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The big changes in Germany to expect in 2020

From a new public holiday to increased pensions, we look at the changes coming to Germany in the first year of the new decade.

The big changes in Germany to expect in 2020
Will 2020 bring the tides of change? Photo: Depositphotos/galitskaya

From increased minimum wage to lower taxes, several changes are coming to Germany starting on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in January 2020 in Germany

Yet throughout the year, there will also be a handful of new laws and regulations being enacted – plus a one-off public holiday in March.

We lay out what to look out for in the coming year.

March: More skilled workers and a mandatory vaccine

Germany has long had a shortage of skilled workers, especially in fields such as nursing and IT. That’s why the German government was keen to pass a Skilled Workers Act, which officially becomes written into law on March 1st.

Archive photo shows a skilled worker in Bremen. Photo: DPA

The aim is to accelerate visa procedures and improve the opportunities for professionals to learn German. Vocational qualifications are also to be recognized more easily than before.

READ ALSO: How Germany is set to make it easier for non-EU skilled workers to enter the labour market

For better protection against measles, the Bundestag has passed a law making a vaccination compulsory. From March 1st, parents will then have to prove that their children have been vaccinated before admitting them to daycare centres or schools.

For children who are already attending daycare or school, proof must be provided by July 31st, 2021. Fines of up to 2,500 are to be imposed for violations.

READ ALSO: Germany makes measles vaccination mandatory for children

April: More expensive plane tickets

Travel is set to become either much cheaper or more expensive, depending on which form you use. Avid train travellers will be pleased that the VAT (value added tax) on rail tickets for long-distance travel will fall from 19 to seven percent in 2020, slashing overall prices by around 10 percent.

A flight taking off from Munich Airport. Photo: DPA

The air transport tax, on the other hand, is to rise significantly from April as part of a political push to disincentive taking cheap inter-European flights rather than trains. As much as an extra 59.43 will be due, depending on distance of travel, or about 18 more than before. 

READ ALSO: Trains instead of planes: Could domestic flights in Germany really become obsolete?

July: Increased pensions

Germany’s roughly 21 million pensioners can look forward to significantly higher payments in the coming year as well. As of July 1st, pensions are expected to rise by 3.15 percent in western Germany and by 3.92 percent in eastern Germany.

In addition, fewer health insurance contributions will be paid on company pensions.

Germans are worried about getting older. Photo: DPA

READ ALSO: Grundrente: Merkel's coalition reaches deal on pension reform

May: A historic day and one-off public holiday in Berlin

Friday, May 8th marks one of Germany’s most memorable moments in history: The Day of Liberation (Tag der Befreiung). In 2020, it will recognized as a public holiday in Berlin, as it occurs exactly 75 years after the surrender of the Wehrmacht Republic. This marked the end of National Socialism and World War II.

This is the first time that a state in modern-day Germany is recognizing the day as an official day off from work. However, in the GDR it was also recognized as a public holiday every year from 1950 to 1967, as well as on the 40th anniversary of WWII’s end in 1985.

December: Digital change

Digital radio is coming: From December 21th,, radios in new cars must allow reception of DAB+ (Digital Audio Broadcasting). Until now, many newly registered cars have only been equipped with an analogue FM radio. Only seven million cars in Germany are currently equipped with DAB+.

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WHAT CHANGES IN GERMANY

Everything that changes in Germany in July 2022

From energy relief measures and an increase in the minimum wage to rules for making it easier to cancel contracts online, here's what's changing in Germany this July.

Everything that changes in Germany in July 2022

No more free rapid Covid tests for all

From July 1st, taxpayer-funded Covid-19 rapid tests or Bürgertests will no longer be free for everyone. Under the Health Ministry’s plans, the tests will cost €3, however, some groups of people will still get them for free. 

READ ALSO: Germany to charge €3 for Covid tests

Financial relief for families

As part of the government’s energy relief package, the Kinderbonus will be paid out to families in July. Each child entitled to child benefit will receive a one-time bonus of €100.

Due to inflation and rapidly rising food prices, recipients of social assistance benefits, Hartz-IV and asylum benefits will also get a cash boost in July. They will receive two payments of €100 each and their children €20 each.

€9 ticket and fuel tax cut continues

Germany’s €9 monthly public transport ticket offer continues until the end of August so people will be able to buy a ticket and use it in July. Similarly, the fuel tax cut is in force until the end of August. 

