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LIVING IN GERMANY

Everything that changes in Germany in 2022

There are several important changes taking place in day-to-day life in Germany next year. There is good news on electricity bills, a streamlined unemployment system and also some tax hikes.

A conductor gives a departure signal for an ICE train on the platform at Berlin Central Station.
A conductor gives a departure signal for an ICE train on the platform at Berlin Central Station. Photo: dpa | Carsten Koall

These are some of the changes most likely to affect the lives of internationals living in Germany.

Jump in minimum wage

The national minimum wage is set to rise at least twice in the following twelve months from a current level of €9.60 per hour.

On January 1st it will go up to €9.82 and then it will go up to €10.45 on July 1st.

The new government wants to raise the minimum wage to €12 an hour by the end of the year. But that move is likely to face a legal challenge from employers’ associations.

READ MORE: German employers weigh up legal challenge to €12 minimum wage

Stamp price increase

Deutsche Post is increasing its postage rates on January 1st. A standard letter will cost 85 cents instead of 80 cents, and the cost of sending a postcard will go up to 70 cents from 60 cents.

Older driving licenses updated

Many local authorities are expecting a rush of people handing in old driver’s licenses in exchange for new ones in the coming weeks. By 2033, all driver’s licenses issued before 2013 need to be exchanged for a standard EU document.

German drivers licence

Two driver’s licenses lie on a table. By 2033, all driver’s licenses issued before 2013 must be exchanged. Photo: dpa | Ole Spata

But the deadline is staggered based on people’s age. Those born between 1953 and 1958 have to hand in their old licences by January 19th, 2020.

Surveys suggest that many people still haven’t done this. Anyone who lets the deadline pass risks an initial ‘warning’ fine of ten euros. 

Extended warranty

Anyone who buys a product that later turns out to be defective will be better protected starting in January. At the start of the year the legal presumption that a defect existed at the time of purchase will be extended from six months to one year.

Drop in renewable energy levy

Wind turbines

Two technicians from Sabowind GmbH maintain an Enercon E92 wind turbine in Saxony. Photo: dpa-Zentralbild | Jan Woitas

There’s some good news for households struggling to pay their electricity bills. The levy to finance green electricity – the EEG levy – will fall to 3.723 cents per kilowatt hour at the turn of the year, a drop of more than 40 percent.

The cut to the levy will probably only stabilise the price though. On the back of surging energy costs, electricity suppliers’ costs have gone up and they and are passing them on to the customer.

Pfand on all plastic bottles

On January 1st, the mandatory deposit on plastic bottles (known in German as the Pfand) will be extended to all drinks in plastic bottles. 

People can collect the 25 cent deposit by returning the empty bottle to a bottle bank.

End to ticket sales on trains

As of January 1st, you will no longer be able to buy a ticket from the conductor on Deutsche Bahn services. Travellers can still by a digital ticket within ten minutes of departure via the bahn.de website or on the Deutsche Bahn app.

Higher fuel prices

The CO2 tax, introduced last year, will also rise in 2022, going up from 25 euros per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted to 30 euros. The tax is aimed at pushing energy companies towards using using renewable technologies, but it is also likely to be handed down to consumers in the form of fuel price rises.

According to calculations by the ADAC automobile club, petrol and diesel are likely to become more expensive by about one and a half cents per litre each as a result.

Hitting smokers’ pockets

A woman pulls a cigarette out of a pack.

A woman pulls a cigarette out of a pack. Photo: dpa | Sven Hoppe

On January 1st, the tobacco tax will go up for the first time in seven years. It will rise by an average of 10 cents for a pack of 20 cigarettes. In 2023, another 10 cents will be added per 20-pack.

Billboard advertising for conventional tobacco products such as cigarettes will be banned from January 1st.

Prohibiting ‘potentially dangerous’ tattoo ink

From January 4th, many chemicals in tattoo inks throughout the EU will be subject to restrictions under the so-called REACH regulation. The ban list will include thousands of substances.

In the EU’s view, many of them are potentially dangerous or have not been sufficiently researched. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) emphasizes that the aim is to “make tattoo inks and permanent makeup safer.”

Compulsory vaccines in care

People employed in the care sector will have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 if they want to keep their jobs next year. The vaccine mandates apply to carers, doctors, midwives and nurses and will come into force in on March 15th, 2022.

Those who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons will need an exemption from their doctor.

There is also likely to be a parliamentary debate on introducing a general vaccine mandate in January – a move that the German Ethics Council has recommended – so watch this space.

