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WHAT CHANGES IN GERMANY

Everything that changes in Germany in May 2022

From public holidays and Covid rule changes to a tax deadline and shopping, here are the changes to know about in Germany this May.

A flower clock in Greiz, Thuringia.
A flower clock in Greiz, Thuringia. People in Germany are getting ready for more changes this May. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Bodo Schackow

May Day

Germany celebrated International Workers’ Day on May 1st. But Tag der Arbeit or Der Erste Mai, as the day is known in German, didn’t result in a day off work for most people because it fell on a Sunday this year. Schade. But no matter, there is another public holiday ahead…

READ ALSO: German politicians call for ‘lost’ public holidays to be replaced

Ascension Day/Father’s Day

Is Thursday May 26th a religious holiday or a day when people in Germany, especially men, get extremely drunk? It’s actually both. Christi Himmelfahrt is about remembering Jesus’ ascent into heaven, but it’s also about day-drinking. 

That’s because it’s Father’s Day (Vatertag), or Men’s Day (Männertag), and the traditional way that Germans like to be thankful to dad is with a ton of alcohol. 

It’s a national public holiday in Germany every year so many people will get the day off work, and supermarkets will be closed. 

READ ALSO: Why Germans get wholly wasted on Ascension Day

Two men carry some beer in Geretsried, Bavaria, for Father's Day 2021.

Two men carry some beer in Geretsried, Bavaria, for Father’s Day 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Angelika Warmuth

Covid ‘hotspots’ to drop several rules

Most people in Germany saw tough coronavirus restrictions – like 3G or 2G entry to venues – fall away around the start of April. But two states – Hamburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania – declared themselves Covid hotspots and lots of restrictions stayed in place. But that’s set to change. Hamburg’s hotspot regulations are set to end automatically at the end of April, while many of the remaining restrictions in Meck-Pom were lifted on Thursday, April 28th. 

READ ALSO: German Covid hotspot states to lift most restrictions

Pre-sale on €9 monthly travel ticket 

As The Local has been reporting, Germany is getting ready to introduce a massively reduced price ticket for three months over the summer to ease the cost of living and energy crisis. Now some transport providers say they will have a pre-sale on the ticket before it launches on June 1st. So keep an eye out online and in stations over the coming weeks. 

READ ALSO: How will Germany’s €9 monthly travel ticket work?

2020 tax deadline

Those who submit their tax return with the help of a tax advisor always get a little more time to process it. But all things come to an end. The 2020 tax return must be submitted to the tax office by May 31st 2022 at the latest. Anyone who misses the submission deadline will have to pay a late filing fee. This is usually 0.25 per cent of the assessed tax, but at least €25. If this affects you and you haven’t got your tax advisor sorted yet, do it quickly. 

Online banking

Do you have an account with Postbank and use the chipTAN procedure for online banking? Then you are in for a change from May – the method of processing transfers by bank card and reader at home will be dropped. It is to be replaced by the BestSign method, which enables online banking via an app in combination with biometrics or password.

Beer prices likely to go up

We’ve all been dealing with higher costs for the likes of groceries and energy recently. Now beer drinkers will soon have to dig deeper into their pockets. After some breweries already increased their beer prices in April, others will follow suit in May. The Radeberger and Bitburger groups have announced that their beers will become more expensive, according to the Lebensmittelzeitung. The price increase will initially only affect the retailers, but it is likely that they will pass on the additional costs to consumers.

Discounted food to be labelled differently

Before supermarkets remove food going out of date, many offer discounts. Traders have to indicate a new price for these discounted products, with a tag. But from the end of May, a simple notice such as “30 percent cheaper” will be allowed – without indicating the new reduced price. This makes labelling easier for employees and, in the best case, will lead to less food waste.

Vegetables in a German supermarket.

Vegetables in a German supermarket. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Price checking to become easier

Price comparisons at supermarkets and discounters are to become easier for customers from May 28th. Up until now, the prices on tags at the likes of Aldi, Lidl, Kaufland and co. have been displayed differently. Sometimes the price is indicated per 100 grams, sometimes per kilogram. Due to a change in the law, the latter will soon be the only price that can be displayed. According to the new Price Adjustment Ordinance, it has to be clear at a glance how much a kilogram or a litre of the product costs. Consumers will therefore be able to compare prices between shops more easily without having to do their own conversions.

READ ALSO: How Germany is making it easier for consumers to cancel contracts

More protection and clarity during online shopping

Many people wonder why when they shop online at places like Amazon or other marketplaces, certain products appear at the top and keep reappearing. This should become easier to understand in future. Under news laws coming in from May 2022, providers will have to show more clearly how the sorting criteria offered came about. This includes, for example, showing the number of views and the date the offer was posted, its rating or that of the provider, the number of sales of the product or the “popularity”, commissions or fees.

According to the new amendment, there is also a clear labelling obligation for sellers to indicate whether they are selling privately, reselling or are direct sellers. Online shopping platforms will also have to ensure the authenticity of product reviews and to monitor the ban on fake reviews more closely.

The change also affects comparison portals such as Check24 or Verivox. From May 28th, they will also have to disclose which providers were taken into account in a comparison. Ticket exchanges will also have to provide information about the original price of tickets in order to inform buyers about additionally charged costs and fees.

Violations of the new information requirements can cost companies a lot: according to consumer advice experts, fines of up to €50,000 are possible. Companies with an annual turnover of more than €1.25 million can be fined up to four percent of turnover.

