks provide savings and checking accounts, automatic or on-line bill paying and cash card services. In addition, the Embassy encourages the use of electronic funds transfer (EFT) for travel and other reimbursements in Euro. Any reimbursement of Germany’s value-added tax is only paid electronically to Euro bank accounts.

In Germany, commodities are sold in liters for liquid volume and kilograms for dry weight. A gallon is 3.8 liters (one liter is 0.264 gallons) and a kilogram is 2.2 pounds. Measure of length is by meter, which equals 39.37 inches. Distances are measured in kilometers (eight kilometers are five miles) and speeds in kilometers per hour (80 kph equals 50 mph). Land measure is by hectares. One hectare is 2.47 acres.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:22 AM

Restrictions Employees of the U.S. Mission to Germany may not profit from the sale of items of personal property brought into Germany through official channels (including the APO) or otherwise acquired as a result of the employee’s official status. The sale of miscellaneous personal property is permitted with permission and in accordance with Embassy administrative rules. Under no circumstances should personal property be imported for sale. All items should be for personal or family use and/or consumption. Importation of personal property in anticipation of transfer orders or under other foreseeable circumstances which results in resale after only a brief period of ownership is contrary to Embassy policy and may be illegal.

Taxes. Employees of the U.S. Embassy and constituent diplomatic posts whose status as members of the diplomatic or consular corps or administrative/technical staff is documented by the appropriate Ausweis can claim reimbursement of Germany’s steep value-added tax (Mehrwertsteuer) although the tax must be paid at the time of purchase. Currently, the tax is around 16 percent of the cost of an item although the tax varies for a few selected items and medical services are exempt.

Only purchases of more than 100 Euro per purchase qualify for tax reimbursement although several purchases from the same vendor on the same day may be combined to reach this total. Taxes are not refunded for purchases of tobacco products or foodstuffs including all types of beverages and liquors. Taxes are also not reimbursable on medical care or auto insurance. Tax reimbursements for automobile purchases are limited to one every two years. Procedures necessary to qualify for the reimbursement of the tax are very specific. These are fixed by the German government and are spelled out in an Embassy Administrative Memorandum. The Embassy’s Financial Management Center handles the processing of tax reimbursement claims for eligible Embassy staff. Tax reimbursements are paid quarterly although reimbursements may lag for several months after the actual purchase. As pointed out above, VAT refunds are paid only to local bank accounts.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 4/27/2004 10:00 AM

The following books are a selection of current and relevant titles that may be of interest to persons being assigned to U.S. diplomatic posts in Germany. There are, of course, many other titles that address German cities and regions more specifically. Facts About Germany, a publication of the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government of Germany, is an excellent compendium of basic information about Germany today and can be found in English on the Internet at A more complete conventional bibliography, A Reader’s Guide to Germany, is available on request from the European Area Studies Program at the School of Area Studies of the National Foreign Affairs Training Center (Foreign Service Institute, Department of State).

Titles here are provided as a general indication of some current material published on Germany. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Ash, Timothy Garton. The File: A Personal History. New York: Random House, 1997.

In Europe’s Name: Germany and the Divided Continent. New York: Random House, 1993.

Blackbourn, David. The Long Nineteenth Century: A History of Germany, 1780–1918. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Friedrich, Otto. Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s. New York: HarperPerennial, 1995. Germany: A Phaidon Cultural Guide. Prentice-Hall: 1985.

Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah. Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. New York: Alfred A. Knopf , Inc., 1996.

Kitchen, Martin. Cambridge Illustrated History: Germany. London: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Ladd, Brian. The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Maier, Charles S. Dissolution: The Crisis of Communism and the End of East Germany. Princeton and New York: Princeton University Press, 1997.

Richie, Alexandra. Faust’s Metropolis: A History of Berlin. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1998.

Shandley, Robert R. (ed.). Unwilling Germans? The Goldhagen Debate. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 1998.

Shirer, William L. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960.

Taylor, Ronald. Berlin and Its Culture: A Historical Portrait. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997.

Wise, Michael Z. Capital Dilemma: Germany’s Search for a New Architecture of Democracy. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998.

Internet. Worthwhile Internet sites with information about Germany and links to other important German sites abound. In addition to the U.S. Embassy’s site ( and many other sites mentioned in this publication, two good starting points for Germany information are and The Internet site contains excellent information in English and German on all aspects of Germany today as well as links to current news from the Federal Government’s Press and Information Office. In addition, a variety of topical and helpful Frequently Asked Questions on Germany can be found at

Local Holidays Last Updated: 4/27/2004 10:04 AM

In Germany, holidays are determined regionally but many holidays are celebrated in common throughout the country. The full list of public holidays, therefore, will vary from one Land to another. Both secular and religious holidays are marked. The U.S. Embassy and its constituent posts are closed on local German and American holidays which occur on normal business days. The following holidays are usually observed in Germany. Please note that not all German holidays listed here will be observed in every city where American diplomatic posts are located and there may also be local holidays not listed. It is best to check with the post to determine its local holiday list.

New Year’s Day January 1 Epiphany January 6 (Munich) Good Friday Friday before Easter Easter Sunday March-April Easter Monday Monday following Easter Labor Day May 1 Ascension Day 10 days preceding Whitsunday 7th Sunday after Easter Whitmonday Monday following Whitsunday Corpus Christi Day June Assumption Day August 15 (Munich) Day of German Unity October 3 Reformation Day October 31 (Leipzig) All Saints Day November 1 Repentance Day 3rd Wednesday in November (Leipzig) Christmas Day December 25 Second Christmas Day December 26

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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