Everything that changes in Germany in October 2023

Rachel Stern
Rachel Stern - [email protected]
Everything that changes in Germany in October 2023
Clocks appear on a wall. Photo: Jon Tyson / Unsplash

From new train timetables to cheaper energy prices, here's what's changing for residents of Germany in October.


The heating cost subsidy will expire

The so-called heating cost subsidy (Heizkostenzuschuss) for heating with wood, oil or other "non-conducted fuels" will expire by the end of the month. But you can still apply by October 20th to get up to €2,000 from the government's allocated budget. However, the subsidies are limited, so a late application may be, well, too late. If you use gas or district heating, you are not eligible.

You can check whether you are eligible and apply at the federal fuel assistance office (Brennstoffhilfe). If you live in Bavaria, Berlin or North Rhine-Westphalia, however, each state’s ministry is responsible for this and the application must be submitted there rather than at the federal level. 

It takes about 15 minutes to complete and send off the application.

Tax return deadline ends

If you have to file a tax return for 2022, and don’t have the assistance of a tax advisor or association, you’re unfortunately up against a pretty tight deadline: your Steuererklärung tax return must be submitted to the tax office by October 2nd. 

The deadline for individuals without a tax advisor had been extended by two months from the end of July 2023. However, since September 30th is a Saturday, Monday has been designated as the very last day to file.

READ ALSO: What happens if you miss your tax return deadline in Germany?

Gas will become cheaper

Starting on October 1st, gas prices became cheaper for consumers, as the comparison portal Verivox reported. The Trading Hub Europe (THE) is the market manager for the German gas market and will reduce the control energy levy from 0.57 cents/kWh and the conversion levy from 0.038 cents/kWh to zero cents each in October.

Radiator knob

A person turns up the heat in Germany. Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

For customers, this means savings of about €130 for a single-family home with a consumption of 20,000 kWh per year, about €78 for a couple household with 12,000 kWh and about €33 for a single household with a consumption of 2,000 kWh.

The catch: the price does not drop automatically and is only taken into account for new contracts - so it might be worth shopping around.

Higher interest rates for student loans

Anyone who finances their studies fully or partly with student loans should brace themselves for higher interest rates. Starting on October 1st, the interest rate will rise to over eight percent, up from an increase to 7.55 percent in April.

The increase is related to the so-called Euribor interest rate, with which banks do business among themselves and which is also used as a benchmark for KfW student loans. 


Deutsche Bahn changes ticket system

Starting on October 1st, Deutsche Bahn has started selling long-distance savings tickets at travel centres and agencies if a mobile phone number or e-mail address is provided by the customer, according to DPA. The change is being made so that DB can directly alert customers about changes to their journeys, for example if a train is running late.

“We are continuing to switch to online tickets because because we want to keep customers better informed about their travel progress", a DB spokesman told DPA.

READ ALSO: Why is Deutsche Bahn seeing a record high number of delays this year?

WhatsApp might not work on your phone anymore

Owners of older mobile phone models will have to prepare for serious changes from October 2023, as WhatsApp will no longer work on these devices. To continue using the messenger, at least Android version 5.0 is required. Meta will inform all affected users in good time before the service is discontinued for them.

Sick leave

During the Covid-19 pandemic, sick leave by telephone was provided across the board. Now the regulation is set to return permanently starting in October. Under certain conditions, patients will then be able to call the doctor's office again to obtain a sick note - as long as they’re a regular patient. The option should be available for minor illnesses, though the German government and Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) are still hammering out the exact details.


Famous brewery closing in Frankfurt

After more than 150 years, the history of the Binding brewery in Frankfurt is writing its final chapter. Due to drastically increased costs for raw materials, energy and logistics, the management decided to close its production facilities and bottling plants in Frankfurt by the end of October at the latest. However, the headquarters of the Radeberger Group, to which Binding belongs, will remain in Frankfurt.


Two big state elections

A lot could change in the world of German politics depending on the outcomes of elections in two of Germany’s largest states, Bavaria and Hesse. Both are holding their state elections on Sunday, October 8th.

Many people are holding their breath since the governing “traffic-light” parties of Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats aren’t expected to do well, whilst the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) could gain some stamina.

More trains to Zurich

Zurich is an expensive place, but at least it’s now becoming more accessible. From Stuttgart, 13 trains (up from the previous 8) a day will travel to the Swiss city on Lake Zurich due to a timetable change.

The Inter City Express, ICE 4, of Deutsche Bahn, arrives at Interlaken Ost station in Bern.

The Inter City Express, ICE 4, of Deutsche Bahn, arrives at Interlaken Ost station in Bern, Switzerland. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/KEYSTONE | Peter Schneider

Train lovers can brace themselves for a comprehensive timetable change coming out in December of this year, which will see even more cross-border services and night trains being rolled out.


Lidl changes conditions for purchasing beef

At the moment, the discounter Lidl still sells beef from the so-called husbandry form 2. However, this will soon be a thing of the past and only beef from the husbandry form 3 or 4 will be available for purchase. 

In practice, this will mean better conditions for the animals - though only to a limited extent. Instead of the current 1.5-3 square metre per cow, there will now be 1.5 to 4 square metre per cow. 

In addition, there has to be a yard that the animals can walk in all year round. The dehorning of calves remains permitted - as is usual in conventional animal husbandry.


Credit card fees will rise

Paying with VISA & Mastercard credit cards will become more expensive. As the fees for merchants when paying are to be increased in October, products could become more expensive for customers, as at least part of the costs could be passed on to the merchants.

In light of the fee hike, financial experts have advised to make everyday purchases with debit cards, Giro / EC cards or cash in Germany.

Time to turn back the clocks

Good news for those who fancy a lie-in, at least for one morning. The clock will be set back from Saturday to Sunday at 3am to 2am on October 29th, making the night an hour longer.

The shift is occurring despite lots of talk about the seasonal clock changes being abolished in Germany, and the rest of the EU.

READ ALSO: When will Germany ditch the seasonal clock changes?


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