Embassies and Consulates in Germany
These diplomatic outposts are here to help. Here's a quick rundown on what they can -- and can't -- do for you.
Embassies and consulates in Germany are set up not only to further contacts with the Germans, but also to provide a number of useful services for their citizens if they happen to be traveling or living here. It is their duty, for example, to help their citizens abroad in times of emergency.
What they can do for you
If you lose your passport, a consul can issue you a replacement. If you think your passport has been stolen, first report it to the local police and get a police declaration.
They will also renew passports. If the expiration date of yours draws near while you are living in Germany, go to the consulate/embassy. Don't let your passport expire. It can lead to problems if you try to travel outside Germany, and on other occasions.
Should you lose all your money and other financial resources, consular officers can help you contact your family, bank or employer to arrange for them to send you funds. The chances of getting any financial assistance directly from the embassy/consulate are quite remote, but it has been known to happen when people are really destitute.
Consular officials can, if requested, visit their citizens in prison to satisfy themselves that the citizen is in good health and receiving fair treatment from the prison authorities. (That is rarely a problem in Germany.)
They also visit their citizens in hospitals on request, though they can't do anything to see that the citizen gets better treatment than a German would get.
Children born in Germany usually will acquire the citizenship of their parents, and an embassy or consulate will issue a statement to this effect. To get it you'll need a German birth certificate for the child, who must also be registered with the local authorities. These procedures are usually handled by the hospital. You'll also need both parents' passports and a copy/translation of the marriage license/certificate. The birth certificate is picked up at the local registration offices, where you picked up your own residence permit.
When a citizen dies abroad the nearest embassy or consulate of his country should be notified as soon as possible. A consular officer may then notify the next of kin, obtain a local death certificate, and arrange for local burial or for the return of the remains to the homeland. The transporting of remains, particularly to overseas locations, can be quite expensive, and the embassies and consulates won't foot the bill. Insurance to cover the cost of this is available, however.
Consular officers can advise you on the complexities of getting married in Germany, and can advise non-citizen spouses on the possibility of emigration. (See the separate article on getting married.)
The potential for fraud in international adoptions is great, and the embassy and consulates can warn you of the pitfalls. They can also give advice on a country's adoption procedures, tell you what documentation is needed and make inquiries to foreign courts as to the status of an adoption process. It can't, however, intervene in foreign court actions. So make sure you are dealing with a reputable adoption agency, or, if the adoption is a private one, hire a lawyer with experience in adoptions.
Consular personnel can act as notaries, certifying the sworn statements and documents necessary to comply with the laws concerning birth, death, marriage, adoption and other matters. When documents are submitted in a foreign language, it is usually required that they be accompanied with an English translation.
The embassies and consulates have information that can help citizens vote absentee in their homeland.
And they can offer limited help in homeland tax matters, though it is usually restricted to the provision of forms and brochures. They also have lists of local tax consultants (Steuerberater).
Consular services can usually provide information and assistance in connection with pensions and other government entitlements. And the German missions have pamphlets with the names, telephone numbers and addresses of English-speaking doctors, dentists, lawyers, investigators, tax advisors, banks, translators, interpreters, genealogists, even collection agencies. However, they don't recommend these parties and accept no responsibility for their professional ability or integrity.
What they don't do
Don't expect them to intervene in court proceedings; get you out of prison; give legal advice or instigate court proceedings on your behalf; get better treatment for you in a hospital or prison than is provided for German nationals; investigate a crime; pay your hotel, legal, medical or any other bills; pay for travel tickets for you; undertake work more properly done by travel representatives, airlines, banks or motoring organizations, or obtain accommodation, work or a residence permit for you. They can, however, tell you who can do these things for you.
Expatriates living in Germany are subject to the jurisdiction of German law and regulations. If they become involved in private disputes with foreign nationals or business enterprises, and the controversy can't be settled amicably, the normal recourse is to the remedies provided by German law.
Diplomatic or consular officers may not act as attorneys or agents in private matters. Again, however, they will provide you a list of names and telephone numbers of those who can help.
Embassies & Consulates in Germany
The new American embassy in Berlin opened with much ceremony on Independence Day 2008, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former President George H.W. Bush as speakers. The structure rises four and a quarter stories and closes the last frontage on the historic Pariser Platz, which was a wasteland during the cold war because of its proximity to the Berlin Wall. It's now a bustling, traffic-free square dominated by the Brandenburg Gate. A green band of trees, gardens and walkways is created along the embassy's street fronts. In the courtyard is an American eagle made by Germany's famous Meissen porcelain manufacturer. Close by are the embassies of World War II allies, Britain and France; the Reichstag, Germany's parliament; the Holocaust Museum, and the elegant Hotel Adlon The ambassador's office is in a penthouse, which overlooks the embassy's rooftop garden. It was so constructed that the horses atop the Brandenburg Gate seem to ride across a field of native American grass.
