For members


Everything that changes in Germany in September 2021

It's not every day that a country waves goodbye to a leader who has been in charge for the past 16 years. But it's not just the federal election that will ring in the changes in September 2021, there are a few other things that are useful to know.

Everything that changes in Germany in September 2021
Parental payments are being improved. Photo: dpa | Felix Kästle

The end of an era

On September 26th Germany will vote for a new national parliament and for the first time since 2005 Angela Merkel will not be leading the centre-right CDU. That has shaken up the cards. While Merkel still remains by come distance the most popular politician in the land, three Chancellor candidates are hoping to take her place.

If you can’t face going cold turkey on die Kanzlerin, worry not. She will still be in charge in a transitional capacity until the next government is formed. And that could take a while… it took half a year to build a new government after the last election (although that did bring an end to the longest coalition talks in German history).


For any readers who have German citizenship and who haven’t yet decided which party to back, the Wahl-o-Mat will go online on September 2nd. The online election tool asks you a series of questions and then compares your answers to the manifestos of all the registered parties. You can visit the website here.

English speakers should also check out this resource by VoteSwiper.

Other elections

Residents of Berlin and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania will also be voting for new state parliaments on September 26th. These elections are also only open to German citizens. The Wahl-o-Mat for these states is already up and running.

Reform of parental pay

Starting on September 1st improvements in the benefits received by parents taking paid leave from work after childbirth will kick in.

The amount of part-time work parents are allowed to perform while still receiving parental pay has been raised from 30 hours to 32 hours per week.

Meanwhile the “partner-bonus”, which allows both parents to work part-time while receiving parental allowance, has also been made more flexible. Couples can now each work for between 24 to 32 hours per week.

The amount of time that couples can make use of the partner bonus will also be regulated more flexibly. Replacing the old rule whereby they had to use the bonus for a period of four months, they can now take it for two blocks of two months, while also being able to extend or shorten their use of it at short notice.

There is also good news for parents whose baby is born prematurely. They will receive additional financial support from the state for an additional four months if needed, meaning they can take more time off work to care for their child.

READ MORE: What you need to know about Germany’s new parental benefits reforms

New travel rules to UK

September 30th marks the day that national ID cards will no longer be accepted for travel into the UK. So if you are travelling to the UK with a German partner, friend or relative, remind them that they will need a passport after this date.

Travel to Canada

The Canadian government is opening its borders to fully vaccinated people from Europe again on September 7th. Anyone hoping to visit the North American state will have to register with the ArriveCan system. Vaccinations administered with two different vaccines (Kreuzimpfung) are recognised by the Canadian government but people who have recovered and only been given one dose of a vaccine are not viewed as fully vaccinated.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about travel between Canada and Germany

The DAX is growing

The stock market index of Germany’s top 30 publicly listed companies is set to grow to include 40 members. The new recruits to the prestigious club will be announced on September 3rd. Rumour has it that Airbus will be one of the lucky 10.

New labelling for lights

When you buy a light in Germany you have probably noticed that they contain a label which explains how energy efficient they are. Currently the label goes from E (inefficient) to A (efficient) but also includes an A+ and an A++. For the sake of simplicity a new scale is being brought back in on September 1st with a scale from F (inefficient) to A (efficient). 

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For members


Everything that changes in Germany in 2022

There are several important changes taking place in day-to-day life in Germany next year. There is good news on electricity bills, a streamlined unemployment system and also some tax hikes.

A conductor gives a departure signal for an ICE train on the platform at Berlin Central Station.
A conductor gives a departure signal for an ICE train on the platform at Berlin Central Station. Photo: dpa | Carsten Koall

These are some of the changes most likely to affect the lives of internationals living in Germany.

Jump in minimum wage

The national minimum wage is set to rise at least twice in the following twelve months from a current level of €9.60 per hour.

On January 1st it will go up to €9.82 and then it will go up to €10.45 on July 1st.

The new government wants to raise the minimum wage to €12 an hour by the end of the year. But that move is likely to face a legal challenge from employers’ associations.

READ MORE: German employers weigh up legal challenge to €12 minimum wage

Stamp price increase

Deutsche Post is increasing its postage rates on January 1st. A standard letter will cost 85 cents instead of 80 cents, and the cost of sending a postcard will go up to 70 cents from 60 cents.

Older driving licenses updated

Many local authorities are expecting a rush of people handing in old driver’s licenses in exchange for new ones in the coming weeks. By 2033, all driver’s licenses issued before 2013 need to be exchanged for a standard EU document.

German drivers licence

Two driver’s licenses lie on a table. By 2033, all driver’s licenses issued before 2013 must be exchanged. Photo: dpa | Ole Spata

But the deadline is staggered based on people’s age. Those born between 1953 and 1958 have to hand in their old licences by January 19th, 2020.

