Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Consulate General Munich does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED MUNICH AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Please review OSAC’s Germany-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.
Crime rates throughout Germany have been comparable to those in most developed countries, including the U.S., and comparative analysis of crime data for the U.S. and Germany reveals only marginal differences. The Bundeskriminalamt’s (BKA) 2015 Police Crime Statistics for Germany (the most current available) indicated only minor changes in the number of most of the recorded offenses over 2014. There were, however, some exceptions. There was a 2% increase in dangerous and serious bodily harm incidents, a 15% increase in fraud using unlawfully obtained debit cards without PIN, and a 210% increase in the number of unauthorized border entries/crossings reported. There were also marked increases in categories related to credit card fraud.
According to the very latest available statistics for Munich, published in 2015, there were increases in a number of crime categories over 2014. These increases included: rapes 3.4% increase, fraud 7.6% increase, and cybercrimes 21.8% increase. The 2015 report indicates crimes committed by children, defined as under 14 years, increased by 117%.
U.S. citizens have been infrequent victims of crime. U.S. citizens have had purses snatched and pockets picked in high traffic and tourist areas (in train stations, Internet cafes, crowded restaurants, outdoor market places. Visitors should be aware of distraction crimes. Strangers will attempt to engage victims in conversation or otherwise distract them so that accomplices may more easily snatch items or pick the victims’ pockets. Thieves use snatch-and-grab techniques to steal valuables. Bags should not be placed on the floor or hung on a chair, but should be kept in sight. Violent crimes against U.S. citizens have been relatively infrequent. While personal assaults do occur, these crimes are the result of opportunity and convenience.
When withdrawing money from an ATM, especially one on a public street, do so with a companion, avoid using ATMs that are in dark areas. Skimming devices, installed to capture data from cards, are a threat throughout Europe, and users should inspect the ATM’s card reader for tampering or abnormalities before inserting their bank cards. ATM users should be careful to protect their personal identification numbers (PIN) from shoulder surfers who may attempt to observe the PIN surreptitiously.
OSAC members and individuals planning to visit Germany can find extensive information regarding crime statistics and German crime prevention programs from the Bundeskriminalamt.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Road conditions are generally good to excellent in Bavaria. One should exercise caution when traveling on older roads, particularly in eastern Germany. Road conditions can and do deteriorate quickly with rain, ice, and snow. Consequently, minor and major traffic accidents occur frequently on many major highways, and delays can last hours.
Road construction and road wear present unique safety challenges. In general, road maintenance is a lower priority than in other well-developed countries (much of the infrastructure budget is spent on public transportation services, road/sidewalk environmental clean-up, and other non-maintenance items/services). Many roads experience deep and uneven rutting, causing grooves to form on seemingly flat and level road surfaces. This often results in hard and unexpected steering pull, which can lead to accidents for some drivers.
Speed limits in most German cities are relatively low. The average speed limit in Germany is 50 kph (~30 mph) but drops to 30 kph in most residential areas and school zones. There are also posted speed limits on large stretches of the Autobahn, mostly when traveling through urban areas and on stretches of where road curves are more frequent.
The leading causes of motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents involving U.S. citizens are driver error and bicyclist hazards. Driver error can be directly attributed to simple confusion by U.S. citizen motorists driving in a foreign country. Even though double parking is illegal in most German cities, the practice is an everyday occurrence. 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 driver places his car in reverse to access a street-side parking space. Thus, motorists must remain alert and attentive, even when driving in seemingly well-moving traffic. Right-of-way and so-called yield laws are similar to those in rural U.S. cities but can seem awkward and confusing for drivers accustomed to driving in larger metropolitan areas. Unless you are traveling 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. It is also illegal to use cell phones while driving. Police can detain and fine persons engaging in this practice. For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices.”
Bicyclists and bicycle traffic also pose a heightened risk for U.S. citizen motorists and pedestrians. Many sidewalks have dedicated bike lanes. Be aware that bicycles have priority use of these lanes. If you are walking, watch for bicyclists before crossing or stepping into bike lanes. Bicyclists have priority over cars when turning onto side streets. If you are driving, check whether a bicyclist is approaching from either direction before attempting to enter side streets, even when the light is in your favor. If you are turning onto a side street and strike a bicyclist using a marked bike lane, you will be held responsible for any injury or damage caused.