Also as a security precaution the American Consulate in Frankfurt has moved from its Westend location to the site of a former U.S. Army hospital in an outlying district. The area is large and easily fenced in. It houses many U.S. government agencies and has administrative and logistic functions for many of the other missions in the eastern hemisphere.
Pariser Platz 2
Tel: 030-2385 174
US Embassy Website
Willi-Becker-Allee 10, 40227 Düsseldorf
Giessener Str. 30, 60435 Frannkfurt/Main
Alsterufer 27/28, 20354 Hamburg
Wilhelm-Seyfferth-Strasse 4, 04107 Leipzig
Königinstrasse 5, 80539 Munich
In contrast to citizens of most other countries, Americans living abroad must file American tax returns and even pay American taxes in a number of cases. To lead them through the complexities of such matters the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) maintains an office at the Berlin embassy, and IRS people usually tour the embassy and consulates in February and March. (See the separate article on U.S. taxes.)
In addition to the normal services provided (listed in the article) the US State Department provides the following:
In An Emergency -- Your family may need to reach you because of an emergency at home or because they are worried about your welfare. They should call the State Department's Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. The State Department will relay the message to your local Consulate. Consular officers will attempt to locate you and pass on urgent messages.
Distribution of Federal Benefits Payments -- Over a half-million people living overseas receive monthly federal benefit payments. In many countries, the checks are mailed to the U.S. embassy or consulate and distributed through the local postal service.
Assistance In Child Custody Disputes -- In an international custody dispute, a consul can try to locate the child abroad, monitor the child's welfare, and provide general information to the American parent about laws and procedures which may be used to effect the child's return to the United States. Consuls may not take custody of a child, or help a parent regain custody of a child illegally or by force or deception.
E-Mail Subscriber Service: The U.S. Embassy now offers a free e-mail subscriber service that allows Americans in Germany to receive instant messages concerning security and travel warnings, as well as regular updates on voting, taxes, and other issues of importance.
To subscribe to the Germany ACS service, simply send a blank e-mail to GermanyACS-subscribe@Listbot.com. You will receive a confirmation message requiring you to send a blank reply to listbot.com. Upon sending the reply, your subscription will be confirmed and you will automatically receive public announcements and other messages in the future.
The British embassy is now occupying its prewar site at Wilhelmstrasse 70-71. This plot of land was acquired by the British government in 1884 and used as an embassy right up to the outbreak of World War II. The original building was all but completely destroyed in the war.
The new building, opened by Queen Elizabeth in 2000, is very modern inside with bright colors, shining metal, an open-plan interior and wood-paneled floors. It's a far cry from the traditional Victorian view of Britain, though the exterior harmonizes with the nearby Brandenburg Gate and Hotel Adlon. The front gate of the old embassy, bearing the British coat of arms, survived the air raids and has been made a feature of the present building.
Wilhelmstr. 70/71, 10117 Berlin
UK Embassy Website
Oststraße 86, 40210 Düsseldorf
Bürkleinstrasse 10, 80538 Munich
The Australians this year moved their embassy into an architecturally protected group of impressive old buildings, dating from 1886 and 1912. They are on the Märkisches Ufer, facing the Spree River in the former East Berlin.
Wallstrasse 76-79, 10179 Berlin
Australian Embassy Website
Neue Mainzer Str. 52-58, 60311 Frankfurt
Canada, too, has moved into a new embassy, in the former "no man's land" between east and west. The embassy is using native materials (yellow limestone from Manitoba, beechwood from Ontario, oak from Quebec) to create a very representative structure, with such features as a "Timber Hall", "Garden Court" and "Welcoming Water Garden." You can take a virtual tour of the new building at the embassy's website.
Leipziger Platz 17, 10117 Berlin
Canadian Embassy Website
Tal 29, 80331 Munich
Tel: 089-2199 570
Benrather Strasse 8, 40213 Düsseldorf
Leitzstrasse 45, 70469 Stuttgart
Tel: 0711-223 96 78
Fax: 0711-223 96 79
The New Zealand Ambassador to Germany is accredited to Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Switzerland. There are consulates in all of those countries, and also in Hamburg.
Friedrichstrasse 60, 10117 Berlin
New Zealand Embassy Website
Domstrasse 19, 20095 Hamburg
Ireland has an embassy in Berlin and honorary consulates in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Köln and Munich.
Friedrichstrasse 200, 10117 Berlin
Irish Embassy Website
South Africa, too, has a new Berlin embassy, in the Tiergarten.
Tiergartenstr. 18, 10785 Berlin
South African Embassy Website
Sendlinger-Tor-Platz 5, 80336 Munich