In Germany, shopping days and opening hours were previously regulated by a federal law called the "Shop Closing Law" (Ladenschlussgesetz), first enacted in 1956 and last revised on 13 March 2003. However, on 7 July 2006, the federal government handed over the authority to regulate shopping hours to the sixteen states. Since then, states have been allowed to pass their own laws regulating opening hours. The federal Ladenschlussgesetz continues to be valid in states that have not passed their own laws.
There are several exceptions, including petrol stations and shops located in railway stations and airports, which may stay open past the normal hours. Most petrol stations in larger cities, and all situated on Autobahns, are open 24 h. Shops in so-called "tourist zones" may also open outside the normal hours, but they are restricted to selling souvenirs, handcrafted articles and similar tourist items. In connection with fairs and public market days, communities are allowed four days per year (normally Sundays) on which shops may open outside the normal restrictions; however, such shop openings may not take place during primary church services and they must close by 6 pm. Bakeries may open for business at 5.30 a.m. and may also open for a limited time on Sundays. Restaurants, bars, theatres, and cultural establishments are generally unaffected by the shop opening time restrictions. As most public holidays in Germany are religiously based, and since the religious holidays (Protestant and Catholic) are not uniform across Germany, shops may be closed due to a public holiday in one state, and open in a neighbouring state. Bavaria even differentiates between cities with Protestant or Catholic majorities.