If you are considering moving to Germany in the near future or have recently moved here, there are a lot of things you need to keep in mind. The following list is just a small sampling of information that you will need to know when you move here, and you can find additional tips on the Germany removals firm, Schepens, website.

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  1. Opening a bank account is a straightforward process in Germany. However you often need to show some proof of earnings so it isn’t a bad idea to bring along your employment contract stating your salary and any bonuses.
  2. The most common form of account in Germany is a Girokonto (i.e current account), when you open your account you can apply for an EC (ie ATM) card, which you should get within 2 weeks. Withdrawing money from your bank using an EC-card is normally free of charge, but a fee may be charged for withdrawing money from other banks’ ATMs. The use of credit cards is still very limited in many places and they are not accepted everywhere.
  3. The rate of income tax in Germany ranges from 0% to 45%, with VAT generally rated at 19%. A reduced tax rate of 7% applies on sales of certain foods, books and transport.  Germany also has a double-taxation agreement with the UK to minimize the occurrence of you being taxed twice on the same income.
  4. Married couples can apply for joint assessment to be taxed at a more favourable rate. In this case, they must file the annual tax return as it is possible that the tax paid through withholding tax was not sufficient.
  5. If you are neither a resident in Germany nor do you have your normal place of abode there, you are only liable to pay tax in Germany if you earn income there which has a close domestic (i.e. German) context. This includes, in particular, income from property or else from a permanent establishment in Germany.
  6. Statutory road-worthiness tests (i.e. MOT) are done by either TUV (Technische Überwachungs-Verein) or DEKRA (in the former East Germany).  Cars that were purchased new must be inspected after three years, and thereafter all cars must be inspected at two year intervals.
  7. It is law (since 2010) that all cars and motorbikes (including foreign vehicles) are fitted with winter tyres when conditions are snowy. So, to be on the safe side, and not get surprised by a sudden snowfall, most Germans put their snow tyres on in October, and take them off again only at Easter. In many cases, the companies performing these services offer special deals at these times of the year – and they can also store your tyres for you for a nominal fee, which means you don’t have to schlepp them to your basement!
  8. Many German cities require you to display a sticker confirming your vehicle meets environmental requirements. In most major cities, you must have at least a green (level 4) sticker to enter the city or you will be fined.  For residents, these Emission Badges are available from a wide range of outlets including repair centres, car dealers, MOT (TÜV or DEKRA) stations etc. The stickers cost approximately 6 euros, depending on where you buy them, and are valid for the life of the vehicle anywhere in Germany.
  9. Obtaining car insurance in Germany is pretty much like in UK; find yourself a local broker in your nearest town and away you go.  All vehicles must have at least third party insurance, and the certificate (Versicherungszertifikat) must be carried at all times.
  10. All drivers are required by law to carry a first-aid kit, reflective vest and a red reflective triangle. If you have an accident, you must stay at the scene for at least thirty minutes, and as in theUK, must exchange insurance and contact details with anyone else involved in the accident.

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