READ ALSO: German Ethics Council recommends extending vaccine mandates

Tightening rules around mini jobs

In an attempt to stop exploitation of “mini-job” rules, the government will require employers to give more details on a mini-jobber such as their tax ID number starting in January 1st. The Minijob-Zentrale will inform the employer wether the employee has another mini-job.

Mini-jobs are part-time contracts that allow people to earn up to €450 a month without paying social security contributions. While someone can have more than one mini job at a time they are not allowed to earn more than €450 in total.

Unemployment registration goes online

Jobcenter Germany

A sign in front of an employment agency location in the Hannover region. Photo: dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

As of January 1st people who sign on for unemployment benefits can do so online using the Agentur für Arbeit website. But one needs a digital ID card to do so.

It will still be possible to sign on by going to your local employment agency.

End to subsidies for plug-in hybrids

Many hybrid cars will no longer benefit from government subsidies from 2022 onwards. A change to the law means that subsidies will only apply to cars with an electric range of at last 60 kilometres.

Ban on thin plastic bags

As of January 1st, plastic shopping bags will no longer be offered at German supermarket checkouts.

The ban applies to super-thin shopping bags. Bags for vegetables and multiple use plastic bags will not be affected.

Higher allowance for children of separated parents

Children of divorced couples will entitled to slightly more maintenance in the new year.

From January 1st, the minimum maintenance for children of separated parents under six years of age will be 396 euros per month, an increase of three euros.

For children aged six to eleven, the minimum maintenance will be 455 euros, an increase of four euros. For children aged 12 to 17, the payment will increase by five euros to 533 euros per month.

SEE ALSO: The best events and festivals in Germany in 2022

Member comments

  1. Higher allowance for children of separated parents:

    I am paying child support for my Son to my X, but he will turn 18 this month and I believe I can transfer the money directly to him now ? Does anyone have any experience with this subject, if not I will contact a Lawyer.

    Reggie

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For members

WHAT CHANGES IN GERMANY

Everything that changes in Germany in June 2022

From the €9 ticket and fuel cut to public holidays, festivals and rail cards, we look at the changes to know about in Germany this June.

Everything that changes in Germany in June 2022

€9 monthly ticket 

From June 1st, the hotly-anticipated €9 ticket comes into force in Germany. For three months, riding local and regional transport will be much cheaper. 

People will be able to use the ticket on buses, trains and trams throughout Germany’s public transport network. The ticket is not valid on long-distance transport, such as ICE, IC or EC and Flix services, however, it can be used on regional trains. 

The offer runs until the end of August. Tickets can be purchased at ticket machines, counters or online from local transport companies as well as Deutsche Bahn. 

The deal is aimed at providing relief during the energy and cost of living crisis, while also serving as a trial for climate-friendly mobility options. 

READ ALSO:

A passenger holds the €9 ticket in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria.

A passenger holds the €9 ticket in front of a train and the Wetterstein mountains in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Angelika Warmuth

Fuel prices to drop

At the same time as the €9 ticket, gas should also become cheaper. From June until the end of August, the energy tax on fuels is to be reduced to the minimum permitted in the EU.

For petrol, the tax rate is to drop by almost 30 cents, for diesel by 14 cents. And VAT will no longer be due on the portion of the energy tax that’s being dropped. This will further reduce the tax burden.

As the Finance Ministry has said, the overall tax relief is 35.2 cents per litre of petrol and 16.7 euros per litre of diesel. Critics warn, however, that oil companies are not obliged to pass on the tax savings to their customers, and could keep prices up and make more profit. Then consumers would not benefit from the change.

READ ALSO: When will Germany’s fuel tax cut come into force?

Heating cost allowance on the way

Financial relief for low-income households to deal with heating costs will also arrive in June.

About 2.1 million people will receive a one-time subsidy for their heating costs under the law from the government. They include students who receive the BAföG allowance who no longer live with their parents, recipients of housing allowance and people who get a vocational training allowance. No application is needed to receive the grant – it is transferred directly to the person’s account.

Eased travel restrictions

From June 1st, people travelling into Germany will not have to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test – known as the 3G rule. Up until then people over the age of 12 have had to upload or show this proof before entering Germany.

This restriction is being eased until the end of August because of the falling Covid rates, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said. 

Passengers wait in at Hamburg airport.

Passengers wait in at Hamburg airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Markus Scholz

The stricter rules for entry from ‘virus variant areas’ remain in place – but there are no variant areas at the moment.

