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How to be a better neighbor in Germany

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Ralf Hechler, Ramstein-Miesenbach mayor, notified the German-American Community Office of several complaints neighbors made involving U.S. military members. The U.S. military enjoys good standing in the Rheinland-Pfalz area, and it’s important for service members to make sure it continues.


The 86th Airlift Wing and GACO provided the following information to help families navigate living in a new community:  


  • Quiet hours are determined by law: On week days, quiet hours are from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., and 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. on Sundays. On German Holidays, quiet hours are all day. During the night, any behavior which disturbs sleep is not authorized. Please refrain from making loud noise, such as mowing lawns and using loud equipment, during that time period. Fines of up to 5,000 Euros and court cases are possible.


  • Cleaning around your residence: During fall and spring, residents are required to remove leaves and flower blossoms from the ground around their houses.  Grass that causes a safety hazard when wet needs to be pulled.  Tree branches need to be shortened when reaching into the walking area.

  • Recycling trash: Ask your landlord about trash removal.  There are English versions of the “Garbage Guide” at the Kaiserslautern city/county administration offices, and at the GACO.


  • Mailboxes: Post your name on the mailbox to receive official mail. Never dispose of mail that is in German and has a date in the middle of the letter. This indicates that it is most likely an important letter, and not an advertisement.



  • Swimming pool/sauna: Do not enter with street shoes. It is common to enter the sauna nude with a towel only.  Please use common courtesy. 


  • Dog information/registration: Keep dogs on a leash, limit excessive barking, and clean up after them.  Several communities require you to register your dog.  


    Michael Gannon, 86th AW Host Nation Office advisor, said the most common complaint they receive from Germans about Americans is American neighbors mowing the lawn on Sundays and during quiet hours. Other top complaints include barking dogs and idling car engines, Gannon said. He explained that by law, dog barking has to be kept to a maximum of two hours per day. Idling car engines for more than a few minutes is illegal. Gannon said that the Host Nation Office received several complaints of parents idling their engines while waiting to pick up their children.


    “The Americans are guests here, so observing rules and common courtesies is important for community relations,” said Roberto Da Costa, 86th AW Host Nation advisor.

    Da Costa emphasized that the military’s presence in Germany comes with some negative impacts, such as aircraft noise and some pollution. Airmen cannot change these impacts, but they can change their own public image.


    “It’s always good to transmit a positive image,” Da Costa said. “Try to follow the rules. That’s simple and easy.


    Da Costa wants Americans to continue to integrate into the German community.


    “Americans bring a new culture and new thinking into the economy,” Da Costa said. “The Germans like the American way of life and they like to interact with Americans, and they are very receptive and very open.”


    Airmen need to try to maintain the high acceptance that the U.S. military has in the Rheinland-Pfalz area, Da Costa explained.


    “In general, the military fits in and follows the rules very well,” Da Costa said. “They are really doing a great job of integrating. Support all the efforts to show that Americans like being in Germany and that they like to follow the rules and be good guests.”