A Covid test centre in Rostock.

A Covid test centre in Rostock. Rapid tests will no longer be free for all from July. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Wüstneck

End of the EEG levy 

The Russian war on Ukraine is causing energy prices to rocket upwards. To help people in Germany deal with the price hikes, the coalition government in Germany has decided to abolish the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) charge.

The EEG levy is a green tax that has been used to fund investment in solar and wind power as part of the energy transition. Until January 1st, 2022, it added 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour to people’s energy bills, but at the start of the year, it was reduced to 3.72 cents per kilowatt hour.

From July people in Germany will no longer have to pay the levy. However, It’s not clear whether this will really save consumers much money, due to energy costs going up significantly. 

READ ALSO: Will German energy bills really come down soon?

Increase in the minimum wage

As Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the Social Democrats promised before the German federal election last year, the minimum wage is being raised this year. It is to be gradually increased to €12 by October 2022. In January the minimum wage rose to €9.82, in July it will rise to €10.45.

More financial relief measures come into force in Germany in July.

More financial relief measures come into force in Germany in July. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jonas Walzberg

Pension increase

People who receive pensions in Germany will get more money from July. In the states that formerly comprised West Germany, pensions will rise by 5.35 percent, in the former East German states by 6.12 percent. The German pension insurance fund says it is one of the highest adjustments since the introduction of pension insurance.

School holidays continue 

More schools in German states are finishing up for the summer. After schools in North Rhine-Westphalia broke up in June, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are next, followed by Hamburg, Berlin and Brandenburg on the Wednesday after (July 6th).

The southern states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria will be the last to go off on their school holidays – at the end of July and on August 1st respectively.

Pfand scheme extended 

From July, a 25-cent deposit or Pfand will be charged on more plastic bottles and drink cans. Due to the amendment of the Packaging Act, bottled fruit drinks such as orange juice as well as mixed alcoholic beverages will have to be recycled in future. Under plans to extend the scheme further, milk is set to be charged a Pfand from 2024. 

The regulation has been in effect since January 2022, but retailers were granted a transitional period until July 2022 to implement the change.

Get rid of old electrical appliances

From July, many large supermarkets and discount chains – including Aldi, Rewe and Edeka – will accept old electrical goods. People will be able to hand in products such as old mobile phones, electric razors, kettles and toasters free of charge. 

A kettle stands in a kitchen. Get rid of your old appliances at German supermarkets soon.

A kettle stands in a kitchen. Get rid of your old appliances at German supermarkets soon. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Andrea Warnecke

Driving licence deadline approaching

German people born between 1953 and 1958 and who have a paper driving licence issued before 1999 have to exchange it for a digital one or face a warning fine. The deadline for the exchange was originally planned for January, but due to the pandemic, it was extended to July 19th.

The cost of the exchange is €25.50. To apply for the EU driving licence, a valid identity card, the old driving licence and a biometric passport photo is needed. There is no extra driving or health test involved.

READ ALSO: Drivers in Germany given extension to exchange driving licence 

New rent law comes into force

As of July, tenants and landlords will have to provide information on rental prices if they are asked to by authorities. This is to enable a comparison of rents, especially in large cities. Tenants and landlords will be selected at random. Those who refuse to provide information can face a fine of up to €5,000.

Extension of tobacco tax

At the start of 2022, tobacco tax was increased and the price of cigarettes went up. As of July, this also applies to shisha tobacco and liquids for e-cigarettes.

Cancellations of contracts online to become easier

Since the beginning of the year, consumers in Germany have been able to terminate rolling contracts more easily. And people who have concluded a contract online should also be able to terminate it online in future under new laws. 

From July onwards, firms have to include a cancellation button on websites where contracts can be concluded. If this is not the case, the consumer has the right to terminate the contract without notice.

READ ALSO: How Germany is making it easier to cancel contracts 

Cost of sending packages goes up

Anyone who wants to send parcels or packages with DHL from July onwards will unfortunately have to dig further into their pockets. The rises apply to domestic and international shipments. DHL said the price hikes are because of the rise in transport, delivery and labour costs.

READ ALSO: What to know about German parcel delivery hikes

Tax deadline extended

One last point – self-submitted tax returns in Germany were due to be sent to the tax office by the end of July. However, the deadline has been extended until the end of October, giving people more time. 

READ ALSO: Why people in Germany have longer to do their tax return this year

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