EXPLAINED: The current travel rules between India and Germany

Due to the severe Covid-19 situation, there are strict travel regulations in place for travel from India to Germany and vice versa at the moment. Here's what you need to know about the latest travel rules and conditions.

EXPLAINED: The current travel rules between India and Germany
A Lufthansa plane in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Alejandro Ernesto

Currently in the midst of a major crisis, India has been recording over 300,000 new Covid-19 infections a day for the last two weeks

On April 24th, Germany joined the list of countries to impose a temporary travel ban on visitors from India, with few exceptions.

Here are the circumstances under which people can travel to India from Germany. 

READ ALSO: Germany restricts travel from ‘high-risk’ India

Who can enter Germany? 

Germany has a classification system that divides geographical regions into risk areas, high-incidence areas and virus variant areas. The website of the Robert Koch Institute shows which countries falls into which category. 

For virus variant areas, stricter rules apply when returning to Germany.

There is essentially a ban on all transport from areas with concerning variants circulating. The ban is initially in place up to and including May 12th but may be extended.

Only people with residence or right of residence in Germany and transit passengers may enter the country if travelling from a country that is on “areas of variant of concern” list. India was recently added to this list, as well as the high incidence area list.

In a tweet on Wednesday May 5th, the Indian Embassy in Berlin laid out what travellers to Germany need to know about the current coronavirus situation, and what travel rules apply.

What are the exceptions?

German nationals and their accompanying close family members (spouse and children) are exempt from the travel ban.

People with a German residence permit can also enter Germany. But holders of German short and long term visas are not allowed entry at this time. Any Indian traveller who enters Germany, regardless of the length of stay, is normally required to have a visa first. 

Only students who have both a student visa and a residence permit will be allowed to enter the country. 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know as an Indian student moving to Germany

Members of foreign diplomatic missions and consular offices and accompanying family members can also enter the country, provided their arrival to Germany has been notified by the German Federal Foreign Office. 

Arrival in Germany

If you meet the above categories and are travelling to Germany, you have to register on the Einreise Anmeldung’s website before setting off on your journey.

Additionally, everyone travelling to Germany by air has to provide a negative Covid-19 test and present it to the airline prior to boarding. This includes transit passengers. The test result may also be checked by border police.

The test has to be taken no later than 48 hours prior to the scheduled arrival time in Germany. Children under six are exempt from taking the test.

A home quarantine is mandatory on arrival in Germany for people coming from any type of risk areas. People coming from “virus areas of concern” are required to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival in the country.

Check with the state regulations for the area you are travelling to for any regional variations on rules after travel.

READ MORE: What you need to know about the latest rules on travel to and from Germany

What about travel in the other direction?

The German Foreign Office advises against all non-essential tourist travel to India due to the current situation.

According to the Foreign Office, airlines flying to India are only allowed to carry passengers who present a negative PCR test (max. 72 hours old).

Prior to travel, it is mandatory to complete a self-declaration form and upload the negative PCR test result.

A printout of the registration form, as well as a passport copy should be carried by passengers. The use of the Covid-19 tracking app Aarogya Setu is mandatory. Current information on entry, testing and quarantine regulations can be found on the New Delhi Airport website.

Keep in mind that there are varying local rules such as in the state of Maharashtra which has imposed a 14-day mandatory quarantine for travellers from the EU, the UK and the Middle East. Part of this must be spent in a state institution.

After entry to India, a further Covid-19 test, for which a fee is charged, must be carried out at the airport. Transit passengers are not allowed to leave the arrival area until the test result is received, which can take several hours.

Commercial international travel is currently prohibited in principle in India. Tourist travel remains banned until further notice.

Donating to India

A day after the temporary travel ban was issued against travellers from India, Angela Merkel announced that Germany was preparing emergency aid for India. 

“To the people of India I want to express my sympathy on the terrible suffering that Covid-19 has again brought over your communities,” Merkel said in a message shared on Twitter by her spokesman Steffen Seibert. 

While Germany is in the process of sending and preparing aid for India, people can donate to various foundations tackling the lack of oxygen tanks, shortage of food supply, arrangement of ambulances, among other noteworthy causes.

One Indian activist has compiled a list of credible nonprofits to consider donating to. 

READ ALSO: Germany prepares ‘urgent support’ for Covid-hit India

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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now