Global Sourcebook for International Data Management

                                         by Graham Rhind

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For supplementary information, see links to post office home pages here External, to postal code pages here External and to other personal name and addressing issues pages here External.

Table of Contents

Germany - Country Information


Local short name form

Official name





International telephone access code


ISO 3166 country codes

Car nationality plate code


Internet country code


GRC Country Code


Germany - Number format


(where , indicates the decimal separator and . the thousands separator)

Germany - Date formats and time formats

   d.month yyyy

The 24-hour clock notation is mainly used:


Germany - Languages


German External is the official language, spoken by 98% of the population. There are several dialects of German spoken: Allemannisch External (similar to Alsatian spoken in France); Bavarian External in Bavaria; Frankish (similar to German spoken in Belgium and to Letzebuergesch); Low German; Mainfränkisch External; Low Saxon; Standard German and Swabian External. Sorbian, also known as Wendish and Lusation, is a Slavic language spoken in Lusatia, which is a small area in the south-east of the former East Germany. There are some 70 000 speakers of two dialects: Upper Sorbian External (around the city of Bautzen), resembling Czech; and Lower Sorbian External, spoken around Cottbus, resembling Polish External.

Bilingual German/Sorbian thoroughfare name sign in Cottbus Bilingual German/Sorbian thoroughfare name sign in Cottbus

Frisian (21 000 speakers in the mutually unintelligible forms of North External and East Frisian External) is spoken in an area around Saterland, postal codes 26640-26689 and around Emden and Oldenburg. In Nord Friesland (near to the Danish border) it is spoken on the peninsula of Sylt (postal code area 25960-25999) except in the far north around List, where Danish External is spoken. It is spoken on the islands of Föhr (except around Wyk and Nieblum); Amrum and Helgoland (postal code areas 27450-27499). It is also spoken along the coastal postal code areas 25890-25959 and 25800-25889. There is a “mainland” dialect and an “island” dialect, and other dialects between villages within these main areas.

Other minority languages include Danish External in Jutland (50 000 speakers); Letzebuergesch External around Bitburg near to the Luxembourg border and Romani.

Germany - Personal names


Until the mid 1990s, it was a legal requirement that a husband and wife share a family name. Before this date it was common for one or other partner to use a double-barrelled family name which incorporated the pre-marriage family names of both partners (e.g. Meier-Müller). Now both partners may keep their pre-marriage family names, and people married before the implementation of the law may also revert to their pre-marriage names, but a name consisting of the pre-marriage family names of both partners is no longer allowed. The new law “encourages the use of a common name”.

Surnames may exist of two hyphenated names, but not more than two (a 1993 law upheld by the constitutional court in 2009).

High court decisions in 2008 overturned laws stating that given names must be “by nature” given names (i.e. may not include family names, common nouns and so on); that they must be gender-specific (or, if the first given name is not gender-specific, a second, gender-specific, name must be given).

Given names may not have the potential to cause harm to the namee (e.g. Mickey Mouse, Kain, Osame bin Ladin).

Tables of names can be acquired: given names External, surnames/family names External, family name prefixes External, forms of address External, job titles External

Germany - Company names


It is more correct to place the words indicating the nature of a company in front of the name of the company, thus:

   Bäckerei Klaus Schmidt

You will, however, often find these activity indications after the company name, thus:

   Klaus Schmidt, Bäcker
   Klaus Schmidt (Bäcker)

German company names will also often contain the name of the inhaber(in) (owner), usually indicated by the abbreviation Inh.

Germany - Company legal forms


The following company types may be recognized in German company names:

   AG (Aktiengesellschaft)
   AG & Co. KG
   AG & Co. KGaA
   BGB Gesellschaft
   EG/eG (Eingetragene Genossenschaft)
   eK (eingetragener Kaufmann - sole trader
   EV (Eingetragener Verein – non profit society/association)
   GbR (Gesellschaft burgerlichen Rechts – partnership without a legal name – mainly non-commercial)
   gGmbH (gemeinnützige Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung) 
   GmbH (also often written Gesellschaft mbH) (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung)
   GmbH & Co.
   GmbH & Co. KG
   GmbH & Co. KGaA
   GmbH & Co. OHG
   HgmbH (Handelsgesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung) 
   KG (Kommanditgesellschaft – partnership under a legal name)
   KGaA (Kommanditgesellschaft auf Aktien – limited partnership)
   OHG (Offene Handelsgesellschaft– partnership under a legal name)
   PartG (Partnerschaftsgesellschaft)
   UG (Haftungsbeschränkt) (Unternehmergesellschaft (Haftungsbeschränkt))

Comprehensive tables of these strings can be acquired – see External

Germany - For the attention of


The words zu Händen, abbreviated to z.H. or z.Hd. mean ‘For the attention of’.

