How to apply for an exemption from the Sunday and National Holiday Observance Act
Sundays and national holidays are subject to special protection. The Sunday and National Holiday Observance Act (Feiertagsgesetz FTG) prohibits publicly noticeable work on these days which impair the quiet nature of the day.
The statutory national holidays in accordance with the FTG are as follows:
- New Year's Day
- Epiphany (6 January)
- Good Friday
- Easter Monday
- 1 May
- Ascension Day
- Whit Monday
- Corpus Christi
- All Saints' Day
- Christmas Day and Boxing Day
In addition, the Day of German Unity on 3 October is a statutory national holiday.
The prohibition does not apply to:
- The postal service
- Railways and other commercial passenger transportation companies
- Auxiliary transport services (repair work to vehicles is only allowed if necessary for the continuation of the journey)
- Necessary work which can not be delayed in order to:
- prevent damage to health or property or
- satisfy domestic or agricultural requirements, above all
- to provide the population with milk and
- harvest (including the processing and treatment of perishable foods)
- simple work in gardens which you carry out yourself as a garden owner or your relatives undertake.
In addition, the FTG prohibits the following
- on Sundays and designated national holidays: Acts near churches and other places of worship which interrupt services
- on designated Sundays and national holidays: Carrying out of certain events.
For example: Public dance parties are prohibited on the following days:
- All Saints' Day (from 3 am to midnight)
- Day of Prayer and Repentance
- Remembrance Day
- Memorial Day
- From 3 am to midnight on 24 December
- Maundy Thursday (all day)
- Good Friday
- Easter Saturday
- Christmas Day
Exceptions are regulated by law. Legal exceptions can be found in the Industrial Code (Gewerbeordnung) and in other working time protection regulations. For exceptions which go beyond this, the relevant permission is required.
Tip: Contact the competent authorities in order to clarify questions and receive information concerning the applicable regulations.
- if the exemption shall apply to the area of an urban district (Stadtkreis) or a large urban district (Große Kreisstadt): the city council (Stadtverwaltung)
- if the exemption is to apply to the area of a municipality belonging to an administrative unit (Verwaltungsgemeinschaft) which assumes the duties of the lower administrative authority: the municipal administration/city council of one of the districts of the administrative unit
- otherwise: the relevant regional council (Landratsamt) office
N.B.: The municipal administration/city council is always the relevant office dealing with exemptions from the ban on events to protect religious services under the terms of § 7 Paragraph 2, and the ban on dancing events in associations and closed companies on commercial premises under the terms of § 11 of the Public Holidays Act.
An exceptional case must be present. For example: Sales events for the exclusive and direct promotion of charitable, benevolent or church-related purposes.
The exemption permit must be applied for at the competent authority. The competent authority depends on the area for which you require the exemption
in case of urban districts or large district capitals: the city council
in case of parishes which belong to an administrative community: the parish/city council of one of the participating parishes or
otherwise the rural district office responsible for the area or the
parish as the local police authorities for certain dancing events and certain events during the main church service.
Depending on the services of the competent authorities, you can obtain the application form there or you can download it from the Internet.
Should documents be necessary in individual cases, you can hand these in to the competent authorities later.
You should make your application as early as possible. This is particularly important if you are applying for a special permit for the first time.
The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Innenministerium released it on 06.10.2016. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts.
In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.