Quarantine when returning from abroad

Diagram depicting mandatory quarantine in Germany

Diagram depicting mandatory quarantine in Germany, © Diagram depicting mandatory quarantine in Germany

30.07.2020 - Article

When entering Germany or returning to the country, self-isolation for a certain number of days may be mandatory. Here are the details:

Quarantine and international risk areas

The German rules for self-isolation and quarantine apply to any traveler who has spent time in a risk area in the 14 days which preceded the entry to Germany. The decisive question is if the area was classified as a risk area at the time of entry to Germany (i.e. not necessarily at the time of the stay).

Travelers who have spent time in such areas must:

  • proceed directly to their destination following entry into Germany,
  • self-isolate at home for 14 days and
  • email or phone their competent authority, as a rule the health office in your place of residence/accommodation.

Legally, the rules governing self-isolation and quarantine based on provisions which the authorities of the respective Federal States (the so-called “Länder”) pass. Failure to comply with these provisions can result in a fines or imprisonment. It is strongly recommended that travelers contact the relevant local authorities for further details before entering Germany..

The RKI provides information on self-isolation and quarantine here. 

Exception: transit

The obligation to self‑isolate at home does not apply to transit-only cases. In this case, however, travelers cannot under any circumstances stay but need to leave Germany immediately.

Exception: recognized negative test result

If travelers can prove that they are not infected with the SARS CoV‑2 virus, these quarantine regulations do not apply.

Proof must take the form of a medical certificate and the molecular test to detect an infection cannot be older than 48 hours (i.e. the swab must have been taken no more than 48 hours prior to entry). The test must have been carried out in a European Union member state or a state with comparable quality Standards.

Alternatively, the test may be carried out upon entry

  • at the border crossing point or
  • at the place where you are staying.

The test result must be retained for at least 14 days after entry – regardless of whether the test was conducted prior to or following entry. It must be submitted to the health office upon request.

Mandatory testing in near future

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. A regulation is expected to enter into force next week. Depending on the local regulation of the Federal State / Bundesland a negative test result may constitute an exemption for the remaining quarantine. Travelers will also be required to fill in Disembarkation cards.

Travelers arriving from countries that are not listed as risk areas will have the option to get tested within 72 hours after Arrival - albeit not at the airport.

Tests in both cases will be free of charge. Regarding Details, travelers should contact the Federal Ministry of Health, airport and the local health authorities of the Federal States / Länder.

Travel warning not linked to risk areas

The list of risk areas is relevant for the quarantine regulations for people entering Germany. Quarantine has been introduced to prevent travelers spreading COVID-19 in Germany.

The list of risk areas has no direct impact on travel warnings. Although the development of the pandemic plays a role in both, identifying risk areas and issuing travel warnings, the latter focuses on the risk to travelers when abroad. Relevant factors here include entry restrictions and quarantine regulations of the respective foreign country, options for return travel and the capacities of the local healthcare system.

In order to find out more about Federal Foreign Office travel warnings, please check out our FAQ (in German).


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