Germany - Addresses


In company addresses the name of the company precedes the name of the contact. The house number follows the street name. The form of address of the person or the type of company comes on the top line alone. In 2006, Deutsche Post changed the format to exclude a blank line above the postal code line. Thus:

   Form of address
   Contact name
   Thoroughfare[ ]number
   postal code[ ]SETTLEMENT


   Form of address[ ]Contact name
   Thoroughfare[ ]number
   postal code[ ]SETTLEMENT

For example:




Where the company name is a personal name, the word Firma may be used in the address thus:


The general rule is that the thoroughfare name and the thoroughfare type are written as one word, thus:


There are two important exceptions. If the thoroughfare name refers to the real name of a place (e.g. a town name, a castle name, a forest name, etc.) or to a surname ending in -er then there is a space between the thoroughfare name and the thoroughfare type, thus:

   Mainzer Straße
   Hamburger Allee
   Durer Straße

The second exception is where complete personal names are used. In these cases, each component of the street name is separated with a hyphen. Note, however, that surnames only are not covered by this exception. Thus:




In street names beginning with prepositions or some adjectives (‘Am’, ‘An’, ‘Alter’, etc.) the preposition or adjective is followed by a space, thus:

   Alter Marktstraße

The centre of the city of Mannheim, in postal code area 68, is built on a grid system where few of the streets are named. The building blocks have been given a letter and number between A1 and U6, and buildings are numbered within these blocks. An address in this part of Mannheim will therefore contain a line in the form:


instead of a street name. The whole block may take this form:

   Universität Mannheim
   A5, 6
   68159 MANNHEIM

A block address in Mannheim A block address in Mannheim

Deliveries to Packstations External, where customers can collect packages, have their own address format:

    Personal details
    Customer number
    [Packstation ]number
    Postal code[ ]POSTAL TOWN

for example:

    Günther Meyer
    Packstation 987
    44009 DORTMUND

image Source: Wikipedia

A table containing information about the relevant position of elements within address blocks can be acquired External

(Sub-)building / Thoroughfare types

Below is a list of the most commonly occurring (sub-)building/thoroughfare types, with the abbreviated form(s) which you are most likely to find in address databases:

Thoroughfare type/(Sub-)building Abbreviation
Boulevard Bd
Chaussee Ch
Gebäude Geb.
Platz Pl
Straße Str

Comprehensive tables of these strings can be acquired – see External

Other elements commonly found in address databases


NB: German grammar rules governing articles, prepositions and adjectives are complex, and there is no need to explain them here. It is only necessary to be able to recognise them when and where they occur in addresses. For this reason a list without further explanation is provided. As a very general rule of thumb, the prepositions and adjectives listed may have one of the following endings added: nothing; -e; -er; -em; -en or -es.

der/die/das/den/dem/des the
ein/eine/eines/einen/einem/einer a, an
und and
bis till, until, up to
für for
von of, from
zu, zu der (zur), zu dem (zum), nach to, towards
bei, bei der/den/dem (beim) near, at
an, an der/den/dem (am) at, by, towards
auf, auf der/den/dem on
in, in der/den/dem (im) in
gegenüber opposite, facing
nächst, neben, neben der/dem/den next to
hinter, hinter der/den/dem behind
vor, vor der/den/dem before, front of
zwischen, zwischen der/den/dem between, amongst
uber, über der/den/dem over, above, beyond
unter, unter der/dem/den under, beneath, below
mit with
neu/neue new
alt/alte old
kurz/kurze/kurzen/kurze /kurzem/kurzes (K.) short
lang/lange/langen/langer/langem/langes (L./Lge.) long
gross/grosse/grossen/grosser/grossem/grosses (G.) large
klein/kleine/kleinen/kleiner/kleinem/kleines (K./Kl./Kle.) small
nord north
ost east
süd south
west west
Sankt (St.) saint
Industrieterrein, Industriegebiet industrial estate

Germany - Post office box


This is written as Postfach followed by a number of digits in this pattern:

   Postfach XX XX XX

Post office boxes have their own postal codes, referring to the location of the post office where the box is situated, not of the company itself.

image Post office boxes in Germany. Note the postal code for each box range above the boxes. Source: Wikipedia

Germany - Postal codes


The postal code (Postleitzahl or PLZ) is written on the same line, and before, the name of the town.

The 4-digit postal code, valid since 1961, was changed on 1 July 1993. The old 4-digit postal code corresponded to a municipality.

