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LIVING IN

Everything that changes in Germany in August 2020

From changes to coronavirus restrictions, travel, tax deadlines and increased funding for training and hard-hit businesses, here's a rundown of what to expect this August if you live in Germany.

Everything that changes in Germany in August 2020
A clock in Triberg, Baden-Württemberg. Photo: DPA

Coronavirus aid for hard-hit companies

Small and medium-sized businesses that are particularly affected by the pandemic can apply for bridging aid – but only until the end of August.

The support is part of the German government's economic stimulus package. Fixed operating costs of up to €50,000 per month for June to August are reimbursed.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany's new coronavirus aid

Tax return deadline

Those who do their tax return without a tax consultant (Steuerberater) must have submitted the completed forms for 2019 by July 31st 2020 at the latest.

For many employees, it's worthwhile doing a tax return to get money back from the tax office.

READ ALSO:

Increased funding for training

There's good news for all those who want to boost their professional development.

The so-called Aufstiegs-BAföG (Upgrading Training Assistance Act) which provides financial support to people undergoing further vocational training, will be increased as of August 1st, 2020.

The federal government has decided on several changes: among other things, participants are set to receive higher grants for the course and examination fees.

Meanwhile, childcare supplement for single parents will increase from €130 to €150 per month and individuals will be able to benefit several times at all three training levels. Previously this was limited to one further training course.

The training assistance provides funding for people aiming for further training qualifications in jobs such as industrial supervisors, early childhood teachers, technicians, commercial specialists, certified business specialists or in one of over 700 comparable professions.

There is no age limit for the funding. For more information check out this government page.

More vocational training allowance for trainees  

Trainees (known as Azubis in German) who are just starting their vocational training can also look forward to more money from August 1st 2020.

Under certain conditions, trainees who no longer live with their parents but in their own apartment are entitled to a vocational training allowance (Berufsausbildungsbeihilfe or BAB).

Archive picture of an Azubis sign in Erfurt, Thuringia. Photo: DPA

The maximum amount for living and housing will increase to €723 per month. The amount went up from €622 to €716 in August 2019.

Corona Working Hours Act set to expire

The Covid-19 Working Time Act has been in force since mid-April. It means that if overtime can not be prevented due to the crisis, the employer is allowed to order longer working hours – up to 12 hours per day, 60 hours per week, until July 31st.

In addition to exceptions to the maximum working hours, the regulation also provided for a reduction in the minimum rest periods to up to nine hours and permitted work on Sundays and public holidays – unless overtime could be prevented in some other way.

But from August the law expires. There can be overtime in exceptional cases, however.

Worldwide travel warning set to expire

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Foreign Office issued a global warning against tourist travel. For countries in the EU and Schengen-associated states (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) as well as the United Kingdom, the warning was lifted on June 15th and replaced with advice.

The travel warning for countries outside the EU – so-called Third Countries – is set to expire on August 31st, unless the government extends it.

Compulsory tests for holidaymakers from risk areas

It's holiday season for many of us. But this year, due to the pandemic, things are very different.

And in future, anyone who goes on holiday to a risk area (a country or region with a high Covid-19 rate) will have to be tested for the virus on their return to Germany.

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn announced that testing would be compulsory for travellers from areas with high case numbers, and that this is expected to come into force in the first week of August. The tests are to be free of charge.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) will determine which regions and countries are considered risk areas.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany's plans for mandatory Covid-19 tests


A test station at Leipzig/Halle airport. Photo: DPA

Events with more participants possible again

The restrictions on public life to contain the coronavirus pandemic are being gradually lifted.

This also applies to celebrations and events involving several people. In August, the restrictions will be relaxed further in many German states – unless of course the situation gets worse.

In Baden-Württemberg events with up to 500 participants will again be allowed from August 1st.

In Saarland, events with up to 500 participants will be allowed outside and up to 250 participants in closed rooms are permitted. From August 24th, the upper limits will be increased to 1,000 and 500 participants respectively.

A little later than some other federal states, Saxony-Anhalt will also allow events with up to 500 participants in closed rooms from August 29th. However, up to 1,000 participants can come together at an open air event already in the eastern state.

Large events in Germany are banned until at least October 31st.

Regular operations to resume at schools and daycare centres (Kitas)

In many German states, schools are expected to return to normal operation after the end of the summer holidays in August after huge disruption in the first half of the year due to the coronavirus crisis.

This is the case in Berlin, for example, where the summer holidays end on August 7th. Other federal states in which school operations will be resumed regularly in August are Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia.


Daycare centres will also return to normal operation in August in many states. In Rhineland-Palatinate, for example, daycare centres will resume regular operations on August 1st. Kitas in Saxony-Anhalt are also set to return to normal operation in the coming weeks.

READ ALSO: Can Germany's schools safely reopen?

North-Rhine Westphalia: families to receive two years of free childcare at Kitas

On August 1st, the reform of the Child Education Act (or KiBiz) comes into force in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. This means that two years of care for youngsters will be free of charge, instead of the current one year.

The reform is intended to ease the burden on families with small children. The sibling regulation has also been adapted – in future, parental contributions will only have to be paid once, even if several siblings are being looked after.

Germany is a federal country so the cost of sending children to Kindergarten differs widely depending on where you live.

Changes to Amazon Prime for trainees and students in Germany

Until now, students and trainees could test the membership of Amazon Prime for a whole year free of charge.

However, the online giant is now cutting this advantage in half – from August, the free trial period will be just six months.

However, students and trainees can still secure access free of charge for another year if they secure it by July 29th, before the change comes into force.

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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.

Everything that changes in Germany in October 2022

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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