Germany Don’ts

  • Do not be late. Germans attach great importance to punctuality. You will win their favor if you keep your appointment on time!
  • Do not wait to be seated at a German restaurant. It is common to share tables with a stranger.
  • Do not ever, under any circumstances, show the “Nazi salute”, shout “Heil Hitler”, or show swastikas or other symbols of the Third Reich, which is a criminal offense.
  • Do not get drunk. Public drunkenness is frowned upon.
  • Do not put your elbows on the table when eating. Put only your hands on the table.
  • Do not jaywalk. Nobody else does, and you might get fined.
  • Do not eat with your fingers.
  • Do not ever ask for tap water at a restaurant, which will be equated with stinginess.


Germany Do’s

  • Do be on time. Germans are extremely punctual, so be on time for your appointment.
  • Do shake hands with everyone including children, say “Guten Tag” (good day), “not how are you!” and keep eye contact when greet somebody. Shaking hands is the established form of greeting in Germany.
  • Do use title and last name to address people. Say Herr (Mr) or Frau (Mrs.) and use the formal pronoun “du” when talking to elderly people.
  • Do be formal. Dress formally for business functions. No shorts and extremely casual wear. Ladies do not wear flashy jewellery and accessories.
  • Do learn a few common German before you travel to Germany. Germans
  • Do have proper medical insurance when visiting Germany. Medical care is expensive, get health insurance especially when you stay longer.
  • Do remove your shoes before enter a German house, and present the hostess with a bunch of flowers, but do not give carnations (symbolize mourning) or lilies or chrysanthemums (used at funerals). Yellow or tea roses are always well received.
  • Do say ‘Guten Appetit’ (good appetite) before eating, and say ‘Prost’ (cheers) before you sip your beer. Keep your hands but not your elbows on the table.
  • Do feel free to have serious discussions on politics and philosophy. They do not like idle chit-chat.
  • Do have cash with you. Cash is king in Germany, and many restaurants don’t take credit cards.
  • Do tip. It is customary to leave a tip of 5-10% at a restaurant or pub if the service was good, and leave a larger tip around Christmastime.
  • Do be aware that some women may bathe topless or even full nudity at the beach.  The nude beaches are labelled with “FKK” for “Freikörperkultur” which means free body culture.