Daily life

Here you will find some tips on daily life in Germany.

The opening hours of shops in Germany vary. Many large grocery stores are open from 8 am to 9 pm or 10 pm. The shops in Paderborn’s city centre usually open at 9 or 10 am and close at 7 or 8 pm. On Sundays and public holidays all shops are closed (except e.g. for bakeries or shops in railway stations).

Electrical connections in Germany cater for 220-240-Volt/50-Hz a/c mains and European standard plugs. You may require adapters and transformers for electrical equipment you bring with you.

There are several public holidays in Germany, some of them are national holidays, others are only observed in certain states (“Bundesländer”). Shops, universities and authorities are closed on public holidays and buses and trains usually operate on a Sunday schedule.

Some holidays depend on the lunar calendar (e.g. Easter) and therefore the exact date changes every year.

Public holidays in North Rhine-Westphalia:

New Year’s Day  1 January    
Good Friday   

Friday before Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday and Easter Monday usually at the end of March/beginning of April (on the first Sunday after the cyclically determined full moon which takes place on or after 21 March.)
Labour Day   1 May
Ascension Day  Thursday, 39 days after Easter Sunday
Whit Sunday and Whit Monday   in June, 50 days after Easter Sunday
Corpus Christi   2nd Thursday after Whit Sunday
German Unity Day 3 October
All Saints’ Day 1 November
Christmas Days  December 25 and 26

Christmas Eve (24 December) and New Year's Eve (31 December) are not public holidays. However, shops are usually closed in the afternoon.

Please note: Paderborn University is closed between Christmas and New Year.

Some holidays are so-called "silent holidays". On Good Friday, for example, entertaining events, theatre and music performances are not permitted.

You should avoid noisy activities in your apartment on Sundays, such as drilling or hammering, in order to comply with the legally protected "Sunday rest".

In Germany, a large part of the waste is recycled to save resources and protect the nature. In most households/houses in Paderborn the following rules apply:

Organic waste bin (usually bins with a brown or a green lid) compostable kitchen and garden waste, e.g. vegetable and waste, eggshells,…
Paper  bin (usually bins with a blue lid)

paper/cardboard e.g. newspapers, magazines, cardboard boxes

If you want to dispose of large cardboard boxes or a lot of paper/cardboard, you can use larger waste containers (e.g. in the parking lot of the Südring Centre close to Paderborn University) or the press containers at the recycling yards.

Recycling bin (usually bins with a yellow lid) plastic and metal,  e.g. yoghurt pots, juice bags, foils, tins, pots, cutlery
Residual waste bin (usually bins with a grey lid or sometimes a red lid) residual waste or household waste and all other types of waste that cannot be recycled, e.g. hygiene articles, dirty packaging, vacuum cleaner bags, diapers, cigarette butts

The waste bins in Paderborn are regularly emptied by the “Abfallentsorgungs- und Stadtreinigungsbetrieb” (ASP) (Paderborn’s Waste Disposal and City Cleaning Company). Each street has a specific day of the week for disposal. Please note that the waste bins must be at the roadside by 7 a.m. at the latest on the day of collection. It is best to ask your landlord how the waste disposal in your apartment or house is regulated.  

You can find out the exact disposal dates here.

More information about recycling in Paderborn can be found here and in this brochure. Another useful guide to separating trash in Germany is offered by DW.

Weitere Infomationen zur Mülltrennung in Paderborn erhalten Sie hier und in der mehrsprachigen Broschpre "Abfälle richtig sortieren".

Other materials, such as glass bottles (without deposit), old clothes etc. are also disposed of separately:

Glass containers e.g. beverage bottles, jam  jars...
drop-off box

clothes and shoes (an overview of drop-off boxes in Paderborn can be found here

Recycling yard
  • discarded metal, e.g. wire mesh, bicycle frames, chains, rims
  • bulky waste, e.g. furniture, carpets, household goods, children's toys
  • electronic waste, e.g. washing machines, dishwashers, cookers, refrigerators, small electrical appliances
Bulk collection ("Sperrmüllabfuhr")

bulky waste (“Sperrmüll”), e.g. furniture, carpets, household goods

In Germany, there is a deposit system for most bottles, for many beverage cans and also for glass yoghurt jars in order to be able to reuse materials or dispose of them correctly. This means that you first pay a small amount of money for a deposit bottle when you buy it (between 8 and 25 cents per bottle). You can then return the bottle and receive the money back in the form of a voucher, which you must present at the checkout to get the deposit ("Pfand") back. There are usually special machines in the supermarkets at which you can return the bottles. If you find one of these labels on the bottle, jar or can, you have to pay a refundable deposit.

In Germany, it is rather unusual to pay smaller amounts of money by credit card. In some shops you can only pay by credit card when paying a certain amount (e.g. 5 or 10 euros) and sometimes credit cards are not accepted at all.

In many places in Germany there is a strict smoking ban to protect non-smokers. It applies in public buildings such as public authorities, offices, cinemas, theatres, universities, hospitals, airports and railway stations and in bars, cafés, restaurants and clubs.

On the following websites you can find some tips regarding etiquette in Germany, e.g. regarding the difference between the formal “Sie" and the informal “du” when addressing a person. Of course, there are many exceptions and regional differences, but in general the websites provide some helpful hints.

Stay based on an employment contract

If you are employed at Paderborn University and stay more than 6 months, you will be taxed in Germany according to your total income and assets earned worldwide.

Income tax is deducted directly from your salary. The amount of tax depends on your income, marital status and tax class. For the purpose of taxation, persons registered in Germany receive a tax identification number. Usually, you will receive this number by post a few days after you registered your residence at the City Registration Office (“Einwohnermeldeamt”).

If you do not have a residence in Germany, your tax liability is usually limited. At the end of a calendar year, you have the option of submitting an income tax return to the tax office in your place of residence. Under certain circumstances, you may obtain a refund of part of the taxes paid previously.

You can obtain the necessary documents online or from your local tax office. It is also possible to submit your tax return electronically via ELSTER ("electronic income tax return"). Once the tax office has processed the tax return, you will receive a tax assessment stating whether and how much tax will be refunded to you.

There are unilateral tax relief regulations to avoid overlaps in the tax claims by different countries of a taxable person.

Additionally, Germany has concluded (bilateral) double taxation agreements with most countries that regulate which country waives the taxes according to the national legislation.

It may be helpful to consult a tax consultant to help you complete your tax return.

Note: In Germany there is a church tax at the rate of approx. 8-9% of the income tax. This tax partly finances some religious communities such as the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church. If you belong to a religious community that collects a church tax from the state, the church tax is automatically deducted from your monthly salary. For this reason, your religious affiliation will be inquired when you register with the city.

Source and further information on taxes in Germany: Euraxess

Stay based on a fellowship or financing with own funds

If you are financing your stay in Germany with a fellowship and are not an employee of Paderborn University, you may, under certain circumstances, be exempt from taxation under German income tax law. The organisation which has awarded the fellowship can probably help you on this point. Furthermore, you should find out whether the fellowship paid in Germany is subject to taxation in your own country.