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Everything that changes in Germany in March 2019

From new requirements on insurance to cutting back - quite literally - on what's allowed in your garden, there are some big changes in store as February becomes March on Friday.

Everything that changes in Germany in March 2019
Photo: DPA

More pension points for mothers

March 1st is an important date for mothers with children born before 1992. They will be allotted half of a pension point more per child, namely 2.5 instead of the previous two points.

Converted into cash figures: For every child born before 1992, mothers in the West receive €16.02 more per month, and €15.35 more in the East.

The increase in the maternal pension is part of the federal government's pension package worth billions – and also the most expensive. It will cost the government €3.8 billion per year.

SEE ALSO: 5 Things to know about retirement in Germany

Caught off Gard(en)

If you have a growing urge to bring your gardening scissors to that imposing hedge in your yard, we have some bad news. Between March 1st and September 30th, all hedge cutting is forbidden, according to the Federal Nature Conservation Act.

During this period no large cuts are allowed on “hedges, living fences, bushes and other woody plants,” stipulates the law. Rather, only “gentle pruning” is permitted, with larger work only allowed starting at the beginning of October. The aim of the law is to protect the animals and birds that tend to call these green spaces home in the spring and summer.

Frauentag comes to Berlin

Berliner residents (and commuters): whether you’re a fervent feminist planning on taking a picket to the streets or simply looking forward to taking it easy on Berlin’s newest public holiday, mark Friday, March 8th in your calendar.

Photo: DPA

SEE ALSO: What you should know about Frauentag, Berlin's newest public holiday

For the first time, the German capital will be celebrating International Women’s Day, not just in spirit, but as an actual Feiertag. Berlin’s now 10 official holidays might still pale in comparison to Bavaria’s 13, but the ever-groundbreaking state can celebrate being the first of the Bundesländer to create a special holiday for the day, which has now existed for over 100 years in Germany.

Building better wages

As of March 1st, employees in the construction industry will receive more money. The union IG Bau and the two employers' associations of the construction industry reached the agreement together, and now five million employees will benefit from the change.

SEE ALSO: Minimum wage to raise in 2019

In western Germany, skilled workers will receive €15.20 instead of €14.95. In eastern Germany on the other hand, they will only receive €12.20. Due to its proximity in both east and west, a compromise was reached for Berlin: Here the minimum wage for skilled workers will rise from €14.80 to €15.05.

Unskilled workers will also receive more money starting from March 1st: €11.75 instead of €12.20.

Photo: DPA

Moped, mo’ insurance

Planning of hitting the open road on your moped amid the unseasonably nice weather? Make sure to check that your insurance is up to date. The insurance season for mopeds starts every year on March 1st.

Since the license plate for mopeds is only valid for one year and the expiration date is at the end of February, a new number plate will be required from March 1st, 2019. This also applies to segways, quads, minicars, s-pedelecs and e-bikes.

This year the colour of the insurance number plate will change from blue to green. The old insurance number plate does not have to be cancelled separately.

It’s time for a change

On March 31st, Germans will be trading a bit more light for a little less sleep. On the precious Sunday sleeping (or perhaps partying) hour of 2 a.m., clocks will be set forward to 3 a.m.

If you’re not a fan of daylight savings time, there’s still a fierce debate about whether to abolish the system all together – but it doesn’t look like it will be implemented until 2021 at the earliest.

SEE ALSO: Will next Sunday's switch to wintertime be the last?

The big Brexit day

If you’re British in Germany (or have avoided living in a cave over the past couple months), it’s a date which is hard to ignore. On March 29th, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union – at least these are the plans for Brexit.

Whether this withdrawal will be regulated or unregulated, whether there will be new deadlines, or even whether Brexit will be postponed completely, however, remains open.

One thing is clear, though: if Brexit really does come at the end of March, it will most likely be the biggest and most serious change of the year, at least at the European level.

Member comments

  1. If you’re going to daylight saving time wouldn’t the clock move forward one hour instead of back?

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For members

RETIREMENT

Reader question: Can I get a retirement visa for Germany?

Unlike in EU countries such as Portugal or Spain, Germany does not have a visa specifically for pensioners. Yet applying to live in the Bundesrepublik post-retirement is not difficult if you follow these steps.

Reader question: Can I get a retirement visa for Germany?
Two pensioners enjoying a quiet moment in Dresden in August 2020. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Kahnert

Due to its quality of life, financial security and health care, Germany snagged the number 10 spot in the 2020 Global Retirement Index. So just how easy is it to plant roots in Deutschland after your retirement?

Applying for a residency permit

As with any non-EU or European Economic Area (EEA) national looking to stay in Germany for longer than a 90-day period, retirees will need to apply for a general resident’s permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) under which it will be possible to select retirement as a category. 

READ ALSO: How does Germany’s pension system measure up worldwide?

This is the same permit for those looking to work and study in Germany – but if you would like to do either after receiving a residency permit, you will need to explicitly change the category of the visa.

Applicants from certain third countries (such as the US, UK, Australia, South Africa, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Canada, and New Zealand) can first come to Germany on a normal tourist visa, and then apply for a residency permit when in the country. 

However, for anyone looking to spend their later years in Germany, it’s still advisable to apply at their home country’s consulate at least three months in advance to avoid any problems while in Germany.

Retirement visas still aren’t as common as employment visas, for example, so there could be a longer processing time. 

What do you need to retire in Germany?

To apply for a retirement visa, you’ll need proof of sufficient savings (through pensions, savings and investments) as well as a valid German health insurance. 

If you have previously worked in Germany for at least five years, you could qualify for Pensioner’s Health Insurance. Otherwise you’ll need to apply for one of the country’s many private health insurance plans. 

Take note, though, that not all are automatically accepted by the Ausländerbehörde (foreigners office), so this is something you’ll need to inquire about before purchasing a plan. 

READ ALSO: The perks of private health insurance for expats in Germany

The decision is still at the discretion of German authorities, and your case could be made stronger for various reasons, such as if you’re joining a family member or are married to a German. Initially retirement visas are usually given out for a year, with the possibility of renewal. 

Once you’ve lived in Germany for at least five full years, you can apply for a permanent residency permit, or a Niederlassungserlaubnis. To receive this, you will have to show at least a basic knowledge of the German language and culture.

READ ALSO: How to secure permanent residency in Germany

Taxation as a pensioner

In the Bundesrepublik, pensions are still listed as taxable income, meaning that you could be paying a hefty amount on the pension from your home country. But this is likely to less in the coming years.

Tax is owed when a pensioner’s total income exceeds the basic tax-free allowance of €9,186 per year, or €764 per month. From 2020 the annual taxable income for pensioners will increase by one percent until 2040 when a full 100 percent of pensions will be taxable.

American retirees in Germany will also still have to file US income taxes, even if they don’t owe any taxes back in the States. 

In the last few years there has been a push around Germany to raise the pension age to 69, up from 65-67, in light of rising lifespans.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Could people in Germany still be working until the age of 68?

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