Living as an expat

Looking to the Future For Expats in Germany After January 2022

As we look into 2022, there are numerous changes that will impact the ways by which expats currently living in Germany live, and understanding these may enable people to make the appropriate changes and choices to ensure they remain legal while living or working in Germany. So if you are moving to Germany in the near future, or planning retirement in Germany from UK please check upcoming changes, so you can adapt easily.

Transport in Germany

Public transport in GermanyOne of the first changes that will be seen following January 2022 is in regards to driving and licenses; indeed, as of January 1st 2022, expats living in Germany won’t be able to purchase Deutsche Bahn tickets for train journeys; by contrast, prior to this year, travellers could purchase a ticket directly from the conductor at a higher charge of €17.

This change will now require travellers to purchase a ticket before (or within ten minutes of departing) their train journey; these purchases must be made directly from the Deutsche Bahn app. Meanwhile, the penalty for journeying on a train without purchasing a ticket within this window will now increase, with the minimum fine resting at €60 – much more than the price of the ticket itself.

Car Insurance for 2022

Another key change that we will see regarding the future of travel and transport in Germany for 2022 is alterations to car insurance policies; indeed, new systems will alter the cost of car insurance based on the rank of vehicle, with higher-ranked vehicles paying a higher premium. This will likely lead to approximately 4.3 million drivers benefitting from lower tariffs on their vehicles, in turn helping more people save money on their insurance.

Driving Licences

Another change that is due to be implemented shortly is to driving licenses for expats living in Germany; indeed, following the new regulations, any driving license issues within an EU country before January 19th 2013 must not be replaced by 2033, in line with the new format for EU driving licences. The first deadline for this was on January 19th, 2022, and any drivers born between the years of 1953 and 1958 would need to update their driving licences accordingly; this new licence style resembles a standard credit card format and will remain active for 15 years.

Changes to Working Policies in Germany

At this point, we should consider the key changes made to working policies in Germany – namely, the basic tax-free allowance, which was increased by an additional €204 at the start of 2022, thereby taking the tax-free allowance to €9984 per year, or twice this for married couples or those living in a registered partnership. This allows a little more flexibility when it comes to earnings. However, things are slightly less optimistic for pensioners, whose taxable income has increased by 1% and now represents 82% of their pension income.

Working in FrankfurtThe Corona-bonus of €1500 remains effective until March 31st 2022, and this is a tax-free bonus that cannot be exceeded. In addition to this, employers are now liable to pay their staff a statutory minimum wage of at least €9.82, and this will further increase to €10.45 per hour from July 2022 – a jump that will make life a lot easier for working individuals in Germany (although which will surely leave things a bit more limited for businesses who rely on staff). As such, it may be expected that some firms will begin looking to cut staffing numbers, especially when the future increase to €12.00 per hour is implemented in the future (although we do not, as of yet, know exactly when this will be).

For those who may lose their job in Germany, be it a side effect of the statutory minimum wage increases or for any other reason, can obtain unemployment benefits from the Employment Agency. From 2022, applications for unemployment benefits can be made electronically with a valid electronic ID.

Ecological Changes

There’s no doubt that the way in which we live and work is changing, and this is equally true from an ecological perspective. As such, there will be several key changes when it comes to environmental policies and the types of products available, looking to the future.

Firstly, we must consider the role of plastic bags when shopping in Germany. New regulations implemented from the 1st of January now prohibit the sale of single-use lightweight shopping bags, although durable bags and fruit/vegetable bags are exempt from this restriction. Moreover, the availability of information regarding food purchases will also increases, with mandatory labelling for food production methods expected to arrive in the future.

Another issue that many consumers face comes with their old electronic devices. As such, new changes to how devices are disposed of will require German retails to offer electronics recycling stations for free to consumers; small devices must always be accepted, while larger devices (for example, washing machines) must be taken provided that the customer is buying a replacement with the company. Fortunately, retailers have a six-month transition window to implement these new changes before it becomes mandatory, helping smooth out the process hopefully for businesses.

Ecological changesFinally, online shopping and online contracting are also changing throughout 2022, representing significant opportunities for online users. Defects with apps, e-books, and software will now be covered for a period of two years; meanwhile, previous warranty rights are only applicable with a signed contract.

It is also notable that online contract signing will also become easier for 2022, and cancellation buttons to revoke a contract will become mandatory for online contract signing. Moreover, a contract cancellation notice of just one month is now necessary, with an indefinite extension opportunity and easy cancellation of contracts at any practical time. This shortened notice period perhaps won’t have come as a shock for businesses; indeed, this was already implemented for mobile phone contracts in December.

Healthcare for Expats in Germany

At this point, we have considered the current changes to German transport, ecological, and working policies, but what about healthcare in Germany? As of July 1st 2022, any digital certificates of ill-health will automatically be sent both to the employer and the health insurance agency, streamlining the process and preventing employees from having to provide documentation.

Moreover, GPs will also need to provide more thorough organ donation support and advice from March 2022, and registering will be available both online and through an app from July 2022 – a step which is hoped will increase the number of people registering as organ donors.

Final Thoughts

There are numerous key changes being implemented in Germany throughout 2022, and these may play a significant role in the ways by which we live. Fortunately, many of these changes will hopefully be easy for businesses to adjust to, and support is available to help consumers with the transition as well.

There are many of great places to live in Germany. If you decided start your new life in Berlin, Frankfurt, Dresden, Cologne or other place, you won't be disappointed.