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Overseas Security Advisory Council
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Germany 2020 Crime & Safety Report: Frankfurt

This is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt. OSAC encourages travelers to use this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in western Germany. For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Germany country page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.

Travel Advisory

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Germany at Level 2, indicating travelers should exercise increased caution. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the Consular Travel Advisory System.

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

Crime Threats 

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Frankfurt and Dusseldorf as being LOW-threat locations for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

Crime rates throughout Germany are comparable to those in most first-world countries, and comparative analysis of crime data for the U.S. and Germany reveals only marginal differences. The total number of recorded criminal offenses decreased by 2.1% compared to the previous year (2019: 5.436m cases, 2018: 5.556m cases). The total number of recorded criminal offenses excluding offenses against foreigners’ law decreased by 2.3% compared to the previous year (2019: 5.271m cases, 2018: 5.392m cases).

The following offenses decreased:

 

·         Economic crime by 19.9% to 40,484 cases (2018: 50,550 cases)

·         Theft by burglary of a dwelling by 10.6% to 87,145 cases (2018: 97,504 cases)

·         Thefts (total) from the exterior/interior of motor vehicles by 10.2% to 222,129 cases (2018: 247,3118 cases)

·         Pickpocketing by 9.7% to 94.106 cases (2018: 104,196 cases)

The following offenses increased:

 

·         Sexual abuse of children by 10.9% to 13,670 cases (2018: 12,321 cases)

·         Computer fraud (§263a PC) by 12.1% to 100,814 cases (2018: 89,901 cases)

·         Dissemination of writings depicting pornography by 51.6% to 17,336 cases (2018: 11,435 cases)

Frequent press reports suggest that a large proportion of crimes go unreported. There are various possible reasons for failures to report crime, including apathy, a low expectation of prosecution, and a feeling of shame or embarrassment, particularly when the crime is of a sexual nature or concerns sexuality. There have been reports of police dissuading victims from making formal reports citing little chance of capturing the suspect. There have also been reports of effective decriminalization of some crimes, due to the police not possessing the resources to investigate them. To tackle high-profile criminal activities, such as violent crimes and burglaries, police have reallocated and/or increased resources in certain areas, resulting in less emphasis on investigating and detecting other crimes, such as fraud. However, a new interagency taskforce focuses on financial crimes and tax fraud.

Visiting U.S. nationals are commonly victims of purse snatching or pickpocketing in high traffic and tourist areas (e.g. train stations, internet cafes, crowded restaurants, and outdoor marketplaces). However, violent crimes against U.S. nationals are relatively infrequent. Visitors should carry a copy of their passport while maintaining the original in a safe location. While personal assaults do occur, there is no evidence that anti-U.S. sentiment drives such crimes. Review OSAC’s reports, All That You Should Leave Behind.

Extensive information regarding reported crime statistics and German crime prevention programs are available in several languages on the BKA website.

Crime statistics reported by the Landeskriminalamt for the State of Hessen indicated a large reduction in the number of recorded offenses in 2019, with a fall of 2.1% overall. Reported crime is at its lowest level in over 20 years. However, several categories contained notable increases, including murder (+6%) and assault (+9%). Significant decreases occurred in cases of robbery (-20%), theft (-5.5%), aggravated theft (-12.4%), and narcotics (-3.8%). Other notable changes from 2018 include computer crimes, which were up by 21.6%, and human trafficking, which fell by 40.5%. Rapes, sexual coercion, and sexual attacks increased by 9.4%, attributed partially to the strengthening of laws concerning sexual crimes in response to the sexual assaults in Cologne and other cities during the New Year period of 2015/16. The stricter laws came into force at the beginning of 2017. 

Cybersecurity Issues 

Cybercrime remains a major concern. In recent years, cyberattacks in Germany targeting information infrastructures, government institutions, businesses, and private citizens have increased in frequency and complexity. Many of the attacks are likely state-sponsored and include disinformation campaigns to influence public opinion. In a highly publicized case from 2019, a hacker broke into accounts of hundreds of German lawmakers and personalities whose political stances he disliked, prompting further questions about the ability of the German government to protect sensitive data.

