What rules must everyone follow now?

When shopping and on the bus & train, you must cover your mouth and nose with a so-called “medical mask” - including surgical masks and FFP2 masks. Cloth masks or scarves are no longer allowed for shops and public transportation. You also need to wear a mask in front of the shops and in parking spaces. If you do not wear a mask, you will have to pay a fine of at least 50 euros. Some cities also require you to wear a mask in certain public spaces and streets. At work, you must either maintain a distance of 1.5 meters between people or/and wear a medical mask.

Strict contact restrictions continue to apply. In private, you can currently meet people from only one other household, however, they may not be more than 5 people in total. Children under the age of 14 do not count. Couples count as one household- even if they do not live together.

If the 7-day incidence in your region rises to over 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants, stricter contact restrictions apply. Then your household may only meet with a maximum of 1 person from another household at a time.

Furthermore, there may be some additional rules in your region. For example, compulsory masks for passengers in cars, mandatory rapid tests or (nightly) curfews. With curfew, all people should stay at home. You are then only allowed to leave your apartment for important reasons, such as shopping for groceries, work, doctor visits, etc.

In regions with an incidence rate of over 200 new infections per 100,000 population, there will be further restrictions, including restricting the range of motion to 15 km from your place of residence. In other words, you are only allowed to move within a radius of 15 km from your city or municipality if there are many new infections in your region. Visits to the doctor or commuting to work are still permitted as the regulation is primarily intended to prevent day trips.

In other regions, private travel and day trips are not prohibited. However, the government urges citizens to abstain from unnecessary travel. Overnight stays in hotels or holiday resorts are currently not allowed for tourists.

You must keep a distance of at least 1.50 meters from people who do not live in the same household as you.

Visiting retirement homes and assisted living facilities is possible. Visitors need to get a coronavirus test prior to the visit. In general, it is possible to get tested directly before visiting a retirement home or assisted living facility.

There may be some additional stricter rules in your federal state or region- for instance, there may be a (nightly) curfew.  This means everyone must remain indoors, preferably at home, between specified hours. Leaving your place of residence is only permitted for urgent reasons, such as grocery shopping, work, doctor visits, etc.

To learn more about the current corona rules in your state /your city, check corona-was-darf-ich.de- the information is available in many languages.

Important: The police is tasked to enforce compliance with corona rules. Those who break these rules face a penalty which can range from a fine to a prison sentence.

Currently these regulations are valid until April 18, 2021.

What is a "hotspot"? And what does that mean for me?

If a city or district registers more than 50 new corona cases per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days, it will be considered a "hotspot". When that is the case, stricter regulations apply. If the number of new infections continue to rise, even stricter regulations may apply, e.g. mask requirement in public places, stricter contact limitation or a movement restriction according to which everyone has to stay in. Each municipality decides which regulations should be implemented. If you are unsure,  you can ask a neighbour about current regulations. On corona-was-darf-ich.de, you can sometimes find information about regulations which apply specifically to your particular district of residence in various languages. Everyone must follow these rules to protect public health and avoid hefty fines.

Can I currently travel abroad?

Many countries have currently enforced entry bans or extra checks to curb the spread- same applies to parts of the European. Before you travel, check the situation in your travel destination carefully. To learn about the situation in EU countries, visit reopen.europa.de. On auswaertiges-amt.de you can find contact information of the embassies and consulates in Germany. For many countries, the travel warnings issued by the Federal Foreign Office still stands. On the website of the Federal Foreign Office you can find all essential information.

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?

Whether you can enter Germany depends on your current whereabouts. If you are allowed to enter, please research the special regulations that you must adhere to before and after entering the country. You can find out more in the section "What do I have to consider when entering Germany?".

There are currently no entry restrictions for people from the EU, Lichtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. Please note that the UK is not part of EU anymore. To those who want to enter Germany from the UK applies the same regulation as entrees from other third countries.

People form the third countries: Currently, the following individuals can travel to Germany: Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Uruguay, Singapore. The list is to be expanded to include Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Macau as soon as these countries allow people from Germany to enter again. The list is to be updated regularly.

