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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.

An alarm clock lies in the leaves.
An alarm clock lies in the leaves. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Sebastian Kahnert

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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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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