Viruses and other malware continue to be the preferred methods of online criminals. Although authorities have dedicated additional resources to enforcement and prosecution efforts, cybercrime in Germany continues to be a growing problem. Authorities believe most Internet crimes go unreported, and solve only one in four crimes.. A study from 2017 by the Bitkom IT industry association found that every second German internet user had been a victim of cybercrime in the preceding 12 months, with half reporting a financial loss.

As the internet expands exponentially and continues to be an integral part of life throughout the world, malefactors expand their uses of the internet to facilitate insults and slander, perpetrate sexual offenses, purchase weapons and narcotics on the dark web, promote hateful propaganda, and organize acts of terrorism and radical behavior, just to name a few examples. The German authorities recognize the internet as facilitator of criminality, and continually adapt investigative techniques to combat emerging threats. In order to focus on these threats and to partner with industry, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA – German Federal Police Investigative Agency) established the Zentralle Ansprechstellen Cybercrime (ZAC –Cybercrime Contact Center) division to establish a link between private sector and the police in the fight against cybercrime. ZAC acts as an intermediary and advisory body with law enforcement and prosecution authorities and the private-sector, and to assist in the coordination of investigations during incidents.   

Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics, Best Practices for Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, and Traveling with Mobile Devices: Trends & Best Practices.

Transportation-Safety Situation 

Road Safety and Road Conditions  

Road conditions throughout Germany vary significantly from region to region, but are generally fair to good. Exercise caution while traveling on older roads, particularly in eastern Germany. Road conditions can and do deteriorate quickly with rain, ice, and snow. Lack of proper lighting can also be problematic. Consequently, traffic accidents occur frequently on many major German highways; delays can last hours.

Road construction and road wear also present unique safety challenges. In general, road maintenance is a lower priority in Germany than in other well-developed countries. Much of the infrastructure budget goes towards public transportation services, road and sidewalk environmental cleanup, and other non-maintenance items and services. As such, many roads experience deep and uneven rutting, causing grooves to form on seemingly flat and level road surfaces. Road maintenance projects can last years.

Speed limits in most German cities are relatively low. The average speed limit in cities is 50 kph (~30 mph) but drops to 30 kph in most residential areas and in school zones. Police now enforce speed limits on large stretches of the Autobahn, mostly through urban areas and on stretches where road curves are more frequent.

The leading causes of motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents involving U.S. nationals are driver error/confusion (due to unfamiliar road signs, or unusual driving customs and courtesies) and bicyclist hazards. For example, even though double parking is illegal in most German cities, the practice is an everyday occurrence on many German streets. It is very common for lane traffic to stop abruptly when a delivery truck parks unexpectedly in a travel lane to unload cargo, or when a German driver places his/her car in reverse to occupy a street-side parking space.

Bicyclists and bicycle traffic also pose a heightened risk for motorists and pedestrians. Many sidewalks have dedicated bike lanes. Bicycles have priority use of these lanes. Pedestrians should watch for bicyclists before crossing or stepping into bike lanes. Bicyclists also have priority over cars when turning onto side streets. Drivers should check whether a bicyclist is approaching from either direction before attempting to enter side streets, even when the light is in their favor. Drivers turning onto a side street who strike a bicyclist using a marked bike lane are responsible for any injury or damage.

Right-of-way and yield laws are similar to those in the U.S. but can seem awkward and confusing. Apart from on a priority road, vehicles coming from the directional right have the right-of-way. It is also generally illegal to pass vehicles on the right side.

During the winter months, motorists must have winter-specific tires on their vehicles. Winter tires must have the winter tire symbol on the tire to be compliant with German law. All-weather tires without the insignia are not compliant. Motorists involved in accidents during inclement weather of snow or ice and who do not have winter tires on their vehicles will likely receive a fine and not invalidate insurance coverage.

