We are busting our asses talking to people, calling hotlines, reading freshly published articles and emailing officials trying to get answers to your most pressing questions about COVID-19 and how it affects your life and livelihood. Everything from government grants and welfare aid to what you can and can’t do during the pandemic. We will link to all information here and keep this article up to date. If you have pressing questions, please leave a comment and we’ll play detective!
So many people asked whether it would be OK to return to Germany from their overseas trip now that Germany has closed down its borders. We have a somewhat vague answer for you – it’s not bulletproof. There might be hope. But your flight will probably get cancelled anyway.
Second only to the word “Coronavirus” that gets thrown about in the media is the word “Entschädigung” (compensation). You might have heard that you’re entitled to a compensation if you are not permitted to do your job due to a quarantine or work ban. This information is brand new, it was only published last night. … Read More
Everyone keeps talking about “Kurzarbeitergeld” in the media. What is it? Can I use it to pay my employees in these difficult times? Red Tape Translation has never been so busy playing detective as we are right now. We’re talking to officials, waiting for hours for information on hotlines and publishing everything we know in our blog. We’re now covering compensation for partial unemployment.
Lioba from Red Tape Translation is a freelance actor when she’s not working for us, and she has spent the day trying to make sense of the state aid available for self-employed people during the COVID-19 pandemic. She spoke with a case worker at a Job Center in depth this morning. We give her our warmest thanks for taking the time to share her knowledge.
Is this the 10,000th COVID-19 statement you’ve read today? We’ll try to keep it brief. This is what we’re expecting over the next few months and how we plan to deal with the challenges that might arise in Berlin.
If you’re ever presenting documents to an official in Germany (and chances are, you will find yourself doing so), you might need to provide certified translations. If it’s your lucky day, your case worker might also request a certified copy of something. Wait… what? What’s a certified translation? How does it differ from a certified copy? Where can I get my hands on one? These are the burning questions we’ll be discussing today.
After trudging through Berlin’s grey winter for four gruelling months, Sarah Beaman comes to the end of her internship, and prepares her sunblock and swimming gear for a stint in Italy. We grilled her just before takeoff on the best and the worst of doing time at Red Tape Translation.
If you write your own invoices, if you have multiple clients and if you make your own hours then you are self-employed (selbstständig) in Germany. So far, so good. But the tax office (Finanzamt) divides self-employment up into two further categories: you’re either a freelancer (Freiberufler) or you have a trade (Gewerbe). We help you find your true self (from a tax perspective, anyway).
We trawled the net looking for up-to-date information on English-speaking lawyers in Germany’s capital city. We found a few lists, but most of them were dreadfully out of date or not organised in a useful way. So we decided to make our own directory, sorted by field of law. We spoke to all the lawyers personally to make sure they were happy to be listed. You can therefore be assured that these lawyers are responsive to contact requests and open to working with English-speaking clients. As we continue to receive positive responses from Berlin’s English-speaking legal experts, we will update the list. Here it is! Special thanks to Fiona Gillespie for her stellar work in compiling this directory.
Moving to a new country is scary. But then you realise you’ve just violated an unspoken cultural rule and now everyone is judging you. If you’re in Germany, it’s not even silent judging, it’s excruciating public directness. Here are seven of the most common mistakes made by first-timers in Berlin and how to avoid making them!
Sarah arrived on the scene in rainy November last year to see what it’s like being an interpreter and translator in Berlin. She’s been running back and forth to public and legal offices producing translations at lightning speed, proofreading, taking notes, shadowing and observing the very best and worst behaviour of Berlin’s bureaucratic jungle. Because if you’re going to hang out in the capital during the dark winter months, then you may as well go all out with fluorescent mood lighting. Here’s what Sarah has to say about her internship so far…
What attracted you to the German language?
I always loved how logical German seems, especially in a grammatical sense. Learning about different cases and adjective endings helped me understand this logic more and made me feel like German was an exciting puzzle to be solved rather than just a big jumble that was impossible to wrap my head around.
