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Coronavirus and entry restrictions: 6 things travellers to Germany need to know

Information poster on coronavirus at Hamburg airport

Information on coronavirus at Hamburg airport, © Bodo Marks/dpa

03.08.2020 - Article

Due to the coronavirus outbreak many countries have imposed travel restrictions or taken other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Travelers can find useful and important information for trips to Germany here.

1. Entry: travel restrictions and quarantine

Travel from third countries

Since 17 March 2020 entry restrictions have applied throughout the EU for non-essential travel from third countries. These restrictions also specifically apply to travel to Germany.

For Germany, travel restrictions apply for entry from a large number of countries. Please check with the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) prior to your trip to find out what regulations apply specifically with regard to the country from which you plan to enter Germany.

In principle, entry is possible from:

  • EU member states
  • states associated with Schengen: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein
  • the United Kingdom
  • Other countries, from which entry is possible due to the epidemiological situation assessment by the EU.

Entry from other countries is only possible in exceptional cases and is conditional on there being an urgent Need.

Third countries without travel restrictions

From 2 July 2020, unrestricted travel to Germany is once again possible from the following third countries with low rates of infection:

  • Australia
  • Georgia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Thailand
  • Tunisia
  • Uruguay

For China, Japan and South Korea a lifting of entry restrictions is subject to confirmation of reciprocity.

This list of countries is to be regularly updated. The question of whether travel to Germany is permitted depends on where the person travelling has previously been staying, not on their nationality.

Options for travellers to Germany from all third countries

Travel to Germany is also possible from third countries not included in the above list if there are important grounds for doing so. On this basis, travel to Germany is possible for the following groups or travel purposes:

  • German nationals and nationals from other EU countries, countries associated with Schengen (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) and the United Kingdom;
  • Third-country nationals with a valid residence permit for Germany;
  • Family members of third-country nationals travelling to Germany for the purposes of family reunification or for visits for urgent family reasons;
  • Healthcare professionals, health researchers and elderly care professionals;
  • Foreign experts and highly qualified personnel whose work is necessary from an economic point of view and which cannot be postponed or carried out abroad;
  • Transport personnel engaged in haulage of goods and other transport staff;
  • Seasonal workers in agriculture;
  • Sailors;
  • Foreign students whose studies cannot be continued entirely from outside Germany;
  • Persons in need of international protection or seeking protection for other humanitarian reasons;
  • Diplomats, staff of international organisations, military personnel and humanitarian aid workers in the exercise of their functions;
  • Late repatriates;
  • Passengers in Transit.

Travel within the EU or the Schengen area

The temporary entry restrictions for travellers from other EU countries, states associated with Schengen (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) and the United Kingdom have been removed entirely since 21 June 2020. Travel to Germany from other EU states, the Schengen area and the United Kingdom has been possible without restriction since then.

Quarantine regulations

The Federation and the Länder have agreed on the main aspects of uniform quarantine regulations for people entering or returning to Germany. Further information, the model ordinance and links are available on the websites of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community. For information on the concrete implementation of the measures in the various Länder, please see the websites of the Land Ministries of Health.

Upon entry into Germany following a stay in a risk area within the last 14 days travellers must

  • under these agreements, proceed directly to their destination following entry into Germany,
  • self-isolate at home or suitable accomodation and
  • email or phone the competent authority, as a rule the health office in the place of residence/accommodation.

The Federal Ministry of Health has announced that in the near future anyone arriving in Germany from a risk area will be required to undergo a Covid-19 test. More detailed information on entry requirements and procedures are available here:

Ministry of Health

2. Facilitations for expiring visas and residence permits

To take into account the current difficulties in leaving the country before a visa/residence permit expires, the following facilitations apply:

  1. Citizens whose national visa (D visa) is about to expire should submit an application for an extension to the relevant immigration office by email before expiry. Until the decision of the immigration office has been made, the residence will remain legal. Personal details (surname, maiden name, first name, spelling of the names, date of birth, place and district of birth, gender, nationality, passport number), type of title and any file number must be specified. It is advisable to carry a printed version of the application in addition to the expired visa and your passport/ID card.
  2. Citizens who were in Germany on 17 March 2020 with a valid Schengen visa (C visa) or who entered Germany after 17 March 2020 and before 9 April 2020 with a valid Schengen visa are exempted from the requirement of a residence title until 30 June 2020. The other conditions under which the respective Schengen visa was issued remain unaffected until then.

