December 2022: 7 changes affecting expats in Germany
December sees multiple parts of the German government’s energy relief package hit. Deutsche Bahn’s services are expanding with night trains and, after a two-year hiatus, fireworks bangs are likely to ring in the new year again. Here are seven things expats in Germany should know about in December 2022.
1. Deutsche Bahn timetable changes
Deutsche Bahn’s new train timetables will come into effect on December 11, 2022. Alongside extra long-distance routes and night trains connecting German cities with destinations abroad, the new timetable promises more frequent and faster services on popular routes - but prices are also going up.
There will be extended connections to the main airport in Frankfurt, new night trains to Switzerland and Poland, and the Munich - Venice / Rijeka / Zagreb / Vienna / Budapest night train will now start in Stuttgart and take in other stops in Bavaria along its route.
From mid-December, the new ICE 3neo train model will make its first appearance on the tracks between Cologne and Munich. These new ICE trains can travel at speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour and offer more space for families and luggage.
2. Household gas payments covered
Germany’s gas price cap (Gaspreisbremse) includes a policy that will see the government cover gas and district heating bills for households and small businesses in December with a one-time payment.
The amount that the government put forward to cover your utility bills will be based on how much your household paid for their bills in September. If you pay your energy bills directly, you should be able to figure out the amount you are likely to receive by looking at previous bills. If you rent and your gas bills are paid through your landlord, they will credit the payment to you or reduce warm rent costs.
3. Payment for pensioners
During December pensioners in Germany will receive a one-off 300-euro payment to mitigate the consequences of the rising cost of energy. The policy was announced as a follow-up to the 300-euro government support payment, which only benefitted people working in Germany.
People who receive either an old-age, reduced earnings capacity, or a survivor’s pension are eligible for the new lump sum payment. According to Federal Employment Minister Hubertus Heil, the payment should reach all eligible people between December 1 and 15, 2022. It will be paid out automatically by the respective pension payment offices. It is subject to income tax but not social security contributions.
4. State employee pay rise
People who are employed by the state (Beamte) in Germany will receive a 2,8 percent pay rise starting December 1. Apprentices, interns and students will receive 50 euros more with their wages every month and professionals in healthcare will get 70 euros more.
5. Firework ban lift
New Year’s Eve in 2020 and 2021 saw Germany officially ban the sale of fireworks. In 2022, despite widespread support for a Germany-wide ban - and not only on Silvester - the government has decided against banning private fireworks nationwide, meaning the new year will likely once again be run in with the provocative pyrotechnics. Individual German cities could still forbid the New Year's Eve tradition ahead of the holiday.
6. Tattoo and hair removal regulations
According to new regulations doctors and cosmeticians in Germany will have to be officially qualified to carry out laser hair or tattoo removal come December 31, 2022. The regulation has been brought in to improve safety standards in the industry.
7. Apple to launch iPhone SOS satellite call
December will see the Apple SOS satellite call option be made available to customers in Germany. Already in the US and Canada, the “Emergency SOS via Satellite” feature allows users to contact the emergency services even if they do not have any internet connection or reception for their mobile phones.
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