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WHAT CHANGES IN GERMANY

Everything that changes in Germany in March 2022

From stronger consumer rights and the clocks going forward to the end of many Covid restrictions, here's what's changing in Germany this March.

Everything that changes in Germany in March 2022
Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert

An end to Germany’s long contract extensions

We all know the feeling: one day late in cancelling your gym membership and you’re suddenly signed up for another year. Well, that should be a thing of the past soon.

Over the last few months, Germany has been bringing in changes aimed at strengthening consumer rights.

In the latest step, contracts signed from March 1st 2022 will have shorter notice periods. So that means if you sign up to a streaming service, the gym or an electricity provider, for instance, you can get out of the contract more easily. 

After the minimum contract period, consumers can cancel their contract with a month’s notice and are not automatically bound for another year. However, this does not apply to insurance contracts so check the terms and conditions there. 

Late last year Germany brought in a similar law regarding the automatic renewal of contracts for phones and the Internet. 

READ ALSO: How Germany has made it easier to cancel phone and broadband contracts

Covid rules to be relaxed

From March 4th, the 2G-plus regulation in restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels will no longer apply. It means that unvaccinated people will be able to visit a restaurant again with a negative Covid test, under 3G rules. Nightclubs will also be able to reopen from 4 March – under 2G-plus rules, meaning people will need to be vaccinated or recovered with a negative Covid test or a booster shot to enter.

From March 20th, far-reaching Covid restrictions will be dropped, but basic measures will remain in place. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s Covid reopening plan

A sign urging people to wear masks in a Berlin shop.

A sign urging people to wear masks in a Berlin shop. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Monika Skolimowska

Covid vaccine mandate for employees in health and care

From March 15th, people who work in health or social care will need to be vaccinated or have recovered from Covid. Those who fail to provide proof can face a fine. However, there may be some differences in the implementation depending on the German state.

Better protection for insects

With every passing year, more insects disappear – yet they are indispensable for humans and the ecosystem. Since 2009, about a third of all species have disappeared from meadows and forests in Germany, according to a study by the Technical University of Munich (TUM).

Now under a new law, insect habitats are to be better protected. Meadow orchards and dry stone walls will be recognised as biotopes and the use of insect-damaging biocides like wood preservatives, will be restricted. In nature reserves, new street lighting and illuminated advertising are prohibited.

This is to protect nocturnal insects from light pollution. However, the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) does not think the law goes far enough to protect insect diversity in Germany. The organisation is calling for a ban on insecticides in bird sanctuaries and a ban on pesticides containing glyphosate earlier than 2024.

Hands off the hedge

From the beginning of March, the annual grace period for hedges begins. To protect breeding birds, hedges in Germany can only be heavily trimmed during the winter months (from October to February). There is a risk of being fined if you do try to chop up the bush or hedge outside your home. However, minor pruning is allowed in spring and summer.

READ ALSO: Why you should cut your hedge in Germany this February 

Organ donation

Have you documented your views on organ donation? 

A new law which came into force this month aims to make it easier for people to decide and let authorities know whether they want to donate their organs or not. GPs will be able to talk to their patients about organ donation every two years (so your doctor may chat to you about it at your next appointment).

German authorities should also provide information about organ donation, for example when they want to change a driving licence or apply for a new passport.

A nationwide register in which people can state their position for or against organ donation, will go ahead but not this month. It will likely be postponed until the end of the year due to the pandemic, according to the Federal Ministry of Health.

Green licence plate for scooters 

The colour of insurance plates for motorcycles changes every year to make it easier to check whether vehicle insurance is up to date. As of March 1st, all mopeds will have to carry a green insurance number plate instead of a blue one.

Vehicles that must carry an insurance plate include mopeds or scooters, light mopeds, Segways or light quad bikes. Anyone still driving around with the previous blue plate may be fined.

Works council elections

From March 1st to May 31st, new employee representatives will be elected in some 28,000 companies in Germany. Keep an ear out for it in your workplace.

Spring arrives (and clocks go forward)

The official beginning of spring season falls on Sunday March 20th (the same day that many Covid restrictions end) and will last until June 21st, when summer begins.

And get ready to lose an hour’s sleep. On March 27th, the clocks will be set forward by one hour from 2am to 3am. Daylight saving time will then remain in effect until the last weekend in October.

Cherry blossom trees in Berlin.

Cherry blossom trees in Berlin in 2021. Spring is coming. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd von Jutrczenka

Berlin public holiday

People living in the city state of Berlin can enjoy a day off on March 8th for Frauentag (Women’s Day). That falls on a Tuesday – so most people will get a day off for it.  The Feiertag, launched in 2019, means Berlin has 10 official holidays. Although this year, sadly, some holidays fall on the weekend.

READ ALSO: How you can make the most of the 2022 public holidays

Eurovision Song Contest

This month we’ll find out who will compete for Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest on May 14th in Turin. German broadcaster NDR unveiled the selection of musical talents and invited the whole country to get involved in the selection process. At 8.15pm on Friday March 4th, viewers will be invited to tune in to Germany 12 Points and viewers at home will be encouraged to vote. Barbara Schöneberger will once again host the show.

ARD pop radio stations are also being given the chance to vote up until Friday. 

German pizza birthday 

On March 24th, German pizza celebrates its 70th birthday. It all began in 1952 when the first pizza restaurant in Germany, the “Sabbie di Capri”, opened in the old town of Würzburg. Nicolino di Camillo, who died in 2015, came to Bavaria with the American Army from Chieti in Italy and is said to have started the pizzeria with his wife Janine Schmitt.

Anything we missed or something you’d like to know more about? Let us know: [email protected]

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For members

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

Taxpayer-funded Covid-19 rapid tests or Bürgertests are no longer 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:

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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