In Germany, opening hours are not the same for all shops everywhere, they differ from federal state to federal state. Shops are generally open from Monday till Friday from 9 am to 8 p m.
In Germany, you can pay cash nearly everywhere. The possibility to pay cashless is also often given. If you have an account with a bank or a savings bank (Sparkasse), you often receive a Giro card or credit card (in some cases, you have to pay a fee), with which you can pay.
An exchange is always voluntary. No shop has the obligation to exchange goods it sold if there are no defects. Every seller needs to make sure that the customer receives the goods free of any defects. If, within two years after delivery, the customer notices any defects that were already there when he received the goods, he has the statutory right of warranty. This also applies for reduced goods and special offers. Of course one does not have this right when a product has become worn due to usage. If you want to return goods bought because of a defect or if you want to exchange them, you do not need the original packaging to do so.
Today, many goods can be ordered online. However, not all offers that can be found on the internet are reputable. This is why you should be especially careful when buying online or when participating in internet auctions. You can safely buy online when, for instance, you have to pay no earlier than when the goods and the invoice have arrived with you. The so-called direct debiting, during which the money is deducted directly from your bank account, is also safe. Here, you need to give your permission first. The process has the advantage that your money can generally be brought back by the bank within eight weeks.
In case you have become a victim of internet fraud, file a complaint with the police as early as possible and inform the operator of the website. Do not lose any time – every day counts when it comes to identifying a fraudster.
When you want to open an account, for instance in order to receive social benefits or your salaries or wages or in order to pay your rent, you need to bring these documents: passport or Ukrainian ID card, document of a German authority, the document that you received before visiting the institution responsible for first admittance (Anlaufbescheinigung), probationary certificate (Fiktionsbescheinigung), registration card (Meldebescheinigung).
If you want to set up a Giro account, please feel free to ask the employees of the bank of your choice for support. Get to know the exact conditions and costs. They can differ considerably.
In general, every consumer has the right to claim a so-called basic account that needs to fulfill certain minimal functionalities. Those are. inter alia, cash deposits and withdrawals, the execution of direct debits, transfers and standing orders as well as card payment. The bank may charge appropriate account management fees for the basic account.
List of documents needed to open a bank account
If you would like to open a bank account, for example to deposit your social benefits or salary or to pay your rent, you should take the following documents with you to the bank:
- Passport or Ukrainian ID card
- One of the following documents from a German government authority:
- certificate indicating the reception facility responsible for you (Anlaufbescheinigung)
- provisional residence document (Fiktionsbescheinigung)
- certificate of registration (Meldebescheinigung)
Please, find up-to-date information on mobile phone and internet contracts on the website of the Consumer Advice Center (Verbraucherzentrale).
Rundfunkbeitrag (broadcasting licence fee). In Germany, licence fees for public broadcasting services are charged for radio, television or internet connection. Therefore, each household in Germany must register with the institution in charge, the German licence fee collection service for public broadcasting services (Beitragsservice von ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio). You can register online, but forms are generally also available from post offices and banks.
For more information in English, please visit: https://www.rundfunkbeitrag.de/welcome/englisch/index_ger.html
Nachtruhe (sleeping hours). Between 10 pm and 6 am, one usually does not generate any loud noise so that everyone can get their well-deserved good night’s sleep. A few examples would be: listening to music only on household noise level or not using the washing machine within this time period.
Kehrwoche. In almost all federal states in Germany, arrangements are made concerning who cleans the hallway or who cleans the sidewalk outside the house.
Social insurance. In Germany, people that are employed for pay generally receive statutory social insurance coverage. German social insurance is a statutory insurance system that offers effective security against fundamental life crises and their consequences, such as sickness, accidents, unemployment, old age and care dependency. It seeks to guarantee every individual a stable standard of living, gives support and pays retirement when people leave active professional practice. Social insurance is a compulsory insurance. Half of the contributions of statutory social insurance is generally paid by the employer. The other half is paid by the employee himself. It is automatically deducted from their salaries or wages. Here are some of the exceptions: for nursing care insurance, employees pay slightly more than employers in some cases. In return, however, the employer pays the complete accident insurance contributions. With these contributions, you acquire a claim to benefits from the different fields of social insurance. The contribution you need to pay to social insurance is generally determined by your income. However, in all fields, accident insurance being an exception, the contribution ceases to rise from above a certain income level, which represents the so-called Beitragsbemessungsgrenze (income threshold).
Retirement insurance. Generally, the employee is obligatorily insured in statutory retirement insurance. Retirement security ensures financial stability in old age. In order to receive retirement payments in old age, you must have paid contributions for at least five years. At the moment, retirement age is gradually raised. Right now, you can generally claim retirement pay starting from an age of 65 years and 8 months (year of birth: 1954), retirement age is then gradually increased to 67 years, as of the year 2031, this age threshold applies to all those born as of 1964. However, there will also be exclusions, for example for those who have paid insurance contributions for a particularly long period of time. Retirement insurance also supports you if your earning capacity becomes reduced within the course of your working life, i. e. if you are fully or partially incapable of working under the usual conditions of the general labor market for an unforeseeable period of time due to a disease or disability, or if you have become a widow or widower or an orphan.
Health Insurance. Statutory health insurance supports you and your family in case of sickness. Moreover, it also covers a lot of the costs of health care (for instance at the dentist’s), pays rehabilitation measures and covers the costs of the birth of your children. If you are not able to work for a longer period of time due to sickness and therefore do not receive salaries or wages from your employer, statutory health insurance pays so-called “Krankengeld” (sickness benefit) as compensation. For employees, statutory health insurance is obligatory until a certain income level (general or special annual earning limit) has been reached. If you are above this earning limit, you can choose whether you would like to be a member of statutory or private health insurance. You have to choose one of these two options. It is not possible to go without health insurance.
Nursing insurance. Nursing insurance supports you if you cannot take care of yourself anymore and are in need of care due to old age or severe sickness. Nursing insurance supports care-dependent people and their family members caring for them financially and with consultation. If you want benefits to be provided to you, you need to submit an application to your nursing insurance. If you are insured in statutory health insurance, you are automatically a member of social nursing insurance. However, if you are insured in private health insurance, you need to take out private nursing insurance as well.
Accident insurance. Statutory accident insurance helps you and your family solve health-related and financial issues that are the direct consequence of work accidents or occupational diseases. Accidents occurring on the way to work or school as well as those occurring on the way home from work or school also count as work accidents.
Unemployment insurance Those people in Germany who become unemployed through no fault of their own are not left without any support, but receive benefits from the government. However, these benefits do not only encompass financial aid, you also have the possibility to claim the agency services of the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Federal Labour Office) to support you with your job search. If necessary, you can participate in schemes for vocational integration (for instance apprenticeship and in-service training) and may receive financial support for these measures.
Aside from statutory insurances, there are many private insurances, for example:
- personal liability insurance (Privathaftpflichtversicherung)
- household insurance (Hausratversicherung)
- disability insurance (Berufsunfähigkeitsversicherung)
- life insurance (Lebensversicherung)
- motor vehicle civil liability insurance (Kfz-Haftpflichtversicherung)
No insurance is free of charge. This is why you should think well about what you really need before you take out an insurance. If you own a car or a motorbike, you have the obligation to take out a motor vehicle civil liability insurance. Personal liability insurance is also very important. It bears the costs if you accidentally caused material damage to another person.