So I just recently rode a taxi again in Germany and I was wondering about the proper etiquette if there is one. I rode a total of like 3 taxi in my life and I never was sure on how to behave (I always rode alone).

  • The first time I sat in the front and the driver talked to me.

  • The second time I sat in the front and the driver didn't talk with me.

  • The third time I sat in the back and the driver didn't talk with me.

My question is: What is the right etiquette for riding a taxi in Germany?


Please note that I am asking specifically for Germany, but if there is a global etiquette, that one would be preferred.

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    Are you explicitly asking about the etiquette on where to sit/what to say or would, for example "tipping etiquette" still be an answer to your question? It does seem obvious to me but it would help answers if you could specifically say it – Jesse Aug 9 at 8:01
  • I would be interested in the overall etiquette. This would include where to sit as well as talking with the driver and tipping and whatever you can think off – XtremeBaumer Aug 9 at 8:06
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    @Raditz_35 Ofc I know that customer is king, but yet I want the driver to have a pleasent time as well. Also I value proper etiquette quite high which is the main reason I would like to follow it – XtremeBaumer Aug 9 at 8:27
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    I am very confused what the question is about: (a) German taxi etiquette or (b) global taxi etiquette? The question title/body and the small remark at the end are a little contradicting. – Ian Aug 10 at 7:57
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    @XtremeBaumer I don't think answering this question with a global approach does justice to those seeking advice for German taxi driving. On a global level, it's basically best to sit in the back and don't talk if you do not want to attract attention. In Germany, you can basically sit anywhere and either talk or be silent. I don't really know what is more useful for potential readers, that's why I am confused. – Ian Aug 10 at 8:05
up vote 48 down vote accepted

I live in Germany and ride the Taxi regularly.

In Germany: You can sit, wherever you want!

When I'm alone I usually sit in the front. A lot of Taxi-drivers are up for a chat, and usually know the city quite well so it can be useful when you are somewhere new.

When I have company, I usually sit in the back so we can talk to ourselves.

In other parts of the world, sitting in the back seems to be more common or even mandatory (London, New York). In general, you can't go wrong if you sit in the back. Also, if you are a foreigner, there is nothing wrong with just asking the driver on your first ride. I'm new, what's the protocol...

Other etiquette for Germany:

  • Tipping is not mandatory, but also not uncommon. Just do however you feel. I usually do ~10%.
  • Prices are fixed by the local government, and there should be a counter that displays the current fare. It has a starting price (~3€), and then a per km/minute price. Night rates are usually a little more expensive. That said, especially for longer trips you can often negotiate a cheaper fixed fare beforehand.
  • If there are several taxis, you usually go to the one in the front. Exception: if you want to negotiate a fixed price, you can also ask the other ones.
  • The taxi business is controlled quite tightly. Every taxi has a number in the back window. If you have any complaints, remember that number and the time at which the issue occurred.
  • You are required to use your seatbelt (as in any car in Germany).
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    The "other etiquette" part is a really nice to know – XtremeBaumer Aug 9 at 9:56
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    @Sebastian Proske: Thanks - and in the future feel free to add by using the edit button! – Daniel Aug 9 at 13:46
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    About the seatbelt thing. Sure it is required, and the cars even make annoying sounds, but a lot taxi drivers I have seen here (bigger city) have one of these things that you plug into, but without the belt to make the sound stop and use it without question when you use the front seat. So if you are feeling lucky and want to risk your life, since taxi drivers are not exactly known for their safe driving... – PlasmaHH Aug 10 at 5:37
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    Until 2014 taxi drivers weren't even required to wear a seatbelt while (and only while!) transporting a passenger. – Thomas Aug 10 at 6:49
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    I support the advice of @Lawrence. Without bad-mouthing taxi drivers, there are some who deliberately take a longer route. But usually they're very friendly and do a really good job at navigating through the city. Another important point is, if you're planning to pay with plastic: Ask beforehand because not all taxis have a card reader and only take cash – QBrute Aug 10 at 10:48

Not specifically in Germany, but in general sit in the back if there is place (when you travel alone or two people), greet and say goodbye to the driver but talking when unasked is of course optional. Please observe that many cab drivers are not from Germany anyway but it is hard to second guess driver culture and preferred mode. Either way, if the driver asks questions and wants to talk, it is only polite to engage.

I rode a taxi once in Germany with a parent of mine, but every taxi drive I took in other countries (mostly western & central Europe / China) happened the same way, whether I was alone or not: the driver opens the trunk so you can put your luggage in it and then they either open you the door of the rear of the vehicle or expect you to get in at the rear of the vehicle.

I remember one time I had an ankle sprain and no one was home so I had to order a drive to go to class. I got in and sat next to the driver, who was very surprised. I didn't understand at first, but my mother told me later that day that the clients are expected to go at the rear when possible.

I don't know if there's an etiquette ruling that but it's more polite to go at rear whenever possible for it lets the driver the choice to engage in a conversation (and release them of the guilt to overhear your conversations with the other passengers if applicable).

Please note that the custom of sitting at the back may vary around the world. As stated in comments, when you're traveling on your own in Australia, you should sit next to the driver. If there's several people traveling, one might ride in the front as well.

There really is no etiquette for taxis in Germany; they enjoy no special status (aside from being considered too expensive for everyday use in a non-business context if there is a good alternative, which there usually is).

I have, on business trips, rode many taxis, have sat in the front and in the back regularly. Some drivers are talkative, and some are not. Everyone "got it" when I did not want to talk. I signalled that in the usual way, e.g. by not initiating any small talk myself, by closing my eyes and leaning back, by using my phone or whatever.

Here in Austria (which is a neighbour of germany) you can sit in front or in the back. You are the guest and you choose. You can also decide to (small-)talk or not.

So it's really not much you can do wrong here. However as everywhere not all taxi drivers on all days are in the same temper, so their might be slight differences in your experience.

As far as I know there is not much of a etiquette other than

  • be kind
  • smalltalk or not, as you like
  • sit in front or back, as you like
  • maybe give some tip if you want and the ride was good (maybe 5-10%), but you don't have to - it is optional.

Short: You pay, and the driver has to act professionally.

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