October 2020: 11 changes affecting expats in Germany
October 2020: 11 changes affecting expats in Germany
It’s not just the clocks that are changing in October 2020. From the second instalment of the Kinderbonus to discounts on train travel, here are 11 important changes that expats in Germany should know about.
1. Clocks go back
Clocks in Germany will be set to winter time (Central European Time) at 3am on Sunday, October 25. Every time the clocks change, people ask: Is it the good one or the bad one? Well, the good news is, we all get an extra hour in bed. The bad news is, the evenings will become noticeably darker.
2. Second Kinderbonus payment paid out to families
The first 200-euro instalment of the so-called child benefit bonus (Kindergeldbonus) - a cornerstone policy of the government’s coronavirus stimulus package - was paid out in September, and now in October the second instalment of 100 euros is on its way to families across the country.
The bonus will be paid out together with your regular child benefit between October 7 and October 22; the exact date depends on the final digit of your child benefit number. Those with a zero are set to receive the bonus first.
3. New rules for events
Stricter restrictions will apply to events, celebrations and gatherings from the turn of the month onwards. As detailed at the government’s press conference on Tuesday, a maximum cap of 50 people will apply to gatherings in public or rented rooms in regions where there have been more than 35 infections were 100.000 inhabitants in the previous seven days. If the number of newly infected people increases to more than 50 per 100.000, the limit will be brought down to 25 people.
There are no nationwide rules for private celebrations, but it is strongly recommended that the number of participants be limited to no more than 25, or 10 in areas with high infection rates.
4. Travellers returning from risk areas must quarantine
Germany will lift its blanket worldwide travel ban from October 1 - but that does not mean an end to travel restrictions. If a country is classified as a coronavirus risk area, a travel warning for unnecessary tourist travel will continue to apply in principle.
Additionally, after October 1, everyone arriving into Germany from a designated risk area will be ordered to go into quarantine for at least five days. After the fifth day, you can get tested for coronavirus and, if you get a negative result, the quarantine period can be cut short. Otherwise, it ends after 14 days. Free tests for travellers returning from non-risk areas are no longer available.
Responsibility for implementing and enforcing these rules lies with Germany’s 16 federal states, so there might be small regional differences.
5. Online registration portal for travellers
Another change for travellers: anyone who enters Germany from a risk area from October 15 onwards will also be required to register via an online portal - or risk a fine. After entering their personal information, they will receive a confirmation that they may need to show at a checkpoint - for instance, if requested by police at the airport. The data will also be sent to the relevant health authority. The requirement does not apply to commuters and other travellers from border regions.
6. Closure of some corona test centres
7. Half price BahnCard 25
If you’ve been toying with the idea of getting a BahnCard, here’s your chance to grab a bargain! Throughout the month of October, Deutsche Bahn will be offering their BahnCard 25 for the reduced price of 24,90 euros, instead of 54,60 euros. It gives you 25 percent off train fares for a whole year.
Although things are now slowly improving, train travel in Germany has taken a major hit during the coronavirus crisis. Back in April, passenger numbers were down by up to 90 percent, with many trains running empty. Deutsche Bahn is therefore attempting to lure people back with a number of special offers. A special offer for young people is planned for November as well.
8. Increase in fixed allowance for some dental treatments
From October onwards, those with statutory health insurance who are fitted with crowns, bridges or implants by their dentist will receive a bigger subsidy from their health insurance fund. The so-called fixed allowance will increase from 50 to 60 percent of the total price next month.
And those who go for regular check-ups can save even more: anyone covered by public health insurance who goes for a dental check-up at least once a year gets a “bonus booklet”. From October 1, anyone who has five years of regular visits documented in their bonus booklet can claim 70 percent in subsidies for dental work. For 10 years without interruption, it will rise to 75 percent.
9. Samsung Pay comes to Germany
Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been a rollercoaster year for contactless payments in Germany - and things are about to go one step further. As of October 28, Samsung Pay will be available in the federal republic. According to Samsung manager Thorsten Böker, the new service can be linked to almost any German bank account, since it processes all payments via virtual Visa debit cards from Solarisbank.
10. Higher minimum wage in waste management
Anyone who works in waste management in Germany, including winter road clearance and street cleaning, can look forward to a little bit more money in their pay packet from October 1, because their minimum wage will rise from 10 euros to 10,25 euros per hour. It is due to increase further to 10,45 euros in 2021.
11. Hedge trimming allowed again
One final change this October: you are once again allowed to radically prune your hedges, shrubs and trees in Germany. According to Article 39 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act, “excessive” trimming of “hedges, living fences, bushes and other woody plants in the period from March 1 to September 30” is prohibited, to preserve the habitats of birds. From October 1, however, you can grab your pruning shears and let loose.