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Everything that changes in Germany in November 2018

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Everything that changes in Germany in November 2018
The art exhibition Zeitfeld ('Time field') Düsseldorf. Photo: DPA
17:40 CET+01:00
From more Ryanair restrictions to less German bureaucracy on official documents, here's the changes that come into force as October becomes November on Thursday.

‘Marriage for all’ becomes officially registered

A little over a year ago, Germans celebrated that gay marriage had been written into law. Starting November 1st, it will also be written into marriage registration logs. Up until this day, it was only possible to register ‘Ehemann’ (husband) and ‘Ehefrau’ (wife). But starting November 1st, both partners can be recorded as ‘Ehegatten’ (spouses).

SEE ALSO: One year of 'Marriage for all' in Germany: How many couples have tied the knot?

Changing order of names

If you have two or more first names, you can now choose the order in which they will appear on official documents. Let’s say you’re named Franz Ferdinand. On the official record, that can also be Ferdinand Franz.

However, those who write their name with a hyphen are excluded from the rule. Sorry, Franz-Ferdinand. It also comes as little surprise that the spelling of the names can’t be changed, just in case you fancied Franzi a bit more.

What’s up with WhatsApp users’ backed up data

Starting on November 12th, Whatsapp will be deleting back-ups from its users who use an Android. But only if they haven't been updated for more than a year. Those who want to keep their chat history with all pictures and photos can simply perform a new backup, which works via the settings in the app.

A teenager using the app Whatsapp. Photo: DPA

A ‘One-for-all’ law

Previously in Germany, every person affected by a damage case needed to sue. However, that is changing thanks to the so-called Musterfeststellungsklage (MFG), roughly translated as a ‘declaratory justice action.’

Don’t worry, this isn’t as complicated as it sounds.

This means that one consumer advocate can go to court simultaneously on behalf of thousands of customers in order to sue for damages done. Even better news: all of those effected can furthermore be awarded damages without the risk of having to take action against an entire company.

In order to participate in one of these “one-for-all” claims, you first have to register in an official claim register, listing at least 50 affected people. On November 1st, the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations will already be filing the first sample declaratory action, as it holds Volkswagen responsible for the diesel scandal.

Ryanair tightening its rules

Just in case the budget airline Ryanair is looking to stir up yet more controversy, it’s found a good reason. From November 1st, non-priority customers will no longer be allowed to bring large carry-on items such as a trolley bag on board. Rather, only a small piece of hand luggage measuring up to 40 x 20 x 25 cm is allowed. This is smaller than standard trolley cases, which normally measure 55 x 40 x 23 cm.

If you want to take a large piece of hand luggage up to 10 kg with you, you have to register it at the time of booking for €8. If you have already booked a flight with Ryanair and want to bring the the luggage later, you pay €10 Euro for an online booking.

Ryanair planes lined up at an airport in Brussels. Photo: DPA

Good news for German films

Starting on Wednesday, new federal guidelines are in place for German films and TV series created both for video platforms and for TV. Such productions - such as the award-winning Berlin-based series Babylon - can have up to 20 percent of their production costs supported.

SEE ALSO: Why 'Made in Germany' TV has captured the imagination of the world

Changing your car insurance

If you have a car in Germany, you inevitably must have insurance for it. But if you’d like to change your car insurance (Kfz-Versicherung) for next year, the deadline to do so is November 30th.

SEE ALSO: What you need to know about the complicated world of German insurance

Safer children’s toys

Following its strict limits on led last month, the EU will be enforcing stricter limits on chemicals in toys for young children under the age of three in November. Starting on November 4th, there will be a limit on Phenol, with varying allowed amounts based on if the type of toy. Phenol is suspected of damaging the genetic material. The chemical is used in bath toys, tunnels for children or in soap bubbles.

Starting on November 26th, there will also be a limit for Bisphenol A, a chemical used to harden toys which has a still unknown impact on the human brain and behaviour.

SEE ALSO: Everything that changes in October 2018 in Germany

Putting the brakes on unsafe trucks

Since 2015, newly registered commercial vehicles weighing eight tons or more have been required to be equipped with automatic emergency brake assist systems. From November 1st, this regulation will also apply to commercial vehicles weighing 3.5 tons or more.

Emergency brake assistants are designed to prevent rear-end collisions by warning the driver when there’s too close a distance to the driver in front of them. To do so, they automatically break in the event of an emergency.

Building better salaries

Employees in the construction industry can look forward to a small extra payment this month. Employees in the western Germany will receive a one-off payment of €250 on November 1st. The additional payout was negotiated by employer and employee representatives during the collective bargaining in May.

Street construction in Visselhövede in Lower Saxony. Photo: DPA

Less paperwork with more E-invoices

One thing which German bureaucracy is known for is mail. A lot of it. Bills are often sent and received in envelopes. But a new law is changing that.

Starting on November 27th, federal authorities must be able to receive and process electronic invoices. All other federal contracting authorities will follow one year later on November 27th, 2019.

From 2020 onwards, companies in Germany will also be required to comply. From November 27th, companies that execute public contracts with the participation of the federal government must be able to send and process invoices electronically.

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