Practical Information for Visitors to Germany: tips for emergencies
Germany is known for being one of the safest countries in the Europe
Union, and while you could possibly find yourself on some of Earth's
safest spots in Germany's smaller towns and villages, travelling
in larger cities can be dangerous. The most serious threat for visitors
or tourists are pickpockets, who are known for frequenting crowded
places like airports, train stations, busy train wagons or buses,
and tourist attractions. For this reason, it is best to leave valuable
items and documents in a hotel safe.
It is also advisable to take out medical insurance coverage when
travelling abroad. For minor illnesses that do not require a doctor,
you can usually find assistance at one of many German pharmacies
German pharmacies are abundant, even in smaller towns, and are
easy to find. Just look for a red stylized "A" or the word "Apotheke" (www.apotheken.de).
Pharmacies are usually open from 8 am - 6 pm and are generally
closed evenings, Saturday afternoons, Sundays and holidays. Each
of them has a list on the door, though, of pharmacies in the area
that remain open to handle emergencies. Most pharmacists can offer
advice on minor illnesses and recommend over-the-counter remedies.
Be aware, however, that all medicines (even aspirin) are behind
the counter, and must be asked for, even if you do not need a
prescription to purchase them.
It is also a good idea to bring any prescription drugs from your
home country with you for the duration of your stay abroad. While
you probably will be able to find equivalent drugs in Germany,
you will need a doctor's prescription. Prescription drugs cannot
be sent legally through the postal service if you are planning
on having them sent from home.
Finding a doctor in Germany can be an intimidating process because
of the language difference, but it should not be. You can refer
to the yellow pages (Gelbe Seiten - www.gelbeseiten.de )or the local phone book ( www.dasoertliche.de ) in which doctors ("Ärzte" or "Arzt")
are listed by their specialization. For a general physician look
under "Allgemeinmedizin", or, simply ask a colleague
or friend; the best references are often by word of mouth.
Other good sources are university clinics, which can usually be
found in major cities or university towns. These clinics are staffed
by highly skilled doctors who often speak English.
Making an Appointment
When making a doctor's appointment by telephone or in person,
the person you will speak to is the "Arzthelferin" or
doctors assistant. She may not speak English, but do not worry,
you will not be asked many questions, you simply need to set up
a day and a time for an appointment.
Some helpful phrases for an appointment are:
- Ich moechte einen Termin machen.
I would like to make an appointment.
- Es ist dringend. Haben Sie keinen früheren Termin?
It is urgent. Don't you have
an earlier appointment?
- Wo befindet sich Ihre Praxis?
Where is your practice located?
If you have an urgent medical situation during evenings, weekends,
or holidays you can always find an available doctor who will provide
after hours medical assistance.
You can find an "on call" emergency physician by:
- Calling a general physician listed in the telephone book.
If he or she is not available, they will most likely have a
recorded message with the telephone number of an emergency doctor.
- In large hotels medical care is usually provided on the premises.
If not, ask the receptionist to contact a doctor for you.
- Calling the Notdienst (110 in all of Germany) or "Ärztlicher
Notdienst"(www.aerztlichepraxis.de/Bereitschaft/ or www.aerzte-notdienst.de)
for the name of a doctor in your area
- Going directly to the hospital or emergency room
- Having the patient taken to the nearest hospital or out-patient
clinic. Throughout Germany, the number 112 will be answered
by an operator who is an experienced member of a rescue team.
This is also the number you can call in case of a fire or when
an ambulance is needed.
- Checking a local newspaper. Look through a local newspaper
for the heading Notdienst Kalendar (Emergency Calendar) to find
an emergency doctor and pharmacy in your area.
Accidents and other Emergencies
The German police can be identified by their predominantly green
and beige uniforms, and green and white signs and automobiles.
Motorized police units, known as the "Verkehrspolizei",
look after safety on the streets, roads and motorways, and can
be identified by their white hats, while uniformed policemen patrolling
city streets have a hat that is the same color as their uniform.
Those policemen who are responsible for criminal offences, known
as the Kriminalpolizei, are usually dressed in plain clothes,
and show their identification only when necessary. Many of the
German police personnel speak English and are approachable and
easy to find in busy areas like airports and train stations. The
number 110 can be used to contact the police throughout Germany.
If you or someone else has an accident or a serious breakdown
on the German motorway, you can use one of the special orange
telephones that are set at regular intervals along the shoulder
of the road. These telephones contact an operator who will inform
the appropriate emergency services. The emergency number 112 can
be accessed by every telephone, including mobile phones, free
German Automobile Clubs
If you are staying in Germany for a longer period of time, membership
in the ADAC (Allgemeine
Deutsche Automobil-Club) has some advantages. This organization
offers information in English, sells insurance, and provides emergency
roadside assistance. Most cities have an ADAC office. The ADAC
has a partnership with similar clubs in other countries, eg. www.AAA.com in the USA.
4. Lost and Stolen
Thefts and burglaries must be reported immediately to the closest
police station (www.polizei.de).
If an insurance claim can be made, a certificate must be obtained
to show that the stolen property has been reported.
If you have lost a valuable item, try contacting the city's "Fundbüro"
(Lost and Found).
The German Railway has its own lost property office known as the
der Deutschen Bahn AG".
of Emergency Numbers
- Fire Department and Ambulance:
- Airborne Rescue (Deutsche
(0711) 70 10 70
- Emergency Poison Hotline:
(0761) 192 40
- Lost Property (Fundbüro
der Deutschen Bahn AG - German Railroad Lost and Found) :
(01805) 99 05 99
- Central Lost and Found of Berlin (Zentrales Fundbüro Berlin)
(030) 69 95
- Lost Credit Cards
- American Express
(069) 97 97 10 00
- Diner's Club
(05921) 86 12 34
- EC and Bank Cards
(069) 74 09 87
(069) 79 33 19 10
(0800) 81 49 100
- German Automobile Clubs offering roadside assistance
- ADAC (Allegemeine Deutsche Atomobile Club)
- AvD (Automobilclub von Deutschland)
- Request for telephone numbers:
- Directory enquiries, national numbers (fee required)
- Directory enquiries, international numbers (fee required)
Embassies and consulates can provide a number of useful services
for their citizens while they are traveling or living abroad.
If your passport is lost or stolen, officials in a consulate
can issue you a replacement. They will also renew passports, help
you obtain legal advice, hire a translator if necessary, and assist
you in contacting your family. If you think that your passport
has been stolen, report it to the local police and get a police
Should you lose all of your money and other financial resources,
consular officers can help you contact a bank, employer, or family
member and arrange for them to send you funds. In extreme circumstances,
they may be able to arrange for financial loans to finance the
purchase of a ticket home.
List of Embassies
Overview Consular Services
7. Health insurance
Germany has a universal multi-payer health care system with two main types of health insurance:
- "Statutory Health Insurance" (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) and
- "Private Health Insurance" (Private Krankenversicherung).
Health insurance is compulsory for the whole population in Germany. More information is available wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare and
further information : Practical
travel information for Germany and www.germany-tourism.de
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