Surveys suggest that many people still haven’t done this. Anyone who lets the deadline pass risks an initial ‘warning’ fine of ten euros. 

Extended warranty

Anyone who buys a product that later turns out to be defective will be better protected starting in January. At the start of the year the legal presumption that a defect existed at the time of purchase will be extended from six months to one year.

Drop in renewable energy levy

Wind turbines

Two technicians from Sabowind GmbH maintain an Enercon E92 wind turbine in Saxony. Photo: dpa-Zentralbild | Jan Woitas

There’s some good news for households struggling to pay their electricity bills. The levy to finance green electricity – the EEG levy – will fall to 3.723 cents per kilowatt hour at the turn of the year, a drop of more than 40 percent.

The cut to the levy will probably only stabilise the price though. On the back of surging energy costs, electricity suppliers’ costs have gone up and they and are passing them on to the customer.

Pfand on all plastic bottles

On January 1st, the mandatory deposit on plastic bottles (known in German as the Pfand) will be extended to all drinks in plastic bottles. 

People can collect the 25 cent deposit by returning the empty bottle to a bottle bank.

End to ticket sales on trains

As of January 1st, you will no longer be able to buy a ticket from the conductor on Deutsche Bahn services. Travellers can still by a digital ticket within ten minutes of departure via the website or on the Deutsche Bahn app.

Higher fuel prices

The CO2 tax, introduced last year, will also rise in 2022, going up from 25 euros per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted to 30 euros. The tax is aimed at pushing energy companies towards using using renewable technologies, but it is also likely to be handed down to consumers in the form of fuel price rises.

According to calculations by the ADAC automobile club, petrol and diesel are likely to become more expensive by about one and a half cents per litre each as a result.

Hitting smokers’ pockets

A woman pulls a cigarette out of a pack.

A woman pulls a cigarette out of a pack. Photo: dpa | Sven Hoppe

On January 1st, the tobacco tax will go up for the first time in seven years. It will rise by an average of 10 cents for a pack of 20 cigarettes. In 2023, another 10 cents will be added per 20-pack.

Billboard advertising for conventional tobacco products such as cigarettes will be banned from January 1st.

Prohibiting ‘potentially dangerous’ tattoo ink

From January 4th, many chemicals in tattoo inks throughout the EU will be subject to restrictions under the so-called REACH regulation. The ban list will include thousands of substances.

In the EU’s view, many of them are potentially dangerous or have not been sufficiently researched. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) emphasizes that the aim is to “make tattoo inks and permanent makeup safer.”

Compulsory vaccines in care

People employed in the care sector will have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 if they want to keep their jobs next year. The vaccine mandates apply to carers, doctors, midwives and nurses and will come into force in on March 15th, 2022.

Those who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons will need an exemption from their doctor.

There is also likely to be a parliamentary debate on introducing a general vaccine mandate in January – a move that the German Ethics Council has recommended – so watch this space.

READ ALSO: German Ethics Council recommends extending vaccine mandates

Tightening rules around mini jobs

In an attempt to stop exploitation of “mini-job” rules, the government will require employers to give more details on a mini-jobber such as their tax ID number starting in January 1st. The Minijob-Zentrale will inform the employer wether the employee has another mini-job.

Mini-jobs are part-time contracts that allow people to earn up to €450 a month without paying social security contributions. While someone can have more than one mini job at a time they are not allowed to earn more than €450 in total.

Unemployment registration goes online

Jobcenter Germany

A sign in front of an employment agency location in the Hannover region. Photo: dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

As of January 1st people who sign on for unemployment benefits can do so online using the Agentur für Arbeit website. But one needs a digital ID card to do so.

It will still be possible to sign on by going to your local employment agency.

End to subsidies for plug-in hybrids

Many hybrid cars will no longer benefit from government subsidies from 2022 onwards. A change to the law means that subsidies will only apply to cars with an electric range of at last 60 kilometres.

Ban on thin plastic bags

As of January 1st, plastic shopping bags will no longer be offered at German supermarket checkouts.

The ban applies to super-thin shopping bags. Bags for vegetables and multiple use plastic bags will not be affected.

Higher allowance for children of separated parents

Children of divorced couples will entitled to slightly more maintenance in the new year.

From January 1st, the minimum maintenance for children of separated parents under six years of age will be 396 euros per month, an increase of three euros.

For children aged six to eleven, the minimum maintenance will be 455 euros, an increase of four euros. For children aged 12 to 17, the payment will increase by five euros to 533 euros per month.

SEE ALSO: The best events and festivals in Germany in 2022