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Everything that changes in Germany in December 2018

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Everything that changes in Germany in December 2018
Photo: DPA
16:10 CET+01:00
From more expensive train travel to easier online shopping, a lot of changes are coming to Germany as November becomes December on Saturday.

Tracking train costs

Train travellers, take note: on December 9th, Deutsche Bahn is changing their schedule. The so-called ‘Flexpreise’, or tickets without a reduction, will be on average 1.9 percent more expensive. If you want to save now though, even for travel a few months in the future, you can still purchase tickets at their old prices until December 8th.

If you would like to purchase your tickets in the train itself though, be forewarned. From the 9th on, the extra charge for such an on-the-spot purchase is being raised from €12.50 to €19, or an increase of 52 percent. The BahnCard is also increasing by 2.9 percent on average while long distance journeys are increasing by 0.9 percent.

SEE ALSO: Deutsche Bahn raising prices, adding new routes

Berlin to Munich, more often and more spaciously 

The Deutsche Bahn price increases were not in vain. Not only were they made to keep up with the price of inflation, but also to finance even speedier trains, more often, between Berlin and Munich, and vice versa.

A high speed train at the Berlin main train station shortly before the opening of the high speed route to Munich on December 8, 2017. Photo: DPA

The ICE Sprinter between Munich and Berlin will run five times a day in both directions instead of three times a day before the timetable change. The ICE Sprinter needs less than four hours for the journey. It's due timing, as 4.4 million passengers had already used the increasingly popular route since it started in early December of 2017, reported DPA on Friday. 

Deutsche Bahn is also using its latest long-distance train - the ICE 4 - for the first time on the high-speed route. This means that instead of 700 there are up to 900 seats per train.

The type of train is the ICE 4, which offers more storage space and seats on all of its routes between Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart, Berlin and the Ruhr area.

SEE ALSO: Deutsche Bahn to beef up express Berlin-Munich route amid soaring passenger numbers

Ban on geoblocking: EU online shopping made easier

Online shoppers can breathe a sigh of relief just in time for the holidays. From December 3rd, the EU will ban access barriers to online purchases of goods, services and electronic services.

This means that retailers will be obliged to provide consumers throughout the EU with access to goods and services under the same conditions, wherever they access the website.

Amazon.de, under the new law, will be easily accessible to customers throughout the EU. Photo: DPA

For example, if a website user in Germany switches to the Swedish or Italian page of an online shop, the user may no longer be automatically redirected to the existing German shop website, where the desired product may be displayed as unavailable.

It applies to all online traders operating in the EU, even if the supplier does not have a subsidiary operating in the EU. But there are also exceptions: Transport services (such as airline tickets), financial services, health services, streaming services, telecommunications and gambling. Private individuals who only occasionally sell second-hand goods are also exempted from the new rules.

Cutting back on electronic waste

We might be used to recycling old batteries but probably not shoes with flashing lights or massage chairs. Yet from December 1st, any product containing electronics, be it discarded furniture, textiles or even clothes will be treated as scrap under Germany’s new Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act.

These electrical appliances may no longer be taken along with the bulky waste, but must be handed over to the recycling centres.  

Option for a third sex

Germany only has until the end of 2018 to create new legislation for the registration of the third sex. This was decided by the Federal Constitutional Court in October 2017 when it declared the practice of leaving the field "sex" open in the birth certificates of intersexual persons unconstitutional. For example, a lack of indication of someone's gender on official documents can cause confusion when someone is travelling abroad. 

Activist Vanja in Leipzig in 2016, calling for a third option of gender in official forms. Photo: DPA

A draft law of the Federal Government stipulates that there will be a newly created entry with the gender designation "divers" (whether the form is being filled out in English or German) on birth certificates. A corresponding law is to be passed in December.

SEE ALSO: Intersex Germans call for 'third gender' option

Stricter requirements for peanut oil in cosmetics

Peanut oil can cause health problems in allergy sufferers. Therefore, from December 25th, products containing peanut oil may only be sold if the quantities of allergy-inducing proteins are very low. Peanut oil can, for example, be found in creams, lotions or bath additives.

Protecting pollinators

From December 19th, the EU will ban pesticides containing the following three neonicotinoid active substances: Clothianidin, Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxan.

They may have harmful effects on pollinators, especially bees, and may therefore no longer be "sold and used", according to the Federal Government's website.

There's one exception: Until the end of March 2019, such pesticides  may still be used to treat sugar beet seed exported from the EU, provided the plant protection products used are approved in the target countries, according to Hans Joachim Fuchtel (CDU), State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.

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