It is illegal to leave the scene of a motor vehicle accident until all parties agree that it is all right to do so, and before all parties have verified the validity of their insurance information. German authorities frequently prosecute drivers who leave the scene of an accident. It is illegal to use cell phones while driving; police can detain and fine persons engaging in this practice. Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad, Driving Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving and road safety abroad.

Public Transportation Conditions  

The use of trains – particularly the U-Bahn and S-Bahn systems – can be very convenient. Transportation centers and trains are an appealing target for criminals and terrorists. Despite enhanced security, these venues remain a soft target. Crimes are common in and around U-Bahn and S-Bahn systems and stations. Crime is often in direct proportion to the lateness of the hour. For more information on travel within Germany, contact the German National Tourist Board Office in New York at (212) 661-7200. Review OSAC’s report, Security In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.

Terrorism Threat 

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Frankfurt and Dusseldorf as being a HIGH-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Recent notable terrorism cases include the arrest of 10 suspected terrorists in the greater Frankfurt area in March 2019, accused of terror plots involving the use of vehicles and assault weapons to kill civilians. 

 Several international terrorist groups that target U.S. government personnel and interests have a presence and operate in Germany, including ISIS, al-Qa’ida, Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), Kongra Gel (Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK), Hizb’allah, and Hamas, as well as racially and ethnically motivated terrorists and anti-establishment motivated extremists. The large population of official U.S. government and military personnel in Germany creates a significant potential target for terrorist groups.

Continued governmental reporting reiterates the growing concern for the expanding international and indigenous radical Islamist presence. The estimated number of Salafists nationally was 11,500 in mid-2019. The number of Islamists identified as potential terrorists fell from 774 to 688 by October 2019 due to the consequences of the war in Syria. Around 450 are known to be in Germany. Security officials estimate over 1,050 residents of Germany departed the country to participate in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq since 2012, the majority of whom joined violent radical Islamist extremist groups fighting there; an estimated 220 have died there, while one-third of the total group (or roughly 350) have returned to Germany. German officials actively investigate these returnees as terrorist threats due to their experience abroad and possible desire to continue to support violent extremist causes. Fewer than 50 German fighters traveled to Egypt, Somalia, and the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, particularly during 2010-2013, many attending terrorist training camps.

According to publicly available statistics from June 2018, more than 1,050 Islamic extremists have traveled from Germany to the Middle East for the purpose of fighting in the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Twenty-nine of the 114 individuals who departed from Bavaria returned to Germany. Twenty-two are in Bavaria and five are currently imprisoned. The Verfassungsschutz (BfV -- German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution) identified 4,150 extremists at the end of 2018 living in Germany. Of those identified, 750 belong to the Salafi movement and 25% of those individuals are considered dangerous.

ISIS and other groups continue to call on followers to conduct attacks in Europe, including in Germany. The government has employed legal tools to ban these organizations and their affiliates, such as the 2014 ban on ISIS, the 2015 ban on two radical Islamist groups, and a ban on three ultra-conservative Salafist groups. Following each of these bans, authorities carried out raids of residences of suspected radical Islamist extremists and seized property linked to their activities, including personal computers, phones, cash, and extremist propaganda in both German and Arabic.

Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons to target both official and private interests. There remains a potential for terrorist attacks against public transportation systems and other tourism infrastructure. The U.S. continues to collaborate closely with European allies on the threat from international terrorism, including al-Qa’ida and ISIS. The U.S. routinely shares information with its key partners to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen defenses against potential threats. German authorities continue to investigate extremist groups, deport or arrest individuals considered dangerous, and conduct raids on suspected groups throughout the country.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence 

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Frankfurt and Dusseldorf as being a MEDIUM-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

Awareness of right-wing extremism increased in 2019 following several high-profile murders and attacks. Press reporting shows that far-right organizations and networks operate nationwide. Authorities estimate that there are 24,100 right-wing extremists in the country, of whom 12,700 are potentially violent. Far-right extremists committed 20,431 politically motivated crimes in 2018, including 1,156 violent acts, including one murder and 6 attempted murders. In the same year, police recorded 169 right-wing offenses against refugee accommodation, 14 of which were violent. 2016 had been a high point of such offenses, with 929 crimes.

