The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Amid soaring inflation, particularly for food and energy, the gap between rich and poor in Germany is widening / Photo: Femi Awoniyi

COVID-19│Travelling to Germany: Questions and Answers

Travel warnings, risk areas, quarantine requirements: For many, the entry regulations for Germany remain confusing. Here are a few answers to the most important questions.

Within the EU, holiday flights are again operating and tourists from selected third countries (non-EU countries) can also enter Germany again. Everyone is strongly advised to seek the latest information before packing their bags. What applies to the EU does not necessarily apply to Germany. Quarantine regulations are not only applied differently within the EU, but also within Germany.  The plethora of regulations, rules and exceptions to the rule is confusing. It makes people uneasy.

“What do I do if …?” Here are the frequently asked questions and their answers.


Question 1

The list of countries from which I can enter Germany is constantly changing. Where can I find the latest information?

In principle, the German Interior Ministry is responsible for the entry regulations to Germany. Here travellers can find all current information, also in English. In addition, travellers should consult the website of the German Foreign Ministry  and the Federal Police for information on current travel regulations.Re-open Europe offers an EU-wide overview.

So far, there have been no restrictions on entry to Germany for citizens of the European Union and the Schengen countries. People from third countries can currently only do so with a valid reason. These travel obstacles are to be gradually lifted. Due to the low infection rates, the EU wants to grant travellers from 14 third countries free entry again. However, this is only a recommendation that each EU state can implement as it sees fit.

Germany currently grants free entry to Australia, Georgia, Canada, Montenegro, New Zealand, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. Entry restrictions are also to be dropped for China, South Korea, and Japan — but only when Germans are also allowed to enter these countries freely again.

Question 2

Under what conditions can I enter Germany from a country that is subject to an entry ban? Are there exceptions and if so, which ones?

The list of exceptions to the ban on entering Germany is long. The German Interior Ministry has compiled a list of those who have a valid reason to travel and are thus allowed to enter Germany. 

Question 3

How do I find out if I have to be quarantined after entering from a third country and where do I have to remain while I do so? Can I avoid the quarantine with a negative coronavirus test?

In principle, only entrants from those third countries that the Robert Koch Institute classifies as risk areas have to be placed in quarantine. Anyone who has stayed there in the 14 days before entering Germany must self-isolate for 14 days. The list of these countries is constantly updated.

So, if you are planning to travel to Germany, it is essential that you find out whether your country of origin is on this list before you leave. This also applies to returning travellers. The specific quarantine regulations are issued by the individual federal states. Travellers can find out which conditions apply in which federal state here

Quarantine can be avoided by those who have a negative coronavirus test or a health certificate. However, both may not be older than 48 hours. Frankfurt Airport offers a coronavirus rapid test (PCR) upon arrival, costing €139 ($157,50). Travellers can also have themselves tested at Munich Airport, for €190. By the way, travellers in transit do not have to go into quarantine as long as they do not have COVID-19 symptoms.

Question 4

If I test positive and have to go into quarantine, where do I have to stay and who pays for it?

The result of the quick test at the airport is sent to the smartphone of travellers within a few hours. If the test is positive, the health authorities are automatically informed, and a 14-day quarantine is mandatory. The responsible health authorities will give you concrete instructions and information. Compliance with the quarantine requirements is monitored by the local authorities. Violations can be punished in some federal states with a fine of up to €10,000.

Also, those who enter the country from risk areas without having been tested must in any case go directly into quarantine, if possible, in their own apartment or other suitable accommodation.  In case of quarantine, the local health authority decides what is “suitable accommodation”. There are no concrete guidelines on the type of accommodation at either federal or state level.

If additional costs are incurred, for example for hotel stays or visits to the doctor, these are not covered by the German government. However, the tour operator and the international health insurance could cover these costs if these conditions were agreed upon beforehand. Foreign citizens are also advised to inform their embassy in Germany about their quarantine stay.

