April 2024: 10 changes affecting expats in Germany

April 2024: 10 changes affecting expats in Germany

Springtime has well and truly begun, the sun is shining, the grass is greener and it's partially legal. Alongside the historic new law coming into effect, here are the changes coming to Germany in April 2024.

1. Cannabis will be partially legalised

On February 23, the German Bundestag legalised cannabis for personal use. The law is scheduled to come into effect from April 1, 2024.

The new legislation means that from April 1, 2024 onwards, anyone in Germany over the age of 18 will legally be allowed to grow up to three cannabis plants and keep up to 50 grams of cannabis in possession at home. Adults will legally be able to carry up to 25 grams of cannabis on their person in public spaces.

Then, from July 1, Germany will allow Cannabis Social Clubs (CSC), to which people will have to register as members. These clubs are at the heart of the new law and will allow members over 21 years old to purchase up to 50 grams of cannabis per month. CSC members aged between 18 and 21 will only be allowed to purchase cannabis with a maximum THC content of 10 percent, and up to 30 grams per month.

2. Heating costs will increase

From April 1, VAT on gas and heating will be increased from 7 percent back to its original 19 percent rate. 

The lower VAT rate for gas and heating was introduced in October 2022 as part of a relief package to offset the consequences of the energy crisis. Its reversal means that the cost of heating your home will increase.

3. New parental allowance income thresholds

Parental allowance (Elterngeld) is a social security benefit that new parents can claim while they are on parental leave (Elternzeit). Currently, all new parents who are EU citizens, German citizens or have a German residence permit, who care for their child and work no more than 32 hours per week, qualify for the social security benefit so long as their combined annual income does not exceed 300.000 euros before tax.

However, from April 1, 2024, this threshold will fall to 200.000 euros combined income before tax. From April 1, 2025, it will fall again to 175.000 euros.

For single parents, the threshold will be lowered from April 1, 2024, from 250.000 euros before tax to 150.000 euros. The income threshold for single parents will not change on April 1, 2025.

4. Changes to how parental leave can be divided between parents

Another change is coming to the way that parental leave can be used. Until now, two parents were entitled to 14 months of parental leave, which could be divided by each parent as they pleased and could also be taken by both parents at the same time.

For babies born after April 1, 2024, however, parents will only be able to take one month of leave at the same time, during the other 13 months, one parent will have to be at work. Exceptions are made if parents welcome more than one baby into the world at the same time or if a baby is born prematurely.

5. Job-relevant training allowance (Qualifizierungsgeld) introduced

From April 1, anyone who would like to participate in further training related to their job can receive an allowance called Qualifizierungsgeld, which serves to replace their wage while they carry out their training.

The goal of this supplementary training is for employees to broaden their skills and prepare them for possible changes in their field of work. 

6. New travel allowance for trainees

Another kind of allowance will be made available from April 1. Anyone who is completing training as an Auszubildende or “Azubi” and lives far from their hometown because of their training placement, will be granted a travel allowance.

This allowance will cover the cost of two trips to visit family in the first year of their training.

7. New Deutschlandticket for students

As the summer semester begins in April, students studying at German universities will be eligible for a ticket which is valid on public and regional transport across Germany for just 29,40 per month.

Around 3 million students in Germany will be able to get the reduced Deutschlandticket.

8. New questions added to driving theory test

Anyone who is learning to drive in Germany and takes a driving theory test in Germany after April 1 should be aware of a whopping 61 new questions being added to the bank of possible questions that could appear in the theory test. The new questions can be used in all driving theory exams, whether for a standard or special category licence.

9. Blitzermarathon in all German states

Something else for drivers to look out for: between April 15 and 21 there will be a Blitzermarathon in Germany, during which speed cameras will be on the lookout for offending drivers.

Speed cameras are likely to be at locations where accidents regularly take place, such as outside schools, and all German federal states will take part in the project.

10. Amazon to shorten returns period

Heads up Amazon shoppers, from April 25 the US giant will reduce its time window for returns. This will be shrunk from 30 days to the statutory minimum of 14 days.

Thumb image credit: hanohiki /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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