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Home Living in Germany Cultural Integration Culture and social etiquette in Germany
Last update on 29/03/2022
Written by Petya Vetseva

Whether it’s an appreciation of organization or expectations of punctuality, there’s a few parts of German etiquette worth knowing before you move to the country.

Germany’s diversity of lifestyle, preferences and ethno-culture has formed an open-minded and tolerant society. Despite social developments, the family continues to be a significant unit of identity and pride for Germans. Good education, a high standard of living and great freedom enable the country to deal positively with transitions and challenges. Germans respect perfectionism in all areas of business and private life.

Order, privacy and punctuality come first for German people.

An important part of German culture is shaking hands. It is customary to shake someone’s hand when you meet them for the first time. It is rude to shake hands with one hand in your pocket and don’t put them your pockets when conversing with someone.

Be on time

Punctuality is common practice in Germany. Being on time is an important part of social etiquette. For business meetings and social occasions, punctuality is incredibly important. When you have an appointment with friends, you should arrive at the time you have arranged.

When you are invited to a private home for afternoon coffee or dinner, it is good to bring a small gift for the hosts. Flowers, a bottle of wine or candies are an appropriate gift.


Significant changes happened during and after World War II, when due to shortages of men, women came to hold positions of authority. They actively remained in the workforce. They aimed for higher education and became a significant part of the country’s workforce and at the same time kept house.

Titles and names

Germans appear reserved and unfriendly until you get to know them. It gives a good impression to use titles correctly. Besides Herr (Mr.) and Frau (Ms.) academic and other titles are quite important. A Doctor is either for a medical doctor or a holder of Ph.D. Fraulein (Miss) is not in common use. It is more appropriate to use Frau, because it is more neutral and does not show the woman’s marital status.

The German language has a formal and informal form of address.

Always use the formal Sie together with the last name. Du (you) is common among younger people and friends, as well as for children. Use it together with the first name. If you are unsure which form to use, listen for which form of address the person you are conversing with uses and adopt the same form.


Recycling is Germany’s contribution to the global battle to save the environment, and the country has been very successful in its fight against growing garbage heaps.

Trash is often separated in Germany, in private homes, and sometimes in public bins as well. Separate disposal areas are available for glass, paper, and packaging. Private homes may also have a separate container for organic waste, such as coffee grinds and food leftovers.