There are several things we enjoy free of charge here in the U.S. that are not free in Germany! At least one of them will probably shock you! Can you guess what it is?
Germany is a very prosperous country. That’s why it’s no surprise to know that things in Germany are not free, especially things like healthcare and education which are important for the nation’s wellbeing.
Things That Are Not Free in Germany
Here are some things that Germans pay taxes on:
All prescription drugs
In Germany, the taxes on drugs have increased dramatically in the last few years. In fact, since 2012, the German government has introduced a new law that means all prescription drugs are not free anymore.
Health insurance in Germany comes with high taxes that must be paid annually. As of the year 2016, this is set at 16% of the total revenue.
There is also a 2% cap on co-pays for things like prescription, dental care, and doctor’s visit that have no upper limit. The cost can increase after the person reaches their salary ceiling of €47,600 per year. This amount may vary depending on one’s income as well as what things they are purchasing.
If you’re living in Germany, things that are not free include things like taxes for education.
Taxes for education are paid towards the German government to provide funding for things like: kindergarten, primary school, secondary school (high school), college and university as well as things like special education for handicapped students.
In many American states things like education are things that are not free because things like taxes for education are used to provide funding to private or charter schools.
However, in Germany things like public education is a right and things like taxes for education go towards providing things such as kindergarten, primary school, secondary school (high school), college and university.
People in Germany who belong to religions that don’t recognize things like public education are things such as Roman Catholics, Protestants and Jews things like taxes for education go towards private or charter schools.
Pharmaceuticals are the things that cost the most in Germany. According to the German Health Ministry, pharmaceuticals have increased by 10 percent in the past year. The increase can be largely attributed to unique regulations that are imposed on the system.
Another reason behind the rise in the price of drugs is because people are not willing to buy them anymore, and they purchase things like cosmetics instead.
The regulatory framework that is associated with medicine in Germany makes things very difficult for the country. It has been criticized because it doesn’t allow other things to enter into the market or increase competition.
The rules have made things expensive, and as a result, German consumers are forced to buy things like cosmetics instead of drugs.
One of the reasons behind the expensive things in Germany is because there is a need for things like licensing that issues things. In addition to this, decentralization is another reason that has made things more difficult. Manufacturers have rules that are imposed on them by states as well as the federal government in Germany.
This gives rise to different things and things are even more complicated after things like bureaucracy come into play. This makes things more difficult, and things are made even worse after things like distribution, transportation costs, as well as things like advertising, have to be paid for things that are not free in Germany.
Medical care in Germany is anything but free. The costs are so high that many people can’t hope to afford it and must rely on the government for help.
The World Health Organization ranks Germany as the country with the fourth-highest medical expenses.
The things you need to pay for in Germany when it comes to medicine are things like glasses, contacts, dental check ups and things of those sort. You will also be required to buy insurance that covers your medical expenses before they are reimbursed by the government later on down the line.
Be warned, though – this may take a while depending on your specific case.
Food (especially meat)
Germany has taken the entire “pay as you go” concept a step further. One aspect of life that is usually free in many other countries, including the United States, is food. In Germany, however, things are different. There are stores where people can buy things on the spot and pay cash, but most of those places specialize in things like milk or bread.
For most things, it’s necessary to pay in advance for them at a discount store. These stores have more things than just food — things such as furniture or television sets — but they don’t carry things like meat or eggs. As an alternative to the discount store, there is a grocery store that allows customers to make payments throughout the month for foods that they buy.
Even things that are completely necessary must be paid for in advance. This is the case with eggs, shampoo and other things that people need to buy — but things like toothpaste or shaving cream can be bought on a pay-as-you-go basis.
See Related: Best German Food to Try | Traditional Types of Food
Bills/utilities (water, electricity)
Bills are not free in Germany. Germans pay for things such as water and electricity, things that can be a problem for people living below the poverty line.
There are a few aspects of living in Germany that are not free, such as the cost of electricity. Just as people living below the poverty line in other countries may struggle to afford things such as water or gas for heating, similarly Germans often don’t have enough money left over after they buy their necessities to pay for items like running water or electricity for things such as light or even to power a TV.
