Customs and Miscellanea

By Stephen Fuchs on Email @StephenWFuchs

Below are some differences between the way things are done in Germany vs the United States.  These little bits of info may help you avoid confusion on your next visit to Germany.  If you have one that we missed, please share it with us in the comments.  I’m sure there are many more.

  • In Germany, when you have eaten in a restaurant, taking the leftovers with you is typically frowned upon; they are thrown away. In the US, it is customary to ask for a box.
  • US coffee shops and restaurants often provide free Wifi; this is much rarer in Germany.
  • In Germany, TV shows start at varying, strange times. In the US, all shows on all channels always start on the full hour.
  • German dog owners almost never collect their dog’s feces. In the US, most cities require this and most dog owners do it.
  • Most US bookstores have coffee shops and armchairs and are open till 11 pm, also on the weekends. Most German ones discourage browsing, don’t offer coffee and close at 8 pm, and don’t open at all on Sundays.
  • In the US, prices are always stated without sales tax, so you never know in advance how much you actually have to pay.
  • In the US, you pay income taxes to the federal government and separately to your home state; in Germany only the federal government collects income taxes. Every American pays income taxes on their world-wide income, no matter where they live or where the money was earned; in Germany you only pay income taxes on the money earned in Germany.
  • When you rent an apartment in the US, the stove and fridge is normally included; in Germany you often have to bring your own.
  • In Germany, people wear their wedding band on the right hand, in the U.S. they wear it on the left.
  • Germans think that natural yellow egg yolk looks “unhealthy” and pale and prefer their egg yolk orange, which is why German farmers feed their chickens orange pigments called Canthaxanthin. The same pigment is used for salmon and poultry meat to make it look redder.
  • What is called “erste Etage” (first level) in Germany is called “second floor” in the US.


Photo by B Tal

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Stephen Fuchs
Stephen founded German Pulse and LGBT Germany out of a passion to introduce Americans to a Germany that goes beyond beer and polka (although with enough beer he has been known to polka it up a bit). He's a coffee addict, lover of wine and good times, a hit in the kitchen and editor of TV commercials. You can follow him on Twitter (@StephenWFuchs) to find out a lot more.
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