In early 2020, a gunman killed nine people in two different shisha bars in Hanau. Hours later, authorities found the suspect dead at home, along with the body of his 72-year-old mother, in what appeared to be a murder-suicide. Authorities also found a letter of confession and a video in which the gunman espoused far-right ideology.  

In June 2019, a right-wing extremist with links to the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD) and the neo-Nazi terrorist group Combat 18 (C18) shot and killed a local politician and vocal supporter of refugee rights at his home in Istha, Hesse.

In the summer of 2019, authorities investigated several police officers in the Frankfurt region on suspicion of taking part in right-wing extremist chat groups.

To help mitigate the threat of right-wing extremism, the government maintains a central database for monitoring violent right-wing extremists. Government attempts to ban the NPD have been unsuccessful due to the constitutional protections afforded to political parties. The BfV is now investigating the AfD, a populist party that gained 11.5% of the votes in the 2017 federal parliamentary election, over the extent of its extreme-right links and anti-constitutional activities, and monitoring two factions of the party due to suspected anti-democratic activities. In December 2019, the German security services approved 600 new posts to counter the extreme right.

Left-wing extremists number around 32,000, of whom 9,000 are potentially violent, according to German security services. There were 7,961 left-wing politically motivated crimes recorded in 2018, of which 1,340 were acts of violence. 3,292 of the crimes were against right-wing targets, of which 473 incidents were violent. 1,929 of the crimes were committed against the police, 815 of which were violent. Political opponents, right-wing extremists, property companies, and companies associated with weapons manufacture are frequent targets of vandalism attacks. Some actions are conducted in solidarity with Kurdish causes. Unlike the left-wing extremist scenes in Berlin, Leipzig, and Hamburg (best exemplified by frequent luxury auto burnings), left wing violence in the Frankfurt consular district tends toward individual acts of defiance and at time violence against the police.

Right- and left-wing extremists have increasingly come into direct conflict with each other, especially when right-wing protests encounter larger and more violent left-wing counter protests.

Civil Unrest 

Many well-planned and publicized demonstrations protesting government policies draw thousands of participants; spontaneous demonstrations concerning education and other economic and social issues occur almost daily throughout Germany.

Demonstrations tend to take place on politically significant holidays like German Labor Day (May 1) and during international summits hosted in Germany. Demonstration organizers must obtain prior police approval, and police routinely oversee participants.

Demonstrations in Frankfurt typically take place at the Roemer City Hall and Opernplatz. No matter the theme of a given demonstration, avoid such events, as they can turn violent very quickly. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.

Religious/Ethnic Violence  

Germany is home to a large population of ethnic Turks and Kurds of various political persuasions. Ethnic, religious, and political differences have often led to disturbances between parts of these communities. The Turkish government has a large amount of influence in Germany through the DITIB network that oversees mosques and educational organizations, and is one of the largest Islamic organizations in Germany; it also maintains links with the Grey Wolves, an extreme-right group. Many Kurdish opposition groups have strong representation in Germany, including the banned PKK. A number of DITIB mosques experienced firebomb attacks in response to the Turkish military entering Syria in 2018. Many German cities have the potential to experience trouble between members of the Turkish and Kurdish populations, which can occur without warning. This was demonstrated in Wiesbaden in August 2018, when officials were forced to remove a golden statue of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan 24 hours after its installation due to a series of incidents raising fears of a serious escalation.

There have been numerous press reports describing disturbances and conflicts between different religious and ethnic groups within the numerous refugee centers throughout Germany. To date, however, these conflicts have not noticeably spilled into the general community.

