Tipping and Service in Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, etc.
A service charge of 15% is included in the menu price in restaurants, bars, etc. all over Germany. Still, it is typical to "round up" the amount to some more-or-less round figure. However, if you are paying for more than one person, you might go even higher. A rule of thumb is to add 3-5%, generally ending with a full Euro amount.
Caveat: It is not typical to be given a check, then leave your money on the table.
How You Pay: Typically, the waiter/waitress always comes to you and tells you your total. You then tell him/her how much you will pay, i.e. the amount you owe plus any "rounding up" -- for example, the waiter/waitress might say "€7.60;" you hand him/her a €10 note and say "8 Euros." S/he then will give you €2 in change.
If the bill is much higher, it is preferable to apply the "3-5% rule." For example: If your check totals €101, you will likely want to round up to €105. If the service was stellar or you are particularly fond of your server, you may always be more generous. And the inverse is true, too. If service was egregiously bad, don’t tip!
Credit Cards: While Germany is a leader in many areas of technology, it is decidedly not so in credit card acceptance. When eating out, visiting any store or trying to pay for just about anything, don't be surprised if the response to your credit card is "Nein." Most Germans still settle in cash or rely on debit cards called "EC" or "electronic cash" cards which are not logo-bearing and do not work like credit cards. While some hotels, restaurants and other venues will take credit cards, by far the majority does not. When shopping or consuming anything, it's always wise to ask in advance, otherwise you'll be expected to pay in cash. Personal checks are unknown in Germany and Traveler’s Checks often carry a substantial "service charge" for cashing them.
Splitting a Check: This custom is not uncommon. Simply tell the waiter/waitress when paying what you are paying for, s/he will readily add up your amounts and present you with a personal total, which you should round up, as explained above.
Customs: It is seen as a sign of hospitality and good breeding to invite guests to a meal. Older Germans sometimes almost "fight" for the honor or privilege of settling the bill. Among younger Germans, most will easily and readily pay for themselves except in the case of a special occasion, where the host will customarily pay for everyone.
The weather in Germany could roughly be compared to the weather in Southern Indiana. The winters are usually drawn out quite a bit longer than anywhere in the States but the summers are usually very nice. One very good thing about Germany is you do not have to worry about major tornadoes, hurricanes etc. Tornadoes have been known to be spotted in Germany but in most occasions they are very minor and cause little or no casualties. The weather is, however, somewhat variable. It can be cold and rainy in the morning, but change to warm and sunny in the afternoon. Do be prepared for anything, and a rain jacket and a sweater is suggested in the summer.
When to Go:
During the summer months of June - September would be the ideal time to visit Germany. During these months you have a good chance of nice weather.
Who may perform marriages abroad?
Only marriages performed at a registrar's office ("Standesamt") are legally valid in Germany. A church ceremony may be held later, if desired. Consular officers cannot perform marriages and you do not need to register your marriage with the Embassy or Consulate.
Does marriage affect my citizenship?
If an American citizen marries a German citizen, he or she does not acquire German citizenship, nor does the German citizen acquire US citizenship. If you wish to live in the U.S. after marrying, the American spouse will need to apply for an Immigrant Visa on behalf of the non-American spouse.
What documents do I need to get married in Germany?
This depends on what the registrar's office ("Standesamt") requires and may vary from case to case. The Standesamt therefore requires that you make an appointment and discuss with them what is required for you, or you can entrust your wedding planner in doing the legwork for you.
There are, however, some standard requirements that apply in almost all cases:
· Your birth certificate.
· It is a German requirement that all documents must have been issued within the last six months; therefore you may have to obtain a new copy of your birth certificate.
· For U. S. documents to be accepted by the German authorities, they also require that you provide an Apostille.
· All foreigners marrying in Germany require an "Ehefähigkeitszeugnis" which is a Certificate of Free Status stating that you are legally free to marry. This document may be obtained at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin or at a U.S. Consulate WITH THE EXCEPTION OF MUNICH. Residents of Bavaria may take the oath on this document directly at the Standesamt and do not need to come to the Consulate.
Links for Marriage in Germany:
Tourism info Germany
Source for Germany Travel info by - www.tripadvisor.com
Food Service Etiquette Do's and Don'ts
Water, Ice Water: Water is not free. If you order water you will be expected to pay for it as any other beverage ordered. It is not customary to serve or receive ice water upon arrival in any restaurant in Germany. If you order water, you will be asked whether you wish still or carbonated mineral water. In some you may request tap water, but the practice is uncommon and seen as cheap, if not downright rude. [In other places in Europe, like France, good drinkable tap water is available free in restaurants with no such negative impressions (eg: un carafe d'eau).]
Beverage and portion sizes: Soft drinks generally are served in 0,2 and 0,3 L sizes. Beer is usually served in 0,3 (small) or 0,5 Liter sizes (large), although in some areas of Germany a 1-liter glass is "large" but not extraordinarily so. The vat-sized soft drink containers found in the U.S. are unknown here, as is the "free refill" or bottomless cup concept. You pay for every refill. Coffee will in some restaurants be served either by the cup or by Kännchen (small pot - usually about 2 cups) and is always accompanied by cream and sugar. The same holds true for hot tea (where lemon is also readily available and usually served alongside without asking). Cocoa is usually a third option readily available in this manner, and is also readily available for breakfast in most places, especially if you have children in your party.
Table/cover fees: Bread, butter, rolls, table settings sometimes are added to the bill as a separate cover charge. This is not fraud, but customary in some areas, just as it is sometimes customary for guests staying for a longer stay and enjoying half-board or full board to reuse their cloth napkins for several meals.
Condiments: In some American fast food restaurants, (i.e. McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's) you must pay separately for ketchup and/or mayonnaise. Be aware that the menus at most fast food restaurants in Germany are not exactly the same as they are in the U.S. You may also notice that a sandwich that you recognize from "back home" may taste a little different or may be smaller.
Seating/Non-Smoking Sections: The concept of a "host" or "hostess" is unknown in all but the most exclusive restaurants in Europe, where the Maitre d' will personally seat you. In most restaurants, just walk right in and pick the table of your choice. Please note that in some areas there will not be separate Non-smoking sections, and that this is not seen as a marked negative as it is in the U.S. The caveat applies: If you don't like the place, leave and go somewhere else. Making a "big stink" about smoking only brands you as a hapless tourist and does not endear you to anyone. Note also that in many restaurants it will be customary for you to allow perfect strangers to join you if you are seated at a table larger than your party; this holds particularly true in beer gardens and vineyard restaurants. Instead of objecting, look at the practice as an opportunity to get to know locals and/or make new friends - after all, isn't that what visiting a foreign country is all about?
Stammtisch: Many smaller restaurants will have a table used by regulars from a company, a society etc. Such tables will usually have a "Stammtisch" label. You should not try to sit at such a table without checking with a waiter / waitress.