Why shouldn't you live in Germany?

Manners in everyday life

Shaking hands

Germans shake hands on many occasions, especially when greeting and saying goodbye. It is common for a person who joins a group to shake hands with each one.


Beer and wine are part of a normal dinner. Guests are usually offered alcoholic beverages, but it is perfectly acceptable for someone not to drink alcohol. Don't insist on alcoholic beverages if someone has turned them down. A German who refuses a drink is not necessarily shy or polite, but also does not want to drink it. For some cultures it is unusual for young people to order a beer in restaurants and pubs. The legal age for alcohol consumption in Germany is 16 years for beer and wine and 18 years for spirits.


Don't be late for a date or business meeting. Most Germans are extremely punctual and find even a few minutes late as impolite. Be five to ten minutes early for important appointments and call if you can't make it on time.

You and her

In the private sphere, the older one offers the younger the informal "you". In the business world, it is always up to the higher-ranking person - regardless of age and gender - to suggest the change to "you". A nice intermediate step is to address a colleague by their first name and use the formal "you". However, always ask if the person agrees.


Titles of nobility belong to a person's name - like Princess von Metternich. In case of doubt, it is advisable to ask for the correct or desired form of address. The name also includes academic titles such as Herr Doktor Müller or Frau Professor Weise.


Bring flowers to the hosts if you're invited to a social occasion. If the flowers are wrapped in paper, be sure to remove the wrapping before entering the house.

Waste separation

Germans are very environmentally conscious and separate their garbage to make recycling easier. If your neighbors see you throwing recyclable glass or paper in the trash, your relationship could be forever strained.


When close friends greet each other, it is common to kiss both the left and right cheek. However, this is inappropriate in a business environment.

At the table

Crossing a knife and fork on the plate is a sign that you are not done with your meal. Placing the knife and fork parallel on the right side of the plate is a signal to the waiter that you are ready and the plate can be put away.

Call waiting

When entering an office, it is common to knock first, but then to enter the room immediately.


It is polite to address everyone by their family name and “you”. Do not leave out a name with double names like Ms. Müller-Weber.


You don't have to throw a party for yourself, but when celebrating your birthday, make sure you have enough food and drink for all of the guests. In return, you will receive birthday presents. It is also customary to bring cakes for colleagues on the birthday.

Closed doors

Germans enjoy peace and privacy. They often close their doors, but you will be warmly welcomed when you knock on the door. A closed door does not necessarily mean that the person cannot be disturbed. Likewise, a closed bathroom door in a house does not necessarily mean that the bathroom is occupied. Just knock to be on the safe side.

To phone

Don't call people home after 10 p.m. unless you've asked them beforehand if it's okay. Don't expect to reach someone in the office Monday through Thursday after 5:00 p.m. and Friday after 4:00 p.m. When calling in Germany, it is common to use your last name.

young lady

This address for young women is out of date. It is no longer perceived as polite, but can be offensive. The usual salutation is "woman".


In Germany you may be confronted with a much more tolerant and open attitude towards public nudity than in your home country. For example in the sauna, at set times in swimming pools or on nudist beaches. Even on television, there is always bare skin to be seen in some programs and in commercials.

To greet

A friendly "good day" is appropriate, for example, when entering a (small) shop, an authority, a doctor's waiting room or a train compartment; also saying goodbye with "goodbye".

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