Police statistics recorded 2,032 anti-Semitic crimes in Germany in 2019, an increase of 13% over 2018, which itself had seen a strong rise in reported crimes. The vast majority of incidents were non-violent and involved far-right propaganda or illegal statements made online. Nonetheless, the authorities are concerned about the trend, which has drawn considerable press attention. Police also recorded 121 anti-Christian and 910 anti-Muslim crimes during 2018. One example for the former was a refugee stabbing another refugee for wearing a crucifix. Vandalism and arson attacks are frequently reported at mosques. Authorities attribute most Islamophobic crimes involve the extreme right, but press reports indicate other motivations including ethnic disputes or mental illness may be behind some incidents.

The arrival of around 1.3 million refugees and asylum seekers in 2015-16 continues to be controversial, particularly in the states of the former eastern Germany. Demonstrations related to the German refugee policy, both for and against, continue to occur frequently throughout Germany. Anti-refugee demonstrations, frequently related to neo-Nazi and PEGIDA movements, have been particularly problematic at times, resulting in violent confrontations with police authorities. PEGIDA, whose name is a German acronym for the “Patriot Europeans against the Islamization of the West,” is an anti-Islamic political movement which is part of a network of similar groups across the country. Such protests often attract counter protestors, forcing the police to intervene to keep the sides apart due to the high risk of violence.

Anti-U.S./Anti-Western Sentiment

Demonstrations with an anti-U.S. sentiment remain common in Germany but are almost always nonviolent. Numerous demonstrations in 2017, 2018 and 2019 protested against President Trump and U.S. foreign policy, including the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord and JCPOA (Iran Nuclear Deal) and the administration’s decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. U.S. military actions in the Middle East, and U.S. involvement in Syria, continue to spark interest and are often the primary reason for anti-U.S. protests in Germany.

Post-specific Concerns 

Environmental Hazards

Emissions from coal-burning utilities and industries contribute to air pollution. Find real-time air quality readings online. Acid rain from sulfur dioxide emissions is damaging forests. Germany experiences pollution issues in the Baltic Sea from raw sewage and industrial effluent from rivers in the eastern part of the country.

Critical Infrastructure Concerns

Germany has one of the world's most technologically advanced telecommunications systems. As a result of intensive capital expenditures since reunification, the formerly backward system of the eastern part of the country, dating back to World War II, is now modernized and integrated with that of the western part.

Economic Concerns/Intellectual Property Theft

The German economy – the fifth largest in the world and Europe's largest – is a leading exporter of machinery, vehicles, chemicals, and household equipment. Germany benefits from a highly skilled labor force, but, like its Western European neighbors, faces significant demographic challenges to sustained long-term growth. Low fertility rates and a large increase in net immigration are increasing pressure on the country's social welfare system.

Germany ranks high in the Global Innovation Index, a ranking of world economies based on innovation capabilities.Germany ranks 9th among the 50 high-income economies, and 7th among the 39 economies in Europe, on the 2019 GII.

Personal Identity Concerns

The topic of sexual molestation and assault has risen in profile in Germany in recent years. The mass sexual assaults in Cologne and other sexual assaults carried out by migrants sparked a debate about how migrants were adapting to Germany’s social and sexual norms. Following events in Cologne in 2015, authorities have taken a more robust and proactive approach to policing and securing large public events, even introducing a “women’s safety zone” to further combat and respond to the issue. Throughout the year, there were multiple reports of inappropriate behavior by suspected refugees at public pools and spas. The alleged behavior involves, but was not limited to, harassment and unwanted physical contact. The #metoo movement and cases such as the 2018 discovery of a child sex abuse ring based on a campground in Luegde involving over 40 victims and lasting over ten years also contributed to a wider debate about the problem amongst the population in general. Regular reports have highlighted the problem of sexual assault and molestation at large events such as the Oktoberfest in Munich. Subsequently, large increases in certain sexual crime types were reported but it is unclear to what level the law changes have obscured the true trends. German police have also stated that victims were reporting sexual crimes to a greater extent as a result of the #metoo debate. In 2018, 9,234 cases of sexual violence against men and women were reported to police. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for female travelers.

