Coronavirus: Travel & Residences

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Update 04.08.2022

What do I need to know?

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way we travel significantly. Here you will find out what you should consider if you want to travel abroad from Germany. It is not just travelling abroad that has changed; entry into Germany and residence regulations have also been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read further to learn about the current entry and residence regulations in Germany.

What do I need to know?

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 and check the website of RKI  to find out which countries are currently considered as high-risk areas and areas where a virus variant is widespread. On auswaertiges-amt.de you can find contact information of the embassies and consulates in Germany.

For many countries, currently, you need a negative test result or proof of full vaccination to enter. Within the EU, travellers can use the "EU Digital COVID Certificate" to prove vaccination. For some countries, you also have to fill out an entry form. You need to inform yourself in advance about the entry regulations concerning your country of destination.

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 Centre and the European Information Centre 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 Great Britain is not part of EU anymore. To those who want to enter Germany from Great Britain applies the same regulation as travellers from other third countries.

People from the third countries: Unrestricted entry is currently only possible for people from certain third countries, a list of which you can find at bmi.de.

Important: Whether you can enter Germany depends on your place of residence, not your nationality. For instance, 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:

  • People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and have evidence that at least 14 days have passed since they were fully vaccinated (i.e. received the second dose of vaccine). Exception: This does not apply to China and not to people from a so-called “virus variant area“. You can find the current "virus variant areas" on the website of the Robert Koch Institute. Upon entry, you must present the "EU Digital COVID Certificate" or a comparable proof of vaccination in German, English, French, Spanish or Italian. 
  • 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 recognise - 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?

Since August 1, 2021, anyone over 12 years of age must present a negative test result, proof of vaccination or prove that they have recovered from an illness with COVID-19 less than 6 months ago when entering Germany. Compulsory testing applies no matter how and from which country you enter Germany. That means it also includes those who enter by train,  ship or car. If you arrive by plane, you will be checked as soon as you board. For people arriving by train, ship, car or bicycle there will be random spot checks.

Attention: If you enter Germany from a virus variant area, all persons aged 12 and over need to present negative COVID test results. That also includes people who have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from illness with COVID-19 less than 6 months ago. You can find a list of the current "virus variant areas" on the Website of Robert Koch Institutes.

Please note: 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. 

There are additional rules for people entering Germany from a high risk area (“Hochrisikogebiet”) or an area where a virus variant is common (“Virusvariantengebiet ”):

For people travelling to Germany from an area with a so-called “high risk area” must, in addition to taking a COVID test, also register online at einreiseanmeldung.de before entry. You must also upload your negative test result and - if you have one - your vaccination certificate or proof of recovery on the website. For people who do not have proof of vaccination or recovery, the following applies: After entering the country, you must immediately go into quarantine for 10 days. After 5 days you can go and take a COVID test. If the test result is negative, you can end your quarantine early. You can call the hotline 116117 or check www.116117.de to find a testing facility nearby. To learn more about “home quarantine” check out our chapter "Coronavirus". You can find a list of current “high risk areas” (“Hochrisikogebiet”) at the Website of Robert Koch Institute.

People who enter from a “virus variant area” (“Virusvariantengebiet ”): In principle, travelling to Germany from areas where new variants of the virus are widespread is currently not allowed. 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: In addition to taking a COVID test, you must also register online at einreiseanmeldung.de before entering. You need to upload your negative test results, your vaccination certificate or proof of recovery - if you have one - on the website. After entering the country, you must immediately go into quarantine for 14 days. It is not possible to end the quarantine early. This applies to everyone, including those who are already fully vaccinated against COVID and those who have recovered from a COVID infection less than 6 months ago.

If you have only travelled through a „high risk area“ or “virus variant 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 or virus variant 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 high 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 in a high risk area 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 online. You can find the regulation which currently apply in your federal state (in German) at bundesregierung.de. You can find out more detailed version of rules in your specific federal state (in German) at dihk.de by clicking on the name of your federal state. To learn more about “home quarantine” check out our chapter "Coronavirus".

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.

If you have problems with the "Fiktionsbescheinigung" or did not receive anything at all, it is essential that you seek advice from a migration advice centre or a counselling centre for refugees. You can find one nearby on our Local Pages.  

 

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 to 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 fulfil 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.

Important

If you suspect that you are infected, contact your doctor or the local Health Department. They can tell you what to do next. Please do not go to the doctor's office before first calling them. Another option is to go to your doctors' office during the visiting hours specifically assigned to COVID patients if they have such visiting hours. You can find your local Health Department's contact details on the website of the Robert Koch Institute.

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