It is illegal to leave the scene of an accident until both parties agree that it is alright to do so and before both parties have verified the validity of the other party’s insurance Drivers who leave are frequently referred for prosecution by law enforcement authorities.
Public Transportation Conditions
Despite any enhanced security, transportation centers remain a soft target. Be ever vigilant while using public transportation and transiting stations or airports.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED MUNICH AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
Several international terrorist groups that target U.S. government personnel and interests have a presence and operate in Germany, including the ISIS, al-Qa’ida, Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), Kongra Gel (Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK), Hizballah, and Hamas. The large number of official U.S. government personnel in Germany creates a significant potential target for terrorist groups. Additionally, continued government reporting reiterates the growing concern for the expanding international and indigenous radical Islamist presence. Interior Ministry officials estimate that there over 1,100 residents described as potentially violent Islamist extremists, 430 of whom are considered to be at a high risk of involvement in a serious crime or violent act.
Security officials estimate significant numbers of German residents have departed since 2012 to participate in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, the majority of whom joined violent Islamist extremist groups in the fighting there. An unknown number of these fighters have returned to Germany. Although German officials actively investigate these returnees for terrorist threats resulting from their experience abroad and possible desire to continue to support violent extremist causes, tracking them upon their return proves difficult.
In 2015, prosecutors obtained convictions against nine individuals on terrorism-related charges; at the end of 2015, over 300 individuals were under active investigation or prosecution on charges related to Islamist-inspired terrorism.
Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons to target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorist attacks against public transportation systems and other tourism infrastructure and should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.
Although the U.S. continues to work closely with European allies on the threat from international terrorism, al-Qa’ida, ISIS, and other groups called on followers throughout 2016 to carry out attacks in Europe, including in Germany. In the summer of 2016, there were several attacks in Bavaria considered ISIS-inspired:
- an edged weapon attack on a tourist family transiting Bavaria on a regional train
- a suicide bombing that injured 12 people in Ansbach outside a concert venue.
Additionally, a lone gunman, although not connected to a terror group, killed nine people in a July shooting rampage in a shopping district of Munich.
Both right- and left-wing extremists have carried out violent acts in recent years.
Right-wing extremism is on the rise. Authorities estimate that there are nearly 22,000 right-wing extremists in the country, of whom 10,000 are considered potentially violent.
- In January 2016, the Federal Public Prosecutor brought charges against four suspected neo-Nazi supporters for allegedly establishing and supporting a terrorist association and plotting to carry out an explosive attack on a refugee housing center.
- Also in January, unknown assailants threw a live grenade at another refugee housing center; media researchers reported a total of 222 attacks on such centers during 2015 that resulted in injuries or put individuals at risk of injury.
To help mitigate the threat of right-wing extremism, the government maintains a central database for monitoring violent right-wing extremists.
The left-wing extremist scenes in Berlin and Hamburg are particularly significant.
Right- and left-wing extremists have increasingly come into direct conflict, as in a December 2015 incident in Leipzig in which left-wing extremists rioted after a day of escalating demonstrations and counter-demonstrations between the two groups.
Demonstrations with an anti-American sentiment remain common but usually non-violent. Themes have included anti-NATO, Guantanamo Bay (GITMO prison facility), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), U.S. drone policy (the use of drone strikes against terrorist leaders and organizations operating and/or hiding in other countries), and U.S. involvement in Syria.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED MUNICH AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Many well-planned and publicized demonstrations protesting government policies draw thousands of participants, and spontaneous demonstrations concerning education and other socio-economic issues occur almost daily. Demonstrations in Munich typically take place across the street from the U.S. Consulate General or in Marienplatz. Protests in Munich tend to remain peaceful, but such events can turn violent very quickly and should be avoided.
The arrival of refugees and asylum seekers in 2015 has become increasingly controversial. In 2016, there were numerous demonstrations, both for and against, the German refugee policy. Anti-refugee demonstrations, frequently related to the neo-Nazi and PEGIDA (Patriot Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident) movements, have been particularly problematic, resulting in violent confrontation with police authorities.
There have been reports of riots and conflicts between religious and ethnic groups in numerous refugee centers. These conflicts have not spilled into the general community.
Personal Identity Concerns
There have been several media accounts of conflicts between male refugees and women. There have been media reports of inappropriate behavior by suspected refugees at public pools and spas. The alleged behavior involves, but it not limited to, unlawful touching of women.
