2024 in Germany: All of the changes you need to know about

2024 in Germany: All of the changes you need to know about

2024 is just around the corner and Germany has big plans ahead. The Opportunity Card will hopefully see millions make the country their new home, while fathers and second parents are set to get paid leave after the birth of a child as part of a historic new law. Here are all the changes coming to Germany in 2024!

Changes to immigration and citizenship law

If all goes to plan, 2024 should bring with it one of the most exciting changes for expats in Germany, the country’s new dual citizenship law. There are also exciting developments ahead for anyone wanting to move to Germany for the first time.

German dual citizenship law 2024

With all the twists and turns throughout its legislative evolution, Germany’s new dual citizenship law has dominated our headlines in 2023. It has just been announced that the coalition has agreed on the newest version of the law, meaning it can head to a second reading in the Bundestag and hopefully be voted on in January 2024. This means that the law may be on track to be enshrined by April 2024.

In its current form, the new law will mean that people who have been resident in Germany for just five years will be eligible for a German passport. They will also be able to keep their original nationality and have dual citizenship. In cases where prospective citizens show impressive achievements in their work and speak German at C1 level, they will be eligible to apply for citizenship after just three years.

Older people and children will also benefit from the new law. Once it is introduced, residents who are over 67 will no longer have to prove their B1-level language skills and will not have to pass a naturalisation test to obtain citizenship. The rules will be relaxed for children born to non-German parents in the federal republic, who should soon be eligible for a passport if just one of their parents has been legally resident in Germany for at least five years when the child is born.

We will continue to cover every development of the dual citizenship law in 2024, so stay tuned for more IamExpat coverage.

Opportunity Card law will make it easier to move to Germany

Moving to Germany as a non-EU citizen is also set to get easier in 2024, when the government introduces the second phase of its new skilled worker law on May 31. 

The new Chancenkarte (Opportunity Card) will allow people from non-EU countries to move to Germany for one year and carry out part-time work. Previously, most non-EU citizens had to have a concrete job offer in Germany before they could move to the country.

Chancenkarte applicants must meet two prerequisites; they have two years of vocational training or a university degree and that they speak A1-level German or B2-level English.

The card will allow holders to carry out part-time work (20 hours per week) or an unlimited number of two-week-long trial jobs during their year-long stay in Germany, which can also be extended by an additional two years. The idea is that cardholders should use this period to look for long-term employment in Germany, and once the Chancenkarte period of between one and three years is up, if they have found long-term employment, they will be eligible to apply for a permanent residence permit.

If this sounds like what you’re looking for, check out the German government’s Chancenkarte website for more detailed information.

Changes to social security

If you receive, or think you may be newly eligible for, any social security benefits in Germany, you’ll want to know about these key changes in 2024:

Income thresholds for health insurance and pensions will rise

At the moment in Germany, you have to earn at least 66.000 euros per year to opt for private health insurance rather than pay into and use statutory health insurance. In 2024, this income threshold will be increased to 69.300 euros per year before tax. 

Currently, statutory health insurance plans in Germany all charge the same basic rate of 14,6 percent of your gross salary. This contribution is split equally between you and your employer (7,3 percent each).

However, in the new year, there will be some changes made to the Beitragsbemessungsgrenze (literally, “contribution assessment limit”). This is a cap on how much of your income is factored in when deciding the amount that makes up your 7,3 percent contribution.

In 2024, the Beitragsbemessungsgrenze will increase from 59.850 euros before tax to 62.100 euros. This means that if you earn 72.300 euros per year before tax, for example, your statutory insurance contributions will be calculated as if you earn 62.100, rather than your full income.

These methods are also used to determine how much people in Germany can contribute towards their state pension. In 2024, the monthly income threshold for pension contributions will be capped at 7.450 euros in former East Germany and 7.550 euros in former West Germany.

Additional cost health insurance payments may go up

The additional cost (Zusatzbeitrag) payments towards statutory health insurance coverage in Germany will rise by 0,1 percentage points in 2024. These extra contributions entitle insured people to treatments not covered by statutory health insurance, such as professional teeth cleaning or dentures, cancer screenings for people under 30, IVF and contraception.

Currently, health insurance companies in Germany can charge a maximum of 1,6 percent for the Zusatzbeitrag, the cost of which is shared equally between worker and employer, just like main contribution payments for statutory health insurance.

This new 1,7 percent rate is the maximum that companies will be able to charge for additional contributions. However since each of Germany’s 96 health insurance companies set its own additional contribution rate, people will be differently affected depending on which company provides their insurance.

