What are the rules for travelling abroad from Germany this summer?

What are the rules for travelling abroad from Germany this summer?
A beach south of Athens in Greece. Photo: DPA
Germany is progressively relaxing its restrictions on international travel. But we are still worlds away form the freedoms we enjoyed before the pandemic. Here’s what you need to know before travelling abroad this summer.

Am I allowed to leave the country?

Yes. 

Strictly speaking, Germany has never stopped anyone from leaving. 

It issued a travel warning for the entire world in March asking people to avoid all but necessary travel. But the Foreign Ministry’s website makes clear that the travel warning “is not a ban. Ultimately everyone has to decide for themselves about whether to travel – but they do this in the knowledge that a travel warning isn’t issued without good reason.”

The practical effect of the warning though was an end to international travel. By issuing a travel warning, Berlin made it possible for holidaymakers to cancel trips and claim their money back. Facing the prospect of near-empty planes, airlines cancelling flights and within days international travel had ground to a halt.

In early April, Germany introduced quarantine rules for people returning from abroad, making the prospect of leaving the country on holiday even less appealing.

What's changing?

So here’s the good news. As of Monday June 15th the tourist travel warning will be lifted for most of Europe. The return to normalcy will apply to all EU countries, plus Schengen ones and the United Kingdom. 

For those of us who don't have a list of Schengen and/or EU countries in our heads – that means the warning still applies to the Balkan region (minus Croatia), Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, Georgia, Moldova… and the entire rest of the world.

The travel warning for the vast majority of the globe will apply until at least the August 31st although the Foreign Ministry says it might lift it on a country-by-country basis.

READ ALSO: EU proposes 'progressive and partial' reopening of external borders in July

A holiday house on the Danish west coast. Photo: DPA

So is travel in Europe back to normal?

Unfortunately not. Ultimately all Germany can do is lift its travel warning for other EU countries, but it's up to these countries whether they let you in.

Germany will publish advice for each EU country. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said that travel to the UK, for example, will not be recommended as long as a 14-day quarantine for people arriving to the country applies there.

You'll also have to refer to the country you want to travel to for the latest information on restrictions. 

For the most part, EU countries will be easing restrictions over the coming fortnight.

Greece for instance will allow people travelling from Germany to enter the country without self-isolating as of June 15th. Italy has allowed travellers from other EU countries to enter without going through quarantine since June 3rd. Spain will allow people to come back in without self-isolating as of July 1st.

Not everywhere is going down the same route, though. The UK insists that all people arriving in the country spend their first two weeks in isolation. We still don't know when this rule will be lifted. Poland is another country that continues to apply strict restrictions on those entering its borders.

Will I have to go into quarantine when I get back?

Not if you’re coming back from Europe, no. 

The quarantine has been lifted for the same countries for which the travel warning is about to be lifted for. However individual German states can still decide to impose a quarantine for people returning from certain countries if the number of infections in said country spikes.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany's quarantine rules after travel

If you're returning from a country outside the EU you'll have to complete a mandatory two-week quarantine.

What is the situation at airports?

Lufthansa, which only survived the crisis due to a multi-billion euro bailout, has been ramping up its services since the start of the month. It will start flights to several European destinations from Frankfurt and Munich next Monday. 

The low costs carriers are also set to resume much of their normal service. See this article for more details.

Controls on flights arriving from Italy and Spain will cease as of June 21st.

“This will mean freedom of movement in the EU is once again a reality,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer claimed on Wednesday.

Remember that rules special hygiene and distance rules for travelling will be in place, for example mandatory face masks are to be introduced at Germany's airports.

What about the land borders?

The Interior Ministry also announced on Wednesday June 10th that it was lifting all border controls at Germany’s land borders, meaning entering the country will be a much more stress free event henceforth.

Denmark, a popular holiday destination for Germans, will ease restrictions on June 15th. People able to prove that they are staying for six days outside Copenhagen will be allowed in. Nonetheless they may be required to undergo testing either at the border or at mobile testing sites throughout the country.

Austria will end all controls from Germany on June 15th, meaning holidaying in the Aline Republic is another possibility for those itching to get out of Germany.


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