Expat life in Germany can be especially daunting. Every year, new and updated policies come into effect that expats need to be aware of, often feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of changes. While it may seem tough to keep up to date with all these alterations, the best way to make your life as an expat in Germany successful and fulfilling is by proactively preparing early for the inevitable policy shifts. With a little extra effort in understanding and learning the rules of the game around you, it’s possible to enjoy a journey filled with joyous cultural experiences.
Expats in Germany face significant issues, such as a language barrier and the difficulty involved in learning German, finding work, figuring out where to live, understanding the red-tape maze and bureaucracy, dealing with the culture shock, and more. While it can be challenging to navigate these hurdles, having a keen understanding of policy changes affecting expats will surely make things easier for you.
So, without ado, let’s explore the changing laws, rules, and regulations that are bound to affect you in 2022:
Social Security Changes
Here are the changes that will affect social security in Germany in 2022:
New Social Security Contribution Threshold
Each year, the federal government alters the social security contribution assessment ceiling. However, due to negative wage development in 2021, most thresholds will remain the same, and some will reduce. The income threshold for statutory health insurance and long-term care insurance contributions will remain the same this year.
Meanwhile, the threshold for pension insurance will vary across different federal states as the government tries to reduce the difference between pensions in western and eastern Germany. You should contact your expat insurance company to determine what these changes mean for your insurance.
Compulsory Insurance Limit Will Remain Unchanged
The compulsory insurance limit will remain at 64,350 euros each year. If you earn more than that, you can take our private health insurance in the country. It will allow you to discuss personal accident insurance and other medical insurance varieties with your provider.
Childless Individuals Will Pay Higher Long-Term Contributions
Germany will increase the contribution rates for long-term care insurance for childless individuals in 2022. They will justify this increment by stating that it will cost the state more to take care of them in their old age without children to take care of them. So, childless individuals aged 23 or more will see a 0.1% to 3.4% rise in their contributions.
Germany’s healthcare is facing the following changes:
Digital Sick Notes
People working in Germany have had to send digital copies of their doctor’s certificates to their employer to avail sick leave for some time now. But from July 1, 2022, the doctor will send copies to the resident or expat international insurance company and your employer directly.
The Use of E-Prescriptions
The government wants to replace the pink prescription forms doctors use for prescribing medicine in January 2022, but the changeover to e-prescription hasn’t taken place yet. However, the Federal Health Ministry insists that the change, allowing your GP to send an e-prescription to the pharmacy directly, will occur this year.
EU Digital Certificate’s Limited Validity
The European Commission decreed in December 2021 that starting from February 1, digital COVID certificates will remain valid for nine months without a booster vaccine.
Online Organ-Donation Information
From March 2022, GPs will need to give you more detailed information about your organ donation options. A new online portal will enable you to register for organ donation or withdraw your prior consent.
Here are the changes you should be mindful of when working in Germany:
Increment in Tax-Free Allowance
The country will increase the rudimentary tax-free allowance for adults by 204 euros. It means that single individuals will not have to pay taxes on the first 9,984 euros of their salary. For couples in a registered marriage, the amount is double.
Moreover, the taxable component of pensions will be 82% in 2022, and only new pensioners will be affected by this 1% increment. If you are facing trouble with your taxes, it’s best to reach out to financial services in Germany to make sense of them.
Minimum Wage Will Increase
Germany’s minimum wage will increase this year to 982 euros each hour. It will see a hike again in July and reach 1,045 euros per hour.
If you lose a job in the country, you can register online with the Employment Agency to receive unemployment benefits. All you will need is a valid electronic proof of identity.
Compulsory COVID Vaccines in the Healthcare Industry
In 2022, healthcare workers will need to present proof of vaccine to work in German hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare institutes.
Benefit & Allowance Changes
Here are the changes in allowances and benefits:
Increase in Hartz IV
Individuals receiving unemployment benefit II (Hartz IV) will receive more money this year. Single individuals will receive a three euro increase, which will take their benefit up to 449 euros per month. The standard rate for young people and children will also increase.
More Care Relief
Germany will offer further relief to caregiver relatives, care staff, and people in need of care. Individuals who receive care in their homes will receive a supplement from their long-term care insurance to ensure they can manage the rising costs.
Increment in Child allowance & Maintenance Advance
The Kinderzuschlag or supplementary child allowance that low-income families receive along with their regular child benefit will increase this year to a maximum of 209 euros each month. Meanwhile, the maintenance advance given to single parents who receive no or irregular maintenance payments from the other parent will increase per the rising minimum maintenance amount.
The Bottom Line
With each passing year, Germany introduces more new laws and policies that affect its residents and expats. These were merely some of the significant policies that would affect anyone living in Germany. I hope they help you navigate the new rules seamlessly.