Parental allowance income thresholds will be lowered

Parental allowance (Elterngeld) is a social security benefit that new parents can claim while they are on parental leave (Elternzeit). Currently, all new parents who are EU citizens, German citizens or have a German residence permit, who care for their child and work no more than 32 hours per week, qualify for the social security benefit so long as their combined annual income does not exceed 300.000 euros before tax.

In the German government's initial budget for 2024, Finance Minister Christian Lindner planned to halve the maximum combined annual income before tax, meaning that parents could earn up to 150.000 euros before they were no longer eligible to receive Elterngeld. This meant that 60.000 families in Germany would no longer be eligible to receive support payments. 

Critics were quick to argue that the policy contradicted the initial intentions of Elterngeld;  to reduce gender inequality in heterosexual parenting couples by encouraging mothers’ financial independence and return to work as well as motivating fathers’ to be more involved in raising their own children.

After all this, Lindner was forced back to the drawing board and has now said that the income threshold will be reduced gradually. Instead, from April 1, 2024, the threshold will fall to 200.000 euros combined income before tax and then from April 1, 2025, it will fall again to 175.000 euros.

For single parents, the threshold will be lowered from April 1, 2024, from 250.000 euros before tax to 150.000 euros. The income threshold for single parents will not change on April 1, 2025.

Changes to how parental leave can be divided between parents

Another change is coming to the way that parental leave can be used. Until now, two parents were entitled to 14 months of parental leave, which could be divided by each parent as they pleased and could also be taken by both parents at the same time. 

For babies born after April 1, 2024, however, parents will only be able to take one month of leave at the same time, during the other 13 months, one parent will have to be at work. Exceptions are made if parents welcome more than one baby into the world at the same time or if a baby is born prematurely.

Child maintenance payments will increase

From the beginning of 2024, parents who are divorced or separated in Germany will have to pay more maintenance for their underage children.

Accordingly, children up to the age of six will be entitled to a minimum maintenance of 480 euros per month, an increase of 43 euros. For children aged between six and 12, the minimum payment is increasing by 49 euros to at least 511 euros per month. For children aged 13 to 18, parents will have to pay at least 645 euros per month. 

These are the minimum amounts and are adjusted upwards according to the parent’s income, following the rates laid out by the so-called Düsseldorf Table.

Citizens’ allowance payments will rise

In 2024, single people who claim citizens’ allowance (Bürgergeld) unemployment benefits will see a 12 percent increase in the monthly payments they receive. Instead of 502 euros per month, claimants will receive 563 euros. 

Parents and carers who claim Bürgergeld will also see their monthly payments increase for every child they care for. They will receive 471 euros rather than 420 euros for each teenager in their care between the ages of 15 and 18. For children between seven and 14, they will receive 390 euros, an increase of 42 euros per month. Finally for each child under the age of six, they will receive 357 euros per month rather than the current 318 euros.

Changes affecting working people

There are several new regulations which will reshape working life in Germany in 2024:

Statutory minimum wage will go up

From January 1, people who are working in Germany will be legally entitled to at least 12,14 euros per hour, an increase from the 2022 rate of 12 euros.

The minimum wage is already scheduled to increase again from January 2025, when it will rise to 12,82 euros. 

Minijob income threshold will rise

Wage laws are also changing for people in Germany who work in so-called Minijobs. Minijobs allow employees to earn a certain amount of money per month without having to pay taxes.

From January 1, this tax-free income limit will increase from 520 euros to 538 euros per month. The limit on annual tax-free earnings for Minijobbers will increase to 6.456 euros.

Germany will introduce 10-day paid paternity leave

From 2024, fathers or second parents (i.e. the parent who is not giving birth) will be entitled to 10 days of paid leave after their child is born. This time will not affect their paid holiday days or take away from time available for Elternzeit.

Alongside maternity leave, which grants the parent who gives birth six weeks of fully paid leave ahead of the due date and two months of leave following, the new paternity leave (Vaterschaftsurlaub) will be enshrined in Germany’s Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz).

Parents will not have to apply for Vaterschaftsurlaub. Instead, it will come into effect automatically from the day the child is born.

Changes to the tax system in Germany

The German tax system can be confusing territory. Here are the most important changes that are coming to taxation in 2024:

Basic tax-free allowance threshold to rise

Germany’s basic tax income threshold (Grundfreibetrag) will increase from 10.908 euros to 11.604 euros from January 1. For married couples, the amount will increase to 23.208. Any income below these figures will not be taxed in 2024.

