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Everything that changes in Germany in August 2020

From changes to coronavirus restrictions, travel, tax deadlines and increased funding for training and hard-hit businesses, here's a rundown of what to expect this August if you live in Germany.

Everything that changes in Germany in August 2020
A clock in Triberg, Baden-Württemberg. Photo: DPA

Coronavirus aid for hard-hit companies

Small and medium-sized businesses that are particularly affected by the pandemic can apply for bridging aid – but only until the end of August.

The support is part of the German government's economic stimulus package. Fixed operating costs of up to €50,000 per month for June to August are reimbursed.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany's new coronavirus aid

Tax return deadline

Those who do their tax return without a tax consultant (Steuerberater) must have submitted the completed forms for 2019 by July 31st 2020 at the latest.

For many employees, it's worthwhile doing a tax return to get money back from the tax office.

READ ALSO:

Increased funding for training

There's good news for all those who want to boost their professional development.

The so-called Aufstiegs-BAföG (Upgrading Training Assistance Act) which provides financial support to people undergoing further vocational training, will be increased as of August 1st, 2020.

The federal government has decided on several changes: among other things, participants are set to receive higher grants for the course and examination fees.

Meanwhile, childcare supplement for single parents will increase from €130 to €150 per month and individuals will be able to benefit several times at all three training levels. Previously this was limited to one further training course.

The training assistance provides funding for people aiming for further training qualifications in jobs such as industrial supervisors, early childhood teachers, technicians, commercial specialists, certified business specialists or in one of over 700 comparable professions.

There is no age limit for the funding. For more information check out this government page.

More vocational training allowance for trainees  

Trainees (known as Azubis in German) who are just starting their vocational training can also look forward to more money from August 1st 2020.

Under certain conditions, trainees who no longer live with their parents but in their own apartment are entitled to a vocational training allowance (Berufsausbildungsbeihilfe or BAB).

Archive picture of an Azubis sign in Erfurt, Thuringia. Photo: DPA

The maximum amount for living and housing will increase to €723 per month. The amount went up from €622 to €716 in August 2019.

Corona Working Hours Act set to expire

The Covid-19 Working Time Act has been in force since mid-April. It means that if overtime can not be prevented due to the crisis, the employer is allowed to order longer working hours – up to 12 hours per day, 60 hours per week, until July 31st.

In addition to exceptions to the maximum working hours, the regulation also provided for a reduction in the minimum rest periods to up to nine hours and permitted work on Sundays and public holidays – unless overtime could be prevented in some other way.

But from August the law expires. There can be overtime in exceptional cases, however.

Worldwide travel warning set to expire

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Foreign Office issued a global warning against tourist travel. For countries in the EU and Schengen-associated states (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) as well as the United Kingdom, the warning was lifted on June 15th and replaced with advice.

The travel warning for countries outside the EU – so-called Third Countries – is set to expire on August 31st, unless the government extends it.

Compulsory tests for holidaymakers from risk areas

It's holiday season for many of us. But this year, due to the pandemic, things are very different.

And in future, anyone who goes on holiday to a risk area (a country or region with a high Covid-19 rate) will have to be tested for the virus on their return to Germany.

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn announced that testing would be compulsory for travellers from areas with high case numbers, and that this is expected to come into force in the first week of August. The tests are to be free of charge.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) will determine which regions and countries are considered risk areas.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany's plans for mandatory Covid-19 tests


A test station at Leipzig/Halle airport. Photo: DPA

Events with more participants possible again

The restrictions on public life to contain the coronavirus pandemic are being gradually lifted.

This also applies to celebrations and events involving several people. In August, the restrictions will be relaxed further in many German states – unless of course the situation gets worse.

In Baden-Württemberg events with up to 500 participants will again be allowed from August 1st.

In Saarland, events with up to 500 participants will be allowed outside and up to 250 participants in closed rooms are permitted. From August 24th, the upper limits will be increased to 1,000 and 500 participants respectively.

