Germany is indubitably one of the top destinations of the world.
As borders across the world are opening, more and more people are getting itchy feet, and travelling to Germany is certainly one of the first to come to mind.
The country has long established itself to be a top tourist attraction, taking advantage of its breath-taking scenery, quaint architecture, exciting festivals, fascinating nightlife, luscious food, fancy gastronomy, etc. Oh, how can we not mention their famous (or infamous, your call) beer culture?
However, travelling isn’t, and will never be the same. To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and all its variants, the Germany government has implemented travel restrictions. Understanding all of Germany COVID restrictions might be a bit finicky. Keeping your fingers on the pulse might be even more so.
Since July 2020, German has allowed entry from several countries, but the list has been constantly updated ever since.
Germany is famed for its gorgeous scenery. Image from Unsplash.
So, if you’re wondering if you can travel to Germany, read our article to learn about the most recent German travelling restrictions.
COVID-19 Situation in Germany
Germany was stricken by the rampaging COVID pandemic like any other country. Fortunately, thanks to strict measures imposed by the government, Germany has been able to minimise the impact of the pandemic and put it under control.
As of December 4th, Germany has recorded just over 6 million COVID-19 confirmed cases and just over one hundred thousand deaths. Among these, over 5 million cases have recovered.
It is unfortunate, however, that Omicron, the latest, most hazardous variant yet, has breached the border of Germany. In southern Germany, four people, who have previously provided negative COVID test results, now have tested positive for the new variant.
According to the public health office in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, among those four, three returned from a business trip to South Africa on Nov 26 and 27. The fourth patient, however, is a family member of one of the three.
Although all four have been quarantined, tracing close contacts has never been a priority of the government, so the spread of the new variant is still up in the air.
Considering the vaccination status of the country, at least 68.5% of the population has been fully inoculated. Still, that’s below the desired 75% threshold of the government.
So what does that mean? In light of the recent COVID-19 situation, should you still wend your way to German if you so desire?
Can You Travel to Germany Right Now?
The German government has issued a list where countries are categorised into types: “high-risk area” and “area of variants of concern”. Originally, there was another category “risk area”) but it has been abolished since August 1, 2021.
“As of August 1, 2021, risk areas only distinguish between two categories: High-risk areas and areas of variants of concern. The category of “basic” risk area no longer applies. The cessation of the “basic” risk area category does not mean that there is no longer any risk of infection during stays in these areas. An appreciably increased risk of infection currently exists worldwide,” reads the statement of the German authorities.
Understand the difference between these types of risk areas to identify which category your country falls into.
What is a “high-risk area”?
High-risk areas are countries or regions characterised by concerningly high numbers of confirmed cases. These areas can also be areas where there are certain factors, or a combination of factors, that insinuate a worsening or perilous COVID-19 situation. For instance, the government will take into account factors such as local spread rate, a high hospitalisation rate, a low test rate with a high contraction possibility simultaneously, insufficient or unreliable epidemiological data.
In specific, countries with an upward of 100 confirmed cases over 1 million citizens during the last 7 days are categorised as high-risk areas.
The following list consists of countries from the EU or the European Economic Area (EEA) that are currently on Germany’s high-risk areas list:
Austria – excluding the municipality of Mittelberg and Jungholz and Rißtal in the municipal area of Vomp and Eben am Achensee (high-risk area since November 14, 2021)
- Belgium (high-risk area since November 21, 2021)
- Bulgaria (high-risk area since October 24, 2021)
- Croatia (high-risk area since October 24, 2021)
- Czech Republic (high-risk area since November 14, 2021)
- Estonia (high-risk area since October 10, 2021)
- Greece (high-risk area since November 21, 2021)
- Hungary (high-risk area since November 14, 2021)
- Ireland (high-risk area since November 21, 2021)
- Latvia (high-risk area since October 10, 2021)
- Lithuania (high-risk area since October 1, 2021)
- Netherlands – excluding Sint Maarten, Aruba and Curaçao – (high-risk area since November 21, 2021)
- Romania (high-risk area since October 1, 2021)
- Slovakia (high-risk area since October 31, 2021)
- Slovenia (high-risk area since September 26, 2021)
What is an area of variants of concern?
Areas of variants of concern are areas where one or a few variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is widespread but isn’t yet in German yet can pose a threat to the country. These threats could be the result of the variants causing more severe symptoms, or the fact that vaccines provide limited protection against such variants.
“There is a ban on transport to countries in which virus mutations are widespread (so-called virus variant areas). Transport companies, e.g., Airlines or train companies, are not allowed to transport people from these countries to Germany,” stated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The following countries are currently considered to be virus variant areas:
- Botswana (virus variant area since November 28, 2021)
- Eswatini (virus variant area since November 28, 2021)
- Lesotho (virus variant area since November 28, 2021)
- Malawi (virus variant area since November 28, 2021)
- Mozambique (virus variant area since November 28, 2021)
- Namibia (virus variant area since November 28, 2021)
- Zimbabwe (virus variant area since November 28, 2021)
- South Africa (virus variant area since November 28, 2021)
So am I allowed to travel to Germany?
