How to Politely Make a Business Phone Call to Germany

Although most German business people speak English, your German counterpart will be impressed if you attempt to speak a little of their language. Read below to find out how to introduce yourself, ask for someone on the phone, ask politely to switch to English, and say goodbye.


When you call a business in Germany, they will commonly state the company name before their own name when answering. Also they will only state their last name. Lastly, they will state a greeting such as Guten Tag (good day). For example, if you were to call the CEO of Volkswagen, Matthias Müller, he might say: “Volkswagen, Müller, Guten Tag.”

Similarly if someone calls you from Germany you should state who you are upon answering the line. For example, identify yourself by saying hier spricht [last name], which means “[name] speaking.”

Formal address: Sie, not du

In German both Sie and du mean “you.” It is formal and polite to always use Sie unless your German counterpart refers to you with the more familiar du. Remember that using du is like saying “hey you.”

Asking to speak to someone in particular:

English Phrase
German Translation
Hello, could I please speak to Mr./Mrs.___?Guten Tag, kann ich bitte mit Herrn/Frau___ sprechen?
Hello, am I speaking to Mr./Mrs.___?Guten Tag, spreche ich mit Herrn/Frau ___?
SpeakingAm Apparat
Sorry, Mr./Mrs./Miss ... is currently not in the officeLeider ist Herr/Frau ..... zur Zeit nicht im Bϋro
He/She is in a meeting at the momentEr/Sie ist zur Zeit in einem Meeting
Would you like to leave a messageMöchten Sie eine Nachricht hinterlassen?
I am calling on behalf of ... Ich rufe im Auftrag von ... an
Just a second pleaseEinen kleinen Augenblick bitte
Hold the line pleaseBleiben Sie bitte dran
I will put you throughIch stelle Sie durch
Would you like him/her to call you back?Soll er/sie Sie zurϋckrufen?
What time should I/he/she call you back?Wann soll ich/er/sie Sie zurϋck rufen?
Sorry, but I think you have the wrong numberEntschuldigung, aber ich glaube Sie sind hier falsch

Explaining problems of understanding:

English Phrase
German Translation
Could you please speak a little slower?Können Sie bitte etwas langsamer sprechen?
Could you repeat that, please?Können Sie das bitte wiederholen?
Could you spell that, please?Können Sie das bitte buchstabieren?
I’m sorry. I only speak a little German.Verzeihung. Ich spreche nur ein bisschen Deutsch.

How to politely ask to switch to English:

English Phrase
German Translation
Do you mind if we continue speaking in English?Macht es Ihnen/Dir etwas aus, wenn wir in Englisch weitersprechen?
Would it be a problem for you if we switch to English?Wäre es ein Problem für Sie, wenn wir ins Englische wechseln?
Is it possible that we talk in English?Ist es möglich, dass wir uns auf Englisch unterhalten?

Saying goodbye:

English Phrase
German Translation
Thank you very much for your helpVielen Dank für Ihre Hilfe
Until next timeAuf wiederhören

Formal business calls have a language of their own. For example, it is inappropriate to say auf Wiedersehen on the phone. That greeting literally means “until we see each other again,” but you don’t see people on the phone. This is why the formal goodbye on a business call is auf Wiederhören (until we hear each other again).

Another way to impress your German counterpart is to use Veem. Veem uses a multi-rail system to make international wire transfers that are insured, safe, fast, and as easy as sending an email.

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