Child tax exemption rate will rise

The amount that parents can earn before their monthly income is taxed will rise in 2024. The new child tax exemption (Kinderfreibetrag) rate will increase from 6.024 euros to 6.384 euros in 2024.

Changes to transport

2023 was the year of the Deutschlandticket, the slightly disappointing older sibling of the ever-wonderful 9-euro ticket. What will 2024 have in store for us when it comes to hopping around the country?

49-euro Deutschlandticket will be more expensive

We all knew the day was coming. Since before the 49-euro ticket was released on May 1, 2023, Germany’s state and federal governments have been arguing about how the ticket can be funded in the long term.

To help find the missing budget, the VDV has suggested that the cost of the ticket, which grants holders unlimited access to local and regional public transport across the whole of Germany, be increased from 49 euros to 59 euros per month. A specific date for the price increase is yet to be confirmed.

29-euro ticket will return to Berlin

BVG, the local transport association in Berlin, will reintroduce the popular 29-euro public transport ticket in 2024. So far, only a provisional relaunch date of July 1, 2024 has been announced, but not confirmed.

The monthly ticket, which gives anyone unlimited access to public transport in the AB zone (the zone covering all of the inner city and most of suburban Berlin) was originally introduced in October 2022. The ticket was available until April 2023, but was eclipsed by the 49-euro Deutschlandticket launch. Soon we can welcome its return!

Electric car subsidies scrapped

Thanks to Germany’s budget crisis, the government has decided to cut subsidies to help people buy e-cars. The subsidy program was originally set to last until the end of 2024. It will now be cut sooner, but a date has not yet been specified.

According to the Ministry for Economy, whether your car is registered yet will likely be the deciding factor as to whether you can still hope to see the subsidy money in your bank account. This is particularly bad news for people who may already have gone through the process of buying a car but have not registered the vehicle.

Cars must have a black box installed

From July 7, 2023 newly registered cars in Germany must be equipped with an event data recorder box, similar to a black box on an aeroplane, which can be assessed in the event of a road accident.

Changes affecting consumers

If all goes to plan, 2024 will see Germany introduce a landmark law which could influence other countries in Europe to follow in its footsteps: 

Germany will legalise cannabis

Discussions and disagreements about the particulars of the law mean that it will no longer be enshrined by January 1, 2023. But by April 2024, it should be the case that people in Germany can spark up a joint and grow some plants of their own without fear of being criminalised.

When the new cannabis law is implemented, at least in its current form, weed will only be available for purchase via Cannabis Social Clubs, for which people will have to register as members. Members will have to be at least 18 years old and a club will be able to have a maximum of 500 members. 

Those between the ages of 18 and 21 will only be able to purchase cannabis that has a maximum THC content of 10 percent and will be limited to purchasing a maximum of 30 grams per month. Members over 21 years old will be able to purchase a maximum of 50 grams per month.

Gas price cap will be scrapped

This is technically a 2023 change, but it will happen at the stroke of midnight! The price cap on gas and electricity (Gaspreisbremse), introduced to keep home utilities affordable after Russia invaded Ukraine, will be scrapped from December 31, 2023.

The policy caps energy prices at a maximum of 12 cents per kilowatt hour of gas and 40 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity for 80 percent of a household’s average annual usage. The difference is then paid out by the German government.

The decision means that consumers can expect the cost of home utilities to go up just as the weather bites in January.

VAT will go up in cafes and restaurants

Germany’s VAT rate was lowered as a buffer against inflation during the energy crisis. Now, it is set to be raised once again from 7 percent to 19 percent. This means that going out for food and a beer in Germany will be more expensive come the new year.

Building Energy Act will come into force

A watered-down version of Robert Habeck’s Building Energy Act (GEG), commonly known as the Heizungsgesetz, will come into force from January 1, 2024.

This means that building owners must make sure that newly installed heating systems are powered by at least 65 percent renewable energies from this date. If you rent your house in Germany, you can find out what the new heating law means for you here.

Pfand for plastic milk bottles

Beer, fizzy drinks, juice and now… milk bottles. From 2024, plastic milk bottles will be included in the country’s Pfand (bottle deposit) scheme. 

2024 is almost here

Think we’ve missed a major change? Please let us know in the comments below. Guten Rutsch!

Thumb image credit: shutting /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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