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MONEY

The key dates to know for Germany’s energy relief payouts

The government is set to roll out around €30 billion in relief to help struggling households with their energy bills this year. But with many people seeing the impact of the rising prices already, when will the changes come into force?

Many people in Germany are eager to know how they can save cash during the energy crisis.
Many people in Germany are eager to know how they can save cash during the energy crisis. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Patrick Pleul

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has compounded an already volatile energy market and left many households in Germany wondering how they can cover their rising bills. 

At the same time, the rising energy costs have had a knock-on effect on prices across the board, from supermarket goods to mobility. 

In January and February, the government announced two packages of relief measures designed to offset some of this lost spending power.

On Wednesday, the cabinet signed off on the bill to introduce the measures, but this will still need to be passed in the Bundestag and Bundesrat sometime in May with the aim of introducing the first measures in June. 

But there has been criticism of the fact that the impact of much of the financial support may not be felt for some time. 

So, what help can families expect over the coming months – and what are they likely to have to wait for? Here’s what you need to know.

June

June will see the introduction of two major mobility-focussed measures – the €9 monthly transport ticket and a tax cut on fuel – and potentially another relief measure aimed at taxpayers.

  • €9 transport ticket: From June 1st, people will be able to get a monthly travel card for just €9 per month. If all goes to plan, the offer will apply all over Germany for the duration of summer, giving people the chance to enjoy budget public transport during the warmer months. So far, it looks like the measure is due to end in September, but the government is hoping it will help ease the burden of higher fuel costs and encourage a transition to greener transport – at least for the time being
  • Fuel tax cut: For car owners, the government is slashing the energy tax which is normally levied on fuel from June 1st. If all of the savings are passed onto consumers, the price of petrol could go down by as much as 30 cents, and the price of diesel will be reduced by around 14 cents. This measure will also apply for a duration of three months
  • €300 heating allowance: Thought this isn’t set in stone yet, the Finance Ministry is hoping that a €300 energy allowance for taxpayers will be paid out in June on top of employee’s salaries. Self-employed people, on the other hand, will either have to wait until their next advance tax payment or the submission of their tax return next year

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

A man turns the radiator on

A man turns the radiator on. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

July

  • Adults who receive social benefits, Hartz IV or social support for asylum seekers will receive two payments of €100 to support them with their energy bills, and an additional €20 per month for each of their children from July
  • The scrapping of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) levy – a green tax levied on energy bills – has been brought forward to July 1st, 2022. The EEG levy was already halved on January 1st this year, but still costs households around 3.72 cents per kilowatt hour of energy, which equates to around €74 per year for a household using 2,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. The levy will end completely in summer

READ ALSO: Will freelancers benefit from Germany’s €300 energy allowance?

Late 2022: 

  • Climate money: The traffic-light coalition wants to return state funds that have been raised through the CO2 back to the people and has set a deadline of the end of this year to come up with a way to calculate payments via the tax ID. It’s unlikely that the payments will actually start this year, but by 2023 we should know more about how this would work
  • Heating allowance for benefits claimants: Single households who receive housing benefit should get €270 paid on top of their usual welfare payments, while couples will get €350, plus €35 for each additional family member. This may not land in people’s bank accounts for a while though, with the end of 2022 looking like a tentative deadline
  • Kinderbonus: Parents can expect to get a “child bonus” payment of €100 per child, which will be paid out by the Familienkasse (family insurance funds) and offset against the child allowance in the same way as in 2020 and 2021 during the Covid crisis. It’s unclear when this will be paid out, but it’s likely to be some time this year

From 2023: 

A number of the traffic-light coalition’s measures will only take effect in the form of a rebate in the 2022 tax return, meaning it will be at least a few months into next year before people see an impact on their wallet – depending on when they submit their tax return.

