Finding a Doctor in Germany

Living in Germany can lead to daily challenges such going to the hairdresser, finding the nearest supermarket or choosing the right doctor. Back home, this decision is easier since you already know the country and how things are done there, mostly when it comes to medical issues.

However, as an expat finding the right doctor can be tough, not only because of the language difference, but also because of the lack of knowledge about the healthcare system and how does it work.

As I already mentioned in my post about the German Health Care System, this country counts with universal coverage for all the citizens. Therefore, every German resident has at least a public health insurance. Nevertheless, those who’d rather pay to have more coverages are enrolled in a private insurance.

For you as an expat, it is important to know that once you do the Anmeldung (registration as a resident in Germany) you will need to decide whether you enjoy the benefits of the public healthcare system , or whether you privately pay for a private health insurance.

No matter which decision you take, finding a doctor and calling the emergency number must be done in the same way.

But, how can I find the right doctor? Where should I call if I get badly sick at night?

In this post I will answer these questions and more. Are you ready?

Finding the right doctor

Choosing the right doctor can be intimidating because of the language difference. However, many doctors talk in English, so you do not need to be worried.

If your friends or colleagues cannot give you a good recommendation (yes, first option is always to ask people you already know, the best references usually come by word of mouth), then the best way to find a good doctor is to use the website Jameda, where you can find all the different doctors in your area depending on your illness.

Do not forget that in most of the cases you will need to visit first the Allgemeinarzt or Hausartz (general practitioner). This doctor will then decide whether he/she can take care of you, or whether you need to visit a specialist.

My personal recommendation is that you find a practitioner close to your house or your work place, in this way when you are really sick, you don’t need to cross the city to visit him.

Finally, take into account that to visit some doctors such as dentists, gynecologists and ophthalmologists you can make an appointment directly with them without talking first to the general practitioner.

Which are the office hours?

Office hours may differ depending on the doctor. However, most of the times, doctors are open from Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm and two days per week from 14:00 pm to 18:00 pm.

If you have an emergency (high temperature, influenza symptoms…) you can visit the doctor without making any appointment. Therefore, check the Akutsprechstunden of your general practitioner.

Akutsprechstunden are short consultations intended for acute health complains which are conducted in the doctor’s office during concrete office hours. Usually, Akutsprechstunden take place either early in the morning or in the late afternoon.

How to make an appointment

When making an appointment either per telephone or online.

If you call the doctor’s office, the first person you will speak to is the doctor’s assistant, who will give you an appointment without asking further questions about why you want to see the doctor. Usually, you can shortly explain the reason of your visit, and she will note it down for the doctor.

When making an online appointment, you can do it directly from the doctor’s website or via Doctolib. This page helps you finding doctors near you and making a direct appointment with them based on their availability.

Emergency number

When you have an urgent medical situation at night or during the weekend and doctor offices are closed, where can you go?

In Germany it exists a very important telephone number for people feeling sick and not able to leave their places: 116117. Use this number in case of an emergency that does not require an ambulance rushing to your house.

When calling this number you will first talk to a telephone assistant which will ask you some questions about your symptoms, your address and your social security number (Krankenkassenkarte). This person will then decide whether you need a doctor or an ambulance. In the first case, the nearest doctor will receive an emergency call and he/she will come to your house in less than 10 minutes. In case of an ambulance, the telephone assistant will contact them for you, so that you do not need to take care about anything during this stressful situation.

However, if your situation is critical and you are able to move, go to the nearest hospital with your Krankenkassenkarte and do not care about the costs. In Germany, health insurances take care of them.

Your turn

Have you ever been to the doctor in Germany? Is there any other information you think I should include in this post?

In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your experiences!

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

Leaving Germany: The checklist

Alright… a new experience is knocking on your door and you are ready for it! An exciting future awaits and you have decided to move on and leave Germany, but… do you remember all the administrative things you had to do when you arrived here?

I have some news for you: All those administrative things will come back to you before you leave the country.

Yes… Germans love administrative processes  😊

To be prepare to deal with all these tasks, I have prepared the following list for you. Before checking it, please be aware that many contracts in Germany have clauses where it is said that you have a notice period of -usually- 3 months before the renewal date.

And now…your checklist for leaving Germany:

Apartment Tenancy

In my opinion, this should be one of the first things you should take care of.

Usually, the maximum notice period is 3 calendar months. Unless your contract stipulates different conditions.

The Mietvertragskündigung – or the official tenancy termination notice – should include a short explanation with your reasons to leave the apartment, it also must be signed and it must be sent per post to the landlord.

Phone and internet providers

To cancel your internet or phone contract can be a nightmare in Germany.

Most customers are on fixed-term contracts, which means that they are on 24 months with automatic 12 months renewal contracts. In this case you have to check the notice period written in your contract. For example, I have a notice period of 4 months before the renewal. If the renewal takes places the 1st of October, I have to cancel it before June.

