Germany is well known for being inflexible when it comes to the rules, but given the unprecedented circumstances created by the Covid-19 pandemic, some regulations have been bent slightly. Here is a breakdown of some of the extensions and exemptions which may apply to you.
If you have a valid German visa and were in the country before March 17th, 2020 or entered the country after this date and before April 9th, your visa can be extended until June 30th, 2020.
However, the exemption is not automatic: you must submit an online application to your local immigration authority.
If you are visiting Germany without a visa for a period of up to three months which is nearing an end, you should contact the relevant immigration office before this time period expires to legalise your extension.
As long as the application reaches the authority before the expiry date, your stay will be legal until the date given by the immigration office. It is advisable to carry a printed version of the application as well as the expired document and passport/ID card with you at all times.
For more information you can visit the government website here.
German visas, or Aufenthaltstitel. Photo: DPA
German driving licenses are valid for a period of 15 years and, clean record permitting, are then automatically extended. If yours is about to expire, you can contact your local transport authority who can issue you with a letter of extension.
All German cars are required to display their Prüfplakatte (inspection sticker) which shows when the next safety inspection is due. Usually, the vehicle can still be driven for up to two months after the inspection date without the owner incurring a fine. However, due to the closure of many Werkstätte (repair shops), this fine-free period has been extended to four months.
For those who have committed a driving offence and been ordered to attend a Nachschulung (retraining) within a certain time frame. However, the Covid-19 crisis has resulted in these time frames being temporarily suspended.
Currently, a landlord can terminate the lease if no rent is paid for two consecutive months. However, due to the coronavirus crisis, terminations are now prohibited if a loss of income means that the tenant cannot pay their rent.
This will initially apply to rent debts from the period between April 1st to June 20th, but the government is authorised to extend the measures until September 30th.
However, the tenants' obligation to pay the rent will in principle remain in place, and it will only be deferred. The arrears must be settled after two years at the latest, i.e. by June 30th, 2022. Otherwise, the landlord is permitted to evict the tenant for their failure to pay.
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Deferred loan repayments
All consumer loan agreements – whether for a new car, apartment or home – concluded before March 15th can be paused for a maximum of three months. This includes repayment, interest and principal payments due between April 1st and June 30th.
Starting in April, job centres around Germany will be waiving the assets and rent examination for the Hartz IV applications for half a year.
Hartz IV recipients also no longer have to go to their job centre in person, but can usually simply call. Applications for unemployment benefit can be made by phone or online.
At this stage it looks like Brexit will be continuing on the previously agreed timetable of ending the transition period on December 31st (although the scenario of a UK government declaring that it definitely wouldn't delay and then delaying anyway has happened once or twice over the last three years) so British people living in Germany may have some extra admin to do over the coming months.