A little later than some other federal states, Saxony-Anhalt will also allow events with up to 500 participants in closed rooms from August 29th. However, up to 1,000 participants can come together at an open air event already in the eastern state.

Large events in Germany are banned until at least October 31st.

Regular operations to resume at schools and daycare centres (Kitas)

In many German states, schools are expected to return to normal operation after the end of the summer holidays in August after huge disruption in the first half of the year due to the coronavirus crisis.

This is the case in Berlin, for example, where the summer holidays end on August 7th. Other federal states in which school operations will be resumed regularly in August are Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia.


Daycare centres will also return to normal operation in August in many states. In Rhineland-Palatinate, for example, daycare centres will resume regular operations on August 1st. Kitas in Saxony-Anhalt are also set to return to normal operation in the coming weeks.

READ ALSO: Can Germany's schools safely reopen?

North-Rhine Westphalia: families to receive two years of free childcare at Kitas

On August 1st, the reform of the Child Education Act (or KiBiz) comes into force in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. This means that two years of care for youngsters will be free of charge, instead of the current one year.

The reform is intended to ease the burden on families with small children. The sibling regulation has also been adapted – in future, parental contributions will only have to be paid once, even if several siblings are being looked after.

Germany is a federal country so the cost of sending children to Kindergarten differs widely depending on where you live.

Changes to Amazon Prime for trainees and students in Germany

Until now, students and trainees could test the membership of Amazon Prime for a whole year free of charge.

However, the online giant is now cutting this advantage in half – from August, the free trial period will be just six months.

However, students and trainees can still secure access free of charge for another year if they secure it by July 29th, before the change comes into force.

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WHAT CHANGES IN GERMANY

Everything that changes in Germany in August 2022

From the €9 ticket and fuel tax cut, to travel chaos, tax deadlines and digital steps forward, here's what's changing in Germany this August.

Everything that changes in Germany in August 2022

€9 ticket and fuel tax cut runs out

Germany’s €9 monthly public transport ticket offer continues until the end of August so people will be able to buy and use it for the month before it it’s gone when September starts (sadly).

The fuel tax cut is also in force until the end of August. For petrol, the government-subsidised “tank rebate” is about 30 cents per litre, for diesel about 14 cents per litre. The reduction is limited until August 31st.

No plans have been announced yet to extend these measures. 

Travel chaos continues in Europe

The summer months have been chaotic for travellers, and we have seen examples of airports congested throughout Europe. This will continue during August, as airlines have cancelled more than 25,000 flights from their August schedule. 

In Germany, around 6,000 flights operated by Lufthansa alone have been scrapped from the summer schedule.

More strikes?

German airline giant Lufthansa ground staff staged a one-day strike on Wednesday July 27th. Negotiations between Verdi union and Lufthansa will happen on August 3rd and 4th.

It may be that more strikes are announced if an agreement on pay for the 20,000 ground staff isn’t reached. Keep an eye on The Local’s homepage. 

READ ALSO: Flights disrupted across Germany as Lufthansa strike begins

Travellers queue at terminal 2 of Frankfurt airport on July 23rd.

Travellers queue at terminal 2 of Frankfurt airport on July 23rd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

August regional holiday

There is only one official holiday in Germany in August – Assumption Day – or Mariä Himmelfahrt – on August 15th. It is a regional holiday for the states of Bavaria and Saarland.

It falls on a Monday, so don’t forget to prepare yourself for it, as most shops and supermarkets will be closed on the holiday and Sunday as well (as they always are in Germany).

Tax deadline

Those who have their tax return for 2020 prepared by a tax advisor or an income tax assistance association still have until August 31st to hand it in.

The deadline was extended again in May to relieve tax advisors who have extra work in their plate with auditing Covid financial assistance during the pandemic period.