If you are lucky enough to have a pay-as-you-go monthly contract, it will be easy to cancel it. Just send a letter to the provider or try doing it online.

Gym membership

Another nightmare for many expats who are relocating to another country is to cancel their gym membership.

Yes, if you thought that relocation would be a good reason to quit a contract… I’m sorry! Not in Germany!

Some of my friends – ok, almost all of them – had problems with this point. Therefore, my recommendation is to try to persuade the gym staff to accept your cancellation or try to make a deal with them. A friend of mine agreed to pay a certain amount of money so that they cancel the contract…

Another idea could be that someone you know take on your contract terms. A friend of mine did it and it worked! 😊

Insurances 

Moving abroad is not consider as an extraordinary right to terminate an insurance contract. Surprised?

In this case you should follow the regular procedures. Therefore, you have to send a termination letter to you insurance – signed and per post, German style 😉.

Usually, this written document should be sent 3 months before renewal. However, each insurance is different so you should better take a look at your contract to be sure.

Bank account

In my personal opinion, this should be one of the last things you should take care of.

To close your bank account either you send a written letter to the bank or you go to a bank branch with the letter.

The process is automatic and really fast, which means that once you start it, your account will be closed in less than 24 hours. So please, remember to remove all the money from the account before.

Energy

Easy and straightforward. The process is similar to the one you did when you entered the flat or when you moved to another flat within Germany.

On the day you move out, you have to read the meters and give them to your utilities providers. In case your landlord is the responsible of sending this information to the utilities provider, you just need to read the meters and share them with him.

GEZ or TV tax

The advantage of moving abroad is that you stop paying the €17.50 per month, that every resident in Germany is obliged to pay.

This must be formally cancelled on their website: Rundfunkbeitrag.  They will probably ask you for your Abmeldung.

Abmeldung

Do you remember when you came to Germany and you did the Anmeldung? (You can take a look at my experience here)

Well, now it is time to do the opposite: The Abmeldung.

How does it work?

You have to inform your local municipality when you are leaving the flat. Same way you did when you moved to a new flat. In this case, instead of showing the contract of your new apartment, you will need to prove that you are leaving the country. Therefore, you can use your one-way flight ticket and your new address.

Once you have done this, they will kindly ask you to leave the country in a time frame of one or two weeks – depending on the region you live. So I recommend you to do not do the Abmeldung until the last moment (6-5 days before leaving Germany).

Schlüsselübergabeprotokoll

Here comes the hardest part… Your beloved apartment… The place where you had so much fun, good times, good experiences… It is time to say goodbye… There are so many things you have to take into account before leaving an apartment in Germany…  In fact, I could write a post explaining how moving out of your apartment in Germany works. However, I am just going to focus in the last moments and administrative tasks you must do just before living it.

The day you move out, the landlord will come to inspect the property and to be sure that there is no damage. If everything is right and the landlord considers that the apartment is in good condition, you will receive your security deposit. Otherwise, he will keep it and you won’t see this money ever again ☹

After the inspection, it is time for the Schlüsselübergabeprotokoll, when you give the keys back to the landlord and you both sign a paper confirming that everything is fine. This document should contain the following information:

  • That the apartment is in good condition
  • That the lardlord has received all the keys of the apartment
  • The approximate date when you will receive the deposit back

Once this protocol is done, you are free to go to start your new adventure 😊

 

Your turn

Do you have experience moving out from Germany? Is there any other recommendation you think I should include in this post?

In case you want to share your experience feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social network. I am alway thrilled to read your adventures!

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.

 

 

 

 

 

The origin and history of Carnival in Germany

Once again we reach this time of the year so important for the NRW region, especially for the cities of Düsseldorf and Cologne.

Carnival has been celebrated since the Middle Ages in Germany, however, few people talks about the historical roots of this (great) tradition.

Ancient times

This pagan tradition comes from the ancient Greek and Roman times. During those times, people along the Rhine celebrated a festival in honor of Dionysus, God of wine and festivity, and Saturn God of seed and sowing. The festival consisted of a feast with wine and dance, during which people had freedom to criticize and satirize authorities without any repercussion.

Christian times

When this area got Christianized, the above mentioned festival was included in the church calendar. However, things changed a bit and the feast started taking place six weeks before Easter, just before the fasting or Lent period began.

Lent is the period of 40 days which comes before Eastern in the Christian calendar. This is a quiet, reflective time when Christians remember the sacrifice and suffering of Jesus in his last days. Whereas Easter celebrates his resurrection and it is a festivity time for Christians.

Therefore, Carnival was a time for rowdy behavior, where people could eat and drink in excess as a way to prepare themselves for the fast. And, as surprising as it seems, the Catholic church allowed it.

Therefore, Carnival is nowadays mostly celebrated in the Catholic regions of Germany – along the Rhine.

