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NEWSLETTER

Everything that changes in Germany in July 2021

From the home office obligation ending to changes to packaging laws and the launch of the digital EU 'travel pass', here's what you should know about life in Germany this July.

Everything that changes in Germany in July 2021
"Zum alten Kuckuck" (The Old Cuckoo) is on the grounds of entertainer Willy Krusig in Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Baden-Württemberg in May 2020. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uli Deck

End of compulsory working from home

As of July 1st, the regulations on workplace infection control in Germany will change due to low incidence rates and the sharp drop in Covid cases. As a result, the ‘home office’ obligation will expire at the end of June.

Companies will no longer be required to allow employees to work from home – and staff will also no longer have to accept this offer from their employer.

It’s still possible to work from home if your boss allows you to do so, though.

Bosses still have to offer staff attending their workplace regular Covid tests. In addition, social distancing rules, mask wearing and room ventilation must continue.

READ ALSO: End of home office: Are employees in Germany ready to return to the office?

Blanket travel warning lifted

The German government is changing its coronavirus travel system in July. Throughout most of the pandemic, a general travel warning has been in place, urging people not to travel for tourism. 

But from July 1st authorities in Germany will no longer advise against tourist travel abroad.  

READ ALSO: Is Germany set to tighten travel and quarantine rules?

Foreign Minister Heiko Mass said: “After long months of lockdowns, we can look forward to more normalcy, and that also applies to travelling.” However, he said warnings would remain in place for countries deemed high risk, and caution will be needed. 

There are still concerns over the spread of the Delta variant so the German Foreign Office will implement the following system from July 1st:

  • For countries and regions classified as high incidence or virus variant areas, a coronavirus-related travel warning will continue to apply
  • For “basic” risk areas (seven-day incidence above 50 but below 200), non-essential tourist travel is discouraged
  • For countries and regions of the EU not classified as risk areas, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, special caution is requested when travelling in view of the ongoing pandemic
  • For non-EU countries not classified as risk areas, travel is advised against if restrictions (entry restrictions, quarantine obligation) persist, otherwise special caution is requested in view of the pandemic

READ ALSO: Germany to lift Covid travel warning for most countries from July 1st

Travellers at Düsseldorf airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | David Young

EU digital Covid pass launches

Still on the topic of travel, this digital ‘travel pass’ should make things a little easier if you’re venturing out of the country. 

Officially the EU’s Covid-19 certificate, as it’s properly known, launches across the bloc on July 1st.

From that date, people who can show they are fully vaccinated can travel anywhere within the EU or Schengen zone without needing to follow certain health measures, such as quarantining or testing. But note that strict measures remain in place for ‘virus variant’ countries,  which currently includes Portugal. 

Slightly confusingly, some nations already accept it. On Thursday, June 24th, Norway eased regulations to allow visitors from 12 EU countries to travel using the EU Covid certificate. For the rest, it will be available from July 1st.

According to German Health Minister Jens Spahn, all fully vaccinated people in Germany should be able to obtain a digital certificate by the end of June. 

Along with Germany, the EU pass will soon be valid in countries such as Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands , Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, United Kingdom, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, as well as Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway.

READ ALSO:

Minimum wage increase

The minimum wage in Germany will rise by 10 cents from €9.50 to €9.60 from July 1st. Over two years, the minimum wage is being raised step by step. By the end of 2022, the minimum wage is to rise to €10.45.

10 single-use plastics officially banned

As of July 3rd, changes to the Packaging Act will come into force. Germany approved the legislation last September, banning 10 disposable plastic products such as straws, cutlery and cotton buds that are polluting the world’s oceans.

Manufacturers will not be allowed to produce food and beverage containers made of Styrofoam from July. Furthermore cutlery, cosmetic cotton swabs, balloon sticks, stirrers, plates, bowls and drinking straws will also no longer be made from plastic.

If retailers and restaurants have remaining stocks, they can continue to hand them out so that they do not end up unused in the rubbish bin.

According to the EU Commission, the products prohibited under the law represent 70 percent of the waste that pours into oceans, posing a threat to wildlife and fisheries.

READ ALSO: Germany to ban disposable plastics by mid-2021

New EU VAT rules for imported goods

Imported goods with a value of €22 or less used to be exempt from tax, but this condition will be scrapped on July 1st across the EU.

