|Preface Last Updated: 4/22/2004
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
Education in Germany, including university education, is free of
charge for all students, including foreigners. There is, however, a
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Frankfurt American Consulate General PSC 115 (Agency/office) APO
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
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
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
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
Nearly 75 German newspapers are now on-line with Internet sites.
One particularly good English-language site is: http://www.Berliner-Morgenpost.de.
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: http://www.dwelle.de, 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
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
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
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
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 www.uke.uni-hamburg.de.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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: http://www.berlin-info.de
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 http://www.us-botschaft.de or http://www.usembassy.de.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
At Post Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:37 AM Education
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
JOHN F. KENNEDY 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
Inquiries should be directed to John F. Kennedy School, Teltower
Damm 87-93, 14167 Berlin Germany. Tel: 632105701/5711. Their web
address is www.jfks.de .The e-mail address is:
BERLIN-BRANDENBURG INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (BBIS)
Am Hochwald 30/2 14532 Kleinmachnow
Director Mr. Stephen Middlebrook Phone 033 203 80360
School web address: www.bbis.de
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.
THE BERLIN BRITISH SCHOOL (BBS)
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.
BERLIN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL (BIS)
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: www.berlin-international-school.de
BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, BERLIN
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 http://www.duesseldorf.com or its German-language
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 (www.stadt-koeln.de). 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
PSC 115 (name of parent office/agency)
APO AE 09213-0115
Mail through the international postal system should be addressed
American Consulate General
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
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
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
International School of Frankfurt
D-65931 Frankfurt am Main
Halvorsen-Tunner American School
(DoDDS – elementary)
Rhein-Main Air Base
Bldg 610, Gateway Gardens
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
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
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
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
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
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
Recreation and Social Life
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.
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.
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
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
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
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,
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
(http://www.schleswig-holstein.de), Lower Saxony
(www.niedersachsen.de), Bremen (http://www.bremen.de). and
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 www.hamburg-guide.de.
Recreation and Social Life
Social Activities Last Updated: 11/30/1999 6:00 PM
Recreation and Social Life
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
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
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.
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
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
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  (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
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
All three sites provide excellent information on everything from
the latest business news to calendars of upcoming cultural events in
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
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
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.
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 www.bis-school.com) 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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Cigarettes — 200 pieces (1 carton) or Tobacco — 250 grams or 100
zigarillos or 50 cigars Coffee — 500 grams Alcoholic Beverages —1
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
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
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
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
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
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 http://www.government.de. 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
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,
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 (http://www.usembassy.de
www.usembassy.de) and many other sites mentioned in this
publication, two good starting points for Germany information are
http://www.germany-tourism.de and http://www.germany-info.org. The
Internet site http://www.bundesregierung.de 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
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