May 2022: 9 changes affecting expats in Germany
A new month can only mean one thing: more changes are coming to Germany. From the census to the end of COVID testing in kitas, here are 9 things expats should look out for in May 2022.
1. Sales start for 9-euro tickets
It’s been a bit of a rocky road, but it looks as if the much-anticipated 9-euro public transport ticket will finally kick off on June 1, 2022, offering passengers unlimited use of public transport nationwide for just 9 euros per month, until the end of August.
Some transport operators have announced that presales for the discounted monthly tickets will start in May, so keep an eye out for information at your local station. For instance, the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsbund, which covers Frankfurt am Main and the surrounding area, has named May 20 as the probable presale start date.
2. Deadline for submitting 2020 tax returns
Anyone who uses a tax advisor in Germany to help prepare their annual tax return gets their deadline extended by a few months. For 2020 returns, that grace period will soon come to an end. Your 2020 tax return needs to be submitted to the tax office by May 31, 2022, at the latest, to avoid a penalty of 0,25 percent of your tax bill (at least 25 euros).
3. COVID hotspot states ease regulations
At the beginning of April, most federal states in Germany opted to ease coronavirus restrictions, waving away 3G and 2G rules for events and venues. Two states, however, decided to make use of the government’s hotspot regulation and keep them in place for the time being. That will now come to an end. In Hamburg, the regulation expired automatically at the end of April, while Mecklenburg-Vorpommern lifted all remaining restrictions on April 28.
4. End of regular COVID testing in schools and daycare centres
For months, children across Germany have been tested for coronavirus up to three times a week to attend primary and secondary schools and daycare centres. With the school Easter holidays now coming to a close, however, mandatory regular testing is also being scrapped in most parts of the country.
In Bavaria, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, testing will most likely end on May 2. Schools in Thuringia will carry on testing until May 6, while Berlin is set to keep an adapted testing strategy in place for the foreseeable future.
5. New labels for discounted food
Many supermarkets in Germany offer food at a discount if it is getting close to its expiry date, to help reduce wastage. Up until now, companies have been obliged to show the new price on discounted products, but from May 28 a simpler tag such as “30 percent off” will be allowed, without the new price having to be displayed. This is intended to make labelling easier for workers and to overall lead to less food waste.
6. New price tags for food in supermarkets
Elsewhere in the exciting world of food labelling systems, the new Price Adjustment Ordinance comes into effect on May 28, making it easier for customers to compare prices at supermarkets. Up until now, supermarkets often used different systems for displaying the base price of a product: sometimes in euros per kilogram or litre, and other times in euros per gram or millilitre, making it harder for customers to work out which item was the better deal. In future, only one base price will be possible: the one per litre or per kilogram.
7. More transparency on e-commerce websites
When shopping online, have you ever wondered why certain products appear at the top of the search results and keep appearing again and again? From May 2022, companies that sell via the internet will be subject to new transparency rules that require them to show more clearly how the results are sorted.
For instance, a label should make it clear why the products are being shown in a certain order: according to how many times they have been viewed or sold, how recently they were posted, how popular they are, or if they’re sponsored items.
Other changes include retailers having to make transparency statements about product reviews, comparison portals giving information about which providers were taken into account, and all retailers having to provide a telephone number and an email address.
8. Cooling off period for door-to-door selling
A change in May should also better protect consumers in deals with door-to-door salespeople. In the case of contracts concluded during an unsolicited home visit, sellers will no longer be able to demand payment there and then, to allow the customer to “cool off”. It should also be easier to cancel contracts made on the doorstep. However, the changes only apply to contracts worth more than 50 euros.
9. Census kicks off
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been 11 years since the last census, but it’s finally happening this spring and summer. From May 15, data will begin to be collected on the German population’s living and working conditions.
The census will involve around 10 million people, who will be randomly selected for the survey on the basis of their age, marital status, nationality and living and working conditions. All of the data will be evaluated anonymously. The results of the census will be available in November 2023.