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Berlin

Work

Non-EU citizens cannot work legally in Germany without a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) and a work permit (Arbeitserlaubnis). EU citizens don't need a work permit but they must have a residence permit, although obtaining one is a mere formality. Since regulations change from time to time, it's best to contact the German embassy in your country for the latest information.

Because of its high unemployment, finding skilled work in Berlin can be a full-time job in itself. A good place to start is at the local employment offices (Arbeitsamt), which maintain job banks of vacancies. The classified sections of the daily papers are another source, as are private placement and temp agencies. Obviously, the better your German, the greater your chances.

If you're not in the market for a full-time job but simply need some casual work to pad your travel budget, options might include baby-sitting, cleaning, English tutoring, tour guiding, bar tending, yoga teaching, donating sperm (www.berliner-samenbank.de), nude modelling for art classes, or working as an extra in film or TV (www.berlincast.de). None of these pay big money, of course, but neither do they require a high skill level, much training, or fluent German. Start by placing a classified ad in a local newspaper, listings guide or the English-language magazine ExBerliner. Other places to advertise include notice boards at universities, photocopy shops and local supermarkets.

Citizens of Australia, New Zealand and Canada between the ages of 18 and 30 may apply for a Working Holiday Visa, which entitles them to work in Germany for up to 90 days in a 12-month period. Contact the German embassies in those countries for details.

Business

Berlin hotels generally cater well for the needs of business travellers. The top-end international chains often have full business centres with meeting rooms and secretarial services. But even many midrange establishments now offer wireless and/or high-speed Internet access in addition to such general business services as photocopying and PC and fax-machine rentals. English is widely spoken.

All major international courier services operate in Berlin. To schedule a pick-up, call FedEx (0800-123 0800), UPS (0800-882 6630) or DHL (0800-5345 2255).

If you need your own office to ink that deal, you can rent one through such companies as Regus Berlin (206 590; www.reg us.com) or Worldwide Business Centres (243 1020; www.wwbcnetwork.com). Both provide furnished offices and conference rooms, secretarial services, video conferencing and other telecom needs. Offices are usually in prestigious locations.

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Business hours

Shops in malls and along major shopping streets, such as the Kurfürstendamm, are usually open from 9.30am to 8pm Monday to Saturday. Small boutiques and suburban stores, however, tend not to open until mid-morning or noon and often close at 6pm or 7pm weekdays and at 4pm on Saturday. Train stations, petrol stations and supermarkets are good places for stocking up on basic supplies after hours.

Banking hours are from 8.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday with most staying open until 5.30pm or 6pm on Thursday. Post office hours vary widely, but core hours are 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturday.

Travel agencies and other service-oriented businesses are usually open from 9am to 6pm weekdays and till 1pm or 2pm on Saturday. Government offices, on the other hand, close for the weekend as early as 1pm on Friday. Many of the major museums are closed on Monday but stay open late one evening a week.

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