February 2024: 14 changes affecting expats in Germany

February 2024: 14 changes affecting expats in Germany

There’s so much happening in February this year that the month is one day longer than normal to fit it all in. Here are the changes that expats in Germany need to know about.

1. Airport security staff strike on February 1

On January 30, ver.di announced that airport security staff would go out on strike across the country on February 1. Involving 25.000 employees represented by the trade union, the strike is expected to bring air travel to a standstill at airports in Hamburg, Bremen, Hanover, Berlin, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Leipzig, Dresden, Erfurt, Frankfurt and Stuttgart.

2. Nationwide public transport strike for February 2 - apart from Bavaria

Another strike while the iron is hot! On February 2, 9.000 employees at local transport associations across Germany will go out on strike. The strike will affect every German federal state apart from Bavaria and bring U-Bahns, buses and trams to a standstill. Deutsche Bahn-run services and S-Bahns will run as normal.

3. Bundesrat to vote on citizenship law

After it was passed in the Bundestag on January 19, Germany’s new dual citizenship law has now been scheduled to go to a Bundesrat vote on February 2, for the penultimate stage of the legislative process.

If the law passes through the Bundesrat without a hitch, which is the expected outcome, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the current German President, will then be invited to sign the draft into law. Following the current timeline, the law is expected to come into force in early May 2024.

4. Heizungsgesetz will come into effect

Germany’s controversial new heating law is set to come into effect from February 27, after which, newly installed heating systems will have to be powered by at least 65 percent renewable energy.

Under the new law, anyone who wants to install a heating system that runs on renewables will receive a subsidy payment from the government which covers 30 percent of the installation costs. People working for lower wages will receive a payment covering 60 percent. To encourage a quick switch over to renewables, those who install the new system by 2028 can get another 20 percent of the costs covered.

However, there will be caps on subsidies. Each household will be able to have a maximum of 70 percent of the installation costs covered by government subsidies.

If you’re one of Germany’s many renters, you can check out what the new law means for you here.

5. Less money for solar power savings

If you live in Germany and have a solar system installed which feeds electricity into the main grid, from February 1 you will receive less money for your contributions.

Until now, contributors would be remunerated at a rate of 8,2 cents for every 10-kilowatt peak (kWp). This will be reduced to 8,1 cents for every 10-kWp.

6. EU Digital Services Act will come into effect

On February 17, the EU’s new Digital Services Act (DSA) is set to come into force. The EU has said that the act should “prevent illegal and harmful activities online and the spread of disinformation” by regulating “online intermediaries and platforms such as marketplaces, social networks, content-sharing platforms, app stores, and online travel and accommodation platforms”. 

The act should make it easier for internet users to complain about or report illegal content on the internet and ban targeting advertising to children. It will also bring in stricter data protection rules and make sure that products sold online meet EU standards.

7. Pharmacies will change co-payments system

Until now, if you went to the pharmacy in Germany to collect your prescription but the shop was out of stock for your 90-pill blister pack - for example - the pharmacist could give you three 30-pill packs, but you would be charged for each pack, which often costs more than the “multipack”.

Now, patients' co-payments - prescription costs paid by someone who is covered by health insurance - will be based not on pack size, but on the amount of medicine inside, so pharmacy stocks won’t impact if you get a better deal or not. These new rules come in from February 1.

8. More information about how the sausage gets made

We don’t like to think about where the meat on our plates comes from, but from February 11, turning a blind eye will get a little harder in Germany.

If you’re buying meat at the butcher or a supermarket counter, the seller will have to display where the animal was farmed and how it was killed. This will apply to pigs, sheep, goats and poultry.

9. Less, but still some, prison time for unpaid fines

In Germany, people who fail to pay their fines can end up in prison. This is even the case for crimes such as Schwarzfahren (riding a train without a ticket).

Until now, the rule has been that the amount of fines equalled the amount of prison time. For example, if you got caught riding a “day’s worth” of public transport for free, you’d be spending a day behind bars.

Now, this prison time will be half, so you’d get just the morning or afternoon in prison for a day's worth of fines.

10. Berlin returns to the polls

Berliners in 455 constituencies in the city will head to the polls on February 11 to recast their votes in the 2021 German federal election.

Back in December, Germany’s Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg ruled that Berliners had to re-vote within the next 90 days. On the original triple election day back in 2021, a series of blunders ensued; polling stations ran out of ballot papers after delivery vans got stuck in transit, all while the Berlin Marathon caused major traffic diversions in the city centre.

It is expected that the re-vote in Berlin will not significantly shake up the make-up of the Bundestag, and the traffic-light coalition is still set to keep its majority.

11. Germany will launch its largest-ever four-day week trial

In February, Germany will begin its largest ever four-day working week pilot project, organised by business consultancy company, Intraprenör and 4 Day Week Global.

Since September 21, 2023 companies in Germany were able to sign up to take part in the trial. Between September and now these companies have carried out a guided, planning and onboarding phase, during which they were given guidance on how to organise tasks and methods of communication to best facilitate the shorter working week.

In phase two, the companies will adopt the four-day week until December 2024, recording reflections and problems along the way. The trial will be similar to that which took place in the UK in 2022, where 61 companies reduced their working hours to four days per week but maintained productivity levels and paid employees the same wage as during a five-day week.

12. Amazon Prime streaming will become more expensive

Anyone who streams using Amazon Prime is going to have to dig a little deeper into their pocket each month from February 5 onwards.

Like Netflix, Amazon is introducing a service with ads, so those who want to save their eyeballs from more ads will have to pay an extra 2,99 euros per month to watch ad-free.

13. Carnival season ends!

Beginning every year on November 11 at 11:11am and continuing through to Rosenmontag, carnival season will come to a close on February 12.

Head to the heart of Karneval celebrations, Cologne, to see the wittiest float takes on the past year’s political and cultural happenings in Germany, and of course some wild costumes!

14. Every four years, a leap year!

Don’t forget - 2024 is a leap year! How will you make the most of an extra 24 hours of the year on February 29?

Thumb image credit: Bokehboo Studios /

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...

Read more



Leave a comment