The new postal codes contain 5 digits, and begin with any two digit between 01 and 99 (except 05, 43 and 62). The first digit indicates the area of Germany in which the address is situated:

   0 = Dresden/Leipzig
   1 = Berlin
   2 = Hamburg
   3 = Hannover
   4 = Düsseldorf/Essen
   5 = Köln/Bonn
   6 = Frankfurt
   7 = Stuttgart
   8 = München
   9 = Nürnberg/Erfurt

The second digit indicates a smaller region within this area.

The third digit indicates a city, a part of a city, or a municipality.

The last two digits are split into three categories, each indicating (a) post office boxes; (b) large users (receiving on average more than 2,000 letters per working day); and (c) groups of residences/businesses.

So, for example, a postal code may be built up as follows:

   39          Region
   390         Musterhausen
   39001-39058 Post boxes
   39060-39078 Large users
   39080-39097 Deliveries (residences/businesses)
   391         Bischofstadt


Post office box users now have two postal codes, one referring to their post box (for letters), the other refer­ring to their street address (for packages etc.). Large users may have a third postal code. Any database containing German addresses will need to be able to store three postal codes per company.

The international sorting codes W- and O- (indicating respectively West and East Germany) have been replaced by the single international sorting code D-.

The delivery office number (the number which followed the town name, e.g. 2000 Hamburg 46) is no longer used.

Sorbian, a Slavic language, will be encountered in the following postal code areas:

01916, 01917, 01920, 02625, 02627, 02633, 02692, 02694, 02699, 02906, 02943, 02957, 02959, 02977, 02979, 02991, 02997, 02999, 03042-03055, 03042, 03044, 03058, 03096, 03099, 03130, 03139, 03149, 03172, 03185, 03197, 03205, 03222, 03226, 15907, 15913.

Metadata containing postal code formatting rules, exceptions and regular expressions can be acquired External

Germany - Postal code format graphic


Germany - Postal code format

Germany - Postal code specifics

Germany - Postal code regular expression


Germany - Postal code level of coverage


Germany - Postal code map


Place names in Germany


Where a town or district name stems from the name of two places which were originally separate, the name components are usually hyphenated:


In virtually all other cases, no hyphenation is used:

   Frankfurt am Main
   Frankfurt an der Oder

Settlement names in Germany will often contain a suffix indicating geographical position such as am Rhein or bei Kamenz. The postal codes incorporate this information and the post prefers that such suffixes are not used in addresses except where two settlements of the same name have the same postal code.

In North Friesland, near the border with Denmark, settlements may have a German, Frisian and/or Danish name.

In the Sorbian-speaking area in the south-eastern part of the former East Germany, most towns and villages have both a German and a Sorbian name.

Refer to Exonyms in Germany for full lists of place names in Germany in other languages.

Alternate place name forms/postal code tables can be acquired at External

Other language place name data can be acquired at External

Germany - Administrative districts


Administrative districts graphic


Germany has 16 states (Bundesländer External) split into 36 regions (Regierungsbezirke External). These names are not used in addresses. In the following list, the English translations are given in brackets:

State Region
Baden-Württemberg External Freiburg, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart,Tübingen
Bayern External (Bavaria) Mittelfranken, Niederbayern, Oberbayern, Oberfranken, Oberpfalz, Schwaben, Unterfranken
Berlin External  
Brandenburg External  
Bremen External  
Hamburg External  
Hessen External (Hesse) Darmstadt, Gießen, Kassel
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern External (Mecheleberg Pomerania)  
Niedersachsen External (Lower Saxony) Braunschweig, Lüneburg, Hannover, Weser-Ems
Nordrhein-Westfalen External (North Rhine-Westphalia) Arnsberg, Detmold, Düsseldorf, Köln, Münster
Rheinland-Pfalz External(Rhineland-Palatinate) Koblenz, Rheinhessen-Pfalz, Trier
Saarland External  
Sachsen External (Saxony) Chemnitz, Dresden, Leipzig
Sachsen-Anhalt External (Saxony-Anhalt) Dessau, Halle, Magdeburg
Schleswig-Holstein External  
Thüringen External (Thuringia)  

Telephone numbers in Germany


Mobile numbers area one of these area codes: 15020, 15050, 15080, 1511-1512, 1514-1517, 1520-1523, 1525, 1529, 15555, 15630, 15678, 1570, 1573, 1575, 1577-1579, 160, 162-163, 170-179.

Tables of telephone number information/formats can be acquired – see External

Every effort is made to keep this resource updated. If you find any errors, or have any questions or requests, please don't hesitate to contact the author.

All information copyright Graham Rhind 2017. Any information used should be acknowledged and referenced.