Important: Whether you can enter Germany depends on your place of residence not your nationality. For instance, if you If you live in Australia or have spent at least 6 months there, you are currently allowed to enter Germany (regardless of your own citizenship) since Australia is not currently a high-risk area.

Strict entry regulations still apply to the rest of the countries. Only the following individuals can currently enter Germany from other countries:

  • German nationals and close family members of German nationals (Spouses, minor children, parents of minor children)
  • Citizens of other EU countries as well as those from UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland and their close family members (Spouses, minor children, parents of minor children)
  • Third-country nationals with a permanent residence permit in Germany, EU member state, Schengen states or UK.
  • Close family members (spouses, minor children, parents of minor children) of third-country nationals with a long-term residence permit in Germany
  • Relatives (siblings, grandparents, children of legal age, parents of children of legal age) of German citizens, EU citizens, citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Great Britain as well as relatives of third-country nationals with a long-term residence permit in Germany are only allowed to visit their families for urgent family matters. Urgent reasons may include: births, weddings, funerals, serious illnesses of a close relative.
  • People who come to Germany in the framework of family reunification.
  • People who want to get married in Germany and have obtained an appropriate visa.
  • People who want to visit their long-term partner in Germany and can prove that they are in a long-term relationship and have already met at least once in person.
  • People who work in medical and health care service.
  • Professional workers who are urgently required in Germany and their tasks and cannot be postponed or done abroad.
  • People who work in transportation sector.
  • People who work as agricultural workers in the field.
  • People who have to travel to Germany for urgent family reasons.
  • Seafarers who have to reach a certain port or return home via Germany.
  • Diplomats, employees of international organizations, humanitarian workers and military personnel who travel to Germany for work.
  • Students whose studies cannot be completed abroad.
  • Those in vocational training whose training cannot be fully carried out abroad.
  • People who travel to Germany for a preparatory measure to have their foreign professional qualifications recognize- given the measure in question requires their presence in Germany.
  • Au pairs, interns and people doing voluntary service, face-to-face training or a face-to-face language course if they stay for at least 6 months.
  • Asylum seekers
  • People who urgently need medical treatment in Germany and have an appropriate visa. You are allowed to bring up to 2 companions.
  • Passengers in transit
  • German emigrants who return to Germany (“Spätaussiedler”)

 

Important:

The officers at the border will decide about your entry. Make sure you bring relevant proofs (marriage certificates, family register, certificates, ...) with you if you want to cross the border. If you do not need a visa for entry, you must also ensure that your foreign documents (e.g. marriage certificate) are recognised in Germany. Or whether a so-called legalization or apostille is necessary. You can find an overview in German on dnoti.de. In some cases, you will also need invitations and applications. Unmarried couples in particular have to prove their relationship with private documents (previous flight tickets, photos, ...).

Make sure you carry all the necessary documents if you plan to travel across international borders. Inquire in advance at the German embassy in your area or directly at the Federal Foreign Office. If you have specific questions about your entry, you can also call the Federal Police on 0800 6 888 000 (free of charge). The staff speak German and the call is cost-free. You can also use the Federal Police's contact form in German or English.

Please note: Many embassies are closed due to the corona pandemic. Check the website of the relevant embassy regularly.

What should I watch out for when I come back to Germany?

All persons who travel to Germany by plane must present a negative corona test at check-in. The test must not be older than 48 hours. You have to pay for the test yourself. If your test is positive, you are not allowed to travel. If the country in which you are staying has a quarantine requirement, you must be quarantined there. You have to cover the costs yourself. This regulation currently applies from March 29 to May 12, 2021.

Special regulations apply to those who enter Germany from a risk area, a high incidence area or a regions where new virus varians are widespread:

People who come from risk areas (“Risikogebiet”) must register online before their entry at einreiseanmeldung.de. After entry, you must immediately go into self-quarantine for 10-days. You can do a corona test on the 5th day of your quarantine at the earliest. If the test is negative, you can end your quarantine. Plus, you must report to the proper Health Department. You can find the health office responsible for you in the database of the database of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

Please note that the Health Office checks whether you observe the self-isolation period- and those who do not will face a fine. You can find a list of high-risk areas at rki.de.

