Parking in Germany

The rules are simple. Park tidily and park in the direction of the traffic. If there are meters or pay and display machines, then pay up. Do not park in a space that is reserved for another car and do not park in a disabled bay unless you have a German disabled badge.

A few weeks after I first came to Germany, I encountered three incidents that illustrated these matters very nicely. Two were reported on an internal company bulletin board and the other, I saw outside my apartment.

In the first case, a British contractor was entertaining a visitor from England. The visitor had come by car and his host had a reserved space in the garage underneath his apartment building. Not having a car of his own, the host didn't know which empty space was actually his and so he told his guest to park anywhere assuming that it would be OK.

Subsequently, the rightful owner of the now occupied space arrived home to find a strange car in his spot. Being a German, he would not consider parking in some other persons spot (at least not without having placed his towel there early in the morning.) Thus, unless he wanted to look for a parking spot on the street, he had to get the strange car moved. So, he phoned the police and arranged to have the vehicle towed away. He had no malice but saw that it was the only way that he would be able to park his own car.

In the second case, an Italian visiting another employee of the company parked in a disabled bay in Munich. His car was carrying an Italian disabled parking sticker. While it's not the same as a German one, the meaning of it is clear as was the fact that the car was Italian registered. It was hauled away for not having a German disabled badge. Of course, had he asked, he would have been given a German badge for free to use while he was in the country.

Finally, one day, I looked out of my apartment window and saw a small crowd of police officers gathered at the side of the street where my car was parked. I ran out to see what the problem was and they explained that my car was OK but they showed me the VW directly behind my car. While it was pretty much OK and was not encroaching onto the road, one wheel was on the kerb. Much less than half of the tyre was on the kerb and there was a grass verge next to it so it was certainly not obstructing anything. But here were the police arranging for a truck to come and tow it away for improper parking.

One other warning, many places have a grass verge between the road and the footpath. These verges are often raised up a little and they are frequently used as dog toilets. If you are parking a right hand drive car correctly, then the drivers door will be opening over the verge and you will be getting out onto it. I found that my Celica had doors just low enough to allow the bottom to hit all the dog turds when opened.

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