All potential travelers are 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 …?” We are currently receiving lots of questions from our readers and through our social media platforms. To help out, we have looked into the most important questions and have researched the current situation.
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 travelers can find all current information, also in English. In addition, travelers should consult the website of the German Foreign Ministry , the German Federal Police, and the German Ministry of Health for information on current travel regulations. The European Union also maintains an informational portal with an EU-wide overview.
The most important information can be found in the list of risk areas, which the Robert Koch Institute compiles and constantly updates in cooperation with the German Foreign Ministry and the Ministries of Health and the Interior. Listed here are, on the one hand, almost all third countries for which the German government has issued a general travel warning. On the other hand, individual regions are also listed in which there have been more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days.
Anyone coming to Germany from risk areas must be tested for coronavirus on entry and placed in quarantine until the test results are known.
Currently, only citizens from countries of the European Union and the Schengen Area are allowed to enter Germany without restrictions. Anyone wishing to enter from a third country must have a valid justification. Only Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand and Uruguay are excluded from this requirement. If your country of departure is also classified as a risk area, you must adhere to the quarantine requirements that apply in Germany.
In cooperation with the German Foreign Ministry, the Health Ministry and the Interior Ministry, the Robert Koch Institute draws up a list of risk areas that is constantly updated. It is therefore essential to find out before you start your journey whether your country or region of departure is classified as a risk area. Even if your country of origin is not classified as a risk area, but you stayed in a risk area at any time in the 14 days before entering Germany, the quarantine requirements apply to you.
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.
What if I am a citizen of an EU country, but Germany has declared my country a risk area — Can I still enter the country?
Citizens from EU member states and countries in the Schengen Area can enter Germany without restrictions. But here too, the quarantine rules apply to entry from risk areas. This means you must be tested no later than 10 days after arrival if you do not provide proof of a negative PCR genetic test upon arrival. The test is free of charge for all travelers from risk areas. Until a negative test result is obtained, you have to go into quarantine. If you test positive, a quarantine of 10 days applies. The requirements do not apply if you have only transited through a risk area.
Because persons entering from another EU country are usually not checked at the border, it is your responsibility to comply with the mandatory test. You must report to the responsible health department immediately after entering the country and provide your address. The authorities will then explain where you can get tested. For further details you can call the telephone info service from within Germany at 116 117. If you fail to comply with the obligations of testing, reporting or quarantine, you risk considerable fines.
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 and regions is constantly updated. So, if you are planning to travel to Germany, it is essential that you find out whether your country of origin or departure is on this list before you leave. This also applies to returning travelers. The specific quarantine regulations are issued by Germany’s 16 states. Travelers can find out which conditions apply in which state here.
In general, people can avoid having to quarantine by providing a negative coronavirus test result or a health certification. Both however must have been made within the previous 48 hours. In German airports, travelers returning from risk areas now have the possibility to be tested free of charge. As of August 8, travelers returning from high-risk areas are obliged to take a test upon arrival. Anyone who enters Germany from a risk area must also now fill out a Passenger Locator Card prior to entry.
The German government has announced the introduction of a digital entry registration starting November 8, 2020. In addition, there should be new quarantine rules from this point on. Find out about the latest developments and regulations on the above websites.
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 travelers often within a few hours, but sometimes it can take a few days for the result to be known. If the test is positive, the health authorities are automatically informed, and a 10-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 ($11,800).
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 at either the federal or state level on the type of accommodation required.
If additional costs are incurred, for example for hotel stays or visits to the doctor, these are not covered by the German government. However, tour operators and international health insurance policies 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.
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 Austria 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.
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?
On October 1, 2020, the general travel warning for all third countries was replaced by differentiated travel and safety information. However, the travel warning will automatically continue to apply to risk areas. Travel warnings are primarily aimed at German citizens who want to travel abroad and are therefore not directly related to the entry restrictions to Germany.
For entrance into Germany from Turkey you need a valid reason (see above). In addition, Turkey is currently on the list of risk areas. This means that you would be bound by the quarantine requirements (see above) after a potential entry.
For departure to Germany: Turkish air carriers require proof of a PCR test carried out no more than 48 hours before departure. Without this test, you are not allowed to board the aircraft. However, even if you leave Turkey successfully, this does not automatically mean that the German border officials will let you enter the country. If they rate your reason for travel as insufficient or if there are last-minute changes to the entry restrictions, you have to fly back.
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.
I am in Germany and am developing coronavirus symptoms: What do I do?
Immediately inform the responsiblehealth authority . In the event of more severe symptoms, also contact a doctor or the coronavirus hotline (Tel. 116 117 from German phones). 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.
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.
Germany’s 16 states have different rules regarding coronavirus prevention and restrictions. How do I best inform myself if I want to travel in Germany?
The regulations and rules for the individual states can be found here. It is particularly important to bear in mind the different rules on quarantine requirements for entrants coming from locations designated as risk areas. Also keep an eye on the news 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 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.