This means all goods arriving into Germany and other EU countries from non-EU countries will be subject to VAT, regardless of their value.

This EU-wide regulation will particularly affect businesses that import goods from outside of the bloc and people who shop online on international websites such as China’s AliExpress.

If the goods cost more than €150 (not including transport, insurance and handling charges) you will also have to pay customs duty.

If businesses don’t register with the The Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS), the VAT will be paid by the customer when importing the goods into the EU.

Postal or courier companies may charge the customer an additional clearance fee to collect this VAT and carry out the necessary procedures when importing the goods.

New delivery procedure at DHL

There are changes to DHL’s delivery procedure that you should be aware of.  Starting in July, parcel carriers will no longer have to ring the doorbell when they deliver a shipment to some customers. 

Not all DHL customers are affected by this new regulation – only those who have previously selected a specific drop-off location. For some time now, it has been possible to specify a drop-off location to prevent a parcel from being dropped off at the nearest store when the customer is absent.

Such locations are often the customer’s own garage, terrace or flat corridor. Anyone who has selected this option in the past or wants to specify it in the future will no longer have their doorbell rung.

Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Robert Michael

Real becomes Edeka, Kaufland or Globus

Shopping at the supermarket Real will soon no longer be possible. Since the beginning of the year, branches of the supermarket chain have been taken over or closed by Kaufland, Edeka or Globus. In July, there will be another wave of takeovers. 

Pension increase in eastern Germany

Normally, retirement benefits increase in the summer. But this year that this is not the case in western Germany due to the cost of the Covid crisis.

However, pensioners in eastern states will get a marginal increase in their retirement benefits of 0.72 percent from July 1st, as the adjustments to the western levels are not being suspended. By 2024, the pension value in the east of Germany is to be brought into line with that in the west.

School holidays continue

School holidays have already started for children in some states, including Berlin, Brandenburg, Schlwesig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. But for many youngsters, they still haven’t kicked in. The other states will start their holidays in July. 

Bavaria will be the last state to start on July 30th. August 1st will then mark the only weekend in Germany when all schoolchildren will be on summer holidays at the same time. 

READ ALSO: Masks and Covid tests ‘should continue in schools until 2022’

Online gambling becomes legal across Germany

Online poker and roulette will be permitted under uniform federal rules that come into force at the beginning of July. Up to this point there have been different rules across states. 

The State Gambling Treaty is intended to enable a uniform level of player and youth protection throughout Germany.

In future, for instance, a gaming account will be mandatory for online gambling. Players will have to identify and authenticate themselves. This is intended to exclude minors.

Players will also only be allowed to deposit up to €1,000 per month into the gaming account. At the same time, online poker and virtual slot machine games from private providers will be legalised within a narrow framework, the Berlin Senate Chancellery said. The aim, they say, is to curb the black market.

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For members

WHAT CHANGES IN GERMANY

Everything that changes in Germany in October 2022

From a nationwide public holiday and new Covid rules to changes surrounding mini and midi jobs, here's what's happening in Germany this October.

Everything that changes in Germany in October 2022

Reunification Day

Germany will celebrate the Day of German Unity, or Tag der deutschen Einheit, on Monday October 3rd.

It marks the day that the the German Democratic Republic (GDR) officially ceased to exist as a sovereign state and rejoined the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990. Since then, Germany has been reunited as the Bundesrepublik and the date is celebrated every year with a holiday in every federal state.

This year it’s 32 years since east and west reunified. Because it’s a public holiday, most workplaces as well as shops and other businesses are closed. 

READ ALSO: Which public holidays are coming up in Germany?

New Covid rules

A new set of Covid rules based on the amended Infection Protection Act will come into force from October 1st. 

The rules will apply until April 7th next year. We have a short round up of some of the bigger changes below, but check out our key points article for more information. 

READ ALSO: Key points – Germany’s new Covid rules from October

Mask mandate changes

Under the new regulations, people travelling on long-distance trains in Germany will have to wear an FFP2 mask if they are over the age of 14. Children aged between six and 13, can wear a surgical mask.

A mask mandate is also in force nationwide in hospitals, nursing homes and doctors’ offices. In nursing homes and clinics, a negative Covid test has to also be shown when visiting. 

