Due to the coronavirus outbreak many countries have imposed travel restrictions or taken other steps to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Travelers can find useful and important information for trips to Germany here.
1. Entry: travel restrictions, border controls and quarantine
Germany has introduced travel restrictions for entries from outside the Schengen area on March 17, 2020. These have been prolonged on April 15, 2020 based on an EU recommendation. All corresponding entries from non-EU-citizens and citizens of non-Schengen states by plane or ship will be affected. Entry will be possible for German citizens.
Also Citizens of EU member states and their families, as well as citizens of the United Kingdom, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland and their families are allowed to travel through Germany to reach their home country if no other travel connection is possible. They will also be allowed to enter if their home or legal residence is in Germany. Other people may be rejected entry, if they cannot provide proof of urgent reasons for their entry. Please refer to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community for details.
In addition, temporary borders controls have been introduced between Germany and France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxemburg and Denmark from Monday, March 16th, 8:00 a.m. Deliveries of goods and commuters are allowed to cross these borders. Travelers on any non-essential travels may be refused entry. These border controls have been prolonged on April 15, 2020. Further details are availble here.
The Federal Government and the Länder have agreed that all German citizens, EU citizens, citizens of countries that signed agreements in association with the Schengen Agreement or individuals living in Germany will be required to pass a two-weeks mandatory quarantine when they return to their residence in Germany after having been abroad for several days. The Länder are responsible for ordering the quarantine measures and implementing the decision. The proposed draft decree provided by the Federal government allows for exceptions for the following groups if no COVID-19 symptoms are given:
- Acitivities in the areas of transport, health sector, public security, diplomats, governments, public administration, EU- and international organisations.
- Employees and crews of planes, ships, trains and buses that were abroad as part of their professional activities.
- communters and business travelers,
- armed forces and police
- seasonal workers
Please refer to the Federal Ministry of the Interior for details. The Federal Ministry of Health has issued a regulation requiring transport companies to inform passengers about these regulations via an information sheet. People entering the country are required to isolate themselves and to proceed directly to their own home, or other suitable accommodation, immediately after their arrival and remain there exclusively for a period of 14 days after their entry into the country. They are also required to contact their competent public health office (Gesundheitsamt) without delay and inform the latter of their entry into the country. The details of the competent public health office (Gesundheitsamt) can be found by entering one's postal code into the tool on the RKI-Website.
According to guidelines local authorities will be required Hotels to provide stays only if strictly necessary and not for touristic purposes. In Addition many Establishments such as bars, Clubs, theatres, Museums and cinemas are required to close. Essential stores such as grocery stores, supermarkets, drug stores, pharmacies and Banks will remain open. Other stores may be closed.
All travelers should take the information and instructions of the following leaflet into consideration. Leaflets will be handed out by carriers to passengers on trips to Germany:
Passengers, arriving from China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea by plane or ship, must provide information on their flight/trip. They will be handed a disembarkation card for this purpose. Disembarkation cards will also be mandatory on trains, if a suspected case on the train arises.
Travelers should also expect more scrutiny during checks, as more comprehensive questions may be posed and health checks performed in dubious cases. Measures may also be adjusted when necessary.
More detailed information on entry requirements and procedures are available here:
- 2. Facilitations for expiring visas and residence permits
To take into account the current difficulties to leave the country before the visa/residence permit expires the following facilitations apply:
- Citizens whose national visa (D visa) expires should submit an application for an extension to the relevant immigration office by e-mail before the expiry. Until the decision of the immigration office the residence is deemed to remain legal. Personal details (surname, maiden name, first name, spelling of the names, date of birth, place and district of birth, gender, nationality, passport number), type of title and any file number must be specified. It is advisable to carry a printed version of the application in addition to the expired visa and the passport/ID Card.
- Citizens who stayed in Germany on 17 March 2020 with a valid Schengen visa (C visa) or who entered Germany after the 17 March 2020 and before 9 April 2020 with a valid Schengen visa are exempted from the requirement of a residence title until 30 June 2020. The other conditions under which the respective Schengen visa was issued remain unaffected until then.
- Citizens who are allowed to enter and stay in the Schengen area for 90 days within a period of 180 days without a visa should contact the relevant immigration office before expiry of that period and provide their personal details (see above) to legalize their stay (if necessary by email). Provided that this application reaches the authority before expiry of the named period, the stay is deemed to remain legal until the decision of the immigration office. It is advisable to carry a printed version of the application in addition to the expired title and the passport/ID card.
This solution also applies to third-country nationals of those countries listed in Section 41 (1) of the Ordinance Governing Residence who entered the Federal Republic of Germany without requiring a visa. If the foreigner has approval from the Federal Employment Agency and has applied for a residence title as described above, he may take up the employment stated in the approval from the Federal Employment Agency.
The solution above does not apply to third-country nationals of those countries listed in Section 41 (1) of the Ordinance Governing Residence who have already entered the Federal Republic of Germany without requiring a visa but who do not yet have approval from the Federal Employment Agency. They are asked to contact the relevant immigration Office.
Citizens whose residence permit expires during their stay abroad and who were unable to leave for Germany in time due to existing travel restrictions may submit an application for renewal of their residence permit informally (i.e. also by e-mail) to the relevant immigration office. If the application is submitted before the expiry of the residence permit, the residence permit is deemed to continue to exist from the time of its expiry until the decision of the immigration office. For subsequent re-entry, however, a certificate of fiction is required, which will normally be sent to the diplomatic mission nearest to the foreigner's place of residence. The procedure described above also applies if the residence permit has already expired at the time of the application and the immigration office has ordered its continued validity.
Further details are available here.
- 3. How to behave when in Germany?
In case travelers develop symptoms associated with Covid-19 (coughing, a runny nose, sore throat and fever) they should get in touch by phone with a doctor or contact the hotline 116 117. Often travel guides or hotels can also help in this case. Travelers should keep the contact details of their home country’s embassy or consulate in Germany in case they need to contact These.
A short overview on what to do to help protect yourself and others is available here:
In Germany the Robert Koch Institute identifies risk areas. Currently, the county of Heinsberg (Northern Rhina-Westphalia) is the only area considered a risk area in Germany. The up-to-date list is available on the website of the Robert Koch Institute (German only).
Watch out for local regulations
Measures for fighting the spread of the coronavirus are subject to local regulation. This may include quarantine measures in case of a confirmed infection with Covid-19.
Generally, the international advice for reducing the spread of the coronavirus should be followed. These include washing the hands regularly and thoroughly with soap for 20-30 seconds, sneezing into the elbow or a quickly to be disposed of handkerchief or tissue, keeping distance to other people and avoid shaking hands. Further Information and details can be found on the World Health Organization’s website.
Where possible the number of trips should be reduced and public transport avoided, to further reduce the risk of an infection.
- 4. Transits through other countries and returning home
Due to many recent travel restrictions Germany has warned its citizens against non-essential, touristic travels to other countries.
A number of countries have imposed travel restrictions in connection with the outbreak of the coronavirus. Some of these may also ban entry or impose quarantine for travelers coming from Germany. These may change very quickly.
Travelers are therefore advised to contact the embassy or consulate of their transit or destination country to receive information on possible entry restrictions. Travelers should also keep themselves informed about any changes during their stay abroad. In many cases also the health ministry or competent authorities provide information for travelers on