Emergency calls: calling 911 in Germany and the EU
by Jakob Straub
August 17, 2020

Who do you call in an emergency and what is the equivalent of dialing 911 in Germany? 911 or 9-1-1 is synonymous with emergency calls since it’s the emergency phone number in North America. Movies and pop culture have made it common knowledge that dialing 911 in the USA, Canada or Mexico will connect you to an dispatch office which can send out emergency responders. While the United Kingdom, British territories and Hong Kong as well as other countries use 999, the emergency number to use in Germany and the European union is 112. We’ll go over who to call with your emergency and what different emergency numbers exit.

Emergency calls in Germany

112 is the one number you need for emergency calls in Germany–and the European Union. What constitutes an emergency can be a subjective matter, and just like in the UK or the US, abuse of emergency numbers or prank calls carry a hefty fine. But you should definitely call 112 in the following cases:

  • Accidents
  • Fire
  • Dangerous and possibly life-threatening situations
  • Severe injuries
  • Extreme blood loss, fainting, or state of shock
  • Symptoms of a heart attack or stroke

Even if the situation is not clear or the level of injury is not apparent, you should call 112–better be safe than sorry!

Calling emergency services by dialing 112 is free of charge, even from mobile phones. The GSM standard includes the number 112 and you can call even from locked phones, without a SIM card or poor reception.

Calling the police in Germany

In most emergency cases, calling 112 in Germany will be the appropriate equivalent to calling 911. If the presence of the police is required, they can dispatch the police as well. However, a separate police emergency number exists: 110. So what is the difference and which do you call when?

In short, 112 is mainly for medical emergencies or danger to life and limb. The police emergency number 110 is for non-medical emergencies, criminal offenses and serious traffic accidents where the police need to secure the site of the accident.

Other emergency numbers in Germany

You might encounter another situation which is difficult or an emergency to you, but might not warrant calling 112 or 110. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered–Germany probably has a number for that! The following overview covers less severe cases where you might need quick assistance.

HOTLINE NUMBER WHEN TO CALL
Emergency medical services 116 117 When you need to find a doctor or specialist outside of normal office hours, but don’t need emergency responders or A&E.
Central card cancelation 116 116 For reporting your ID or passport lost or stolen 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 11

0800 1 11 01 22

Hotline for problems and crises, e.g. bullying and mobbing, job loss, addiction, loneliness, suicidal thoughts 

The origins of the emergency number 112

Germany and the EU use the number 112 for emergency calls for various reasons. Two differing numbers prevent accidental calls by pressing a single key repeatedly. On old rotary phones, the numbers 1 and 2 had a short travel time and allowed for quicker calls. They could also be used even when a dial lock was installed. 

Calling 911 in the EU

112 is the common emergency number in almost every member state of the European Union, though additional numbers might exist like they do in Germany. The following countries have implemented 112 for emergency services–note the additional numbers or exceptions as well:

    • Albania: police 129, ambulance 127, fire 128
    • Andorra: police 110
    • Austria: police only, fire 122, ambulance 144
    • Belarus: fire only, 102 police, 103 ambulance
    • Belgium: ambulance and fire, 101 police
    • Bosnia and Herzegovina: police 122, fire 123, ambulance 124
    • Bulgaria: ambulance 150, 160 fire, 166 police
    • Croatia: (alongside 192 for Police, 193 for Fire, 194 for Ambulance and 195 for Maritime search and rescue)
    • Cyprus
    • Czech Republic: ambulance 155, 158 police, 150 fire
    • Denmark
    • Estonia
    • Finland
    • France: 15 ambulance, 17 police, 18 fire
    • Gibraltar: 190 fire and ambulance, 199 police
    • Georgia
    • Greece: 100 police, 166 ambulance, 199 fire
    • Hungary: 104 ambulance, 105 fire, 107 police
    • Iceland
    • Ireland
    • Italy: 112 police, 113 national police, 115 fire, 118 ambulance
    • Kosovo: 192 police, 193 fire, 194 ambulance
    • Latvia: 110 police, 113 ambulance
    • Liechtenstein: 112 police, 144 ambulance, 118 fire
    • Lithuania: 011 fire, 022 police, 033 ambulance
    • Luxembourg: 113 police
    • Malta
    • Moldova
    • Monaco: 15 ambulance, 17 police, 18 fire
    • Montenegro: 112 police, 123 fire, 124 ambulance
    • Netherlands
    • North Macedonia: 192 police, 193 fire, 194 ambulance
    • Norway: 110 fire, 112 police, 113 ambulance
    • Poland: 999 ambulance, 998 fire, 997 police
    • Romania
    • Portugal: 117 forest fires
    • Russia: 101 fire, 102 police, 103 ambulance
    • Serbia: 192 police, 193 fire, 194 ambulance
    • Slovakia: 155 ambulance, 158 police, 150 fire
    • Slovenia: 113 police
    • Spain: 091 police, 061 ambulance, 080 fire
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland: 117 police, 144 ambulance, 118 fire
    • Turkey
    • Ukraine: 101 fire, 102 police, 103 ambulance
    • United Kingdom: also 999

In many countries, 112 is available alongside other numbers or might forward to local emergency numbers, for example in Canada and the United States, in Brazil, Australia and New Zealand, as well as in other Asian, Latin American and African countries.

How to call emergency services in Germany or the EU

When you’re calling 112 for emergency services in Germany or a country of the European Union, follow these steps:

  1. After the call has been completed, you might be asked to 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 phone call.
  3. Provide the location of the emergency: the exact address, the location of the accident, the nearest landmark, building or site. If you don’t know or cannot give your exact location, emergency services might try to locate you via the GPS signal of your mobile phone.
  4. Describe the emergency: what has happened? Fire, accident, robbery, stroke, explosion etc.
  5. Provide details as necessary: how many people are affected, who is involved, how many are injured etc.
  6. Follow the instructions of the dispatcher.

Do you want to know more about medical services in Germany? We’ll explain how to get health insurance in Germany!

Knowing basic German can really make a difference in an emergency situation. Start learning German today with Lingoda and sign up for your free 7-day trial with our qualified German teachers. 

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