Can I use a foreign vaccination certificate as proof in Germany?
Germany has relaxed many Covid restrictions for vaccinated people. How do you show proof of your vaccination if you got it abroad? Things are still unclear - but this is what we know so far.
Are there travel restrictions in Germany?
First of all - yes, there are travel restrictions in place in Germany. The German government is still warning against all travel - within Germany and abroad - unless it is essential. So travel isn't banned but it is being discouraged.
Despite this, the government brought in new rules on May 13th that mean quarantine regulations have been eased for vaccinated people, those who've recovered from Covid-19 and in some cases people who can provide a negative Covid-19 test.
Germany has also eased Covid restrictions in general for immune groups. For example, they no longer have to follow contact restrictions.
Okay so how do I show proof that I've been vaccinated?
If you were vaccinated in Germany you can show proof of your yellow vaccination pass or the document they gave you when you got your shots, such as a piece of paper with a sticker and stamp.
Germany is also currently working on a digital Impfpass (vaccination pass). This will allow people who've been vaccinated here to scan a QR code that will upload the vaccination certificate onto an app on their phone. This is expected to be available in June.
The goal is for this certificate to be compatible with the EU system currently being developed (more on that below).
If you were vaccinated outside Germany, the situation is a bit different.
Vaccinated outside Germany
The EU is finalising details of its ‘digital green pass’, which is expected to be available on a smartphone app in June. So if you were vaccinated in an EU country, including Germany, you will likely to be able to show proof through that soon.
The EU pass will accept either a vaccination certificate or a recent negative test, or proof of having recently recovered from Covid.
But there may be some added complications if you were vaccinated in a non-EU country such as the UK, USA, Australia or Canada as the EU and the non-EU country needs to recognise each other’s vaccine certificate.
Many people have wondering how they can show their health status.
The first thing to know is that the EU will only accept vaccine certificates from people who have received a dose of a vaccine licensed for use within the EU – at present these are Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (known as Janssen in some EU countries).
The next thing to consider is if or when vaccination certificates from abroad will be considered as proof in Germany (and the EU).
An 'emergency brake' mechanism will be brought in to allow the EU to put in place more restrictive travel conditions if a threatening new variant or other worrying Covid situation emerges.
However on the unresolved question of how visitors be able to prove they have been vaccinated, the EU said it will be up to individual member states to decide what evidence they will accept.
The Local is currently trying to determine what proof will be needed in the countries we cover.
Brussels is in talks with other countries like the US and the UK to determine whether visitors from these countries can also use the EU’s Covid-19 certificate pass.
'Yellow booklet' vaccination certificate
The Local Germany asked the German Health Ministry if someone who has been vaccinated in the US, for example, will be able to show their vaccination certificate that they received there as a proof.
A spokesman from the Health Ministry told us that the internationally recognised 'yellow booklet' for documenting vaccinations is "possible and valid" as proof in Germany.
He added: "Discussions on the recognition of vaccinations are still ongoing at the international level. Within the EU, this is ensured with the green certificate. With this certificate, travellers can prove that they are fully vaccinated. This digital vaccination certificate will be available in the second half of the second quarter.
"Discussions between the EU Commission and the WHO and international partners are ongoing to recognize this EU-wide proof in the wider international context. The latest research findings are also taken into account."
The Health Ministry spokesman added that Germany's digital vaccination certificate is a "supplementary offer to digitally document and prove vaccinations against SARS-CoV-2 in addition to the vaccination card in paper form".
"In principle, Germany is committed to ensuring that analog vaccination certificates that have already been issued remain valid even after the introduction of digital certificates. In particular, the status of the international WHO vaccination certificate should remain unaffected."
So what about travel from non-EU countries right now?
The EU currently has a small “safe list” of countries from where travellers are allowed in for non-essential reasons due to their low infection rates. The list includes Australia, New Zealand and Israel.
If you are travelling from a country outside the EU which is not on Germany’s travel corridor safe list (including the US), you are currently only permitted to enter Germany if you are returning to your place of residence; if you serve in an important role; or there is an urgent need for your travel. There are more details here.
People who have German residence or citizenship, however, are allowed to enter Germany from any country (as long as they follow rules).
There is a general ban on travel from 'virus variant areas of concern' such as India and Brazil. The UK was also added to this list recently.
There are exceptions for some people such as German citizens and residents - but they must quarantine for 14 days after arrival in Germany, regardless if they are vaccinated or not.
So things are changing?
Yes, and they can change quite quickly. Travel is set to open up more - and it's clear the EU wants to see people travel on holiday here in the summer.
But there are still a lot of unanswered questions at this point, particularly when it comes to the rules around providing proof of vaccination. We'll keep you updated as soon as we know more.
Please keep in mind that this article, as with all of our guides, are to provide assistance only. They are not intended to take the place of official legal advice.