These include:

  • Special expenses: The employee lump sum (Arbeitnehmer-Pauschale) – an assumed amount of work-related expenses that the tax office writes off each year without requiring proof – has been retrospectively increased to €1,200 from €1,000
  • Tax-free allowance: The basic tax-free allowance will increase by €363 to €10,347 to compensate for inflation 
  • Commuter allowance: People who travel more than 20km to work will get to write off a higher amount of travel expenses in their tax return next year. From the 21st kilometre onwards, they can write off 38 cents per kilometre as opposed to 35 cents

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about your German tax return in 2022

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TRAVEL NEWS

€9 for 90: Everything you need to know about Germany’s cheap travel deal

Germany's €9 monthly transport ticket is coming. Here's everything you should know about the deal that will allow you to to travel the country for next to nothing this summer.

€9 for 90: Everything you need to know about Germany's cheap travel deal

What’s all this about cheap transport?

Germany is about to launch a mega cheap transport ticket – and a lot of people are getting very excited about it.

The “€9 for 90” ticket is a monthly travel card that people can buy for just €9 per month over a three-month period. It’s a fraction of the price of a normal monthly travel card and – even more incredibly – can be used anywhere in the country on local and regional transport. 

The deal was initially announced back in April as part of an energy relief package put together by the government. And despite some anger from state leaders over funding for the scheme, the ticket cleared its final hurdle in the Bundesrat on Friday.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block the €9 ticket in the Bundesrat

So far, the €9 ticket has received a lot of publicity and attention. That’s probably because it’s one of the more fun measures to combat the energy crisis – one that doesn’t involve complicated claims and write-offs in your tax return.

Instead, the government is hoping that the new ticket will cut monthly transport costs for households and encourage people to use more eco-friendly transport options. With fuel prices spiralling, it’s a great time to leave the car at home and travel around for next to nothing, while doing your bit for the environment. 

Sounds great. Can everyone buy it?

Yes! It doesn’t matter whether you’re a tourist on a weekend trip from Austria, a part-time Germany resident or Chancellor Olaf Scholz himself: everyone will be able to purchase the €9 ticket. (We imagine Olaf may already have his own transport, though.) 

It will, however, have your name on it, so it can’t be pooled between friends (as tempting as an even cheaper travel deal would be). 

READ ALSO: What tourists in Germany need to know about the €9 public transport ticket

Busy train in Stuttgart

People board a busy train in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

When will it be available?

It’s currently available in a handful of cities, including Hamburg, Stuttgart and Freiburg – but everyone else will be able to purchase it from May 23rd onwards. 

The deal itself will be a summer travel offer. That means the first monthly ticket will be valid from June 1st and the last monthly ticket will expire on August 31st. Each of the tickets will be valid for the full calendar month so you won’t be able to mix and match with existing tickets.

For example, if you’ve already bought a ticket that’s expiring in mid-June, you wouldn’t then be able to buy a €9 ticket running from the middle of June to the middle of August.

Instead, you would require two €9 tickets  for June and July – though you can get a refund for the part of the prior ticket you didn’t end up using.

Where can I get hold of it?

The ticket will be available via Deutsche Bahn’s DB Navigator app, on the DB website, at in-station terminals and at ticket desks and offices.

Regional transport operators are likely to have their own ticket purchasing options as well – most likely online, but in some cases also at ticket machines and in-station offices. 

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin

A regional train near Hornberg, in the Black Forest.

A regional train near Hornberg, in the Black Forest. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Philipp von Ditfurth

What types of public transport can I use it on?

The ticket is valid throughout Germany, but only on regional and local transport.

That means you can use it on all local trains like the U-Bahn and S-Bahn, as well as on trams and buses. You can also travel on the Regionalverkehr (regional trains) across Germany. 

You can’t use the ticket for private services like Flixbus and Flixtrain or on other long-distance rail services like IC, EC and ICE trains. If you’re travelling around your state and aren’t sure if the ticket will be valid, check if the train you’re taking has an ‘RE’ in the name. That’s the shorthand for regional trains.

