The Hanover Main Train Station. As with every new month, March 2024 brings a number of changes for people living in Germany/Photo: Christine List

Germany: New laws and other changes in March 2024

A number of new laws and regulations will come into force in Germany from March 2024. These legislative changes affect various areas of daily life. For example, while many public sector employees can look forward to more money, some pensioners will now receive less in their accounts. Household appliances to become more efficient and skilled workers can immigrate to Germany more easily. Here’s an overview of these and other important changes that come into force in March 2024:

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Public sector employees get more money
Employees in the public sector at federal and municipalities will receive more money from 1 March. The basic amount will initially rise by 200 euros gross for all pay groups. After that, the remuneration tables will be increased by 5.5 per cent, by at least 340 euros gross.

Higher health insurance contributions for pensioners
While the additional health insurance contributions for many employees already increased at the turn of the year, the changes will also affect pensioners from 1 March, two months later. The additional contributions vary depending on the health insurance fund. For those affected, the pension they receive will be correspondingly lower.

Immigration of skilled labour is further facilitated
Germany – and the skilled trades in particular – needs more skilled workers: this is why the first measures of the Skilled Labour Immigration Act came into force in November 2023. Since then, it has been easier for skilled workers with a university degree to immigrate to Germany from third countries with an EU Blue Card. The facilitations will continue in March.

From 1 March, it will be easier for companies to hire employees from non-EU countries on a temporary basis. It will also be easier for foreigners with professional experience and a qualification in their home countries to come to Germany as skilled workers. Irregular migration, on the other hand, will be restricted, according to the federal government.

Household appliances are becoming more efficient
From March, refrigerators, washing machines and tumble dryers for private households will have to fulfil stricter efficiency requirements. The aim is to consume less energy. The minimum requirements will increase and the power consumption must be shown on the energy label. For refrigerators, the annual electricity consumption must be labelled. For washing machines and washer-dryers, the electricity consumption for 100 washing cycles must be stated. The energy label itself and the rating in the respective efficiency class initially remain unchanged. The consumer advisory centre advises consumers to buy the most energy efficient models when purchasing new household appliances. Additional costs incurred are often offset by lower electricity costs during their usage.

Changing licence plates for small vehicles
From 1 March, the insurance plates of mopeds, e-scooters and other small vehicles must be changed, the German Insurance Association has announced. The black licence plate will be replaced by a blue one. The new blue licence plate also applies to Segways, quads, trikes, certain electric bicycles and motorised medical wheelchairs.

VAT reduction on gas to expire at the end of March
Due to the rise in energy prices following the Russian attack on Ukraine, the German government had reduced the VAT rate for gas and heating from 19 to seven per cent, making both cheaper. According to current legislation, the measure is due to expire at the end of March.

Digital Markets Act comes into force
The EU Digital Markets Act (DMA) comes into force on 6 March. Six well-known tech giants will then be subject to stricter rules in the EU. Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google’s parent company Alphabet, the Facebook group Meta and Tiktok owner Bytedance have been declared “gatekeepers”. A key aim of the DMA is to limit the market power of large digital platforms and boost competition. One of the rules is that large companies may only combine data from different sources with the express consent of the user.

Anyone turning 18 this year can apply for a culture pass
Young people who turned 18 in 2023 (born in 2005) received a €200 budget with the KulturPass, which they can use to visit concerts and exhibitions, buy books, CDs and records. The aim of the campaign is to get young people interested in culture. From 1 March 2024, those born in 2006 will be able to activate the KulturPass budget and use it from their 18th birthday. However, the budget for the new cohort will be reduced to 100 euros due to the budget situation.

Changeover to summer time
In Germany, the clocks will be turned again on Sunday, 31 March. At 2 o’clock, the clock will be set forward by one hour to 3 o’clock. This means that the last Sunday in March will be one hour shorter, but daylight will be for noticeably longer in the evening from this time onwards. Summer time ends again on the last Sunday in October, which in 2024 will be 27 October.

Femi Awoniyi


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