Everything that changes in Germany in July 2018

From minimum ATM withdrawal amounts to more transparency about sperm donors, a lot is changing in Germany this month.

Everything that changes in Germany in July 2018
The offices of ING-DiBa Bank in Frankfurt. Photo: DPA

Minimum ATM withdrawal amount

At the beginning of the year, online banks such as Comdirekt and Deutsche Kreditbank (DKB) introduced a minimum amount for cash withdrawals. On July 1st, ING-DiBa – Germany's third-largest bank with nine million customers – decided to get on board as well. Now their customers have to take out a minimum of €50, whether with a Visa or Girocard. Yet in the future, customers with less than 50 euros in their account might be able to withdraw smaller amounts of money, the bank has said.

The pension increases by more than three percent

The salaries of around 21 million retirees in Germany are rising noticeably. Western Germany is seeing an spike of 3.22 percent, whereas in eastern Germany the increase will be 3.37 percent. That means that a monthly pension of €1,000 euros, based only on contributions in western Germany, will be increased by €32.20, and a pension based only on eastern German contributions, will go up by €33.70. It’s a small sign of progress that the east is catching up, as pension values in eastern Germany have thus far reached 95.8 percent of the western level.

Allowances for widow's and widower's pensions rise

From the start of this month, the income limits for widow and widower pensioners have increased. The allowance up to which the person's pension is paid in full without any deductions depends on the place of residence of the pensioner. Starting in July, it will increase from €819 to €845 in western Germany, and from €783 to €810 in eastern Germany. For each pensionable child of the pension recipient, the allowance increases by €179 in the west and €171 in the east.

EU Package Travel Directive gives holidaymakers greater protection

In the past, vacationers on package holiday travel only had a maximum of one month after their trip to report any issues. Yet now this will be possible up until two years afterwards. Organisers of packaged trips must furthermore take out insolvency protection, meaning that travellers can still receive refunds in the event that they go bankrupt.

Travellers can also now cancel their holidays, for any reason, by paying a reasonable fee. Furthermore, should their destination become dangerous due to a war or natural disaster, or if the package price is raised over 8 percent of the original price, they will receive a full refund.

New warning for over-the-counter painkillers

Painkillers such as aspirin or ibuprofen, which are available without a prescription in the pharmacy, now come complete with a warning. Starting this month, the packaging will read: “In the event of pain or fever, and without medical advice, do not use longer than specified in the leaflet!” This is to avoid side effects such as strokes, stomach bleeding, and liver and kidney damage.

Postage increase for book and goods shipments

For the first time since 2013, consumers in Germany have to pay more for book and goods shipments at Deutsche Post. The price for a book shipment up to 500 grams is increasing by 20 cents to €1.20. Consignments of up to 50 grams will cost €1.30 instead of 90 cents.

No amalgam for pregnant women and children

For pregnant women and children under the age of 15, dentists may only resort to dental fillings made of amalgam in absolute exceptional cases. Instead of using the mercury-containing substance, they must find alternatives, such as plastic fillings. Although amalgam fillings are considered safe, the EU still wants to reduce their use, pointing out that mercury is toxic even in small portions.

New sperm database rules

Starting this month, Germany-wide data from sperm donors and recipients will be gathered together in one database. The goal is to give children of sperm donors the possibility to understand their full biological origins. They should manage to achieve that in their lifetimes, as the data will be deleted after 110 years.

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Everything that changes in Germany in August 2022

From the €9 ticket and fuel tax cut, to travel chaos, tax deadlines and digital steps forward, here's what's changing in Germany this August.

Everything that changes in Germany in August 2022

€9 ticket and fuel tax cut runs out

Germany’s €9 monthly public transport ticket offer continues until the end of August so people will be able to buy and use it for the month before it it’s gone when September starts (sadly).

The fuel tax cut is also in force until the end of August. For petrol, the government-subsidised “tank rebate” is about 30 cents per litre, for diesel about 14 cents per litre. The reduction is limited until August 31st.

No plans have been announced yet to extend these measures. 

Travel chaos continues in Europe

The summer months have been chaotic for travellers, and we have seen examples of airports congested throughout Europe. This will continue during August, as airlines have cancelled more than 25,000 flights from their August schedule. 

In Germany, around 6,000 flights operated by Lufthansa alone have been scrapped from the summer schedule.

More strikes?

German airline giant Lufthansa ground staff staged a one-day strike on Wednesday July 27th. Negotiations between Verdi union and Lufthansa will happen on August 3rd and 4th.

It may be that more strikes are announced if an agreement on pay for the 20,000 ground staff isn’t reached. Keep an eye on The Local’s homepage. 

READ ALSO: Flights disrupted across Germany as Lufthansa strike begins

Travellers queue at terminal 2 of Frankfurt airport on July 23rd.

