Who is allowed to travel to Germany from outside the EU?

Here's the latest on German travel rules for people from outside Europe.

Who is allowed to travel to Germany from outside the EU?
A terminal at Frankfurt's airport. Photo: DPA

As of Thursday August 31st, citizens from the following countries are permitted to travel to the EU:

  • Australia
  • Georgia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Rwanda
  • South Korea
  • Thailand
  • Tunisia
  • Uruguay
  • China, on the condition of reciprocity

Morocco was previously on the list but it was removed.

The government's warning against travel from Germany to countries outside of the EU remains in place until September 14th. 

READ ALSO: Germany extends travel warning for more than 160 countries

Countries with high Covid-19 rates such as the US, India and Russia are not on the list.

Travel within the EU opened up several weeks ago, but from July 2nd visits to Germany have been possible from outside Europe for a handful of countries with low infection rates. Germany continues to update its travel list every two weeks.

Since June 15th anyone travelling from inside the EU, the Schengen zone or the UK has been allowed to enter Germany.

However, there are some restrictions when the number of infections in countries or regions of countries rise. Mainland mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands (minus the Canaries) are still classed as high-risk areas, as well as parts of Croatia and Romania. Check out the full Robert Koch Institute list here (you can also see it in English at the bottom of the page)

READ ALSO: Are flights around Europe returning to normal after borders reopen?

So what does this mean for people wishing to visit Germany?

Firstly, the travel rules are based around where you are coming from, not what passport you hold. So a non-EU citizen travelling from France, for example, would be permitted to enter Germany because there are no health restrictions on the French-German border.

Secondly, this does not affect non-EU citizens who are permanent residents of Germany, although they will need to show proof of residency at the border.

Essential travel has been permitted throughout the lockdown and this continues, although the definition of essential travel into the EU is stricter than many countries' individual rules and does not include a category for family emergencies (more detail below).

So this latest ruling really affects tourists, second home owners and those wishing to visit family and friends in Germany.

What happens next?

The EU says it will revise its list every two weeks, and the list is largely based on the health situation in individual countries, so how quickly the ban is lifted really depends on the evolution of the health situation in individual countries.

READ ALSO: When will Americans be allowed to travel to Germany again?

Countries were included on the safe list if the coronavirus outbreak in the country was judged to be the same or better than that EU average. The bar was fixed at 16 cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks.

A woman dons a face mask at Frankfurt's airport. Photo: DPA

READ ALSO: Where can you travel in Europe? EU launches new website to help tourists

What is essential travel?

The EU's definition of essential travel is stricter than many countries' individual restrictions and does not contain any exemption for visits for family reasons.

People who can travel into the European bloc include

  • Citizens of an EU country
  • Non EU citizens who are permanent residents of an EU country and need to come home
  • Healthcare workers engaged in crucial work on the coronavirus crisis
  • Frontier workers and in some circumstances seasonal workers
  • Delivery drivers

Foreign students are also allowed to travel to Germany if their “studies cannot be continued entirely from outside” the country. Those visiting for “urgent family reasons” are also permitted into Germany.

Mandatory coronavirus tests

Germany has now introduced compulsory coronavirus tests for travellers coming back from high risk countries. Travellers must now undergo a five-day quarantine before taking a mandatory coronavirus test. If it produces a negative result, they are allowed to end the 14-day quarantine.

 READ ALSO: Germany orders coronavirus tests on risk zone arrivals from Saturday

Currently, most countries in the world are classed as risk areas by Germany

Test stations have been set up at airports. For more information visit the government site.

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Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.