Germany flag Germany: Business Environment

Business Practices in Germany

Opening hours and bank holidays

General Information
German Business Etiquette
Commisceo Global, German business culture as per Commisceo Global
Services for business, Global Affairs Canada
E-Diplomat, German business culture as per E-Diplomat
Opening Hours and Days
Saturday and Sunday are not working days. On Friday afternoons, companies often close about 3-4 p.m.
 
 
 

Public Holidays

New Year's Day 1 January
Epiphany (Bade-Wurtemberg, Bavaria and Saxony-Anhalt) 6 January
Good Friday the Friday prior to Easter (occurs in March or April)
Easter Monday the Monday after Easter (occurs in March or April)
Labor Day 1 May
Ascension the sixth Thursday after Easter
Whit Monday the seventh Monday after Easter
Corpus Christi (Bade-Wurtemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine Westphalia, Rhineland Palatinate, Saarland and Thuringe in places where the majority of the population is Catholic) 60 days after Easter
Assumption (Bavaria (in places where the majority of the population is Catholic) and Saarland) 15 August
German Unification Day 3 October
Reformation Day (Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western-Pomerania, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, Thuringe) 31 October
All Saints (Bade-Wurtemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine Westphalia, Rhineland Palatinate, Saarland) 1 November
Day of fasting and prayer (Saxony) Varies (in November)
1st day of Christmas 25 December
2nd day of Christmas 26 December
 
 

Periods When Companies Usually Close

Christmas holidays the end of December to the beginning of January
Easter holidays Good Friday to Easter Monday
 

Business culture

The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
German business culture is marked by organisation, planning and perfectionism. Business relations are very formal, and they reflect the German values of order, privacy and punctuality.
A strict vertical hierarchy is established and respected, and the decision-making process is held at the top of the company. The Germans respect authority and subordinates rarely contradict or criticise their superiors publicly.
Germans do not need a personal relationship in order to do business and work and personal lives are rigidly divided. To build and maintain business relationships, it is essential to follow the established protocol and respect the formality of the communication style. Business lunches will be organised later in the relationship, and will be great opportunities to establish a closer relationship.
First Contact
Being introduced by a third party can be an asset. You should use a bank, a German representative or the Industrie und Handelskammer (Chamber of Industry and Commerce) when possible. It is recommended to get in touch by telephone first in order to identify the right contact, and then to confirm our interest by e-mail, to call back and to arrange a meeting. Appointments are usually set from 10am to 4pm; lunch-time (1pm - 3pm) and Friday afternoons should be avoided.
Time Management
Punctuality is extremely important, and arriving at a meeting 15 minutes early is well thought of. In case of any delay, it is imperative to inform your interlocutors in advance. Meetings adhere to strict agendas, including starting and ending times.
Greetings and Titles
When meeting someone for the first time, give a short and firm handshake and maintain eye contact, but avoid staring for uncomfortably long periods. An acceptable distance should be kept. You should address your interlocutors by their surname preceded by “Mr” or “Mrs”, or eventually by a title (“Dr” for example). University titles are important for Germans.
Gift Policy
Gifts are normally not exchanged at business meetings, but small gifts may be appropriate at the successful conclusion of negotiations.
Dress Code
German business dress code is conservative understated and formal. Men should wear a suit and tie; while women should wear a suit.
Business Cards
Business cards are exchanged quite soon after the beginning of a meeting. They should be in English and, unless you have already set up in Germany, it is not necessarily to have them translated into German. You should include any higher degree or honours with your name.
Meetings Management
During initial meetings (that do not last more than one hour), Germans usually prefer to get down to business and only engage in the briefest of small talk.

It is imperative to be well prepared and to have solid arguments because Germans often expect informative and well-documented answers to their questions. The opinion experts invited to attend the meeting will be the determining factor. Your presentation should be specific and backed up by facts, figures, tables and charts. Germans usually prepare cautious plans including fall-back and contingency measures, in order to avoid the unexpected. Many documents will be produced to elaborate and confirm discussions.

As meetings tend to be serious and formal, you should avoid any form of irony and should not interrupt the participants. Germans are direct to the point of bluntness. It is important to maintain direct eye contact while speaking and to avoid confrontational behaviour or high-pressure tactics. It is better to remain silent if the floor has not been given to you or if you are not prepared to make an informed contribution.

The business lunch culture is less widespread in Germany than in other European countries. Business lunches will be organised later on in the relationship, and will be an opportunity to go beyond purely professional issues. If your partner buys lunch, you should invite him/her to come to your country, where it will be your turn to take him/her out.

Sources for Further Information
German Business Etiquette German business culture as per Commisceo Global German business culture as per E-Diplomat

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Latest Update: June 2022