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100 first questions – Laws, Rules and Culture in Germany

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  • Equality of all humans
  • Men and women
    • Men and women are equal, it is normal that they speak and interact in public life
    • A smile is polite and it does not stand for flirting. It is part of every day life that the people smile at each other while speaking
    • Men and women normally shake hands when greeting each other – if they are friends they often give each other a hug
    • Clothing can be chosen freely by everybody. There are no rules and „light“ clothing for women is very normal, it cannot be understood as flirting.
    • Same-sex relationships are legal in Germany and can be acted out in public
  • People with or without disability
  • Children and adults
  • Legitimate and  illegitimate children (Children inside a marriage and Children outside a marriage) illegitimate is like saying polite bastards
  • People of all cultures and countries
  • People of all religions


  • Punctuality regarding appointments and meetings – coming too late is seen as very impolite
  • Sunday is a day of rest (Shops are closed, silence in the apartment, loud machines are not allowed to use,…)
  • In Germany thoughtfulness is considered very important (or In Germany people are giving to much value in mutual consideration), so that other people don’t feel disturbed. This includes for example:
    • Not being too loud and talking with a low voice in public transport and public spaces
    • Standing up in the bus and the train for elderly people and more fragile people
    • Politeness while dealing with other people, no insults
    • In public spaces, public transportation, restaurants and so on smoking is prohibited. There are often special smoking rooms
    • No smoking when pregnant women and children are close by
    • In case of a personal invitation it is polite to bring a small present, for example some sweets or a small flower
  • In Germany the people value discipline a lot, for example regarding education, work and sport
  • Commitment for the community: Religious and social institutions and also individual people engage themselves for the community on a voluntary basis. You also can get engaged there and use this commitment to integrate yourself in the German community and to make friends
  • Environmental friendly
    • Seperating trash (see question 64)
    • Not throwing trash on the streets, always throwing it in the bin
    • Saving energy in the apartment: Only using heating, electrical devices and light if it is necessary and always switching it off when it is not needed anymore
    • Using the bike instead of the car or the bus
    • Not using plastic bags, better to use linen bags or shopping baskets
    • Keeping the system for bottles with refundable deposit in mind: see topic „Shopping“, advice

In Germany there are some common holidays:

  • New Year (01.01.)
  • Easter (Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday), in March/April
  • Labour Day (01.05.)
  • Ascension Day, in May/June
  • Pentecost (Sunday and Monday), in May/June
  • Day of German Unity (03.10.)
  • Reformation day (31.10)
  • Christmas (25.12./26.12.)

In addition there are more different holidays in the different federal states that do not apply throughout Germany

On these days schools, offices, doctors, pharmacies and shops are closed – kiosks and petrol stations are normally opened


In the German democracy the citizens are directly participating in the politics of the country. In free elections they elect the representatives who make the political decisions regarding the welfare of the people. Everybody who has a German passport and as a rule is minimum 18 years old is allowed to vote.

There are different political parties who represent different core points.

The basic rights and the human rights are especially protected in a Democracy.

State under the rule of law

In a state under the rule of law the state only acts on the basis of the constitution and the laws and should protect the human dignity, freedom, justice and the legal security.

Every citizen in Germany has the right to be represented by a lawyer and to get a law suit in front of a independent court of law if it is necessary.

The state under the rule of law is divided in three state powers:



Legislative PowerVom Volk gewählte
From the people voted representatives
(Parliament, Bundesrat, parliament of the federal states)
Legislative power issues laws
Executive PowerBundesregierung,
The federal government, administration (Public Services, State Prosecutor, Police)
It’s a guided power from the laws that the legislative power issues
Judiciary Power
Courts of Law
Judicial Power that checks the compliance with the law
and issues sentences when someone fails to comply

Welfare State

Germany is a welfare state. This means that the state takes between 14% and 45% of taxes of the income of each citizen and forwards these to the community. By doing this social justice is ensured.
For example it is forwarded into the financial subsistence income system for the citizens (unemployment benefits, benefits for asylum seekers, pension, housing benefits, child benefits, subsistence income for the elderly,…). Thus the participation of all people in social and political developments should be guaranteed.
Furthermore for example road building, schools and other public institutions are financed by this.