Prussian times

 It wasn’t until the 19th century, time when the Prussians governed the regions along the Rhine, when carnival was institutionalized.

During Carnival days, people dressed up in the uniform of Prussian soldiers as a satire of them and their rules. The normal order of things was reversed: Party and drunkenness were allowed and soldiers and royals were satirized.

During this festivity a tradition arose. People – craftsmen, farmers, workers… – rose to the position of princes and royals and paraded through the streets delivering food and wine.

Nowadays, we still find this tradition during Carnival time. In the Rhine area it exists different “carnival societies” which have their own regiments, military orders and their own prince. To differentiate one from the others, each of them wear different colors, bands and medals.

Modern times

The carnival season in Germany is known as the “Fifth season of the year” and it officially begins the 11th of November at 11:11 a.m.

Since that moment the “ElferratCouncil of Eleven – together with the different carnival societies start planning the upcoming events.

One of the most popular events, that take place during those days are the “Carnival Sitzung”, private parties – you need to be invited or get a ticket – where people dance, drink and have a great time together with the members of the society which organizes the event.

Relevant events during Carnival

Altweiber

At 11:11 a.m. people stop working and start eating “Berliner” to celebrate the beginning of the most intense Carnival days.

However, Altweiber is women’s day and it is tradition that they gather in the street to have fun and celebrate. This day they are allowed to “attack” men by cutting off their ties.

In the afternoon there are masked balls and parties all around the cities lasting until late night.

Rosenmontag

On Monday the cities along the Rhine celebrate “Rosenmontag”. A parade, organized by the different societies, takes place during that day. Floats depicting caricatures of politicians and famous personalities go through the city with performers tossing out “Kamelle” (sweets) and flowers.

Usually, each float belong to a different carnival society – which work during 7 months to design and build it – and drives dancers, music bands and the “prince guard” all around the city.

Veilchendienstag  

This tradition is mostly celebrated in Cologne area.

It consist in a ceremonial burning of the “Nubbel” – a straw doll – as a symbolical cremation of the misconduct committed during the carnival festivities.

Coming to an end…

Carnival is not a national holiday in Germany, in fact it is mainly celebrated in the region along the Rhine. In cities such as Düsseldorf or Cologne many schools, companies and stores close for the festivities.

If you ever visit NRW region in this period do not forget to greet people as follows:

  • Düsseldorf area: Helau! (instead of “Hallo”)
  • Cologne area: Alaf! (instead of “Hallo”)

Until “Aschermittwoch” and during 5 days, all the cities and towns of this region are full of floats – for children and adults -, music bands, prince guards and costumed people ready to enjoy this festivity. Once the festivities are over – Aschermittwoch or Ash Wednesday – it is time for Lent.

 

Ready to enjoy the festivities? 😉

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.

Best Christmas Markets in Germany

 

If you are a huge fan of Christmas season, I am glad to tell you that next Thursday (11/21/2019) is the opening of the Christmas Markets in Germany. A magical time of the year where each city, full of Christmas lights and decoration, emits a delightful scent of Glühwein (typical mulled wine) and traditional food.

To be honest, I also think that this is a beautiful time of the year. Most of the people here in Germany enjoy this time to spend some quality time with family and friends, to open their advents calendars, to offer little surprises and to be more compassionate. Families come together and spend time buying Christmas decoration and having some hot drinks in the markets.

This markets tradition is celebrated all around the country. However, each city has different markets and each market has its own decoration and stands.

Do you want to know which are the top 5 Christmas markets in Germany?

Let’s check them together!

 

Dresden

The capital city of Saxony is our first stop.

The Striezelmarkt is considered the first Christmas market not only in Dresden, but in whole Germany.

It dates from 1434, when Friedrich II, Elector of Saxony, allowed traders to have a public holiday the Monday before Christmas. This celebration took place at Altmarkt square, where the Striezelmarkt is located today.

Its 240 stands attract around 2 million visitors every year. 80% of the stands belong to traders who come from the Saxony region.

One of the most relevant moments, during the time the market is open, takes place the Saturday before the second Sunday of Advent. That day a 4 ton Dresdner Christsollen – a raisin stollen – will be baked and carried from Zwinger Schloss to Striezelmarkt. The Dresdner Christollen is a piece of cultural history produced in only 120 bakeries and pastry stores around Dresden.

This festivity is known as “Stollenfest” and the organizer is the Schutzverband Desdner Stolle e.V. association.

The blaze of lights, the smell of Glühwein and Christmas music spreading through the market make this place a to-put-on-your-list one.

 

Opening time 2019

From the 27th  of November to the 24th of December

 

Monschau

This medieval city situated on the border with Belgium deserves a visit at this time of the year.

If you have already been here during summer time, you might already know that this stunning city is located between mountains – which gives it with a magical feeling. This feeling becomes stronger during Advent and Christmas time.