Masks will no longer have to be worn, however, on flights to and from and within Germany. 

Further requirements, such as the obligation to wear masks in shops, restaurants or event rooms, can be imposed by the federal states – depending on the incidence of infection. Tests may be required in schools and daycare centres.

States are expected to continue with the mask mandate order on local public transport.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach holds an FFP2 mask

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach holds an FFP2 mask. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

Covid safety plans at work – but no mandatory ‘home office’

Employers do not have to offer their staff the opportunity to work from home. But bosses should consider this, as well as regular Covid testing, as an option for employees as part of Covid safety plans. 

A draft law by Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD), which called for mandatory home office rule during the winter months to help with the Covid situation, was toned down after coalition partners, the FDP pushed for a change.

Vaccination status changes

There are changes coming up when it comes to what counts as being fully vaccinated in Germany. In general, people will need three jabs to be classed as fully vaccinated from October. 

Vaccination certificates issued after two shots will only be considered as proof of full vaccination until September 30th. Beginning October 1st, a booster jab (i.e., a 3rd vaccination) is generally required to be considered “fully vaccinated”. Alternatively, two vaccinations and proof of recovery from Covid-19 will also qualify. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s planned changes to Covid vaccination status

However, keep in mind that there is no planned vaccination/test requirement to enter indoor public areas in Germany – previously known as the 3G or 2G rules.

If a German state government imposes a mask requirement indoors, then people simply need to wear a mask to enter indoor settings such as bars, restaurants, cultural and recreational venues. People who present a negative Covid test would be exempt from wearing a mask. However, regions can also choose to exempt the freshly vaccinated or recently recovered people from the mask requirement. In that case, people would have to show proof. However, not all states have to bring in this exception.

A person is considered recovered from the 29th day after detection of infection and for a maximum of 90 days. The ‘recovery’ proof can be provided by a PCR test.

Mini-jobbers can earn more

On October 1st, the upper earnings limit for people with so-called mini-jobs will rise from €450 to €520 per month. There will also be changes for employees in midi-jobs, who were previously allowed to earn between €450 and €1,300 per month: the limit will shift to between €520 and €1,600 from October.

READ ALSO: The rules in Germany around mini and midi jobs

A member of staff at a cafe in Stuttgart.

A member of staff at a cafe in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Weißbrod

Minimum wage boost

On October 1st, the statutory minimum wage in Germany will be raised to €12 per hour. It was raised to €10.45 at the beginning of July.

VAT on gas usage to be slashed

Energy prices are currently going through the roof. As a result, the German government has decided to reduce the VAT rate on gas consumption from 19 to 7 percent. The reduction in VAT was intended to offset the controversial gas levy – however, that levy is being shelved. 

READ ALSO:

Property tax deadline 

From 2025, a new property tax calculation will apply in Germany. For this to happen, almost 36 million properties in Germany are being revalued on the basis of information that owners submit.

That means people owning property in Germany have to submit a new declaration to the tax office based on values as of January 1st 2022. Owners have until October 31st of this year to send in updated information electronically via the Elster portal to the tax office.

Commercial tax programmes that offer an interface to Elster can also be used. People who do not have Internet access can also have the declaration prepared by relatives. In exceptional cases, a declaration in paper form is also possible by making a request at the tax office.

READ ALSO: The German property tax declaration owners need to know about

An aerial view of flats in Munich.

An aerial view of flats in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sina Schuldt

An extra hour in bed

Don’t forget that the clocks go back this October. 

During the night from Saturday October 29th to Sunday October 30th, clocks in Germany will be set to winter time. At 3am the clock will go back one hour, to Central European Time (CET).

The good news is that we all get an extra hour of sleep (or partying). The bad news is that it’s going to get darker earlier in the evening. 

Driving test questions

People learning to drive in Germany will see a few changes. Starting October 1st, the questions for the theoretical driver’s license exam will change. New questions will be added, while older questions revised. In total, the test contains 52 questions.

No more WhatsApp for older iPhones

From October 24th, the messenger service WhatsApp will no longer be supported on Apple smartphones with an iOS operating system 10 and 11. Apple users must have at least iOS 12 installed from this date to continue using WhatsApp.

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