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LIVING IN

Everything that changes in Germany in July 2019

From taxes to 'Kindergeld', there are a lot of important changes coming to Germany as June becomes July on Monday.

Everything that changes in Germany in July 2019
Photo: DPA

Kindergeld increasing

We have some good news for all parents in Germany: the amount of ‘Kindergeld’- or child support payments – is going up by 10 per month, and applies to all underage children living at home.

For the first and second child, parents will receive 204 a month, up from the previous 194.

For the third child, parents will receive 210, up from 200. And for the fourth and each additional child, parents will get 235, up from 225.

Starting in January 2021, this amount will go up by a further 15 euros.

Midijobbers rejoice

Starting July 1st, all so-called midijobbers (or employees who regularly earn more than 450) can look forward to less social security contributions. 

So far, a midijobber has been considered to be an employee who earns between 450 and 850 per month. Now this limit is rising from 850 to 1300 euros gross per month. This is particularly important because now only the reduced social security contributions have to be paid up to the higher amount.

And yet more good news for midijobbers: as of July, they will no longer receive reduced pension benefits despite the reduced pension contributions. As a result, employees no longer have to top up from their own resources.

Through the scheme, the government aims to make midi-jobs more attractive and increase the number of such jobs.

Photo: DPA

More tax filing time

If you’re worried that you missed the tax filing deadline in Germany – which was May 31st until this year, you can take a deep breath (at least for another month). Now the deadline for filing German taxes has been pushed to July 30th for 2019, 2020 and 2021. Those who use the help of a Steuerberater, or tax advisor, have until February 28th the following year to file. 

SEE ALSO: The ultimate guide to filing taxes in Germany

Pensions going up

According to the Federal Statistical Office's data on wage developments, pensions will rise significantly starting on July 1st. In east Germany, the pension increase will be 3.91 percent, and in west Germany by 3.18 percent. Thus the pension value of the east will be reaching a full 96.5 percent of the value in west Germany.

SEE ALSO: How to maximize your German pension – even if you plan to retire elsewhere

Postage increases

Starting July 1st, postage prices for letters and postcards will go up in Germany: a standard letter sent by the Deutsche Post will cost 80 cents, whilst the price of a domestic postcard will rise to 60 cents. 

Likewise the compact letter (Kompaktbrief), the large letter (Großbrief) and the so-called Maxibrief (or the largest size) will be ten cents more expensive. Postage for a postcard will even increase by 15 cents – the price was 45 cents for more than 15 years. 

There will be supplementary stamps worth five, ten, 15 and 20 cents for stamps below the new value that have not been used. It will therefore not be necessary to exchange old stamps.

SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about sending mail in Germany

Photo: DPA

Changes in the books

Sending books and goods will be easier and more expensive from July 2019 onwards

Starting July 1st, the number of book shipping categories will be reduced: one up to 500 grams and up to one kilogram. Only five centimetres in height are allowed (35 x 25 x 5 centimetres).

Consignments of books and goods up to 500 grams will cost 1.90. Shipments of books and goods up to one kilogram will cost 2.20.

While the prices themselves have not been increased, customers will have to buy the more expensive DHL parcels for thicker shipments, as the maximum permitted height has been reduced from 15 to five centimetres.

New job opportunities in Berlin

Starting in July, the city of Berlin is testing a new employment programme. Dubbed “das solidarische Grundeinkommen” (solidarity basic income), the programme aims to find employment for the unemployed in understaffed public sectors such as mobility assistants or caretakers.

Anyone who has been unemployed for a year but has no chance of finding a job in labour market in the foreseeable future will be able to participate.

Cash back in Bavaria

For a Bavaria-specific change, landowners in the southern state can apply for partial reimbursement for road construction contributions paid between 2014 and 2017.

In order to receive the repayment, however, the applicants must prove that they have suffered an unreasonable financial disadvantage as a result of the payment of the contributions. A deductible of 2000 and an upper income limit of 100,000 apply to the applications – or double the amount for life partners or married couples.

Property owners must submit the application by the end of the year either online or in writing to the office of the Hardship Commission (Härtefallkommission).

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WHAT CHANGES IN GERMANY

Everything that changes in Germany in October 2022

From a nationwide public holiday and new Covid rules to changes surrounding mini and midi jobs, here's what's happening in Germany this October.

Everything that changes in Germany in October 2022

Reunification Day

Germany will celebrate the Day of German Unity, or Tag der deutschen Einheit, on Monday October 3rd.

It marks the day that the the German Democratic Republic (GDR) officially ceased to exist as a sovereign state and rejoined the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990. Since then, Germany has been reunited as the Bundesrepublik and the date is celebrated every year with a holiday in every federal state.

This year it’s 32 years since east and west reunified. Because it’s a public holiday, most workplaces as well as shops and other businesses are closed. 