Depends on where you come from. Citizens from certain countries are allowed to enter Germany. In specific, citizens from European Union Member States and Schengen-associated countries, including Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein are permitted entry into Germany, according to the German Federal Ministry of Interior, Building and Home Affairs.
If you cannot provide a green pass, or equivalent proof of vaccination, or proof of recovery from COVID, you must provide tests results and be admitted to quarantine. Travellers to Germany, whose country is on the said “high-risk list” must register online and submit a negative COVID-19 test result carried out within 48 hours prior to arriving in Germany. On top of that, they will have to quarantine for ten days.
However, should you be able to provide sufficient proof, you can skip all the testing the quarantine requirements.
Additionally, according to the EU Council’s recommendation, travellers from this next list of countries and regions are allowed to enter Germany without any restrictions:
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
- China – as soon as the mutual entry possibility is determined
The Ministry has issued an official statement, which reads: “Residents of other non-EU countries are only permitted to enter Germany if they serve in an important role or if they have an urgent need to travel or if they are fully vaccinated.”
Even though non-vaccinated citizens from third countries have been permitted access into Germany, UK residents are not permitted access because of the high number of cases.
Still, even if you are from high-risk areas or areas of variant of concern, you can enter German, albeit you must go through certain safety protocols first.
Regular Germany Entry Requirements
Under normal circumstances, you must meet passport requirements as well as other travel requirements.
On the day of travelling, your passport must be fulfil the following two requirements:
- It must be valid for at least 6 more months.
- It must be less than 10 years old (even if it has more than half a year left)
Depending on your purpose of travelling, you may need additional documents, in forms of a visa or permit. You must always carefully check with the German authorities or the embassy.
You do not need either a visa or permit, however, if you’re travelling to Germany for 90 days or less in a 180-day period for:
- Attending job interviews
- Attending courts as a witness
- Attending trade fairs or board meetings
- Meeting clients, customers, colleagues, contractors, or sellers
- Partaking in a conference unpaid
- Leisure activities
- Vocational training, as long as it belongs to the same company or group
In other cases, you must have a Schengen visa to enter Germany.
Germany Entry requirements for Arrivals from High-Risk & Virus Variant Areas
Anyone who seeks to enter Germany after staying for more than ten days in either a high-risk area or a virus variant area must submit a negative COVID-19 test result, a proof of inoculation, or a proof of recovery. On top of that, they must register online and present their registration form upon their arrival in Germany. In addition, they must download the Corona-Warn App, and must take health screening. However, if you’re just transiting from the country of such areas, then exceptions will be made.
If you’re travelling to Germany by plane, you must present a negative Coronavirus test result prior and after entering the country. This will be a part of the air firm’s responsibilities to collect such data. The same goes for other forms of transportation, such as bus, ferry, or train.
Children under the age of 12 are not required to submit any proof.
Only people among this following list are exempted from having to carry proof wherever and whenever:
People who enter the country for the purpose of international transportation of people, goods or merchandise by land, sea, or air will won’t have to provide proof. However, this doesn’t apply if the person has stayed in an area of variants of concern at any time during the 10 days prior to entering Germany.
People who, as a member of an official delegation, returning to Germany via the government terminal at Berlin Brandenburg Airport or Cologne/Bonn Airport and spent less than 72 hours in a high-risk area won’t have to provide any proof. However, this doesn’t apply if the person has stayed in an area of variants of concern at any time during the 10 days prior to entering Germany.
Exemption granted by competent authority
In specific cases, exemptions will be granted to individuals on account of good reasons. However, this doesn’t apply if the person has stayed in an area of variants of concern at any time during the 10 days prior to entering Germany.
Germany Travel Advice during COVID-19
In the face of this outrageous crisis, it’s best for most to stay put and avoid travelling. It’s for the greater good of our society. As human interaction decreases, so does the chance of the virus’ spread.
Wearing face masks is now a social norm. Image from Unsplash
However, for whatever reason, if you must travel to Germany, you should:
- Carefully consider the absolute necessity of your travelling. If it isn’t, then it’s best not to go anywhere.
- Be aware that restrictions are subject to change at short notice.
- Be aware that any assistance provided by any consular is limited and does not cover everything you must know or do. Scrutinise multiple sources for the most exact and updated information.
- Consult the official government website to keep up with the most recent changes to regulations. Follow the guidance of national as well as local authorities.
- Adhere to any and every safety protocol. These include, but are not limited to, face coverings, frequent hand sanitizations, testing, furnishing test results, etc.
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