Here not only the market is decorated with lights and advent wreaths, also other business such as bakeries, restaurants and fashion stores are decorated according to the decoration of the Christmas market.

In the market, among all the stands, we can find Glühwein as well as traditional food such as Flammkuchen and melted cheese.

The most beautiful moment comes when the city’s choirs sing Christmas songs and go all over the market.

However, if you’d rather buy Christmas decoration during summer or spring, do not worry! There is a 3 floors store in Monschau where only Christmas objects are sold. And you know what? It is open from March to December! 😉

 

Opening time 2019

From the 22nd of November to the 22nd of December

 

Cologne

I am sure you have already heard some opinions about the Christmas market in front Cologne’s cathedral. Or maybe, you have already heard about the one in front of the Chocolate Museum.

Well, those markets are good. But what about discovering some less-touristic ones?

In this post I want to talk you about the one in Rudolfplatz, beside the famous Hahnentorburg from s.XIII.

This market is called “Santa Claus Village” and its decoration is stunning. Most of the stands are “two floor houses”, whose roofs are decorated with reindeers, candies, presents… It is a familiar market where you really feel in Santa’s village.

Another nice thing about this market is that some bands play live Christmas music every evening.

 

Opening time 2019

From the 25th of November to the 23rd of December

 

If you are willing to discover more cute places, I highly recommend you the Heumarkt market.

This market is one of the oldest in the city and the stands are organized by trades (food, leather, toys…), as tradition dictates.

Also an ice skate rink can be found in this market. In fact, this rink is the largest in Germany with a 1,800 square meters surface. This rink will open until the 5 th of January 2020.

 

Opening time 2019

From the 25th of November to the 23rd of December

 

Münster

In my opinion this could be the largest Christmas market in Germany because the whole city is a market.

How is this possible?

Easy. Münster is the home of 5 Christmas markets which are connected among them in a way that you can walk from one to another without even realizing. Well, that’s not 100% true… Each market has its own decoration and thematic, so at a certain point you realize 😉

A market that I really like is Aegidii market. This market has an impressive nativity scene, a 6 metres high wooden pyramid and a fairy tale area.

This year traders will even offer warm beer and cocktails. Are you ready to try them?

 

Opening time 2019

From the 25th of November to the 23rd of December

 

Nuremberg

I must recognize that I have never been to this market, however, the information I am about to tell you is really reliable 😊

The most stunning market in Nuremberg is called Christkindlesmarkt. Every year one child acts as a Christkind and appears on the balcony of the Church of Our Lady to open the holiday season and sing a traditional Christmas song.

This festivity takes place on Friday before the first Sunday in Advent.

Once this market is open the whole city scent mulled wine, rum punch and roasted almonds. If you visit this market, do not forget to try its famous Nuremberg bratwurst and gingerbread.

 

Opening time 2019

From the 29th of November to the 23rd of December

 

Your turn

Have you ever been to a german Christmas market? How was the experience? Do you know any of the above mentioned ones?

In case you want to share your experience feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social network. I am alway thrilled to read your adventures!

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.

Mini-job in Germany

 

Around 8 million Germans work mini-jobs and, for most of them, they are their only source of income. Although this model – known as “minor employment model” – is heavily criticised, its success from an economic perspective has motivated other European countries to consider it as an option. Mini-jobs are

But, what is a mini-job? What about health insurance? Can a minijobber get fired?

In this post I try to answer all your questions. Let’s go!

What are mini-jobs?

A mini-job is any form of employment with an average monthly payment of no more than €450.

Although mini-jobs are typically related to cleaning jobs, they can also come from agencies, startups, language schools and larger companies looking for part-time help.

Which are the pros?

  • Minijobbers – people who have a mini-job contract – with no alternative source of income pay zero taxes on earnings up to €450
  • The state covers the minijobber’s social and health insurance
  • All minijobbers have the same rights as other employees, meaning that “same rights” apply on holiday and sick pay, as well as on maternity leave
  • Minijobbers can take on another side job

Which are the cons?

  • Minijobbers are usually paid a lower wage than fully employed colleagues
  • To improve emplyoment statistics – you may have heard that the unemployment rate in Germany is around 4% – politicians count minijobbers as regular working people
  • It can be difficult to turn a mini-job into a full-time job.

Who benefits from this kind of job contract?

Both parties.

For minijobbers, a mini-job is always a good opportunity to earn some money – the €450 arrive always to the person’s bank account with tax deducted already –  and get some experience in the German market.

There are my students that work as minijobbers while studying just to get some extra money. At the same time, many expats use this system to try working in a multicultural environment until they feel secure enough to work for a large company.

For employers, a mini-job is a good deal to save some money – they do not have to pay for insurance obligations – and to hire motivated professionals. A good example of this are startups companies. Most of them use this system to hire people until they have enough earnings to pay for higher salaries.

