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EXPLAINED: Will it be possible to travel to Germany this summer?

EXPLAINED: Will it be possible to travel to Germany this summer?
The Koblenz cable car on the Rhine at the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress requires visitors to war an FFP2 mask. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Frey
The pandemic and changing restrictions mean it's a good idea to think carefully before booking any non-necessary travel, but many people do need to cross borders. Here's a look at the current situation and what we can expect soon.

Germany still has several travel restrictions in place due to the pandemic. The rules at the moment vary and are based on where you’re travelling from and the reason for your journey.

Whenever you’re thinking of travelling, make sure you check all the requirements for your destination and for your return home, plus take in any requirements by airlines or countries you’re travelling through. 

Negative test requirement, registering online and special ‘virus variant’ rules

If you are entering Germany by air you generally need to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test no older than 48 hours. For ‘high incidence’ areas, ‘risk’ areas or non-risk regions, if you are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 (restrictions apply), you can show proof of this instead of a negative test. This is known as proof of immunity. 

Everyone over the age of six is affected by this rule. 

The RKI updates the list on the classification of risk countries regularly Test requirements are detailed here.

If you are entering Germany from a ‘virus variant area of concern’ you have to provide proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test regardless of whether you’re vaccinated/recovered. There is also a general travel ban on entry from these areas but there are some exceptions such as for German residents. 

People coming from virus variant areas do have to follow testing rules and also quarantine for 14 days on arrival, with no exceptions for vaccinated people. 

If you’ve been in a ‘risk’, ‘high incidence’ or ‘virus variant’ area within the last 10 days, you also have to register your arrival in Germany before travel (you include your negative test result/proof of immunity on that). You don’t have to do this if you’re coming from a country that is not on the risk list.

EXPLAINED: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules for travel 

If you’re travelling from an EU/EEA country:

In principle, travel is allowed to Germany from EU member states and states associated with Schengen: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

However, individual restrictions can apply to these countries. For example, they could be classed as ‘risk’, ‘high incidence’ or ‘virus variant’ zones. You have to follow the rules for testing, entry registration and quarantine.

Be aware that new restrictions could be put in place at short notice if authorities judge them necessary; this is based on factors such as the spread of new variants or large increases in cases. 

People queuing at a test centre in Dresden, Saxony. Tests are needed to access some activities currently in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Kahnert

What will happen in future for EU travel?

The EU is set to roll out its Covid-19 travel system by July that would allow for those who are vaccinated, test negative for Covid or have recovered from the virus to travel freely within the bloc.

It is hoped that it will result in quarantine-free travel for people in the EU. But it will be up to each member state on what restrictions they decide to impose and that will likely depend on the Covid situation in each country.  

The scheme will link up the digital Covid health passports currently being developed or rolled out in each country, including Germany. 

If you’re travelling from a non-EU country:

There is currently a ban in place on travel to Germany from most non-EU countries (this includes the UK, which stopped being treated as an EU/EEA country at the end of 2020). 

There are some exceptions: Germany allows unrestricted entry for residents of the following countries Australia, Israel (as of May 8th), New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand. The list will include China as soon as the possibility of mutual entry is confirmed, Germany says. 

Also be aware that rules for non-EU countries can change rapidly. So if you go abroad you have to keep an eye on restrictions in Germany – they could change while you’re away. 

We saw this recently when the UK went from being a non-risk area to a virus variant area of concern within two weeks due to worries over the spread of the Delta variant first discovered in India. 

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Tourism is still on hold in general for non EU countries. But there are some ‘essential reasons’ that allow entry to Germany as long as travellers comply with testing and quarantine rules. 

These reasons include meeting an unmarried partner who is a resident in Germany (if they first fill out a form), short term work including business trips, medical procedures, and those visiting for urgent family reasons, including the birth of a child or grandchild.

But if the country is a ‘virus variant area of concern’, such as currently India, Brazil, South Africa and the UK, there are tighter rules for entering Germany. 

For people in Germany travel abroad is still discouraged.

What will happen in future?

EU ambassadors for the 27 member states in May recommended that rules should be changed to allow non-essential visits into the EU by travellers who are fully vaccinated – in other words with both doses of a two-dose vaccine or one in the case of the Johnson & Johnson injection.

It looks likely that Germany, and other EU member states, will allow travellers from certain non-EU countries deemed to be low risk if they are fully vaccinated, or potentially also if they can show a negative test result.

READ ALSO: Can Americans travel to Germany for tourism this summer?

The rules, however, have yet to be confirmed.

It looks like Germany is aiming to open up for travel – at least within the EU – in July. It could be that travel also opens up to non-EU countries at this stage or it may be later in summer. 

However, on the unresolved question of how visitors will be able to prove they have been vaccinated, the EU said it will be up to individual member states to decide what evidence they will accept.

In Germany, vaccinations are proved with an Impfbuch (vaccination booklet or pass) or a piece of paper signed and stamped by a doctor with details on the type of vaccine, batch and date. 

The country is testing out a digital vaccination pass which will be rolled out across the country.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said that the country’s so-called CovPass, a health certificate that will allows people to upload their health status (such as full vaccination or negative test) for smoother travel, will be ready by the end of June. That’s roughly in line with the date provided by the EU.

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When The Local asked the German Health Ministry recently on providing vaccine proof, a spokesman told us that the internationally recognised WHO ‘yellow booklet’ for documenting vaccinations is “possible and valid” as proof in Germany.

He added: “Discussions on the recognition of vaccinations are still ongoing at the international level. Within the EU, this is ensured with the green certificate. With this certificate, travellers can prove that they are fully vaccinated. This digital vaccination certificate will be available in the second half of the second quarter.

“Discussions between the EU Commission and the WHO and international partners are ongoing to recognize this EU-wide proof in the wider international context. The latest research findings are also taken into account.”

So it is not yet clear how CDC cards from the US or NHS certificates from the UK, for example, will be recognised at the border, or if another system will be set up first.

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What about actually being in Germany?

Although the Covid situation is improving, anyone visiting Germany should know there are strict coronavirus measures in place in all of the 16 states. For example, many tourist attractions, which are beginning to reopen, require that everyone wears an FFP2 mask. 

There are also often testing requirements for accessing restaurants or other activities. You should check the rules on the area you’re visiting before travel. 

READ ALSO: German Health Minister ‘wants to prepare’ for possible fourth Covid wave

Where to find out more:

We aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information but the situation can change at short notice. You can check the “updated” time in the top left corner of the article to see when we updated this webpage.

The Local recommends that before any travel, you check Germany’s national authorities for information on the latest restrictions, such as government websites

Also keep an eye on the Foreign Office website which provides information in German and English.

You can follow our other travel news, which includes new rules, here.


Member comments

  1. Can anyone explain to me why the leading Western governments especially France and the UK stubbornly refuse to use the cheap safe effective medicines like Ivermectin to control and cure Covid. It is pretty astonishing that it is used in Zambia, South Africa, Goa, Uttar Pradesh and Peru, to name a few, but not Western Europe. And please spare me the nonsense about needing more trials. It works and it is one of the safest medicines around, which means that we should be taking it anyway because there is no downside.

  2. Good question, R,Harneis. the answer may be they want people to be experimented on. And the pharmaceutical companies make billions off vaccines. It is a scam.

  3. It might be helpful to report on the restrictions currently in place for travel to the UK from Europe/Germany i.e. if returning to UK after visiting Germany. Also differences due to citizenship could be explained more clearly – Entry to UK with British citizenship or non British citizenship and entry to Germany with German/non German citizenship. Perhaps links to websites where the current restrictions can be accessed would be helpful (“government websites” is a bit to vague).

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