How do I get to Germany

Entry into Germany: questions and answers

The corona pandemic is causing great uncertainty when traveling around the world. Always and everywhere there are always new rules to be observed. This is also the case in Germany: A lockdown has been in effect since December 16, which has been extended several times, initially planned until April 18. Depending on the occurrence of the infection, measures are tightened or relaxed.

From March 30, 00:00 a.m., everyone who wants to travel to Germany by plane must do a corona test beforehand. Only those who submit a negative corona test can then still fly to Germany. This applies regardless of the corona situation in the travel destination.

Despite the restrictions, the borders remain open and entry into Germany is still possible - but not for tourists. Tourist visas are not issued. Travel in the country is limited to necessary purposes - such as compulsory business trips. Hotels are not allowed to offer overnight stays for tourist purposes.

Entry requirements from risk areas

Germany divides countries into risk, high incidence and virus variant areas. Areas of high incidence are countries in which the incidence value is more than 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days. Regions with a particularly high risk of infection due to the widespread occurrence of certain SARS-CoV-2 virus variants are considered to be virus variant areas. Which country falls into which category is shown on the website of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

For high incidence and virus variant areas, stricter rules apply when returning to Germany. Entry is only permitted for people with a place of residence or a right of residence in Germany and transit passengers. A negative corona test must be presented both before departure and upon entry. When traveling by plane, the airline is obliged to check the test result before departure. The same applies to trains, buses and ferries. Random checks are carried out at national borders without systematic border controls. It is easier for travelers from risk areas, they just have to present a negative corona test within 48 hours of entering the country.

According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, all travelers from all three categories must in principle complete the digital entry registration at www.einreiseanmeldung.de and go into a ten-day quarantine after entry - regardless of the test result. PCR, LAMP and TMA tests as well as rapid antigen tests are accepted. Antibody tests are not recognized. The quarantine can be ended with another negative test on the fifth day at the earliest.

The regulations do not apply to people who only come to Germany to pass through. You have to leave the Federal Republic as quickly as possible. Even those who have been in a risk area for less than 24 hours as part of border traffic with neighboring countries are not affected by the quarantine obligation. There are further exceptions for commuters, as well as doctors and nurses, as well as when visiting close relatives.

On March 22nd the entry rules in Germany were tightened again. It was decided that all returnees must have themselves tested for COVID-19 before they board the plane to Germany - regardless of whether they come from Corona risk areas or for what purpose they are traveling to Germany. This also applies, for example, to holidaymakers from Mallorca, although the island is currently not considered a risk area.

Different travel regulations

The travel regulations in the individual federal states are not the same everywhere and can also change at short notice. Therefore, everyone is well advised to find out more before packing their suitcase. What applies in Berlin does not have to apply in Bavaria.

The rules in the EU also differ from country to country. Quarantine requirements and entry requirements are applied differently. The variety of ordinances, rules and exceptions to the rule is confusing. That unsettles you.

What do I do if ...? We receive a lot of questions from our readers and the users of our social media channels about the situation in Germany. We addressed the most pressing questions.

Question 1

The list of countries from which I am allowed to travel to Germany keeps changing. Where can I find the latest information?

In principle, the Federal Ministry of the Interior is responsible for the entry regulations into Germany. Here you will find all the latest information, also in English. In addition, travelers should find out about the current travel regulations on the websites of the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Police and the Ministry of Health. Re-open Europe offers an EU-wide overview.

The list of risk areas that the Robert Koch Institute draws up in cooperation with the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Health and the Interior is constantly updated. It is therefore imperative that you find out before you travel whether your country or region of origin is classified as a risk area, high incidence or virus variant area. Even if your country of departure is not classified as a risk area, but you stayed in a risk area up to ten days before entering Germany, the quarantine requirements apply to you.

Question 2

Under what conditions can I come from a country that is banned from entering Germany? Are there any exceptions and if so, which ones?

The list of exceptions to the entry ban into Germany is long. The Federal Ministry of the Interior has compiled exceptions to the entry ban for anyone who has a valid reason and is allowed to come to Germany. Further information is also available from the Federal Police.

Question 3

How do I find out whether I have to be quarantined after entering from a third country? Can I avoid quarantine with a negative corona test?

Basically, people from third countries that the Robert Koch Institute classifies as a risk area must be in quarantine. It must be taken into account which category the country falls into, as there are different test and quarantine rules for high-risk, high-incidence and virus-variant areas. What all risk areas have in common is the quarantine of ten days after entry. Another PCR test can be carried out on the fifth day at the earliest; if it is negative, the quarantine can be shortened. Free testing when you return from a virus variant area is not possible. In addition, there is a ban on transport for those arriving from a virus variant area, with the exception of German citizens with a place of residence or right of residence in Germany and transit travelers.