You’re completing a mandatory year of overseas work experience as part of your degree. Why Berlin?
I’m originally from London, which is big and busy and diverse, so I knew my best chance of getting the biggest variety of German experiences was to head for a big city like Berlin. Although there’s something to be said for the charm of the smaller, more rural areas of Germany, I just wanted somewhere where it was impossible to get bored, and Berlin, with all its diversity, seemed to me like the perfect place for that. I’ve been proven right so far!
What do you want to get out of your time in Berlin?
I’d like to have enough confidence in my ability to speak German that I don’t sweat the small stuff so often. When you’re in an academic environment, you obviously want to do the best you can, but I think there can be a tendency to fixate on the smaller mistakes and overlook your achievements, which isn’t helpful or fun to experience. So, I’d like to get as much experience speaking German as I can so that I’m not so hard on myself when I make mistakes and instead feel encouraged to keep trying. I also still haven’t tried döner, so I’m definitely in the right place!
Describe a typical day at Red Tape Translation
I don’t think there is such a thing as a typical day at Red Tape, and that’s half of what makes it so much fun working here. My day can include shadowing interpreters at their appointments, who each have different interpreting styles (and tips for me to steal). I also help with translations, usually of purchase contracts. Last week, I assisted Kathleen in translating 4000 words of dense legal German into English for a read-through at the notary’s office. It’s tough at times, but it’s rewarding to know that you’ve helped someone take a big step in their life like buying a house or getting married in Germany. It helps you to feel part of something bigger than just you and your German to English dictionaries. I’ve also gotten to research and write blog posts, sit in on Red Tape interviews and team meetings, and observe Skype coachings.
What are you finding fun about the internship?
I would say the variety of the internship has been my favourite part so far. Not just in terms of the jobs I get to do, but the people I get to meet, both clients and interpreters, who all have completely different stories, which I get to have a little glimpse of every time I shadow an appointment. Before coming to Berlin and joining Red Tape Translation, I had no experience in the world of interpreting, or even professional translation, so every day I learn something new that I know I’ll carry with me in the future. There’s also something very validating about seeing people in action in the field in which I want to work one day and getting to see them connect with others and do their jobs well.
What is the biggest frustration you’ve experienced in the world of translation so far?
This is a strange answer given that it’s Red Tape’s speciality, but I’d probably say German bureaucracy. I always appreciate how detailed it is and how it tries to account for basically any situation, but it can definitely be frustrating to have done all of your research and to feel as prepared as you can be for an appointment, only to be turned away because of a technicality! Keeping your head in those situations, and also making sure the client doesn’t panic, can be very tricky.
What is the most significant learning curve you’ve faced?
Learning to tackle legal translation, for sure. Although I’m studying German at university, we tend to focus on translating literature and articles. Purchase contracts didn’t quite make it onto our syllabus, so I felt a little out of my depth the first time I was presented with one. Translating legal documents has taught me that translating is a lot more than just looking up a word and selecting something that fits the context; it can involve researching and teaching yourself legal concepts, so that you can fully understand the English version of the contract as well as the German one. It also doesn’t help that some sentences in these contracts can go on for entire paragraphs, so I’ve had to learn not to run at the first sign of a Bandwurmsatz!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? (The typical interview question)
The scariest question so far! I used to go back and forth a lot due to my lack of confidence, but I think if I’ve learned anything from my time at Red Tape so far, it’s that I definitely want to be involved in the world of translating AND interpreting in some way in the future. Ideally, wherever I end up, I want to be using all of my languages, and I want to keep doing things that push me out of my comfort zone a little bit (like making phone calls!). My year abroad has just amplified my love of solo travel, so I’d love to integrate that into my life somehow, too. I’ll have my degree and a job that I genuinely enjoy, and will maybe even be adding new languages to my arsenal!