Emergency Calls in Germany: Your Comprehensive Guide (2023)

In times of crisis, knowing whom to call can be a matter of life and death. While 911 is the go-to emergency number in North America, it's essential to understand the equivalent for Germany and the European Union: 112. This article aims to provide a detailed guide on when and how to make emergency calls in Germany, offering valuable insights into the process and alternative numbers for specific situations.

When to Make an Emergency Call in Germany

112: The Universal Emergency Number

In Germany and the EU, 112 is the equivalent of 911. It's crucial to dial this number for accidents, fires, dangerous situations, severe injuries, extreme blood loss, fainting, or symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. Remember, when in doubt, calling 112 is the safest option.

Pro Tip: Dialing 112 is free of charge, even from mobile phones, ensuring accessibility in any situation.

Calling the Police in Germany

Understanding 110 vs. 112

While 112 is the primary number for medical emergencies, danger to life, and limb, the police have a dedicated emergency number: 110. It's essential to differentiate when to call 112 for medical emergencies and when 110 is necessary for non-medical situations, criminal offenses, and serious traffic accidents requiring police intervention.

Other Emergency Numbers in Germany

A Number for Every Situation

Germany has additional hotline numbers to address less severe cases, ensuring quick assistance without overloading the emergency lines. From emergency medical services to central card cancellation, the following overview covers various situations:

  • Emergency Medical Services (116 117): When you need to find a doctor or specialist outside normal office hours, but it's not a life-threatening situation.
  • Central Card Cancellation (116 116): For reporting lost or stolen IDs or passports and canceling credit cards.
  • Infoline Federal Ministry of Health (030 346 465 100): General questions regarding Germany's health system.
  • Helpline (0800 1 11 01 and 110800 1 11 01 22): Assistance for problems and crises, such as bullying, mobbing, job loss, addiction, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts.

The Origins of Emergency Number 112

Why 112?

Germany and the EU chose 112 for emergency calls to prevent accidental calls by pressing a single key repeatedly. This system worked well with old rotary phones, ensuring quick and efficient emergency responses. The choice of 112 also allows for easy implementation across member states.

Calling 911 in the EU

A Pan-European Emergency Number

112 is the common emergency number in almost every EU member state, promoting consistency across borders. While additional numbers might exist, 112 serves as the primary point of contact for emergency services throughout the European Union. Here's a quick overview of 112 implementation in various countries.

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How to Call Emergency Services in Germany or the EU

Navigating the Call Process

When making an emergency call in Germany or any EU country, follow these steps:

  1. After completing the call, press 1 for an ambulance or the fire department, and 2 for the police (depending on the country).
  2. An emergency dispatcher will answer your call.
  3. Provide precise location details, including the address, landmarks, or GPS coordinates.
  4. Describe the emergency, specifying the nature of the incident.
  5. Provide additional details as necessary, such as the number of people affected or injuries.
  6. Follow the dispatcher's instructions.


In conclusion, understanding the emergency call system in Germany is vital for everyone. By following the guidelines outlined here, you can ensure a swift and effective response in critical situations. Whether it's knowing when to dial 112, understanding the role of 110 for police emergencies, or utilizing specific hotlines for less severe cases, this comprehensive guide aims to empower individuals to make informed decisions during emergencies in Germany and the European Union.

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