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  5. Do's and Don'ts in Germany


Do's and Don'ts in Germany

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  1. Talk to Germans in German. Some lousy phrases in German are better than your most eloquent English. Especially in rural areas.

  2. Be punctual. That means be there a minimum of 5 minutes before any meeting.

  3. Be formal. I don’t know you. You don’t know me. Use the formal “Sie” and maybe “Herr XY” or “Frau XY” if you know the name of the person. Forget “Fraulein”. The last guy I heard call a young woman “Fraulein” was the Nazi from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.

  4. You can use “du” if you’re in a club picking up girls, buy drugs from some shady characters, or buy something from a hipster store.

  5. Wear subdued colors. Keep it simple and classy.

  6. Do shake hands.

  7. Do bring cash and small change with you. Especially if you need to use a public restrooom.

  8. Say “Hallo!” a lot. It’s the most neutral greeting these days.

  9. Say “prost” and “guten Appetit” when eating and drinking in company.

  10. Do remove your shoes when entering a house. Bringing flowers to the hostess is a plus.

  11. Do split the check with your friends when eating out.

  12. Have deep conversations about life, the future and philosophy in general with your friends. We appreciate your views and intellect. We don’t like idle talk.

  13. Do show that you’re open-minded.

  14. See a hot girl/guy? Do have eye-contact first. If that goes over well, only then approach the person to use one of your lousy pickup lines.

  15. Be spontaneous. Being adventurous and spontaneous will get you laid.


  1. Do not ask the guy at the information desk (“Auskunft”) or a sales person if you don’t exactly know what you want to know. Vague questions will earn you rude answers.

  2. Don’t waste other people’s time. Know any procedure beforehand. If you want to ride a bus or get tickets to a museum, know exactly the proper procedure to do what you’re aiming to do beforehand. Failing to do so, and wasting other people’s time will make sure that you’ll become a pariah very soon.

  3. Do not waste other people’s time (have I said that already?).

  4. If you’re late, don’t blame it on public transport. Don’t be late.

  5. Do not ask about Hitler, the Nazis or WW2 unless you’re very close to the person you’re going to ask about this stuff. Maybe you sleep with her/him first and then you may bring up Hitler - but only in private, please.

  6. Along the same lines: do not make the Nazi salute, mime Hitler’s mustache or do any other form of Nazi jokes. In fact, doing the Nazi salute can get you behind bars.

  7. Do not wear something that has a German flag on it, unless you’re watching our national soccer team in the stadium.

  8. Do not buy your friends’ kids toy guns or any other form of militaristic toys.

  9. Don’t freak if a stranger sits next to you in a pub or restaurant.

  10. Don’t burp. Don’t eat with your fingers.

  11. Don’t be too loud in public.

  12. Don’t freak out if they make you wait in line for hours in front of clubs. The best clubs don’t believe in the concept of there being a VIP.

  13. Don’t jaywalk. Don’t sit in seats for the handicapped. Don’t stand in front of exits. In fact, don’t ignore regulations and rules of any kind. There’s a reason we have signages all over the place.

Written by Mike Muluk, Berliner since the '70's (Shared with permission)

July 29, 2017



No offense taken, but: Are we Germans really these kinds of a..holes you are trying to show uphere? Little wonder they say that Germans have no sense of humour. It is correct, we love a peace and quiet way, consumer service can be found only as dictionary entries and it is wise to carry some change if you want to see the public restrooms. For the first contact with a native, especially with someone superior to you (in rank, not as in "Herrenrasse"), you should stick with the formal "Sie". Being polite should not be dependent on nationality but on manners. Offering a seat to the elderly, pregnant or others who need the seat more than you should come natural, not only when ordered.

Any reference to Nazis is not advised. The reason is that at a certain point it becomes boring. Being referred to as Nazi for some 70 years, the joke became shale a long time ago. We had every joke that can be made about Nazis at least ten times over. It is like reducing the US history to the Ku-Klux-Klan or the Brittish to the colonial wars of the last centuries. If you see the state our military is in, you would never again think of Germany as a threat. Militarism has been thoroughly removed from the German soul by our liberators from the US and our neighbouring countries.

By the way, Susan, even in Germany there are people who are decent and friendly - usually we call them "Ausländer" ;-)

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Hannibal-Barkas -Ich weiß, dass Sie einen großartigen Sinn für Humor haben. Wollen wir uns duzen? ;-)


Gerne, ich heiße Andreas

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Wie du bereits weißt, Ich heiße Susan.


yepp, I frequently read some of your posts and usually found them interresting. Unfortunately, it is not possible to exchange private messages on Duolingo and they don't like people to exchange means of communications.

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Andreas, wir wissen, dass man nicht die regeln brechen.


Seems you just agreed with everything in the article :)


Naaah, not everything is correct. Unlike Brits, Germans don't queue. They stand in a cloud around the counter or bus stop and let the clerk decide who's next. If she/he is wrong about it they mumble quiet dissent or try to protest themselves ahead of everyone else ("Ich warte jetzt aber schon so lange!")

If someone wants me to eat "ein halbes Hähnchen" (half a grilled chicken) or a burgerwith knife and fork I would surely freak out. Some of the most beloved foods are being sold from small food stalls ("Pommesbuden", "Dönerläden") and must be eaten without cutlery. Using hands is preferred to using feet :-). Only at formal places when sitting down to eat they offer knife and fork and you would be wise to use them (stealing fries from your neighbour's plate with bare hands might be rude but tasty nonetheless)

Most people dislike jaywalking because they know, while you can cross without problems, they would be stopped and fined by a "Stadtscherif" (city cop). So it is pure jealousy. If you're in a big city, everyone but the country folk does it.

