April 2023: 9 changes affecting expats in Germany
April marks the end of mandatory mask-wearing in all settings in Germany, the end of the era of German nuclear power production, and the start of the much-awaited presale of the 49-euro ticket. Here are 10 upcoming changes that expats in Germany should know about in April 2023.
1. Employee lump sum to increase
From April onwards, workers in Germany are set to see more money in their bank accounts at end of each month. Changes to the tax system and income tax deductions mean that the Arbeitnehmerpauschale (employee lump sum) will rise to 1.230 euros per year. This means that each year the Finanzamt will assume that you have work-related expenses up to this amount and will automatically deduct this figure from your taxable salary.
The amount of tax-free allowance for single parents will also increase to 4.260 euros, plus 240 euros for additional children. Both these changes mean you might get a little bit more in your pay slip at the end of April!
2. 49-euro Deutschlandticket presale starts
Using the "Dein Deutschlandticket" app, organised people in Germany can already get their hands on the ticket, which will be valid from May 1. The 49-euro ticket covers all regional trains and public transport in Germany for one month.
It will also soon be possible to purchase the 49-euro ticket via the Deutsche Bahn "DB Navigator” app, and as a paper ticket, as was the case with the 9-euro ticket. Unlike the 9-euro ticket, the 49-euro ticket will only be available as a subscription, but it will be cancellable on a monthly basis.
It is yet to be determined whether certain groups, such as students or recipients of benefits, will have their tickets further subsidised. For this reason, if you are part of one of these groups, it might be wise to wait for further policy developments before purchasing your ticket. Employees at some German companies have already been given a subsidised ticket option.
3. Germany bids goodbye to nuclear power
Since the 1970s a little orange sunshine has been asking, “Atomkraft?” And finally in April 2023 Germany is responding with a delayed “Nein danke”.
2022 was supposed to be the year that the federal republic closed down its three remaining nuclear power plants. But Putin’s March invasion of Ukraine threw plans off-track, with the German government delaying closures throughout last year while alternative sources of energy to Russian gas were being secured. But on April 15, the Isar 2, Neckarwestheim 2 and Emsland plants will finally close.
4. Masks no longer mandatory in hospitals and care homes
Back in February masks were scrapped on public transport in Germany and in March, for staff in medical facilities. Now, from April 7, anyone who visits a hospital or care home in Germany will also no longer be required to wear an FFP2 face mask.
With this change comes new regulations around coronavirus vaccines. Vaccines will no longer be free at the point of use but are likely to be made available free of charge in the near future through the Gesetzliche Krankenkassen (statutory health insurance providers).
5. Mobile data with streaming or music flat rates are no longer
Until now, some mobile telephone providers in Germany have offered unlimited data for certain streaming platforms and social media sites. But thanks ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union, app-specific unlimited data will soon no longer be available in Germany.
The European court ruled that such tariffs do not comply with net neutrality laws and since the decision was made in September 2021, no new customers have been offered unlimited data for certain apps. From April 1 however, this policy will also be scrapped for customers who had such a deal in the contract they bought before the ruling was made.
6. New driving licence exam questions
Anyone who is learning to drive in Germany and has been practising their theoretical exam questions with the Lern-App should double-check which version they have downloaded. From April, 44 new questions will be added to the list of possible questions that can be asked in a theoretical driving test in Germany.
7. North Rhine-Westphalia train routes blocked
North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous federal state, will be hit by significant disruptions to transport in April. From March 31 to April 14 lines between Essen and Duisburg will be blocked off completely for two weeks. Further east, between Essen, Bochum and Dortmund, and between Düsseldorf and Duisburg, many trains are likely to be cancelled.
ICE and IC trains will also not be stopping in Mülheim an der Ruhr during the disruptions, which are caused by modernisation works to electricity supplies.
8. Queer blood donor restrictions lifted
Thanks to the overturning of 1980s health policy, gay or bisexual men and trans women who have sex with men will be able to donate blood in Germany from April 1. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach announced last month that stipulated that risk assessments of all potential donors will now be carried out indiscriminately, regardless of the donors’ sexuality or gender identity.
9. Microsoft services will increase in price
From April onwards, software sold by Microsoft will go up in price. This will include Cloud products such as Microsoft 365, Office 365, Dynamics 365, Microsoft Defender and Teams. Price increases will vary depending on the product, but costs will increase by as much as 20 percent.
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