Same-sex marriage is available in Germany. The LGBTI community is protected by federal anti-discrimination laws and LGBTI Pride events are officially encouraged by most large city governments, including those in Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Munich. There have been reports of assaults or harassment based on other factors including sexual orientation. Reports from Berlin show that LGBTI+-related crimes have risen each year since 2015. State prosecutors led 97 investigations in that year, but by 2016 the number had risen to 261. These statistics only include reported crimes which meet the threshold for an investigation and reports suggest the majority of LGBTI+-related crimes go unreported. The anti-violence project Maneo recorded 382 attacks against LGBTI+ persons in Berlin in 2018, a rise of 58 from the previous year. In 2013, the BKA counted 50 violent LGBTI+-related crimes across Germany. By 2018 the number was 97, and in the first six months of 2019, the number had already reached 58. Transgender persons must have a diagnosis as “mentally ill” to obtain legal gender recognition. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+ travelers.

There are numerous reports of anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, and anti-Christian incidents across Germany. These include assaults, verbal harassment, threats, discrimination, and vandalism. Jewish groups expressed security concerns after several widely publicized anti-Semitic acts, including a gunman’s attack on Yom Kippur that killed two individuals outside a synagogue in Halle. Federal crime statistics for 2018 cited nearly 1,800 anti-Semitic crimes during the year, an overall increase of 20% from 2017; 69 of those crimes involved violence. The federal crime statistics attributed 89% of anti-Semitic crimes in 2018 to the far right, but the federal anti-Semitism commissioner expressed concern over methodology that attributed to the far right all incidents in which the perpetrator was not identified, stating that the country’s Jewish community experienced more open hostility from Muslims than from other groups. In May, responding to what he stated was the rising number of anti-Semitic incidents in the country, he said he could “no longer recommend Jews wear a kippah at every time and place in Germany.” Demonstrations occurred expressing anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic sentiment. Certain states continued to ban or restrict the use of religious clothing or symbols, including headscarves, for some state employees. Authorities also monitor the Church of Scientology (COS), which reports continued government discrimination against its members. Review OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice, and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based travelers.

Many existing buildings and public transportation systems are less adapted to individuals with disabilities. Check your hotel or destination to learn more about options to accommodate disabled traveler needs before visiting Germany. The German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA) and the German Hotel Association (IHA) maintain directories of accessible accommodations. German airports and Lufthansa offer services for disabled travelers. German National Railway, Deutsche Bahn, maintains a mobility resource webpage. You can find more information on accessibility by visiting the German National Tourist Board website. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers with disabilities.

Harassment of members of racial minorities such as Roma remained a problem throughout the country. In March statistics from the Federal Ministry of the Interior reported a 54 percent rise in attacks on Sinti and Roma in 2018. The ministry considers all but five of the crimes as right-wing, and of 36 suspects identified, 32 belonged to the extreme right spectrum. The Federal Interior Ministry stated, “even if the number of cases increased compared to 2017, they are still at a very low level.” The head of the Sinti and Roma Council, Romani Rose, suggested, however, that many crimes against Sinti and Roma go unreported.

Drug-related Crimes 

Illegal drugs, particularly cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and marijuana, remain widely available in Germany. The illegal sale and distribution of these and other drugs often occur near major train stations, public parks, and nightclubs. While drug-related activity does not usually affect U.S. tourists or business travelers, Germany has the same types of drug-related crime as those encountered in any major U.S. city. In many cities, there has been a notable increase in violent crime directly associated with the selling of drugs in recent years.

Germany is a source of precursor chemicals for South American cocaine processors, and a  transshipment point for and consumer of Southwest Asian heroin, Latin American cocaine, and European-produced synthetic drugs.

Other Issues

Germany has strict customs regulations concerning temporary importation or exportation of firearms, military artifacts (particularly those of World War II), antiques, medications/pharmaceuticals, and business equipment. Under German law it is also illegal to bring into or take out of Germany any literature, music, or paraphernalia that glorifies fascism, the Nazi past, or the “Third Reich.” Read the State Department’s webpage on customs and import restrictions for information on what you cannot take into or out of other countries.

