The website of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) provides information on the Youth Protection Act in Germany. Under this law, young persons up to the age of 14 are regarded as children, and as minors up to adulthood at the age of 18.
Children and minors should be able to grow up safely and healthily. The Youth Protection Act is aimed at protecting children and minors from various risks.
It is primarily aimed at business people and event organisers, who are obliged to comply with the law.
The website of Youth Protection Active provides detailed information on the Youth Protection Act and its practical application. If business people and their employees do not comply with the law, they may be prosecuted, so it is important for them to know exactly what they can sell and hand over to children and minors. They also need to know when and where children and minors are allowed to be on their own. Parents must also know what the law says about what children and minors may do and may not do.
The Youth Protection Act deals with alcohol, public events, smoking, films, videos, computer games and amusement arcades. The following explanations are examples from the Youth Protection Act.
Children and minors are not allowed to drink beer, wine or sparkling wine in public places such as restaurants or clubs until they are 16 years of age. Beer, wine, sparkling wine and mixed drinks with beer, wine or sparkling wine may not be sold to children or minors under the age of 16.
Drinks with a high alcohol content, such as liquors, whisky and vodka, may not be consumed by children or minors in public places such as restaurants or clubs. Minors are not allowed to buy or consume such drinks until they are 18 years old. Adults who offer or sell alcohol to children and minors are violating the law.
These regulations apply only to the public sector and not to the private sector, e.g. in the home.
More information (in German) on the subject of alcohol can be found here.
Minors are not allowed to enter a disco without their parents or an adult authorised by their parents until they are 16 years old. If they are not accompanied by an adult in the disco, they must leave it by midnight. More information (in German) about discos, concerts and events can be found on the Ausgehen und Feiern (Going out and celebrating)page.
Children and minors under 18 years of age are not allowed to smoke in public. This applies not only to cigarettes, cigars and tobacco pipes, but also to e-cigarettes and e-shishas. Business people may not sell tobacco products to children and to minors under 18 years of age.
Cigarette vending machines must be designed in such a way that children and minors under the age of 18 cannot buy cigarettes.
These regulations apply only to the public sector and not to the private sector, such as in the home.
More information (in German) about smoking can be found on the Tabakwaren page (Tobacco Products).
There is an age rating for films, videos and computer games. It is intended to protect children and minors from content that frightens them or that could otherwise worry or unsettle them.
There is an age rating label on DVDs, videos and computer games. It regulates the age at which children and minors are allowed to watch films and videos or play computer games. The label also indicates the age from which a film or game (generally) no longer poses a threat, but it is not a recommendation in terms of content.
There are five age groups for films etc. in Germany:
Children from the age of 6 years may also attend film screenings together with their parents if the film has an age rating of 12 years and older. Children under the age of 6 are not allowed to enter a cinema unaccompanied by parents or an authorised person. From 6 years on they are only allowed to enter the cinema (accompanied) if the screening ends before 8 pm. For minors from 14 years of age, the time limit is 10 pm, and midnight from 16 years of age.
Cinemas, distributors and vendors of films and computer games must observe this age rating.
More information (in German) on this subject can be found on the Kinos (Cinemas) page.
The staff at the Youth Welfare Office will help you with any problems you may have concerning youth protection and will answer all your questions on the subject. Every city, town and community in Germany has a Youth Welfare Office.
You can search for the Youth Welfare Office via the Wer hilft weiter (Who can help?) page. When you enter your postcode/zip code or the name of your town or community in the search box, the details of your local Youth Welfare Office will be displayed.
Further information (in German) on what children and adolescents are allowed to do is also available on the Wer darf was und wann (Who is allowed to do what and when) page.