Those rules about hooking up with girls I cannot comment. Never tried them. On the other hand, I would add: shower yourself regularily, contrary to popular myths, women don't fall in love with you if you smell like a beaver.


I love how this list of 28 strict rules includes 'be spontaneous'. Plenty of wiggle room there. :)


Germans should be proud of their country because of so much they have achieved throughout the late 20th along with the 21st century. Patriotism is different than nationalism.


Unfortunately, when it comes to German patriotism, everyone is afraid of our past. On the other hand, our history is too strong a weapon to silence any critical German voice - with a historical burden like that you should not point your finger at others, it seems (as if Germans could not see if a story goes the wrong direction. Our predecessors had a hands-on experience of being seduced by pied pipers)

I am happy to be a German, for German history includes more than just twelve years. Its rich heritage is really something to be proud of. What we achieved in the last 70 years was possible only because we tried to make Germany a better place - with more than a little help from our friends. One should learn from history, for what WE do today will be tomorrow's history. So it is up to us - to me, too - to make it a happy one.


There is the ring of truth in some of these, but it still does read like satire.

Small change for public toilets is essential.

I jaywalked frequently whilst in Germany, but only because I didn’t understand how the pedestrian crossings work. I avoided arrest...

A little German goes a long way...for example in the middle of nowhere someone stopped and asked the way to some location... I pointed to myself and said ‘Ich bin Englisch’ and the other person said ‘Alles Klar’...and moved on.

As previously said...talking incessantly about the war is frowned upon. But by all means show ‘some’ interest in the place you are visiting. The person I visited in Germany shared what had happened to her city and it was quite moving...


It is true that Germans are cash people. "Nur Bares ist Wahres" - only cash is good money. I was amazed that in the US they paid even the cheapest items using credit cards. In Germany we use cash more frequently and there is often a (edited) minimum amount, below which you cannot use your card (sometimes about 10 Euros)

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Do you mean that you can't use your credit card unless an item costs at least 10 euros; or that you can't use it if it is over 10 euros?


Your shopping has to cost at least 10 euros if you want to pay by card - at least in many shops. On the other hand, since there are some counterfeit euro bills, many shops do not accept bills of 100 euros or over, especially if your bill is below 10 bucks. Best to use "fünfziger (50,-)" and "zwanziger (20,-)".

Visa and Master Card are often used, but most of the time we (I, that is) use "Euroscheckkarte", the standard bank card with the maestro sign. Then again, there is an ATM almost everywhere, in city centers, railway stations, even in smaller towns.

If you come from the US, don't expect discounter chain stores like Aldi or Lidl to pack your shopping. There is no conveyor after the cash register, so you have to put your shopping back into your cart and sort it out later, maybe when packing it into your car. And don't think about dallying. The people at Aldi are as fast as light - or even faster! If you are too slow they will pile your stuff as high as a mountain. They are polite, but they are obliged to be fast. You have to love it - I do. Nowadays, you even can pay by card there. Some ten years ago, it was cash only.

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This is pretty much the same here in the States.


I was amazed when I was in New York City a couple of years ago and we were shopping at Trader Joe's. There were some 20 checkouts, at least half of them occupied. There was even a guy carrying a sign "end of the line" and someone who showed you the way to the next checkout. In Germany, at Aldi there are rarely more than 2 checkouts with personnel and maybe one other guy filling up the shelves. They are as fast as the dozen people at Trader Joe's and the lines are rarely more than five shoppers long.

That's not bragging over the efficiency of German workers, it is just to give you an idea of how little time German salespersons have to squeeze some friendliness in their daily life. Then again, if you are friendly, they usually are, too.


"Do not buy your friends’ kids toy guns or any other form of militaristic toys"

Sometimes I've read news articles here in Canada, where the police say it's dangerous for children to play with toy guns because some of them look like real guns.


In Germany it is usually because parents think toy guns could spoil thir kids and transform them to violent monsters. On the other hand, they let their kids watch TV ...


Police in Canada and the U.S. don't like toy guns because so many of them look like real guns and that makes problems for the police, especially if it's in a public place.

I found a couple of articles on CBC which illustrate what police ehr think about toy guns:




I frickin' love germans! Because all their rule-sticking just means one thing: respect for other humans. Let us all respect each other, and THEN discuss further how bad/boring germans are (considered (by some (not me))).


9 on the don'ts is frightening! Here in Ireland sitting beside strangers in a restaurant is so odd! But I love 1, in Ireland asking a lot of specific questions is considered rute which I never got ugh.

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When I was in Germany (in the late '70's/early 80's) the local beer pubs had long tables instead of a lot of small tables. If you went in to a beer pub it was considered unfriendly to go off and sit by yourself. I loved this because it gave me a chance to practice my German.


Oh! I was thinking it would be strange for a stranger to sit down at a table some family was eating, but that's interesting. A bit like school canteens then?

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TseDanylo, are you of Ukranian descent?


Of course you're not being rude don't worry :)

Flattered, but I'm pretty much pure blood Irish, my dad's family is part of an ethnic group called Yoles so I suppose I have quite a bit of Dutch/English/French (that area of Europe) DNA. But we assimilated into Irish culture a couple centuries ago.

I speak Ukrainian, mainly because I love the sound of it XD

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Danylo, I couldn't find any info on "Yoles". I notice that you are quite the polyglot; I admire that. - Susan

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Danylo, das ist sehr interessant.

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Hope I am not being rude.


Planning to move to Germany soon, thank you for this!


Is wearing a Bundesliga club shirt ok?


well seems like germans are my kind of people. although i think that remark about getting you laid is a crappy one

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