Other things to know

On this page, you will find more useful information that will help you in your daily life in Germany.

Value-Added Tax

The value-added tax (VAT) is a general consumption tax assessed on the value added to goods and services that is paid to the tax office. The VAT in Germany is 19% and the reduced VAT is 7% (for example, on food products, magazines and books). VAT is already included and indicated on all prices and invoices. On receipts, the VAT is also shown.


In Germany, environmental awareness is very important. This includes, for example, separating and recycling your trash. In Cottbus and Senftenberg, there are color-coded garbage cans or containers for household waste (gray), paper (blue), plastic/ Green Dot (yellow), and non-refundable glass (various colors depending on the type of glass). There are also public collection points for electronic garbage and batteries, which can also be returned where they were bought. However, many glass and plastic bottles and cans have a deposit, which you will get back upon returning them. Machines for returning bottles and cans are available at nearly all grocery and beverage stores. 

Smoking ban

In Germany, smoking is prohibited in all public institutions, such as public authorities and universities, public transportation, as well as cultural, leisure and sports facilities. In pubs and restaurants, by law smoking is prohibited unless it is labelledas a smoker’s house (only those 18 and older may enter).


In Germany, it is common to tip in restaurants, cafes, taxis and in other service areas such as at the hairdresser. A tip is given to recognisegood service. The usual amount is around 5-10% and often the total amount is rounded to an even number. If you pay cash and the total cost is much lower than the bill you presented (for example you pay for a 3 EUR drink with a 10 EUR bill), it is customary to ask the waiter to return your change. In Germany, if you are with a group, it is also not a problem to ask the café or restaurant to split your check and pay separately.

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