There have also been reports of assaults or harassment against people for other factors (sexual orientation, nationality). One report involved suspects throwing rocks at a transgender individual.
Illegal drugs (cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, marijuana) are widely available. The illegal sale and distribution of drugs often occur near major train stations, public parks, and nightclubs. While drug-related activity does not usually affect U.S. citizen tourists or business travelers, German cities have the same types of drug-related crime as major U.S. cities.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
U.S. citizens should contact the Embassy/Consulates if they are detained or harassed by local or national police. In case of an emergency, U.S. citizens can reach U.S. Consulate General Munich at (089) 2888-0 from within Germany or at 01149 (89) 2888-0 from the U.S.
Crime Victim Assistance
U.S. citizens are encouraged to contact the local police (110) or fire/medical assistance (112) if they are involved in an accident or become the victim of a crime and to contact the nearest U.S. Embassy/Consulate General’s American Citizen Services for assistance. Authorities often contact the U.S. Embassy or nearest U.S. Consulate General when an incident involving U.S. citizens occurs.
There are two primary police agencies: the LKA and the BKA.
The LKA is the local police agency responsible for traffic accidents, investigating crimes, enforcing local laws and ordinances, and responding to local emergencies.
The BKA is the federal police agency responsible for higher-level law enforcement actions, such as ambassadorial and heads of state protection, national-level crime investigation (terrorist-related), collecting and analyzing national crime data, and other issues of national importance.
The fire department and ambulance service may be reached at 112.
Contact Information for Available Medical Services
Bavaria has several university hospitals that provide state-of-the-art medical care in most fields of medicine including:
- Unfallklinik-BGU Berufsgenossenschaftliche Murnau Prof.-Küntscher-Str. 8 82418 Murnau Tel: +49 8841 48-0; Contact: Prof. Dr. med. Volker Bühren AeDir@bgu-murnau.de
Available Air Ambulance Services
There are several worldwide air ambulance services that service Germany and Europe, including:
Surgical Experts: based in Germany, +49 176 2028 2223
European Air Ambulance: based in Luxembourg, +49 711 7007 7007
International SOS: based in Germany, +49 6102 3588 100
The following can be hired:
ADAC Luftrettung gGmbH (ADAC Air Rescue Service)
Dr. Matthias Ruppert, MD Medical Director
European Air Ambulance (based in Luxembourg)
World-wide air ambulance
Tel: +352262600 (control center for EAA)
Takes approx. 2 hours from call to arrival in Munich
European HEMS and Air Ambulance Committee e. V. (EHAC)
Also offers Medevac Travel Insurance
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
Tick-borne encephalitis or Fruehsommer-Meningoenzephalitis (FSME) risk exists in most of southern Germany, including the Black Forest regions of Baden-Wuertemberg, Freiburg, and along the Bavarian border with the Czech Republic and Austria. Risk also exists around Stuttgart, Heidelberg, and Nuremburg. Transmission season is March-November. Vaccine is recommended for 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. Tick precautions are recommended.
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Germany.
OSAC Country Council Information
There is currently no active Country Council in Munich. Please contact OSAC’s Europe team if you are interested in private-sector engagement in Munich or have questions about OSAC’s Country Council programs.
U.S. Consulates General Location and Contact Information
Consulate General Address and Hours of Operation
United States Consulate General Munich
Federal Republic of Germany
Hours of American Citizen Services Operation 0800-1200, 1300-1600 M-F
Closed on: German and American holidays and last Thursday of every month
Consulate Contact Numbers
Phone Number: +49 89 28880
Embassy Berlin: https://de.usembassy.gov/
Consular Agency Bremen: http://germany.usembassy.gov/acs/bremenacs/
Consulate General Dusseldorf: http://duesseldorf.usconsulate.gov (no consular services)
Consulate General Frankfurt: http://frankfurt.usconsulate.gov
Consulate General Hamburg: http://hamburg.usconsulate.gov (no consular services)
Consulate General Leipzig: http://leipzig.usconsulate.gov (emergency consular services only)
U.S. citizens traveling in Germany are encouraged to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service that helps the U.S. Embassy disseminate information about safety conditions and contact travelers in an emergency.
Germany Country Information Sheet
For more information on travel within Germany, contact the German National Tourist Board Office in New York at (212) 661-7200, or via fax at (212) 661-7174.