READ ALSO: Why people in Germany have longer for their tax returns this year

More transparency in employment contracts

Whether it’s the scope of work, length of probationary period, possible overtime or notice period, employment contracts issued from August 1st onwards must clearly state in writing the working conditions for new jobs.

It must also be documented what wages will be paid, how they will be made up, what further training has been promised, what the shift system and rest breaks will be like, and what applies to the remuneration of overtime, allowances and bonuses.

Information on contracting parties, remuneration and working hours must be provided in writing to new employees no later than the start of employment – all other supporting documents can be given within seven calendar days.

More assistance for students

From August 1st, there will be more BAföG financial assistance for students. The maximum support rate for students will be raised from €861 to €934 per month. The tax-free amount on the parents’ income, which is the basis for calculating the education grant, will also go up. This also increases the group of those eligible for support.

The previous tax-free allowance of €8,200 for the assets of trainees will also be increased – to €15,000 for people up to the age of 29, and to €45,000 from the age of 30. Furthermore, the age limit for BAföG funding will be extended from 30 to 45.

READ ALSO: German students to get higher grants from winter 2022

View of the Martin Luther University (MLU) campus in Halle.

View of the Martin Luther University (MLU) campus in Halle. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hendrik Schmidt

Minimum wage goes up

For stonemasons and people in the stone-sculpting trade, new industry minimum wages will apply from August 1st 2022; instead of €12.85 per hour, employees will get 50 cents more, raising it to €13.35. Independently of this, there is also the German statutory minimum wage, which will increase to €12 in October.

Digital step for founding companies

From August 1st, anyone who wants to establish a GmbH (a company with limited liability) or KG (limited partnership) can do so without having to attend the notarial certification in person – they can also do it via online video communication.

This is regulated by the Act on the Implementation of the Digitalisation Directive (DiRUG). “The parties involved are identified by means of an electronically transmitted photograph in conjunction with an electronic proof of identity, e.g. the German identity card with eID function,” explains the Hanover Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Pupils return to the classroom – or go on holiday

Schools in several states will return after the summer break in August. But the southern states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria are the last to go off on their school holidays – at the end of July and on August 1st respectively.

Cheaper medicines in the pharmacy

Patients who are prescribed biopharmaceuticals (or biologics) by their doctor, which are often used for Crohn’s disease, arthritis or cancer, can be given cheaper medicines of the same type at the pharmacy from August 16th. This is regulated by the “Law for More Safety in the Supply of Medicines”.

The biosimilars, i.e. similar biological medicines, are to come into circulation more quickly, and drug costs are to be reduced. The law is intended to relieve the burden on health insurance companies. The imitation products are produced and tested by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) under strict criteria as soon as the patent for a drug expires, and are considered to be just as effective as the respective original.

General measles vaccination mandate in care facilities applies

Since March 2020, measles vaccinations have been compulsory in communal facilities such as Kindergartens, asylum seekers’ and refugees’ accommodation and in medical facilities – for caregivers and other employees in the facilities.

Those who already worked in one of the above-mentioned facilities before March 2020 were granted a transitional period until July 31st 2022 to present proof of vaccination.

People who do not comply with the vaccination obligation will be banned from care or work from August 1st, and could also face fines of up to €2,500 if they flout the rules. People who cannot get the vaccination for medical reasons and those born before 1971 are exempt from the measles jab mandate.

A vaccination pass with the measles box ticked.

A vaccination pass with the measles box ticked. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Tom Weller

Titanium dioxide banned in food

Titanium dioxide is used as a whitening agent in wall paints, varnishes, cosmetics and medicines. But foodstuffs such as chewing gum, sweets, baked goods, soups and salad dressings also often rely on it, especially in the USA. It’s found on the packaging as the additive E171.

As of August, however, titanium dioxide can no longer be used in food production in Europe. The European Commission imposed the ban because it could not be ruled out that the chemical substances could alter “genetic cell material” and that the food additive could therefore no longer be considered safe. In France, titanium dioxide hasn’t been used in food since 2020.

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