The most important law in Germany is the Basic Law. It is the constitution for the Federal Republic of Germany and is standing above all and it is valid for everybody. A violation of the basic rights of another person is followed by a punishment. The basis for all other laws that are enacted is the Basic Law.

The most important rules are:

Article 1: Protection of human dignity

(1) Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.

Article 2: Personal freedoms

(1) Every person shall have the right to free development of his personality insofar as he does not violate the rights of others or offend against the constitutional order or the moral law.

(2) Every person shall have the right to life and physical integrity. Freedom of the person shall be inviolable. These rights may be interfered with only pursuant to a law.

Article 3: Equality before the law

(1) All persons shall be equal before the law.

(2) Men and women shall have equal rights.

(3) No person shall be favoured or disfavoured because of sex, parentage, race, language, homeland and origin, faith, or religious or political opinions. No person shall be disfavoured because of disability.

Article 4: Freedom of faith and conscience

(1) Freedom of faith and of conscience, and freedom to profess a religious or philosophical creed, shall be inviolable.

(2) The undisturbed practice of religion shall be guaranteed.

(3) No person shall be compelled against his conscience to render military service involving the use of arms.

Article 5: Freedom of expression

(1) Every person shall have the right freely to express and disseminate his opinions in speech, writing and pictures, and to inform himself without hindrance from generally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films shall be guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.

Article 6: Protection of marriage and family

(1) Marriage and the family shall enjoy the special protection of the state.

(2) The care and upbringing of children is the natural right of parents and a duty primarily incumbent upon them. The state shall watch over them in the performance of this duty

(3) Children may be separated from their families against the will of their parents or guardians only pursuant to a law, and only if the parents or guardians fail in their duties or the children are otherwise in danger of serious neglect.

Article 10: Privacy of correspondence and post

(1) The privacy of correspondence, posts and telecommunications shall be inviolable.

Article 13: Inviolability of the home

(1) The home is inviolable.

(2) Searches may be authorised only by a judge or, when time is of the essence, by other authorities designated by the laws, and may be carried out only in the manner therein prescribed.

Article 16a: Right of asylum

(1) Persons persecuted on political grounds shall have the right of asylum.

(2) Paragraph (1) of this Article may not be invoked by a person who enters the federal territory from a member state of the European Communities or from another third state in which application of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is assured.

Article 104: Deprivation of liberty

(1) Liberty of the person may be restricted only pursuant to a formal law and only in compliance with the procedures prescribed therein. Persons in custody may not be subjected to mental or physical mistreatment

(2) Only a judge may rule upon the permissibility or continuation of any deprivation of liberty. The police may hold no one in custody on their own authority beyond the end of the day following the arrest.

Freedom of assembly:

Furthermore every person in Germany has the right to assemble with others peacefully. This is regulated and protected by the German Basic Law (Article 8: Freedom of assembly, Article 2: Freedom of action).

Freedom of association:

In addition everybody has the right to form an association with others. This is also regulated and protected by the Basic Law (Article 9: Freedom of association, Article 2: Freedom of action).

The most important duties in Germany (valid for everybody):

Obligation to follow all applicable laws

Everyone has to follow the Basic Law and the other applicable laws. The person who does not follow the law will be put on trial and punished according to the law.

Equality (Article 3, Basic Law)

In Germany men and women have the same rights and duties.

Compulsory School Attendence (§§63, 64, 65 NSchG, see question 40 + 41)

Every child is obliged to visit a school regularly.

Securing the best interest and welfare of the children (Article 6, Basic Law)

Parents have to make sure that their children can develop themselves freely. Children are not allowed to be mistreated physically and mentally.

Compulsory Emergency Assistance

In case of emergency or disaster everybody is obliged to help. At least you have to call 110 (Police) and/or 112 (Rescue Service, Fire Brigade, Emergency Doctor).

All numbers for emergency calls  can be found on the first page of this booklet.

Obligation to give testimony

Everybody is obliged to testify in front of a court if he or she is summoned.

Liability for losses or damages

Everybody is liable for self-inflicted damages.

Tax liabililty

Every citizen is obliged to pay taxes from his or her income. These will be collected by the state and passed on to the community (see 2 + 55).

Carrying Identity Papers

Everybody has to be able to identify himself or herself at all times when requested by the police.


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