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Business Travel

Business Customs

Never underestimate the importance of punctuality in German business culture. Arriving even five to ten minutes after the appointed time is perceived as late; a fifteen minute variance would be considered a very serious faux pas and could mean a shaky start to any potential business relations.

Be prepared to make an appointment for most things.

The preferred times for business appointments are between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. or between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Avoid scheduling appointments on Friday afternoons, as some offices close by 2:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. on Fridays.

Giving compliments is not part of German business protocol and can often cause embarrassment and awkwardness.

Germans traditionally use: “Wie geht es Ihnen?” [“How are you?”] as a literal question that expects a literal answer, in contrast to the common English usage of “How's it going?” to simply meaning “Hi”. It may, therefore, be considered strange or superficial to ask the question and keep on moving without waiting for an answer.

Travel Advisory

Germany remains largely free of terrorist incidents. However, like other countries in the Schengen area, Germany’s open borders with its European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups entering/exiting the country with anonymity. Overall, the security risk to travelers in Germany is low.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the State Department’s Internet web site at 

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html

where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Visa Requirements

A passport is required. A visa is not required for tourist/business stays up to 90 days within the Schengen Group of countries, which includes Germany. Further information on entry visa and passport requirements may be obtained from the German Embassy at 4645 Reservoir Road N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007, telephone (202) 298-4000, or the German Consulates General in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, or San Francisco and on the Internet at www.germany.info

Inquiries from outside the United States may be made to the nearest German embassy or consulate.

U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following links.

State Department Visa Website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/

Telecommunications

Thousands of miles of high-quality fiber optical cable make the country ready for the applications of the future.
Mobile phones are based on GSM 800 and 1600 Mhz standards. UMTS/IMT 2000 frequencies are 1900 to 2170 MHz.

Transportation

Travel by plane, train or car meets international standards, but prices exceed U.S. averages. The number of in-country flights has been picking up and the train stations that dot the country provide sufficient access to nearly all cities (for train schedules, please see www.db.de. Nevertheless, cars are the most popular means of transport and Germany's famous highway system is extensive.
Geographic distances are relatively short, when compared to the United States, but as Germany is much more densely populated than its European neighbors, it may take a little longer to travel the same distance in Germany than it may take in France or Scandinavia.

Language

German. In larger towns, many people can communicate in English.

Health

Good medical care is widely available. Doctors and hospitals may expect immediate payment in cash for health services from tourists and persons with no permanent address in Germany. Most doctors, hospitals and pharmacies do not accept credit cards.
Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses, such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased.

Holidays and Local Time

See http://export.gov/germany/doing_business_in_germany/GermanHolidays/ for German holidays.

Central European Time (CET): UTC/GMT +1 hour
Central European Summer Time (CEST): UTC/GMT +2 hours See www.timeanddate.com for more information.

Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings

When bringing professional equipment, such as electronic goods, cameras, and musical instruments, into Germany, it is strongly recommended that you first contact the consulate or embassy in your area for customs information. You might also want to consider purchasing an ATA Carnet. The ATA Carnet, which allows for the temporary, duty-free entry of goods into over 50 countries, is issued by the United States Council for International Business by appointment of the U.S. Customs Service; www.uscib.org

Note: Voltage in Germany is 230. Electronic equipment from the U.S. will require an adaptor.


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