The list of these countries is continuously updated. Anyone planning to come to Germany must therefore find out before leaving whether the country or region of departure is on this list. This also applies to returnees. The specific quarantine requirements are issued by the federal states. You can find out which requirements apply in which federal state here.

Question 4

I am a citizen of an EU country. However, 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 are allowed to enter Germany. But here too, the quarantine rules apply to entries from risk areas. That means: You too have to be in compulsory quarantine for ten days. You can show the negative result of a current corona test and end your quarantine from the 5th day at the earliest.

As you as a person entering from another EU country are usually not checked at the border, it is your responsibility to comply with the quarantine obligation. You must report to the responsible health department immediately after entering the country and provide your address of residence. The service number is: 116 117. If you fail to comply with the reporting or quarantine obligation, you risk considerable fines.

The health department can ask you to present a negative test result within ten days of entry or, if you do not have such a result, to take a test. You bear the costs yourself. You can get information on the telephone number 116 117 or on the Internet at www.116117.de, where you can take a test near your place of residence. If you want to be tested by your family doctor, you should definitely call them beforehand. It is important that you remain in quarantine until the test result is available.

Question 5

If I have been in Germany for some time and have been tested positive and have to be quarantined, where do I spend it and who bears the costs?

If you have taken a corona test and it turns out positive, the health authorities are automatically informed and a ten-day quarantine must be completed, if available, in your own apartment or other suitable accommodation.

In the quarantine case, the local health department decides what "suitable accommodation" is. There are no specific requirements on the type of accommodation at federal or state level. The responsible health department will give you specific instructions and information. Compliance with the quarantine obligation is monitored by the local authorities. In some federal states, violations can be punished with a fine of up to 10,000 euros.

Should additional costs arise, for example, through hotel accommodation or visits to the doctor, these will not be borne by the German state. However, the tour operator and the international health insurance could step in, provided that these conditions were agreed in advance. Foreign citizens are also recommended to inform their embassy in Germany about their stay in quarantine.

Question 6

I want to enter Germany: is there a differentiation between the country from which I am entering and my citizenship?

Whether you are allowed to enter Germany in this case also depends on whether you have a valid residence permit or a visa for Germany or the Schengen area. In this case, the following applies: place of residence or long-term residence takes precedence over nationality. By the way: Visas will no longer be issued for the Schengen area until further notice - with a few exceptions in urgent cases. You can find out here whether you need a visa to enter Europe.

Question 7

What happens if I want to enter from a country for which Germany has issued a travel warning? I am Turkish and I live in Turkey. And Germany has issued a travel warning for my country. Can I go to Germany or will I be rejected 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. However, travel warnings are aimed primarily at Germans who want to travel abroad and are therefore not directly related to the entry restrictions to Germany.

For entry from the third country 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.

Regarding the return travel rules to Germany: Turkish airlines require a PCR test that is not older than 48 hours before departure. Without this test you are not allowed to board the aircraft. However, if you leave the country successfully, this does not automatically mean that the German border officials will let you into the country. If they rate your reason for travel as insufficient or if there are last-minute changes to the entry restrictions, you will have to fly back.

Question 8

The individual countries of the EU seem to deal differently with entry from third countries. Can i use this? So maybe I can enter Greece, but not Germany. If I made it to Greece, can I travel to Germany from there?

Not necessarily. Every EU and Schengen country has - despite relatively uniform decisions at EU level - the decision-making authority over its entry restrictions. If you have successfully entered Greece, this does not mean that you will automatically be granted free entry into Germany - provided you do not live in the Schengen area or have a valid visa. You should therefore find out exactly about the current regulations that apply in Germany before you plan to travel. If you have any further questions, please contact the responsible embassy in Germany.

Question 9

I am in Germany and develop corona symptoms: what do I do?

Inform the responsible health department immediately. If you have more severe symptoms, contact a doctor or the Corona hotline (Tel. 116 117). If you experience severe symptoms, go to the hospital or call an ambulance. Before you start your journey, find out about the contact details of your embassy in Germany if you would like to contact them in the event of illness.

Question 10

What happens if something changes in the regulations during my stay in Germany? For example, does it become impossible to return because Germany or my home country close the borders again?

Get in touch with 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 under quarantine or actively infected. How you can leave the country and who pays for it also depends on your booking conditions. Ask the tour operator or airline whether and when a return is possible and who will pay for the possible costs. As a precaution, make sure you have a financial buffer before you start your journey should additional costs arise. Because: If the building, city or region in which you are in Germany is quarantined, you must stay there until the authorities allow you to leave the area again.

Question 11

The federal states in Germany have different corona rules. What is the best way to find out if I want to travel in the country?

The regulations and rules of the individual federal states can be found here. Also keep an eye on the news situation in Germany and your region of residence, because the measures can vary regionally. This can affect your trip within Germany as well as your return or onward journey abroad. Therefore, if you have any questions, contact the local authorities and the embassy of your country in Germany.