For people traveling to Germany from an area with a so-called “high indicidence” ("Hochinzidenzgebiet"), the following applies: You must provide a negative coronavirus test result upon entry. The test must be no older than 48h at the moment of entry. Test results must be in German, English or French. You must register online before their entry at einreiseanmeldung.de. After entry, you must immediately go into quarantine at home for a 10-day. Plus, you must report to the proper Health Department. You can find the health office responsible for you in the database of the database of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). You can find a list of high-risk areas at rki.de.

Travelling to Germany from areas where new variants of the virus are widespread is not allowed currently. There is an entry ban and a transport ban for people from these areas, i.e. they are not allowed to enter the country by car, nor are they allowed to be transported by an airline, bus company, etc. A list of the current "new variant areas" can be found on the website of the Robert Koch Institute. However, the entry ban and transport ban do not apply to:

  • People with German citizenship
  • Spouses and children of German citizens if they enter the country together
  • People who hold residence rights and reside in Germany
  • Certain professions such as health workers or freight transport staff
  • People with urgent humanitarian reasons such as a death, childbirth or urgent medical treatment

If you are allowed to enter from a country where a new virus variant is common, the following rules apply to you: You must show a negative corona test upon entry. The test must not be more than 48 hours old at the time of entry. The test result must be in German, English or French. You must also register online at einreiseanmeldung.de prior to departure. After entering the country, you must immediately be quarantined at home for 14 days. You must also report to the responsible health department. You can find the health department responsible for you via the database of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

If you have only traveled through a risk area and did not stop there (transit flight), the same rules apply to you as to those who enter (directly) from a non-risk area. Those who spend less than 24 hours in a high-risk area do not have to go into a quarantine either. The exemption from quarantine also applies to people who have a reasonable ground to visit close family members (spouse, parents, children) in a risk-area for less than 72 hours. This way, for instance, one would be able to visit an ill family. But the exceptions form quarantine only apply if you don't show any typical symptoms. If you have visited close family members for more than 72 hours for an urgent reason, you can exempt yourself from the quarantine obligation by presenting a negative corona test. The test must not be older than 48 hours when you enter Germany. In addition, the test must meet the criteria listed by the Robert Koch Institute. You can find out which countries meet these criteria on the website of the Robert Koch Institute.

 

Please note: In the individual federal states there may be further rules or exceptions to the quarantine obligation. For instance, for certain professional groups such as medical staff. For more information ask with your employer. Or read the quarantine regulation of your state onine. You can find the quarantine regulation which apply in your federal state in German on bundesregierung.de. You can find more detailed information about your state/town/neighborhood in various languages on corona-was-darf-ich.de. To learn more about “home quarantine” check out our chapter "Coronavirus".

Which shops and facilities are currently open?

Many shops and facilities are currently closed. The openings, however, are planned to take place gradually: The prerequisite is stable or decreasing number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. The following shops and facilities are currently allowed to open:

  • Supermarkets
  • Weekly groceries markets
  • Pick-up and delivery services
  • Beverage shops
  • Health food stores
  • Specialist baby stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Medical supply stores
  • Drugstores
  • Opticians and hearing aid professionals
  • Gas stations
  • Car and bicycle workshops
  • Banks
  • Post Office
  • Dry cleaning and laundromats
  • Newspaper sales
  • Animal food shops
  • Christmas tree outlets
  • Wholesale markets
  • Physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, podiatry
  • Bookstores
  • Florists
  • Garden centres
  • Driving schools
  • Nail salons, cosmetic studios, massage studios, etc.

The government has also developed an opening strategy. If the 7-day incidence rate in a region remains stable below 50 (or 100) new infections per 100,000 inhabitants, further openings can take place in the region. This currently applies to museums, galleries, zoos, botanical gardens, memorials, retail stores, outdoor sports, outdoor dining, theaters, cinemas, operas, concert halls and leisure events.

However, all shops which are allowed to open must observe the required hygiene and distancing rules: Shops can let only a few customers inside or around the venue at a time. In some cases customers have to book an appointment and show a negative rapid test.

Make sure you observe the mask requirements. If wearing a mask is not possible (e.g. during cosmetic treatments), staff and customers must do a rapid corona test beforehand.