It probably goes without saying, but taxi services won’t be included in the price. And, yes, you will still need to pay for those e-scooters as well. 

Can I use it to travel first class?

If you’re hoping for a month of budget transport but also want to be treated like royalty whilst on board, we may have to disappoint you. The €9 ticket can only be used in second-class carriages.

This is largely because there’s likely to be huge demand for the budget offer – so there could be scuffles for first-class seats with that extra bit of legroom. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

I’ve already got an Abo. What can I do?

This has been a big concern for the folk who have already opted to pay full price for their public transport. (What fools they were…) 

Luckily, this group of keen transport users won’t miss out either. According to the DB website, people who’ve already shelled out on a monthly or annual ticket will be contacted by their local transport provider and informed about how they can get a refund.

If you’ve got a standing order set up, the transport operator will likely just debit the €9 from your account instead of the usual amount. Otherwise, you may get sent a refund via direct debit. 

Your subscription ticket will be valid for local public transport throughout Germany during the three month offer period – not just in your area.

Will students also benefit from the ticket?

Absolutely – though this is one area where things may be a little less well-organised. If you’re a student with a semester ticket, you will be entitled to a refund of the extra amount you paid, which will likely be handled by your university. 

One thing that seems a little unclear is whether the semester ticket will suddenly be valid outside of your local region, just like the €9 ticket is. We assume it will, but we’ll try to clarify this with DB and other service providers in the coming weeks. 

Can I take my bike on board?

Unfortunately, bikes aren’t included in the offer – and this seems like a deliberate choice. 

DB is recommending that people leave their bikes at home during the three months that the €9 ticket is on offer. This is because trains are likely to be extremely busy and they can’t guarantee that they’ll have room for everyone, let alone a hundred or so bikes. Instead, you can usually hire a bike at your destination.

However, if you’ve already got a subscription that allows you to take your bike with you (i.e. a student semester ticket or another type of Abo), you’ll still be able to do so. 

What about my dog? 

You will unfortunately not be able to purchase a €9 ticket in the name of Rover T. Dog (well, you could try, but it probably won’t work). However, the usual rules will apply to travelling with a furry friend. 

In some places, you may need to buy an extra dog ticket for Rover, while in others, he’ll be able to accompany you free-of-charge. 

READ ALSO: Who benefits from Germany’s €9 public transport ticket offer?

A woman carries her dog through a Berlin train station

A woman carries her onesie-clad dog in a Berlin train station. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

Do children need to pay for a ticket? 

Children under six can travel for free on public transport, while children over the age of six will need their own €9 ticket. 

What about seat reservations? 

Transport operators are trying to keep things as flexible as possible to cope with demand over summer, so you unfortunately won’t be able to use the ticket to reserve a seat in advance.

Won’t public transport be rammed? 

At the moment, nobody really knows. According to the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), there could be as many as 30 million public transport users per month over summer – but this is only a rough estimate.

READ ALSO: How many people will use the €9 ticket?

One way around this is to try and travel on weekdays and off-peak services where possible and (as mentioned) to hire bikes rather than bringing them in the train.

It could also be helpful to familiarise yourself with different transport connections and routes in your area. 

The other thing that could help ease the crush on public transport is the fact that the government is also planning to cut taxes on fuel in tandem with the €9 ticket. That means that, for three months over summer, drivers will be able to get cheaper petrol and diesel – so some may indeed decide to take the car after all.

The ticket ends at the end of August. What happens next? 

Once again, it’s hard to say. Critics of the €9 ticket say that the scheme will leave gaping holes in transport budgets and could ultimately lead to ticket prices going up in autumn.

On the other hand, proponents of the offer believe that it could have the effect of luring people back to public transport after the Covid crisis. That would mean that more people would be buying subscriptions after summer and using local buses and trains, which can only be a good thing for transport budgets in the long-run. 

READ ALSO: ‘Fantastic’: Your verdict on Germany’s €9 transport ticket

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