Question 5

I want to enter Germany: Does the law differentiate between the country I enter from and my citizenship?

In this case, whether you can enter Germany depends on whether you have a valid residence permit or visa for Germany or the Schengen area.  In this case, the place of residence or long-term stay takes priority over nationality. An example: An Australian living in Nigeria wants to travel to Germany. Australia is on the “positive list” for entry to Germany (see above). However, since this Australian lives in Nigeria, he may not enter Germany without an urgent reason for travel. However, a Brazilian who lives in Belgium can enter without an urgent reason. By the way: Visas for the Schengen area will not be issued until further notice — with a few exceptions in urgent cases. You can find out whether you need a visa to enter Europe here.

Question 6

What happens if I want to enter from a country for which Germany has issued a travel warning? For instance, I am Turkish and live in Turkey. Germany has issued a travel warning for my country. Can I enter Germany, or will I be turned away at the airport?

A general travel warning for all countries outside the EU and the Schengen area will remain in effect until 31 August 2020, but this travel warning is intended for German citizens and is not directly related to the entry restrictions for Germany.

For example, if you want to travel from Turkey to Germany, you need a good reason (see above). The reason for travel is checked by the airline at the airport before departure. Only then would you be allowed to fly. Nevertheless, it is possible that you could be turned away at the airport in Germany if the officials there consider your reason for travel to be insufficient or if there are short-term changes in the entry restrictions. You will then have to fly back. However, as the airline must bear the costs for this, they will check carefully whether you are entitled to travel to Germany. 

Important: Turkey is currently included in the list of risk areas. This means that after their arrival, travellers have to undergo a 14-day quarantine. At some German airports (see above) a quick test can be done. If this test is negative, no quarantine has to be carried out.

Question 7

Individual EU countries seem to deal differently with entries from third countries. Can I make use of this? So, I might be able to enter Greece, but not Germany. Once I have made it to Greece, can I travel from there to Germany?

Not necessarily. Each EU and Schengen country — despite relatively uniform decisions at EU level — has the power to decide on its own entry restrictions. If you have successfully entered Greece, this does not mean that you will automatically be granted free entry to Germany — unless you live in the Schengen area or have a valid visa. Therefore, before you plan your trip, you should find out exactly what the current regulations are for entering Germany. If you have any further questions, please contact the relevant embassy in Germany.

Question 8

I’m in Germany and am developing coronavirus symptoms: What do I do?

Immediately inform the responsible health authority . In the event of more severe symptoms, also contact a doctor or the coronavirus hotline (Tel.: 116 117). If you show serious symptoms, go to hospital, or call an ambulance. Before you start your journey, find out the contact details of your embassy in Germany in case you need to contact them if you become seriously ill.

Question 9

What happens if the regulations change during my stay in Germany? For example, if my return becomes impossible because Germany or my home country closes its borders again?

Please contact your embassy in Germany as soon as possible. In principle, it should be possible to leave Germany and re-enter your home country — provided you are not in quarantine or actively infected. How you can leave the country and who will cover the costs depends on your booking conditions. Ask the tour operator or airline whether and when a return is possible and who will cover the potential costs. As a precaution, make sure you have a financial buffer before departure if additional costs are incurred. Because if the building, city or region where you are staying in Germany is placed under quarantine, you will have to remain there until the authorities allow you to leave the area again.

Question 10

The federal states in Germany have different coronavirus rules. How do I best inform myself if I want to travel in Germany?

The regulations and rules for the individual federal states can be found here. It is particularly important to bear in mind the different rules on quarantine requirements for entrants from third countries designated as risk areas. Also keep an eye on the news about the situation in Germany and your region of residence. It could happen that certain cities, districts or regions are quarantined because of a high number of new infections and may also be declared a risk area within Germany. The individual federal states may also decide on a lockdown. This can impact your travel within Germany and your return or onward journey abroad. If you have any questions, please contact the local authorities or the embassy of your country in Germany.

© DW




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