All other facilities will remain closed for the time being. Further openings are only possible if the 7-day incidence rate remains stable or falls below 100 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. The government will discuss further openings on April 12, 2021.

If your income has been affected by the closings, check our chapter "Coronavirus & State Aids" where you can find out more about types of corona-related financial aid available.

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.

Can my child go to school as usual again?

The schools open step by step. Primary school classes and final classes in particular are currently having face-to-face classes at school again. The individual federal states decide on the opening of the schools. At corona-wasdarf-ich.de, you will find the current rules for your state in many languages.Both teachers and students should do at least one rapid corona test per week in the future. The tests are free and are expected to be carried out at schools.

Until all students can go back to school, the following applies: Online lessons take place on the school days- and there will be emergency care available for students who cannot study at home. You can ask your child's school about the requirements for emergency care.

Working parents who have to look after their children at home can benefit from state aids. Learn more in our chapter “Coronavirus & Work” Corona and Work.

Can my child go to daycare again?

The individual federal states decide on the opening of the daycare centers. At corona-was-darf-ich.de you will find the current rules for your state in many languages. Most daycare centers are open again. The children, however, are looked after in small groups. This can mean that your child cannot go to daycare every day. If you have to have your child looked after every day, speak to your daycare center. The kindergarten teachers should be able to have at least one rapid corona test per week in the near future. This should increases safety in the daycare center.

Working parents who have to look after their children at home can benefit from state aids. Learn more in our chapter “Coronavirus & Work”. For more info, check out our chapter Corona and Work.

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?

Check the website of the relevant Immigration Office to see if it is open. If they are partially opened again, you can apply for the extension online on their website. You can Search for your Immigration Office’s website on bamf.de. Check the website and inform yourself thoroughly about the procedure. After you apply online, 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.

Please note: Even if you are currently abroad and cannot find a returning flight to Germany, you can still extend your residence permit. To do this, write an email to the relevant Immigration Office.

My visa has expired during my stay in Germany. What should I do?

If your visa expires and you cannot leave due to coronavirus, you will need to apply for a visa extension. You need call or write an informal e-mail in due time 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 bamf.de.

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".

My visa expired before entering Germany. What should I do?

You have to apply for a new visa. The simplified process of renewal for so-called D visas (family reunification, study, etc.) was only possible until December 31, 2020.

I would like to apply for a visa but I can't acquire a language certificate at the moment. What now?

If you are unable to acquire a language certificate, you may be eligible for a visa nonetheless if you fulfill certain requirements. Nevertheless, you have to prove that you are unable to attend a language course due to coronavirus. This regulation only applies to certain states. You can find a list of these federal states in German at migrationsrecht.net.

When will my language classes start again?

Each federal state decides about the reopening of language schools independently. Check with your school to find out more.

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?

There are several opportunities for children to find help studying 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 klicksafe.de, you will also find various learning offers from public television broadcasters and various learning aid on the Internet for schoolchildren of all levels.

My child needs a laptop for homework. Any help?

If you receive assistance from Jobcentre or Social Welfare Office and your child needs a device to study from home, you can apply for a grant from the Jobcentre to buy a laptop or alike  for your child- they pay up to 350 euros per child and you can by computer, printer, etc. The purchase must be necessary for your child’s schooling-and the Jobcentre requires you to show a certificate from the school which verify the purchase. Check tacheles-sozialhilfe.de for further information and sample applications. Please note: You can also apply for the grant if you have already bought a laptop or a sim  similar device in January or February.

Same also applies to so-called "low earners", i.e. people who earn very little money. If you receive money from the Social Welfare Office, you, too, can apply for a grant to buy a laptop, etc. for your child. There are currently no official regulations, but in principle, you are entitled to the same rights as people who are registered with the Jobcentre. Find the details of regulation and requirements in the section above. Keep in mind you can seek advice from a counseling centre if your application is rejected. You can find counselling centres nearby at jugendmigrationsdienste.de or fluechtlingsrat.de. You can also reach them via phone or email. Plus, there are organisations which give away used but functional laptops to students in need. You can find an overview of these initiatives at computertruhe.de. Another worthwhile option is to check lapdoo.org and search for a laptop for donation.

Are counselling centres open now?

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many counselling centres throughout Germany had to close down. 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.