READ ALSO: Which public holidays are coming up in Germany?

New Covid rules

A new set of Covid rules based on the amended Infection Protection Act will come into force from October 1st. 

The rules will apply until April 7th next year. We have a short round up of some of the bigger changes below, but check out our key points article for more information. 

READ ALSO: Key points – Germany’s new Covid rules from October

Mask mandate changes

Under the new regulations, people travelling on long-distance trains in Germany will have to wear an FFP2 mask if they are over the age of 14. Children aged between six and 13, can wear a surgical mask.

A mask mandate is also in force nationwide in hospitals, nursing homes and doctors’ offices. In nursing homes and clinics, a negative Covid test has to also be shown when visiting. 

Masks will no longer have to be worn, however, on flights to and from and within Germany. 

Further requirements, such as the obligation to wear masks in shops, restaurants or event rooms, can be imposed by the federal states – depending on the incidence of infection. Tests may be required in schools and daycare centres.

States are expected to continue with the mask mandate order on local public transport.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach holds an FFP2 mask

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach holds an FFP2 mask. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

Covid safety plans at work – but no mandatory ‘home office’

Employers do not have to offer their staff the opportunity to work from home. But bosses should consider this, as well as regular Covid testing, as an option for employees as part of Covid safety plans. 

A draft law by Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD), which called for mandatory home office rule during the winter months to help with the Covid situation, was toned down after coalition partners, the FDP pushed for a change.

Vaccination status changes

There are changes coming up when it comes to what counts as being fully vaccinated in Germany. In general, people will need three jabs to be classed as fully vaccinated from October. 

Vaccination certificates issued after two shots will only be considered as proof of full vaccination until September 30th. Beginning October 1st, a booster jab (i.e., a 3rd vaccination) is generally required to be considered “fully vaccinated”. Alternatively, two vaccinations and proof of recovery from Covid-19 will also qualify. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s planned changes to Covid vaccination status

However, keep in mind that there is no planned vaccination/test requirement to enter indoor public areas in Germany – previously known as the 3G or 2G rules.

If a German state government imposes a mask requirement indoors, then people simply need to wear a mask to enter indoor settings such as bars, restaurants, cultural and recreational venues. People who present a negative Covid test would be exempt from wearing a mask. However, regions can also choose to exempt the freshly vaccinated or recently recovered people from the mask requirement. In that case, people would have to show proof. However, not all states have to bring in this exception.

A person is considered recovered from the 29th day after detection of infection and for a maximum of 90 days. The ‘recovery’ proof can be provided by a PCR test.

Mini-jobbers can earn more

On October 1st, the upper earnings limit for people with so-called mini-jobs will rise from €450 to €520 per month. There will also be changes for employees in midi-jobs, who were previously allowed to earn between €450 and €1,300 per month: the limit will shift to between €520 and €1,600 from October.

READ ALSO: The rules in Germany around mini and midi jobs

A member of staff at a cafe in Stuttgart.

A member of staff at a cafe in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Weißbrod

Minimum wage boost

On October 1st, the statutory minimum wage in Germany will be raised to €12 per hour. It was raised to €10.45 at the beginning of July.

VAT on gas usage to be slashed

Energy prices are currently going through the roof. As a result, the German government has decided to reduce the VAT rate on gas consumption from 19 to 7 percent. The reduction in VAT was intended to offset the controversial gas levy – however, that levy is being shelved. 

READ ALSO:

Property tax deadline 

From 2025, a new property tax calculation will apply in Germany. For this to happen, almost 36 million properties in Germany are being revalued on the basis of information that owners submit.

That means people owning property in Germany have to submit a new declaration to the tax office based on values as of January 1st 2022. Owners have until October 31st of this year to send in updated information electronically via the Elster portal to the tax office.

Commercial tax programmes that offer an interface to Elster can also be used. People who do not have Internet access can also have the declaration prepared by relatives. In exceptional cases, a declaration in paper form is also possible by making a request at the tax office.

READ ALSO: The German property tax declaration owners need to know about

An aerial view of flats in Munich.

An aerial view of flats in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sina Schuldt

An extra hour in bed

Don’t forget that the clocks go back this October. 

During the night from Saturday October 29th to Sunday October 30th, clocks in Germany will be set to winter time. At 3am the clock will go back one hour, to Central European Time (CET).

The good news is that we all get an extra hour of sleep (or partying). The bad news is that it’s going to get darker earlier in the evening. 

Driving test questions

People learning to drive in Germany will see a few changes. Starting October 1st, the questions for the theoretical driver’s license exam will change. New questions will be added, while older questions revised. In total, the test contains 52 questions.

No more WhatsApp for older iPhones

From October 24th, the messenger service WhatsApp will no longer be supported on Apple smartphones with an iOS operating system 10 and 11. Apple users must have at least iOS 12 installed from this date to continue using WhatsApp.

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