Why are mini-jobs more popular among young people?

Mosel Valley: More than Wine

 

After reading all your questions and posting some nice pictures in my IG account, it is time to explore the German Mosel region also in the blog.

Are you ready for a weekend trip in the picturesque Mosel Valley in western Germany?

The Mosel river valley is one of the most stunning, beautiful landscapes in Germany, including steep slope vineyards, kilometers of hiking trails, fairy tale castles and cute wine villages. As you may know, the Mosel valley creates the ideal conditions for wine culture, therefore its wine is recognized due to its high quality. Did you know that these vineyards were first cultivated by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago?

In fact, the Mosel river begins in France and flows into Germany where it twist sharply for around 250 kilometers. It is along this winding river gorge (see photo above) that we can find Riesling vineyards. Riesling is a floral, aromatic grape – first recorded in Germany in 1435 – with a high level of frost resistance. From this grape variety comes one of the world’s finest white wines in a vast variety of styles.

But did you know that spending a weekend in the Mosel valley is not only a highlight for wine connoisseurs? It’s actually a great opportunity to discover stunning landscapes and fairy tale cities.

Let’s start our trip!

 

Cochem

Pressed against the Mosel by the valley walls you can find Cochem’s charming old town, dated from the 18th century. Under the gaze of the romantic Reichsburg castle you can find ancient, half-timbered houses and stunning medieval gates all around the old town. Do not forget to walk around the medieval Markplatz and to comtemplate the baroque town hall from 1739.

Another emblematic building is the Klosterberg, a capuchin monastery built on top of a mountain around 1630 and used as a monastery until 1802. Nowadays it serves as the city’s cultural center.

Last but not least, do not forget to visit the Enderttor, the largest of Cochem’s three Medieval city gates, which provides the old town with lots of Medieval charm.

Bremm

Strolling through a vineyard with a 60 degree slope can be a great adventure if you like hiking. At the end of the climb you can find Gipfelkreuz, a viewpoint from which you can enjoy a dramatic view from the Mosel valley and, at the same time, savor a glass of fresh Riesling wine.

To climb this path I highly recommend you to wear suitable shoes, since it is a quite dangerous and steep hiking trail.

Briedel

The small town of Briedel is the ideal place to enjoy some peaceful days with your friends and/or relatives. To be honest, this is not the most tourist town of the Mosel valley, however, it is a special one.

If you want to taste wine from the town’s viticulturists while you enjoy a ride in a carriage among the steep vineyards, Briedel is the right place for you.

This is a worthwhile idea to learn more about the production process, the type of grapes cultivated by each producer and to enjoy some stunning views of the valley from the Aussichtsturm Prinzenkopf observation deck.

By the way, if you are lucky enough you may have the chance to taste the grapes directly from the vineyards.

The wine

Today’s vineyards cover around 9,000 hectares of steep hillsides, most facing the south or southwest. Half of the vines grow on steep slopes turning this valley into Germany’s most spectacular wine region.

Some facts about Mosel’s wine:

  • 60% of the vines growing in this area are Riesling, followed by Elbling (produced only in this region) and Müller-Thurgau.
  • Around 90% of Mosel’s wines are white ones.
  • The Calmont vineyard at Bremm with it 68% gradient is the steepest vineyard in Europe.
  • Winemakers mainly produce high quality Riesling.
  • Most winemakers offer tastings at their wine cellars.

Cycling paths

Although Mosel is known for its steep slope vineyards, this region is really well prepared for people who love biking. If you want to enjoy fantastic panoramic views of the river, the small villages and the vineyards, I recommend you to travel the Mosel valley by bicycle.

Luckily, the Mosel area is surrounded by kilometers of cycling paths and, moreover, each village and city in the valley has different guest houses where you can stop, enjoy tasty german food and take a rest.

In our case we spent the night at Korkenzieher guest house, whose owners are a nice young couple who not only manage this “hotel” but also its restaurant and, at the same time, organize tractor-drawn-wagon tours through the vineyards.

 

Your turn

This valley is a beautiful area with a lot to offer. Cycling, discovering incredible hiking paths, enjoying stunning views and visiting dramatic Medieval cities is a unique opportunity you should not miss. This place is dramatic!

Have you ever been to Mosel valley? Is there any other hidden gem you would like to recommend us?

In this case feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social network. I am alway thrilled to read your adventures and suggestions!

 

 

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.

Best Expat Blogs 2019

 

First of all, I would like to thank Sparpedia.ch for nominating me for the Best Expat Blogs 2019 Award. This is the first award I receive this year, a great achievement for me as a blogger and a confirmation that my reader base is now bigger than just my family and friends 😉 .

Having said that, I would also like to thank all my readers for following my expat and traveller journey. If you are new to My Expat World: Welcome to this adventure.

