Posts in German Law and You
Yes, Those Are Cigarette Machines.

Smoking, and smoking public in particular, is far more common in Germany than you might be used to as an American who first arrives over here.  Whether it's at bars, the outside seating areas of restaurants, the "smoking rooms" of a club, or just on the street in general, smoking is far more socially and legally accepted.  As a result, cigarette machines are a common enough sight, be it in the back of a restaurant or bar, on the side of a building, or just free standing in some residential areas.

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Why Do They Want To Know The City I Was Born In?

In and amongst all of the paperwork that you've had to fill out for your visa, residence permit, matriculation paperwork, you've likely noticed that you've had to repeatedly fill in the city you were born in.  What's the deal with that though?  Are they actually keeping track of this?  Do German government agencies have some sort of register of everywhere people were born that they check in on?  Why do they ask for this even from foreigners?

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The German Television Tax

If you live in a German apartment building you may have already received a letter some time after moving in, "shaking you down" for 17.50 Euro a month from the Rundfunkbeitrag Beitragsservice.  In Germany, public access TV and radio stations are funded by the Rundfunkbeitrag, or public broadcasting contribution, resulting in substantially more programming being made available over public access TV than is typical in the U.S..  But if you're only living here for a short time, or don't have a TV or radio, do you still have to pay the fee?   ....Yes, yes you do.

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