What rules must everyone follow now?

Currently, a type of contact restriction applies throughout Germany. The specific regulations differ from state to state. You can find out more in our chapter "Coronavirus Restrictions in German Federal States". Generally speaking, a distance of at least 1.50 meters from other people should be maintained. When shopping and on the bus & train, you must cover your mouth and nose with a face mask or scarf.

Please note: There are various regulations in each individual federal states. You can find out more in our chapter "Coronavirus Restrictions in German Federal States".

Please Note: Police officers are present to make sure everyone respects these measures and those who do not will face penalties, i.e. a fine or even prison sentence.

Can I currently travel abroad?

Many countries have currently enforced entry bans or extra checks to curb the spread- including the member states of the European Union. Before you travel, check the situation in your travel destination carefully. The Federal Foreign Office has set up its separate page on the Coronavirus where you can find all essential information. You can also make inquiries at the embassy or consulate of your destination country in Germanybefore starting your trip.

You can learn about your rights as a holidaymaker whose trip is affected due to the current situation on the website of the Consumer Center and the European Information Center Germany.

Can I currently travel to Germany?

Many countries have closed their borders, including within the EU. The borders with Germany are also partially closed. Some border crossings to/ from the Netherlands and to/from Luxembourg are currently open. A few border crossings to France, Austria and from/to Switzerland are also open: However, some controls are still being carried out here. You need a valid reason for entry, such as a family visit or a business trip.

Apart from that, since March 17, 2020, strict entry restrictions have been enforced in Germany. Only the following are currently allowed to enter Germany:

  • German nationals,
  • Family members of German nationals who return to their place of residence,
  • Citizens of other EU countries and their family members as well as nationals from Great Britain, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland and their family members, given their main place of residence is in Germany. Individuals mentioned above are also permitted to travel to their home countries through Germany.
  • Third-country nationals with a permanent residence permit in Germany, EU member state, or Great Britain, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, given Germany is their main place of residence. Individuals mentioned above are also permitted to travel to their home countries through Germany.

Make sure you carry all the necessary documents if you plan to travel across international borders.

There are some exceptions to the entry restrictions, e.g. for health workers or for urgent matters. Inquire in advance at the German embassy in your city/country/region or directly contact at the Federal Foreign Office.Asylum seekers can also continue to enter and apply for asylum in Germany. However, please note that the Dublin Regulation continues to apply. You can find out more about the Dublin regulations in our chapter "Dublin procedure". 

Important: If you have been abroad for several days, you must be quarantined for two weeks after returning to Germany regardless of the means of transportation you use (car, train, boat or plane). If you do not drive home immediately and remain in quarantine for 14 days, you will have to pay a fine. The measure, however, does not apply to commuters, business travellers and service technicians who were only abroad for fewer days. It also does not apply to people in Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate who come to Germany from an EU country.

Please note: Many German embassies are currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Please check the website of the relevant embassy regularly for more information.

What should I watch out for when I come back to Germany from a coronavirus risk area? (Can I come back?)

Those who have had close contact with people diagnosed as infected or have been in a risk area should avoid contact with other people. If that is the case, stay home and contact the responsible health department immediately. You can find their contact details, for example, via the database of the Robert Koch Institute(RKI).

Which shops/businesses are currently open?

On May 6th, it was decided that all shops could open again. However, one must follow certain hygiene and distancing rules.

When shopping, make sure you follow the regulations: keep your distance from others. And cover your mouth and nose using a mask, scarf or a piece of cloth. Many stores now allow only a small number of people to enter at the same time while the others have to wait outside.

The gastronomy businesses including restaurants, clubs and bars may also reopen gradually. It’s up to the federal states to decide the exact timelines. The customers and the staff are obliged to follow certain hygiene and distancing rules.

Hairdressers are allowed to open again. However, certain hygiene and distancing measures must be in place. The individual states can decide on opening other businesses from the service industry such as cosmetic studios, massage parlours, and tattoo studios etc.

The federal states individually decide also on the reopening of theatres, operas, cinemas as well as of swimming pools and gyms etc.

Is there going to be enough food and hygiene products for everyone?

You may face empty shelves sometimes when products are temporarily sold out. But in principle, there is enough of everything- only the stores have to refill shelves faster than before. Currently, there is no reason to buy more food or hygiene products than you regularly need. In some shops, even, buying too much of some products have been forbidden, which means you can only buy them in "usual" quantities. Such decisions are made to ensure that there is always enough for everyone.

When are daycare centres and schools going to reopen?

The schools will gradually start to open early May. This means, final-year classes (e.g. final year of primary school) and classes with final exams due at the end (e.g. final year of secondary school) begin first. All final exams will take place. Students of other grades will resume school in next phases. Important: Each federal state will have its specific plans regarding the gradual reopening of schools.

The decision on reopening of kindergartens (Kitas) also lies with individual states.

Emergency child care continues to be available for parents of certain professions. Ask your child's school or daycare centre, whether this could be an option for you. You can learn more about specific regulations in your state in our chapter “Coronavirus Restrictions in German Federal States”.

Are state offices opened now?

Many government offices have been either closing their doors or are only open to the public for limited hours. If you have an appointment or an urgent query, check the proper offices' website or call them.

How can I extend my residence permit?

The Immigration Office is currently closed throughout Germany due to the coronavirus pandemic. But you can extend your residence permit online on the website of your Immigration Office. To find the Immigration office responsible for you, check webgis.bamf.de. The Immigration Office will then send you a so-called "Fiktionsbescheinigung" in your mailbox- and your residence permit will remain valid for the time being.

How can I extend my visa?

If you have a Schengen visa: Your visa is expiring or has expired in the past few weeks? For the time being, you do not have to do anything- and can stay in Germany until June 30, 2020, without a valid visa. In case your Schengen visa permitted you to work, you can also continue to work.

For other types of visa: If your visa expires and you cannot leave, you will need to apply for a visa extension. Write an informal e-mail and specify relevant personal data (name, date of birth, etc.) to the Immigration Office in your area. To find the Immigration office responsible for you, check webgis.bamf.de.

Please note: Students who need to extend their residence permit do not currently have to prove that their livelihood is secure. Instead, they need to show that livelihood was previously secured, but now they have little to no income due to Corona crisis.

Please note: If your stay depends on the continuation of your employment and you lose your job, you may have to leave the country. in case that is not possible for the time being, you will be issued a tolerated stay permit or "Duldung". You can find out more in our chapter "tolerated stay permit".

When will my language classes start again?

Each federal state decides about the reopening of language schools independently. Same applies to Music academies and driving schools. You can learn more about specific regulations in your state in our chapter “Coronavirus Restrictions in German Federal States”.

In our chapter "Learning German", you can find plenty of helpful materials which allow you to practice online and offline.

How can I help my child to study from home?

Most students have to study at home by themselves. The schools regularly send students tasks and learning material these days. Your child has to do these tasks. If your child needs help and you cannot provide it yourself, you can ask a neighbour or friend for help by phone or video chat. Your child can also find help online:

•         On stayschool.de, students starting from 5th grade can get help with learning without paying anything. Volunteers help your child learn via video chats. The tutoring is available in many languages.

•         On corona-school.de, children starting from 1st grade can also find cost-free advice from university students who are working voluntarily to help school children with their homework through video chats while the schools are closed.

•         On daserste.de, you will find various learning possibilities for students of all levels.

Are counselling centres open now?

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, almost all counselling centres closed down throughout Germany. You can still reach many of these centres by phone or email. Under the sections "Where can I find help?" and "Help for special target groups" on our page Local Information you will find several direct links to counselling centres' websites where you can find help with various problems.