My Expat World is a expat blog created to share my journey, inspire others to move abroad and to help expats (and future expats) in Germany to better understand this amazing country.

My name is Hor and I am a traveller and brunch lover. I enjoy outdoor activities, to discover new places and I LOVE the snow. Find more about me here.

If you want to know more about this award and vote for me 😉 just click on the banner above.

Once again, thank you Sparpedia.ch!

 

 

New Regulations in Germany 2019

 

For more expensive train tickets to a new packaging law, many changes have come to Germany since the beginning of the year.

As we enter the New Year many new laws and regulations take effect in our host country. Therefore, whether you already live in Germany or whether you are planning to move to this beautiful, welcoming country, it is good for you to discover what changes have been implemented since the 1st of January 2019.

Ready to discover more? Let´s start then!

Family

  • A new law on Day Care arises – The idea behind this law is to improve the supply of child daycare centers in the whole country by offering longer opening hours, better services such as lunchrooms and a completely free daycare center to low-income families.
  • The monetary help known as  Kindergeld” increases as follows:
    • €204 per month for the first child
    • €210 per month for the second child
    • €235 per month from the third child onwards
  • In case of divorce child support increases as follows:
    • 0-7 years: €354 per month
    • 7-12 years: €406 per month
    • 13-18 years: €467 per month

Housing

  • The tenant’s contribution rate for modernization costs the landlord has incurred will be reduced from 11% to 8%. Good news if you are planning to rent a renewed flat!
  • A cap will be introduced for the amount by which the landlord may raise the rent to €3 per square meter within six years. However, in cases where the Kaltmiete’s price does not exceed €7 per square meter, the cap will be limited to €2 per square meter.

Social Security

  • Diverse gender – A new German law, approved in December 2018, introduces a third gender option on birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, and other legal documents. This means that people born with reproductive anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male (also known as intersex) are now recognized by the German government.
  • New Packaging Law – From a customer point of view, this law will allow you to know if you are buying a product with a single-use packaging (Einweg) or if it is reusable (Mehrweg).
  • Fuel labeling – The European Union harmonized the set of fuel label to provide drivers with better information on the fuels. The three new labels will be as follows:
    • Gasoline-type fuels: Marked by an “E” inside a circle
    • Diesel-type fuels: Marked by a “B” inside a square
    • Gaseous-type fuels: Mentioning the specific subtype within a rhombus.

Work

  • Contributions to unemployment insurance, levied as a percent of income, decrease in 0.25 points.
  • The increase in the minimum wage from €8.84 to €9.19 per hours. Good news, don´t you think?.
  • In response to growing concerns over elderly care, a joint effort by Germany’s healthfamily and labor ministers is now in the pipeline. 13,000 positions will be opened this year to attract new applicants interested in working in this sector.
  • From now on, the monthly installment of the “Krankenkasse” (Health Insurance Company) will be equally paid between employees and employers. So far this installment was paid by employees. So this is good news, isn’t it?
  • Reintegration into the labor market of people who have been unemployed for a long time by creating subsidized jobs will be encouraged. The requirements for accessing this aid are as follows:
    • The unemployed person is at least 25 years old.
    • The unemployed person has received unemployment benefit II (also known as “Hartz IV”) for at least six years.
  • The right to go back to work full-time again arises – People who have reduced their working hours for at least one year, within five years, have now the right to go back to work full-time if they want to. This right, however, will only be applicable in companies that have more than 45 employees and as long as the person has a minimum of six months career in the company.
  • To consider a job a midijob the minimum monthly remuneration must not exceed €450 and the maximum monthly payment must not exceed €1,300.
  • Company bicycles and transport vouchers will be tax-free.

Your turn

Have you ever heard about all these new regulations? Do you think that I missed any important information? Is there any other new regulation/law you would like to share with us? In this case do not hesitate to leave a comment below or to contact me via Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

 

Always glad to read your comments! 🙂

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.

 

Interesting facts about Germany (Part II)

Some weeks ago, and after some controversial comments of #germancolleague that I shared with you in Instagram, I wrote an interesting, funny post about the german language, culture and history, so that we all could better understand this beautiful country and its citizens.

Since knowledge does not take up any space, I am back to share with you more interesting facts about Germany, its geography, its beers and some inventions that we can attribute to this country.

Are you ready? Then, let´s discover more interesting facts about Germany!

Beer

  • The world’s oldest brewery is located north of Munich and it is operating since 1040.
  • There is a law about how to brew beer in Germany – The Purity Law (Rheinheitsgebot) allows only water, barley and hops to be used in the production of beer. This law came effective in April 1516 after the unification of Bavaria to maintain the “purity” of beer and to lessen the competition between brewers and bakers for the grain of wheat. If beer could only be made with barley… Less problems to get some wheat 😉
  • You can drink a different German beer every day for almost 15 years.
  • The Oktoberfest started as a wedding party – 6.700.000 liters of beer are consumed at this enormous festival, which takes place in September.
  • There are around 1.300 beer breweries in Germany, which produce over 5.000 types of beer.
  • Be aware of where you are when you order a beer in Germany – Each region and city have their own beer. If you order just a beer in Düsseldorf, you will get an Alt, in Köln you will get a Kölsch and in Munich a Weizen.
  • In Berlin you can order a beer which is not brown – The Berliner Weisse is a white beer with either raspberry- or woodruff-flavored syrup.