A woman shops online in a Black Friday sal

A woman shops online in a Black Friday sale. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Mohssen Assanimoghaddam

Checks for doorstep selling

People in Germany are to be better protected against dubious doorstep selling. In the case of contracts concluded during uninvited house calls, payment may no longer be demanded on the day the contract is concluded. Purchases that were made door-to-door should therefore be easier to revoke if the customer decides so. However, this only applies to items or services costing over €50.

More protection against rip-off ‘coffee tours’

According to estimates, every year five million Germans take part in bus trips which end up being sales events. They are known as “Kaffeefahrten” or coffee tours. But stricter regulations will come into force from May 28th. The providers of these events will have to indicate in their advertising in advance where the event will take place, how participants can contact the organiser and what goods will be offered for sale. And when the new law comes into force, certain products may no longer be sold. For instance, it will be strictly forbidden to offer medical products such as weight loss pills, food supplements and financial services such as insurance or building society contracts. Meanwhile, the fine for violations will increase from €1,000 to €10,000.

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For members

WHAT CHANGES IN GERMANY

Everything that changes in Germany in December 2022

From new train schedules to energy relief payments, here are the biggest changes and most important dates in Germany in December 2022.

Everything that changes in Germany in December 2022

Pensioners’ Payment 

In December all German pensioners will receive a one-time, €300 payment to cope with skyrocketing energy prices. However, the payment is taxed according to income. Employees already received their lump sum payment in September or October. 

READ ALSO: Pensioners in Germany: How to receive an energy relief payment

New Deutsche Bahn Train schedule 

Anyone planning to travel by train in the near future can look forward to Deutsche Bahn’s new train schedule, which officially comes out on December 11th. Some of the highlights include:

-The opening of an ‘express route‘ (Schnellfahrtstrecke) between Wendlingen am Neckar and Ulm.

-The new express train ICE 3neo will travel on tracks between Cologne, Munich and Dortmund.

-Two routes will have 60 percent more seating available: Munich-Ulm-Stuttgart-Frankfurt Airport and Bremen-Osnabrück-Munich-Cologne

People walk next to a high speed train in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Schmidt
 

State employees to receive more pay

Starting in December, state employees can look forward to receiving 2.8 percent more pay. This affects more than one million employees covered by collective agreements. Trainees and interns in the public sector are slated to receive an extra €50 per month, with the figure going up to €70 within the health sector.

Fireworks allowed again

For New Year’s Eve in 2020 and 2021, Germany put up an official ban on fireworks and firecrackers, a notoriously popular way to ring in the New Year. But this Silvester, the nationwide ban is being repealed, much to the joy (or dread) of partygoers. It’s still possible that individual cities could enforce zones where a ban is still enforced. 

READ ALSO: Will Berlin bring back fireworks after two years of New Year’s Eve bans?

Relief for gas and district heating.

As part of the gas price cap (Gaspreisbremse), the German government decided that the costs for people with gas or district heating would be covered by the state on a one-off basis in December 2022, based on the amount they were paid in September. If the landlord has a direct contract with the energy company they are to credit the payment to their tenants – which means that, if you’re unlucky, you won’t receive it until the end of 2023.

READ ALSO: When will people in Germany get their December gas bill payment?

Apple launches emergency call SOS via satellite

Apple already released its new “Emergency SOS via Satellite” feature in the US and Canada. Starting in December, German users of the iPhone 14 models will also be able to use the feature – which allows them to connect to the emergency services even if neither cellular nor Wi-Fi reception is available.

New streaming service

Paramount Plus is a new streaming service launching in Germany on December 8th. According to the official press release, the streaming portal from Paramount Global, meanwhile, wants to do nothing less than “scale the pinnacle of streaming”, by bringing a massive amount of hit TV shows and movies for €7.99 per month or €79.90 per year. The service will also be launched in Austria and Switzerland.

A less hairy situation

Regret getting that large dragon tattoo, or already preparing for an exotic beach holiday next year? As of December 31st, anyone in Germany who gets a tattoo removed or wants to have their intimate hair lasered off will only be allowed to have this done by cosmeticians or doctors who are actually trained for this and has a corresponding certificate.

Important December dates and deadlines

In addition to big changes, here are the biggest dates to take note of before next year.

Christmas post deadline

Anyone who is sending letters or packages to friends and family in Germany should take note of some important dates. Letters need to be sent by December 22nd, according to Deutsche Post. For packages, the cutoff date is December 20th. Outside of Germany, there are no guaranteed dates but earlier is always better. 

A man dressed as Santa delivers post

The Deutsche Post’s own ‘Father Christmas’ delivers some post-Brexit goodies. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Bernd Settnik

First ‘Nationwide Warning Day’ 

On December 8th, German authorities will test how well official warnings via radio, television, apps or sirens would work in an emergency. 

The new ‘Cell Broadcast Warning System’ will also be put to test for the first time on this day. In the system, messages will be sent like broadcast signals to all compatible devices. Unlike other warning systems such as Nina or Katwarn, you don’t have to have an app to be alerted – just your normal cell phone if the test goes according to plan.

Deadline for voluntary tax returns

There is a four-year deadline for a voluntary tax return or freiwillige Steuererklarung. Employees can submit their voluntary tax return for 2018 to the tax office until December 31st. It can be submitted either by mail or online via the “Elster” portal. A declaration submitted late, even if on January 1st, 2023, will no longer be accepted.

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