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German-american community office

The German-American Community Office (GACO) is a joint initiative between the 86th Airlift Wing, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz, and the city of Kaiserslautern, Germany. The office serves as a medium of communication between the local community and members of the U.S. forces stationed in and around the Kaiserslautern Military Community (KMC). Services are free and open to the general public.

Mission. Under the slogan, “approaching the future together,” GACO strives to promote the integration of U.S. military members, civilian employees, and their families, into the local German community. GACO also serves as a platform for members of the local community to interact with the U.S. military.

Operations. The GACO's bi-lingual staff is ready to meet the needs of Germans and Americans alike. Representatives can provide translation support, assist with administrative issues, answer questions about life in Germany, and provide information about German culture and local regulations. 

 

Frequently asked questions

Q) Can the GACO help me translate a bill or traffic ticket?
A) Yes, the GACO can help with minor translations, but is unable to provide certified translations free of charge. Send a scan of the document to info@gaco-kl.de and we will get back to you as soon as possible.


Q) Can the GACO call a telephone or internet provider (or other service) and help me with a language barrier?
A) Yes, call the GACO for assistance.


Q) Can I enroll my child in a German school?
A) Yes, you can enroll your child in a German school. The location of the elementary school depends on your current place of residence, but you have freedom of choice regarding the location of the school after elementary school.


Q) Can my child go to a German Kindergarten?
A)  Available spaces are prioritized for those with entitlements (ex. Those who participate in the German social security system). If there are still available spaces, the facilities can offer them to U.S. personnel, but they may have to pay for them. Contact the GACO for possible private day care providers.


Q) Can my child attend a home day care?
A) The GACO can help put you in touch with your nearest youth department and find out about current vacancies.


Q) I live in the city of Kaiserslautern. Where and how can I get a long-term parking permit?
A) Pick up the request form at the information counter in the Kaiserslautern town hall (Rathaus) at Willy-Brandt-Platz 1 and make an appointment at the Kaiserslautern Bürgercenter by calling: 0631-365- 4076. At the appointment, bring along a copy of your rental contract to prove where you live, your car title and your military ID-card as well as the completed request form.


Q)  Recycling – Where can I get yellow bags?
Kaiserslautern city residents:  Under normal circumstances, yellow bags are available for free at the Bürgercenter (Citizens' Center) located in the City Hall (Rathaus) at Willy-Brandt-Platz 1. Due to COVID-19, the Citizens’ Center is currently closed for walk-in traffic, however, you can pick up yellow bags at the information counter inside the main entrance of the Rathaus (entrance is to the left of the Bürgercenter). More detailed information can be found on pages 10 and 11 of the county’s 
garbage guide.

For any other location (ex. Donnersberg or Kusel counties) contact the GACO as these counties do not have garbage guides in English.


Q) How do I dispose of household waste exposed to COVID-19?
A) Guidance on proper disposal of contaminated waste is available here.


Q) The garbage was picked up on my street, but mine was not taken.  Why not?
A)  There could be more than one reason for your garbage not having been collected like using an incorrect bio bag or putting items in the wrong receptacle. However, to find out for sure, we recommend you contact the GACO (info@gaco-kl.de, 0631-363-3010) and include your name and address. The GACO team can contact the responsible agency and get back to you.


Q) Is it possible to get a larger black trash bin or get a second one?
You can ask your landlord to request a larger container at your expense. If you do not constantly have a large amount of waste, you can buy special bags for your non-recyclable waste (3.89 Euro per bag) at your municipal administration or the county administration (Lauterstr. 2, 67657 Kaiserslautern. For those who reside outside the city, see page 11 of the Kaiserslautern city garbage guide for locations to purchase extra bags for various types of garbage. If you do not live in the city or county of Kaiserslautern, contact the GACO team for further assistance.


Q) How do I schedule a bulk trash pick-up?
A) If you live in the county of Kaiserslautern, every household registered for waste disposal can arrange a bulk waste pick up twice a year free of charge by calling 0631-7155-500 or-250 or sending an e-mail to sperrmuell@kaiserslautern-kreis.de or via the garbage guide app. You will be notified of the pickup date in writing approximately 14 days after your request and the amount of bulk is limited to 5m3. Bulk waste has to be ready for pickup before 6 a.m. on the collection day. Please separate waste wood from other bulk items. More information is available on page 16 of the Kaiserslautern county’s garbage guide.

A)  If you live in the city of Kaiserslautern, every private household or every business can arrange a bulk waste pick up twice a year by calling 0631-365-3521 or by e-mailing abholservice@stadtbildpflege-kl.de. Bulk waste has to be ready for pickup by 7 a.m. of the scheduled day and individual items should not be wider than 1.7m or heavier than 50 kg. Please separate waste wood from other bulk waste. This free service is limited to up to 3 mof non-recyclable waste material twice a year. For a nominal fee, you can have your bulk waste picked up within three business days. More information is available on page 24 of the Kaiserslautern city garbage guide. You may have to scroll down to read the brochure.

A) If you do not live in the city or county of Kaiserslautern, contact the GACO team (info@gaco-kl.de, 0631-363-3010) with your current place of residence.  They will get you an answer as soon as possible.


Q) If I leave town in the winter, do I still need someone to shovel my sidewalk?
A) Yes. Residents must clean the sidewalk and shovel snow or find another person to assist in their absence. If you do not take precautions for this matter, you can be held liable in case of an accident due. The same applies for the person who agrees to do that duty for you.  


Q)  Where can I get legal assistance?
A)  Option 1:  Contact one of the military legal offices depending on which one is responsible for you.  
Option 2: Reference 
this
 document, provided by the US Consulate General at Frankfurt.
Option 3: Contact one of the German lawyers from this 
list.


Q) Are there any English-speaking university programs nearby?
A)  Depending on what you are looking for you may want to contact one of these universities: 1. 
The Technical University of Kaiserslautern. 2. The University of Mannheim. 3. The University of Saarbruecken.


Q) Who is eligible for Kindergeld?
A) Kindergeld (Child Benefit) is an allowance which is paid on a monthly basis by the German Government to qualified applicants for children who reside in the applicant’s household in Germany. Spouses of U.S. military members or civilian components who are German citizens or citizens of another state of the European Union (EU) are entitled to Kindergeld regardless whether they are employed on the German economy or not. All other spouses have to be employed on the German economy and be subject to German social taxes (Beitragspflicht zur Bundesanstalt fuer Arbeit) in order to qualify for Kindergeld. For detailed information as well as the application form and status certification form please contact the GACO.


Q) How do I get rid of weeds in Germany?
A)  There is equipment available in garden centers and stores you can use to get weeds out of the ground without using chemicals. As to chemical weed killers we recommend you talk to subject matter experts at stores to learn what type of weed killer you can use. If you can, bring a sample of the weed to the store for demonstration. See this document for 12 options on how to get rid of weeds.  


Q) Can my teenage or young adult son/daughter get a job on the economy?
A) To find out about employment options, click here.


Q) What do I do to register my business?
A) For a small business such as a photographer, you first need to register your business with the Handwerkskammer (Chamber of Handicrafts) in Kaiserslautern, Am Altenhof 15. The required documents are 
here. Contact the GACO if you need additional assistance.