Finding a job can be difficult, and when one does find work it’s often low-paying, so that things many people in other countries take for granted cost extra money. In Germany, things like donating blood is not free. And things such as baby-food formula or things for children with dietary restrictions can be expensive.
Transportation (particularly gasoline and diesel fuel)
One of the things that’s most surprising about things not being free in Germany is things that are means of transportation — particularly things like bicycles. A lot of people ride bicycles in Germany, but you have to pay for them even if you never plan on riding them again.
This will probably come as a shock to anyone who moves from the US to Germany because things are different back home. In fact, things not being free in Germany is one of the things that readers are sure to be surprised about.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Düsseldorf, Germany
In Germany, things that are not free include childcare services. There is a debate that things that are not free in Germany include childcare services.
In 2006, only 13% of families with children under three years old used public daycare programs. While the percentage has since increased to about half in 2012, this is still below the average usage found for kindergartens and schools (Statistisches Bundesamt).
In 2007, about 10% of households with children under 3 had all things that are not free in Germany covered by public subsidies for those without the means. Of families with only one parent, more than two-thirds had coverage for all their needs.
In 2006, the average monthly cost for non-free things was about 270 EUR. Non-free items included a child and youth allowance, childcare costs, and education expenses.
See Related: Best German Christmas Markets to Visit
Laws in Germany for Tourists
In Germany, it is a law that tourists cannot work without a visa. There are also laws about things that tourists can do and things that they are not allowed to do in Germany.
Tourists should be aware of these things before they begin their trip to Germany.
Tourist Are Not Allowed to Do These Things in Germany
Tourists are not allowed to:
- show obscene movies or pictures in public spaces
- be on a part of the beach where Germans are bathing
- walk around during the hours when people usually sleep
- wear Nazi symbols or things depicting the swastika in public spaces
- be on the main streets of German cities during holidays like Christmas
What things can tourists do in Germany?
People who visit Germany should be aware that things are not free here.
- go to all public places unless there is a sign posted indicating that the place is closed for renovations or maintenance work
- buy things at the supermarket
- travel on public transportation
- visit places like museums and parks
Things to Do in Germany That Are Free:
There are things that tourists can do in Germany that are free. Tourists should check things out about this country before they come here. They will be able to make the most of their trip to this country.
Things that tourists can do in Germany for free:
- visit things like museums, amusement parks, parks, and art galleries
- travel throughout the country via public transportation (this is especially helpful when there are many things to see)
- go shopping at the supermarket for things like food, clothing, and toiletries
- take care of things they need to take care of (this is very helpful in a foreign place where things are not free) like paying bills for things like utilities and transportation.
- visit the local tourist bureau to get an idea of things that tourists can do throughout Germany for free
- visit things like Holocaust memorials and museums that show things related to World War II.
It’s important to know things that are not free in Germany before moving here. The cost of living can be high, and there are things you should avoid doing as a tourist or new resident.
Tourists who visit Germany will find many things they can do for free- including visiting museums and amusement parks without paying a fee.
If you’re planning on staying for long periods, it is helpful to take care of things like bills beforehand so that your stay is more enjoyable with fewer worries about money (or the lack of it). Germany is rich with things for tourists to see and things to do.
Lock In Your Travel Now
Find Cheap Flights
Use Skyscanner to find flight deals. As my personal favorite flight search engine, Skyscanner scours websites and airlines across the globe, leaving no stone unturned to help you find the best deal possible. And if you really want to take your savings to new heights, pair Skyscanner with Going (Formerly Scott's Cheap Flights). With access to exclusive mistake fares delivered straight to your inbox, you'll be packing your bags and jetting off on your next adventure before you know it.
Travel insurance is a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Cover yourself against illness, injury and theft, and protect the arrangements you've made with our flexible travel cancellation insurance. My favorite options for travel insurance are:
Book Your Accommodation
In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use Booking.com as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.
Want More Destination Ideas Direct to Your Inbox?
Be sure to join the ViaTravelers Newsletter for expert tips, tricks and inspiration for your next travel journey!
Discover the Best Travel Tools
Be sure to visit our page on our favorite travel resources to learn how you too can visit over 10 countries in year.