 

Geography

  • Germany has the world’s narrowest street – Located in the city of Reutlingen this street is called “Spreuerhofstrasse,” and it is approximately 31 centimeters at the narrowest point and nearly 50 centimeters at the widest.
  • Approximately one-third of Germany is still forested.
  • Germany is the fifth largest country in Europe, covering an area of 357.022 square kilometers.
  • Germany’s largest wooded area is the famous Black Forest –  A mountainous region full of pines and fir trees, which also contains the source of the Danube, one of Europe’s longest rivers.
  • Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany – Its name means “Windy peak” and you can take a cable car up to the top of the mountain to enjoy spectacular views of the Alps.
  • Germany shares borders with nine other countries – Germany´s neighbours are France, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands.

 

Inventions

  • The first magazine was invented in Germany in 1663 – It was called Erbauliche Monaths Unterredungen (Edifying Monthly Discussions) and it was a philosophical magazine.
  • Do you like Fanta? – Then you may already know that Germans created this soda during the World War II due to the difficulty to import Coca Cola during Nazi times.
  • It is said that the first Christmas tree was created in Germany – Rather than being draped with illuminate lights and candies, the original tree was decorated with nuts and fruits such as apples.
  • Coffee filter paper was created in Germany – Melitta Bentz, a housewife of the city of Dresden, started to experiment to find a way to prevent coffee from becoming too bitter. When she tried using the blotting paper from her children’s school books, she had her “eureka” moment. It was 1908 when she patented her invention.
  • Have you ever heard about Haribo and its Gummy Bears? – The iconic Gummibärchen (Gummy bears) sweets were invented by Hans Riegel around 1920. He used acacia gum to create coloured candies. He started his own company to sell these tasty sweets in the city of Bonn around 1922. In fact, Haribo is just an abbreviation of Hans Riegel von Bonn.
  • Germans invented the first car – Carl Benz´s patent for a vehicle powered by a gas energy is often regarded as the birth certificate of the automobile.
  • You can credit the Germans for inventing the accordion – Christian Friedrich Buschmann was a german musical instrument maker who attached bellows to a portable keyboard with vibrating reeds. Naming it “Handäoline”, he patented this instrument in 1822. The first accordion was used in 1829.
  • Handball – This worldwide known game in which two teams pass a ball using their hands with the aim of throwing it into the goal of the other team, was invented in Germany.

 

Your turn!

Did you know any other interesting facts about german beer or geography? Did you know that Germany is the country thanks to which nowadays we can enjoy all these great inventions? Did you know other inventions we can credit Germans for?

If so, share them with us by leaving a comment below or via Social Networks. I hope you liked this post 🙂 Read you soon!

 

 

 

 

Paternity Leave: Rights and Job Protection in Germany

 

A couple of days ago I had an interesting conversation with both an American and a German guy about parental rights for employees in Germany. I think it was an interesting talk, because it was really enriching to better understand each country´s point of view about the necessities  and labour rights of parents-to-be.

To write this post, I thought that it would be interesting if I answer all the questions that the american (let´s call him Sam) asked to our german friend, so that we can better understand how parental leave works in Germany, which are your rights during this paid time off work and, last but not least, which are the most important german terms you should learn if you are expecting a baby in Germany.

 

How does the paternity leave work?

  • As an employee, you are entitled to parental leave until your child turns three.
  • Both parents can take time off work to enjoy their newborn (or newborns). Therefore, the parent intending to do this must apply seven weeks in advance. Do not worry because during this period your job will remain open to you and your contract cannot be terminated by your employer.
  • Parental leave can be taken by the mother and the father individually or jointly. Grandparents and other relatives can also take parental leave under certain circumstances, for example if the future parent is a minor.

What paternity pay and/or benefits can I claim?

  • Mothers are entitled to full pay during the first 14 weeks. This is known as mother protection time. However, both parents can claim some parental benefirs if they are on leave during the first 12 months after the birth.
  • This benefit is called “Elterngeld” and it is fully explained together with other important legal german words at the end of the post.
  • Important reminder: Those receiving parental benefit (Elterngeld) are still allowed to work part time up to 30 hours per week.

Can I extend my leave?