Police Response

The emergency line in Germany is 110. There are two primary police agencies within Germany: the Bundespolizei (Federal Police, BKA) and the Landespolizei (State Police, LKA). For local first responders, refer to the Embassy’s Emergency Assistance page. Download the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.

The LKA is the local police agency responsible for traffic accidents, investigating crimes, enforcing local laws and ordinances, and responding to local emergencies in a particular state in Germany, of which Germany has sixteen. The Landespolizei is the primary law enforcement agency that individuals may encounter in the cities and villages in Germany.

The BKA is the federal police agency responsible for higher-level law enforcement actions, such as ambassadorial and head-of-state protection, national-level crime investigation (terrorist-related), collecting and analyzing national crime data, and other issues of national importance. Other duties include train and S-Bahn security.

The LKA and BKA share responsibility for internal and border security. The states’ police forces report to their respective interior ministries; the federal police forces report to the Federal Interior Ministry. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany’s domestic security agency) and the state offices for the protection of the constitution (LfV) are responsible for gathering intelligence on threats to domestic order and other security functions. The BfV reports to the Federal Interior Ministry, and the LfVs report to their respective state interior ministries.

Medical Emergencies 

The medical emergency line in Germany is 112. Germany has good medical care and facilities, and has several university hospitals that provide state-of-the-art medical care in most fields of medicine, including advanced cardiac surgery.

Find contact information for available medical services and available air ambulance services on the U.S. Embassy website.

If you are not a resident of Germany, doctors and hospitals may expect immediate payment in cash. Most doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies do not accept credit cards. The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Department’s webpage on insurance overseas.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the German Government to ensure the medication is legal in Germany. Due to Germany’s strict customs regulations you may not receive prescription medication by mail without special permission. For more information please visit the German customs website regarding medicine. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

The risk of tick-borne encephalitis (FSME in German) exists throughout southern Germany, including the Black Forest regions of Baden-Wuertemberg, Freiburg, and along the Bavarian borders with the Czech Republic and Austria. Risk also exists around Stuttgart, Heidelberg, and Nuremburg. Transmission season is March-November. Ensure vaccinations are current before prolonged stays that include hiking, camping, or similar outdoor activities in rural wooded regions. The FSME vaccine is only available in Europe and by special release in Canada. Exercise anti-tick precautions.

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Germany.

Review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, Traveling with Medication, I’m Drinking What in My Water?, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.

OSAC Country Council Information  

There is no Country Council in Frankfurt, though OSAC programs are active in Munich. There is an active Country Council in Munich. Contact OSAC’s Europe team for more information or to join.

U.S. Consulate Contact Information 

Giessener Strasse 30, 60435 Frankfurt am Main

Regular hours: 0730 – 1130 by appointment only, Monday-Friday

Switchboard: +49-30-8305-0 

American Citizen Services: +49 (069) 7535- 2100, 1400 – 1600, Monday – Friday.

Emergencies only: +49 (069) 7535-0.

Website: https://de.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/frankfurt/

Other U.S. Diplomatic Posts In Germany

  • Embassy Berlin, Pariser Platz 2, 10117 Berlin; Consular Annex, Clayallee 170, 14195 Berlin. +49-30-8305-0. Emergencies: +49-30-8305-1200.
  • Consulate Düsseldorf, Willi-Becker-Allee 10, 40227 Düsseldorf, Germany. +49-211-788-89-27.
  • Consulate Frankfurt, Gießener Str. 30, 60435 Frankfurt am Main, Germany. +49-69-7535-0.
  • Consulate Hamburg, Alsterufer 27/28, 20354 Hamburg, Germany. +49-40-411-71-100.
  • Consulate Leipzig, Wilhelm-Seyfferth-Straße 4, 04107 Leipzig, Germany. +49-341-213-840.
  • Consulate Munich, Königinstraße 5, 80539 München, Germany. +49-89-2888-0.

Helpful Information

Before you travel, consider the following resources:

 

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