Another change is that Germany will recognise any vaccine approved by WHO from June, rather than only European Medical Agency (EMA) approved vaccines which has been the case up until now. 

READ ALSO: Germany to relax travel restrictions for summer

Summer timetable

The summer timetable for Deutsche Bahn and other transport companies will come into effect on June 12th Some of the changes include Deutsche Bahn again offering a direct connection between Berlin and the North Sea island of Sylt.

Furthermore, Chemnitz will be connected to the long-distance network after a decade and a half – and will get connections to Berlin and on to the Baltic Sea without the need for changing trains.

READ ALSO: What is Sylt and why is it terrified of the €9 holidaymakers?

Aldi raises minimum wage

While the statutory minimum wage is set to rise to €10.45 on July 1st 2022 and reach €12 this year, supermarket giant Aldi is raising the minimum wage for its workers in June. It means employees of the chain will earn at least €14 an hour instead of €12.50. This applies to both Aldi Süd and Aldi Nord.

Public holidays 

June 6th – Whit Monday – is a national public holiday in Germany so many employees will get the day off and shops will be closed. Meanwhile, residents in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland are lucky enough to get another public holiday in the same month – on Thursday June 16th – for Corpus Christi or Fronleichnam.

READ ALSO: How to make the most of public holidays in Germany in 2022

Schools out 

Keep in mind that some states have school holidays around this time of year too. The school year is also coming to end for young people in North Rhine-Westphalia, who are the first in Germany to kick off their summer holidays. Their last day of school is June 24th. Bavaria is the last state to start the summer hols – on July 29th.

Unemployment benefits for Ukrainian refugees

Refugees from Ukraine will be entitled to Germany’s unemployment II benefit – known as Hartz IV – as of June 1st. These can then be granted for a maximum of six months. Until now, this group has received lower benefits under the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act. The changes mean that people who have fled Russia’s war on Ukraine and arrived in Germany will in future be able to receive counselling and support for job applications. 

Rock on!

Gig-goers can look forward to an extensive summer of festivals. After two years off due to the pandemic, many rock and pop festivals are planned to take place once more. The twin festivals Rock im Park in Nuremberg and Rock am Ring in Rhineland-Palatinate will kick things off from June 3rd to 5th. Headliners are Volbeat, Green Day and Muse. Both festivals – like most in the country – were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid restrictions. Those rules have now been significantly eased. 

Fans attend the Rock am Ring festival in June 2019.

Fans attend the Rock am Ring festival in June 2019. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Frey

Vaccination certificates may expire

Those who have not yet received their third Covid vaccination – booster shot – should keep an eye on June 14th: on this date, some digital coronavirus vaccination certificates expire. That’s because the digital versions of the vaccination certificate issued in pharmacies on June 14th 2021 are only valid for a year. Users of the Corona Warning app or CoV Pass app will receive a notification 28 days before the certificate expires.

But vaccinations are still valid – it’s just a matter of the technical expiry date. “In order to continue to be able to prove your vaccination status, the corresponding certificates must be updated,” writes the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). Updates for the Corona Warning app and the CovPass app are planned, according to the RKI, and should be available soon.

However – keep in mind that you generally need a booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated when entering Germany from abroad under the latest EU certificate rules (although you may not need to show proof of vaccination under the changes to travel rules we mentioned above). That’s because the EU vaccination certificates expire after nine months if no third jab has been received. You might also need a booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated to visit other countries, so double check before you travel.

READ ALSO: The new rules for entering Germany with an EU Covid pass

BahnComfort bonus programme to be ditched

Regular train customers in Germany will have to prepare for changes in June. Operator Deutsche Bahn is ditching the BahnComfort bonus programme on June 13th. From then, the operator will only run the BahnBonus programme, but this will also change a bit. 

From mid-June, there will be three different status levels. “The higher the status level, the more attractive the benefits,” says Deutsche Bahn. “In the different levels – from 1,500, from 2,500 and from 6,000 status points – you can look forward to many benefits, such as admission to the DB Lounge, exclusive seating, preferential service in the travel centre as well as some new status benefits.” 

Full details of the new bonus programme are to be available on the DB website from June.

Goodbye Internet Explorer

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser was considered the first browser suitable for the masses and, for many, the entry point to the Internet. After 27 years, however, it is considered outdated. For this reason, it has no longer been supported by a number of different programmes since last year. And in June 15th, Internet Explorer will be discontinued completely. The firm has replaced the browser with Microsoft Edge.

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