  • Usually, changes to parental leave or unplanned extensions must be agreed with the parent´s employer.
  • The extend leave is known as “Elterngeld Plus”. In this case, parents may get 28 months of financial support if  both parents work part time up to 30 hours per week at the same time. If so, the applicable percentage is the 65% of the difference between the average nett income before the birth plus earning post-birth.
  • The idea behind the “Elterngeld Plus” is to  “give mothers and fathers more time for family and greater flexibility”, said the former federal family minister Manuela Schwesig.
  • Important information: Parents can choose between Elterngeld or Elterngeld Plus, or they can combine both models. Let´s see this with some examples:

 

Can I travel while I am in paternity leave?

  • From a legal point of view, there is no problem to travel aborad while enjoying paternity leave. However, if you plan a long stay abroad you should be sure that the Krankenkasse (health insurance) takes over the cost in case of illness. In general, german health insurances covers up to six weeks when travelling outside the country. Afterwards, you have to insure yourself and your family privately.
  • Important information: This rule always applies – regardless of whether you travel during parental leave or just like that – but many people tend to forget it 😉

I struggle with the germans word, could you please explain me the most relevant ones?

Mutterschutz

This is the most important word: Maternity leave.

The “Mutterschutz” is considered a period of time to prepare yourself to welcome your baby, as well as a time to rest after the delivery.

Some important information you should take into account:

1. In total, the mutterschutz last 14 weeks. As a mother-to-be you can enjoy the 6 weeks before the delivery to prepare yourself for that moment. After the child´s birth you still have 8 weeks to rest and to enjoy your newborn (extended to 12 weeks in case of  multiple births).

2. The health insurance (Krankenkasse) covers a maximum of 13€ per day with a limit of 390€ per month, the rest is covered by your employer. Let´s see how it works with an example:

Frau Müller (traditional german name 😉 ) earned 2.800€ gross per month during the three months previous to the birth, which means that she earned 1.950€ net salary per month. If we calculate how much did she earn per day during the past 3 months, we can see that her net salary per day was 65€ (1.950*3 = 5.850€/90 = 65€). In this case, the Krankenkasse covers 13€ and the employer 52€.

3. In the case that Frau Müller had a private health insurance, she will receive 210€ in a single payment.

4. During maternity leave you will keep receiving your salary (Mutterschaftgeld)

5. Your job remains open to you and your contract cannot be terminated by your employer during the Mutterschutz because you are protected by Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz).

 

Elterngeld

Elterngeld is a tax-financed payment for couples who became parents. This subsidy will be paid during the first 14 months after the child´s birth and it must be divided between both parents.

The amount of the elterngeld is based on the after taxes income of the parent which ask for it. A person who earns less than 1.000€ per month will get between 100% and 67% of his net income, however, a person with a net income higher than 1.240€ per month will receive 65% of it (with a limit of 1.800€ per month).

Who can get this subsidy?

  • People who recently became parents
  • Parents of adoptive children
  • If the parents of the newborn didn´t work in the months previous to the child´s birth, they will receive a subsidy of only 300€ per month
  • Multiple births – In this case the parental allowance increases by 300€ for each additional child
  • If the beneficiary earned more than 250.000€ in the calendar year preceding the child´s birth, there is no entitlement to Elterngeld

Elternzeit

Elternzeit is a paternal leave provided by the employer, which can be taken any moment during the first three years of the newborn´s life.

This parental leave can be a full suspension of working hours or a reduction of the working day.

Both parents have the right to go on parental leave. Let me show you some examples to better explain how it works (these are real cases of friends of mine):

– Example A: Some friends of mine decided to divide their Elternzeit between both of them, therefore, each of them took 6 months of paternal leave (first the mother, and the last 6 months the father). Both parents enjoyed a full-time paternal leave so that they could enjoy the first year of life of their son.

– Example B: Other friends of mine decided to divide their Elternzeit in a different way. In this case, the mother took a 12 months parental leave after Mutterschutz and the father enjoyed 2 months of parental leave, one month in August (to enjoy some summer time with his daugther) and the second month once his wife´s parental leave ended, so he could spend some time with his daugther before she started the kita (kindergarden for babies).

During Elternzeit both parents are protected by law, any termination of employment is invalid during this period. That means that neither the employer nor the employee can terminate the employment contract.

When should I apply for Elternzeiz?

7 weeks in advance.

This is easier for mothers-to-be, since they have 8 weeks medical leave after the child´s birth. However, fathers have to ask for parental leave 7 weeks before the birth takes place, if they want to go on family leave right after the child´s birth.

Your turn

What about you? Did you have children in Germany? Have you ever ask for parental leave in Germany? Was the process complicated?

I still remember the american´s face when our German friend explained him how does the Elternzeit (Parental Leave) works. Alhtough, to be honest, also in Spain we don´t have such a great work-life balance. In fact, this is a quite sensitive topic in my home country…

How does work-life balance work in your home country? Do you also benefit of parental allowences, elternzeit and such things? Feel free to share your experience by leaving a comment below 🙂 or via social networks.