Since its founding, the Federal Republic of Germany has been a very politically stable country. The government is divided into the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The purpose of this structure is to prevent a concentration or abuse of political power. Moreover, it guarantees a high degree of legal certainty. In other words, you can rely on Germany’s laws and respect for the law, and on its administrative structures and judicial system. Further information about Germany’s political system can be found here.
German Public Authorities
Do you need to register with the local registration office? Or apply for an extension of your residence permit? You can trust that you’re in safe hands and your request will be processed in a professional and reliable manner. Contact information for numerous public authorities is available on the Welcome Center website; you can also use the Authority Finder to determine which public authority is responsible for your specific concern.
Emergency telephone numbers
Police: Emergency number 110
Fire department: Emergency number 112
Emergency rescue service/Ambulance: Emergency number 112
Public Holidays in Germany
Germany has many public holidays throughout the year, most of which are of Christian or national origin. Some public holidays are only celebrated in certain states. Below you can find an overview of the public holidays in Baden-Württemberg (and you usually won’t have to work on these days):
January 1, 2018
January 6, 2018
March 30, 2018
April 1, 2018
April 2, 2018
May 1, 2018
May 10, 2018
May 20, 2018
May 21, 2018
May 31, 2018
Day of German Unity
October 3, 2018
All Saints’ Day
November 1, 2018
1st Christmas Day
December 25, 2018
2nd Christmas Day
December 26, 2018
Churches and Denominations
There are a variety of religious communities in the Southern Upper Rhine region, and consequently many churches, parish houses, mosques, temples and synagogues. You can find out more about your religious community online or by asking friends and neighbors. You can also as ask the Welcome Center team for more information – we’re happy to help!
Shopping and Methods of Payment
Shopping You can find grocery stores and shops for important everyday items pretty much everywhere in Germany. Residential areas often have supermarkets and smaller shops like bakeries and delis for your everyday needs. Most Germans shop for clothes, household items, and electronics in town or city centers, where centrally located shopping streets offer a wide selection. While large furniture stores, electronic stores, and shopping malls are usually located on the outskirts of town, they offer convenient parking options and excellent bus or train connections. There are a number of weekly markets in the Southern Upper Rhine region as well, which you can find set up on the same site on one or more days of the week. Here, you can buy products directly from merchants and farmers from the surrounding area. The quality of the products is very high, but prices are often slightly higher than those in the supermarkets.
Tip: Ask your neighbors where you can find the nearest stores and shops in your area.
Opening Hours Large stores, and especially those in inner cities, are usually open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Some supermarkets stay open until 10 p.m. or midnight. Smaller shops outside of the city are usually open Monday to Friday until 6 p.m. and Saturday until 2 or 4 p.m. You can still shop for basics at a few other places outside regular business hours; shops inside train stations as well as gas stations and kiosks offer an array of basic food and beverage items on Sundays and public holidays, and in some cases even round the clock.
Methods of Payment You can pay in most stores with cash, debit or credit card. Some smaller shops accept cash only, while others have a minimum purchase amount for using debit cards. Those who shop online can also pay by money transfer or in cash upon delivery. This is called “Rechnung per Nachname” and means you give the money to the postal worker directly upon delivery. By the way: Apart from the purchase of larger items such as furniture, appliances or used items, it is not customary in Germany to negotiate on the price. The price on the label is the price you pay! In the case of larger purchases, you can sometimes negotiate for free delivery or a small discount, but only under certain circumstances.
Value Added Tax The government charges 19% VAT for most items you buy in Germany. A reduced tax rate of 7% applies to certain products like basic food items (milk and bread), newspapers, books, flowers, and artwork. However, you needn’t worry about calculating tax while shopping because it’s already included in store and restaurant prices.