Moving to Germany from a country that has fully embraced the digital age can mean being surprised at having to buy a stamp instead of filling out an online form. Many have lamented Germany’s less than fast transition onto the online world.
With contact restrictions due to Covid-19 in place however, more and more things in Germany have now gone online and many hope that Germany is, as one Twitter user joked, ‘’slowly approaching the technical level of 1996" and now entering the 21st century.
Obtaining a document that proves you have a residence in Germany is often the first step to registering for multiple other essential services.
Prior to the crisis, this meant obtaining an appointment and waiting in line. Due to the pandemic, you can now register by post or email.
However, you can only do this if you have previously registered, and so it only applies to those changing their address - an Ummeldung.
You can email or mail the documents necessary to the Burgeramt in your new district, and they will take a few weeks or days to reply. Registration of entry into Germany Those travelling back into Germany from a risk area have to register upon entry to ensure proper quarantine regulations are upheld. Due to the pandemic, this process can be done online via a form found here.
Opening a bank account Some banks, such as N26, let you open a bank account entirely online. You may be required to verify your identity, which you can also do online via webcam or email verification code.
If you and your partner recently welcomed a baby, you might be able to receive parental allowance (Elterngeld) which is a benefit given to all new parents to subside potential loss of earnings caused by the birth of a new child.
The benefit is shared between parents to give both the time to spend time with a newborn. This can now for the first time be done online, by following this form here.
Kindergeld On the same note it is also now possible to apply for Kindergeld via an online form. Kindergeld is a monthly benefit given to all parents in Germany, to ensure that their basic needs are met. Both Kindergeld and Elterngeld can now be filled out in one document - a Kombi-Antrag online - although they must still be printed out, signed and sent to the relevant office.
Most people are entitled to Arbeitslosengeld if they have lost their job, and also in some cases if they have quit and are on the lookout for a new position.
An important part of receiving this unemployment benefit is registering in time (usually around three months) which you can do online here. It is important to note however, that you still have to book an appointment at your local office to finish the process.
BAföG provides crucial financial support to students during their studies. Whilst foreign students are only eligible subject to certain requirements, the application process can be done online by following this link.
READ ALSO: How to finance your master's studies in Germany as an international student Medical
Prescriptions via QR code
From July 1st, patients will receive their prescription from their doctor via QR code and app and transmit it to the pharmacy. The pharmacy can then inform the patient whether the preparation is in stock or when it will be ready for collection.
This model is to be mandatory for people with statutory health insurance as early as 2022, and is set to completely replace the paper prescription.
Sick notes submitted electronically to health insurance
Until now, employees had to submit their sick note (Krankenschein) to the insurer themselves when they called in sick at work.
An 'Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung', or sick note, which until now the employee submits directly to their employer after receiving it from a doctor. Photo: DPA
As of January, this can be done electronically: the doctor will then send the so-called eAU (electronic certificate of incapacity for work) directly to the insurer. However, the patient will still receive a paper certificate which they can pass on to their employer.
From 2022, the employer will also be able to retrieve the sickness notification directly from the health insurance company.
Tax Register and pay your TV tax Although the majority may not enjoy having to pay TV tax monthly (especially if they don’t have or use a TV) you can make the process less painful by now registering your flat and setting up a payment method online.
Apply for a tax number
Your tax number, or Steuernummer can also be collected online. It is useful primarily for freelancers and businesses. The form can be filled out online and submitted to the Finanzamt, or tax office. You can find help filling out the form in English here. If you own a business, and it moves to a different Finanzamt’s area, your tax number will also change.
File taxes Again, especially relevant for freelancers or those self-employed, you can use ELSTER, an online tax office system designed by the Budeszentralamt fur Steuern, or the Central Tax Office to submit your tax returns online.
The first step is to create an account and either choose to auto-fill in the form or fill it in yourself. You will receive a digital signature and be able to fill out your forms and submit them online.