  3. Citizens who are allowed to enter and stay in the Schengen area for 90 days within a period of 180 days without a visa should contact the relevant immigration office before expiry of that period and provide their personal details (see above) to legalise their stay (if necessary by email). Provided that this application reaches the authority before expiry of the named period, the stay will remain legal until a decision is made by the immigration office. It is advisable to carry a printed version of the application in addition to the expired title and your passport/ID card.

This also applies to third-country nationals of those countries listed in section 41 (1) of the Ordinance Governing Residence who did not require a visa to enter the Federal Republic of Germany. If the individual has approval from the Federal Employment Agency and has applied for a residence title as described above, they may take up the employment stated in the notification approval from the Federal Employment Agency.

The solution above does not apply to third-country nationals of those countries listed in section 41 (1) of the Ordinance Governing Residence who have already entered the Federal Republic of Germany  and did not require a visa but who do not yet have approval from the Federal Employment Agency. They are asked to contact the relevant immigration office.

Citizens whose residence permit expires during their stay abroad and who were unable to travel to Germany in time due to existing travel restrictions may submit an application for renewal of their residence permit informally (i.e. by email) to the relevant immigration office. If the application is submitted before the expiry of the residence permit, the residence Permit will remain valid from the time of its expiry until a decision is made by the immigration office. For subsequent re-entry, however, a Fiktionsbescheinigung (fictional certificate) is required, which will normally be sent to the diplomatic mission nearest to the person's place of residence. The procedure described above also applies if the residence permit has already expired at the time of the application and the immigration office has approved its continued validity.

Further details are available here.

3. How to conduct yourself when in Germany?

Mouth and nose must be covered aboard any public Transport and in stores.

If travellers develop symptoms associated with COVID-19 (coughing, a runny nose, sore throat or fever) they should get in touch by phone with a doctor or contact the hotline 116 117. Often travel guides or hotels can also help in such cases. Travellers should keep the contact details of their home country’s embassy or consulate in Germany in case they need to contact them.

Extensive information in English and other languages on current regulations is available here.

A short overview on what to do to help protect yourself and others is available here:

Leaflet on coronavirus: Protect - Recognise - Act

Watch out for local regulations

Measures for fighting the spread of COVID-19 are subject to local regulation. This may include quarantine measures in the case of a confirmed infection.

The international advice on reducing the spread of COVID-19 should be followed. This includes washing hands regularly and thoroughly with soap for 20-30 seconds, sneezing into the elbow or the quick disposal of handkerchieves or tissues, keeping a distance from other people and avoiding shaking hands. Further information and details can be found on the World Health Organization’s website.

Where possible, travel should be reduced and public transport avoided to further reduce the risk of infection.

4. Transits through other countries and returning home

A number of countries have imposed travel restrictions in connection with the coronavirus outbreak. Some of them may also ban entry or impose quarantine measures on travellers coming from Germany. These may change very quickly.

Travelers are therefore advised to contact the embassy or consulate of their country of transit or destination to receive information on possible entry restrictions. Travellers should also keep themselves informed about any changes during their stay abroad. In many cases, the health ministry or competent authorities provide information for travellers on their websites.

5. Travel warning of the Federal Foreign Office

At present, people are strongly advised to avoid non-essential travel abroad for tourism purposes, as travellers may encounter strict or drastic restrictions on international air travel or tourism, worldwide entry restrictions, quarantine measures or restrictions to public life in many countries. This warning was lifted as of 15 June for travels to most EU-member-states, Schengen-associated states (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and the United Kingdom. However, travelers are highly advised to thoroughly inform themselves, before travelling as restrictions by these countries such as quarantines or entry restrictions may still apply.

The travel warning is in place for all other countries until end of August for the time being. Exceptions for different countries may be made before this date if the overall situation regarding the travel and safety of travelers allows for this.

6. Where to find more information

More information is available from the following institutions:

Information on coronavirus and regulations in English and other languages

Ministry of the Interior

Ministry of Health

Ministry of Transport

The World Health Organization

Robert Koch Institute

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