Travellers queue at terminal 2 of Frankfurt airport on July 23rd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

August regional holiday

There is only one official holiday in Germany in August – Assumption Day – or Mariä Himmelfahrt – on August 15th. It is a regional holiday for the states of Bavaria and Saarland.

It falls on a Monday, so don’t forget to prepare yourself for it, as most shops and supermarkets will be closed on the holiday and Sunday as well (as they always are in Germany).

Tax deadline

Those who have their tax return for 2020 prepared by a tax advisor or an income tax assistance association still have until August 31st to hand it in.

The deadline was extended again in May to relieve tax advisors who have extra work in their plate with auditing Covid financial assistance during the pandemic period.

READ ALSO: Why people in Germany have longer for their tax returns this year

More transparency in employment contracts

Whether it’s the scope of work, length of probationary period, possible overtime or notice period, employment contracts issued from August 1st onwards must clearly state in writing the working conditions for new jobs.

It must also be documented what wages will be paid, how they will be made up, what further training has been promised, what the shift system and rest breaks will be like, and what applies to the remuneration of overtime, allowances and bonuses.

Information on contracting parties, remuneration and working hours must be provided in writing to new employees no later than the start of employment – all other supporting documents can be given within seven calendar days.

More assistance for students

From August 1st, there will be more BAföG financial assistance for students. The maximum support rate for students will be raised from €861 to €934 per month. The tax-free amount on the parents’ income, which is the basis for calculating the education grant, will also go up. This also increases the group of those eligible for support.

The previous tax-free allowance of €8,200 for the assets of trainees will also be increased – to €15,000 for people up to the age of 29, and to €45,000 from the age of 30. Furthermore, the age limit for BAföG funding will be extended from 30 to 45.

READ ALSO: German students to get higher grants from winter 2022

View of the Martin Luther University (MLU) campus in Halle.

View of the Martin Luther University (MLU) campus in Halle. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hendrik Schmidt

Minimum wage goes up

For stonemasons and people in the stone-sculpting trade, new industry minimum wages will apply from August 1st 2022; instead of €12.85 per hour, employees will get 50 cents more, raising it to €13.35. Independently of this, there is also the German statutory minimum wage, which will increase to €12 in October.

Digital step for founding companies

From August 1st, anyone who wants to establish a GmbH (a company with limited liability) or KG (limited partnership) can do so without having to attend the notarial certification in person – they can also do it via online video communication.

This is regulated by the Act on the Implementation of the Digitalisation Directive (DiRUG). “The parties involved are identified by means of an electronically transmitted photograph in conjunction with an electronic proof of identity, e.g. the German identity card with eID function,” explains the Hanover Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Pupils return to the classroom – or go on holiday

Schools in several states will return after the summer break in August. But the southern states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria are the last to go off on their school holidays – at the end of July and on August 1st respectively.

Cheaper medicines in the pharmacy

Patients who are prescribed biopharmaceuticals (or biologics) by their doctor, which are often used for Crohn’s disease, arthritis or cancer, can be given cheaper medicines of the same type at the pharmacy from August 16th. This is regulated by the “Law for More Safety in the Supply of Medicines”.

The biosimilars, i.e. similar biological medicines, are to come into circulation more quickly, and drug costs are to be reduced. The law is intended to relieve the burden on health insurance companies. The imitation products are produced and tested by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) under strict criteria as soon as the patent for a drug expires, and are considered to be just as effective as the respective original.

General measles vaccination mandate in care facilities applies

Since March 2020, measles vaccinations have been compulsory in communal facilities such as Kindergartens, asylum seekers’ and refugees’ accommodation and in medical facilities – for caregivers and other employees in the facilities.

Those who already worked in one of the above-mentioned facilities before March 2020 were granted a transitional period until July 31st 2022 to present proof of vaccination.

People who do not comply with the vaccination obligation will be banned from care or work from August 1st, and could also face fines of up to €2,500 if they flout the rules. People who cannot get the vaccination for medical reasons and those born before 1971 are exempt from the measles jab mandate.

A vaccination pass with the measles box ticked.

A vaccination pass with the measles box ticked. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Tom Weller

Titanium dioxide banned in food

Titanium dioxide is used as a whitening agent in wall paints, varnishes, cosmetics and medicines. But foodstuffs such as chewing gum, sweets, baked goods, soups and salad dressings also often rely on it, especially in the USA. It’s found on the packaging as the additive E171.

As of August, however, titanium dioxide can no longer be used in food production in Europe. The European Commission imposed the ban because it could not be ruled out that the chemical substances could alter “genetic cell material” and that the food additive could therefore no longer be considered safe. In France, titanium dioxide hasn’t been used in food since 2020.