Coronavirus and entry restrictions: 4 things travelers to Germany need to know

Information poster on coronavirus at Hamburg airport

Information on coronavirus at Hamburg airport, © Bodo Marks/dpa

22.03.2020 - Article

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.

Information as of March 22, 2020

1. Entry: travel restrictions and border controls

Germany has introduced travel restrictions for entries from outside the Schengen area on March 17, 2020. 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 EU-citzens and citizens of Great Britain, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland and their family members will be allowed to transit through Germany to reach their home countries. The same will apply for foreigners holding a residence permit in one of these countries. Other people may be rejected entry, if they cannot provide proof of urgent reasons for their entry.

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. Further details are availble here.

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:

Handout on Coronavirus

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.

Plane disembarkation card

Ship disembarkation card

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:

Ministry of Transport

Ministry of Health

2. 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:

Leaflet on coronavirus: Protect - Recognise - Act

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.

As of now there are no special nationwide restrictions in place. But it is recommended to avoid public event with more than 1.000 attendees. A number of these events have already been cancelled. Berlin has banned gatherings with more than 50 people, leading to the closure of clubs, theatres and cinemas. Hamburg has also banned gatherings without regard for the number of attendees.

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.

3. Transits through other countries and returning home

Due to many recent travel restrictions Germany has advised its citizens against non-essential 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 their websites.

4. Where to find more information

More information is available at the following institutions:

Ministry of Health

Ministry of Transportation

The World Health Organization

Robert Koch Institute

Risk areas by Robert Koch Institute (German only)

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