For members


Reader question: What are the Covid-19 test requirements for entering Germany?

Germany has strict measures in place for people planning on entering the country. Here's a look at the current rules on testing.

Reader question: What are the Covid-19 test requirements for entering Germany?
Travellers at Mallorca airport on August 1st. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Clara Margais

If you are thinking of coming to Germany – or want to travel somewhere else and return – the first thing you should know is there are still lots of travel restrictions. 

There’s a general ban in place for anyone coming from so-called ‘virus variant areas of concern’ zones although German residents and citizens can enter the country with restrictions. Currently, only Brazil and Uruguay fall into this category. 

There are also varying quarantine requirements in Germany if you are entering from several countries around the world, depending on whether you’re vaccinated/recovered or not. 


Do you have to show a test when coming to Germany?

In general, everyone entering Germany – from any country in the world – has to show a recent negative Covid-19 test under new rules that came into force earlier in August. 

But if you are fully vaccinated or can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 then you can present proof of that instead of a negative Covid test.

But everyone – regardless of if they are vaccinated/recovered or not – must show a negative test if they are coming from a virus variant area of concern. 

What do you need to prove a test?

According to the German government, people have to show that they have tested negatively for a Covid-19 infection in German, English, French, Italian or Spanish language in paper or digital form.

The proof of testing has to refer to a test taken not more than 48 hours ago (for antigen tests) or 72 hours ago (PCR tests). These timeframes have to take in the date of entry to Germany, not your flight time. 

Note that when entering from ‘areas of variants of concern’, the timeframe is shortened to 24 hours if you are taking an antigen test.

One important change in the testing rule is that it now applies to people over the age of 12. That means those under 12 do not need to provide a negative test, or a vaccination or recovery certificate. Previously, everyone over six had to be tested. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about Germany’s new Covid testing rules

As we said above, if you are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid more than 28 days ago and within the last six months then you can show evidence of this instead of taking a test in most cases.

What are the requirements on tests?

You can take a test analysed using nucleic acid amplification techniques – such as PCR, LAMP or TMA – to enter Germany. 

Rapid antigen tests are also recognised in Germany, but they must fulfil the minimum criteria recommended by the WHO.

These must meet ≥80 percent sensitivity and ≥97 percent specificity to qualify for entry into Germany.

The test certificate must indicate the date of testing and the type of test used. You may also be required to confirm your identity with photo ID when showing the test certificate. 

If a negative test result for infection with the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus is presented, but there is a justified suspicion of non-compliance with the minimum testing criteria, it generally lies within the responsibility of the authorities whether or not to recognise a test result, says the government.

For the public health offices to quickly find out whether the minimum criteria has been met, the (rapid) antigen test’s manufacturer details must be provided.

So what do you do with the tests?

You may be required to show evidence of your negative test to your carrier before boarding a flight. 

You also have to upload evidence of the test result on the entry portal before travel. Anyone who has been in a high risk or virus variant area of concern country within 10 days of coming to Germany has to fill in this form. You don’t have to fill it in if you’re coming from a ‘non risk’ area, but you still have to do a test before arriving.

For high risk countries, you can also submit proof of full vaccination or recovery from Covid. But, as we mentioned above, everyone coming from a virus variant risk country has to submit proof of a negative Covid test even if they are vaccinated/recovered.

Proof must be presented to the relevant authorities if it is requested up to 10 days after entry to Germany. 

There are also quarantine requirements. You can find more details here. 

The RKI updates the list on the classification of risk countries regularly.

What if you’re coming by train, car or boat?

You still may be stopped and asked to show your negative test, vaccination certificate or proof of recovery.

There are not stationary border controls but police – or carriers such as on trains – are carrying out random checks. 

READ ALSO: Holidaymakers stopped at German borders for test checks

For further details on the rules check out the German government website (rules also in English).There’s also a helpful question and answer sheet (in German).

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. Keep an eye on official updates. 

Member comments

  1. Does it mean that children under 12 years old need to have the tests since the vaccine is not approved for them?

    1. Hi Emerson, yes if they are over the age of six they must stick to testing rules.

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For members


‘Double processing time’: Austria and Germany fear non-EU travellers face border delays

Germany, Austria and another of other countries in Europe's Schengen area admit they fear delays and insufficient time to test the process ahead of new, more rigorous EU border checks that will be introduced next year, a new document reveals.

'Double processing time': Austria and Germany fear non-EU travellers face border delays

Schengen countries are tightening up security at the external borders with the introduction of a new digital system (EES) to record the entry and exit of non-EU citizens in May 2023.

The EES will enable the automatic scanning of passports replacing manual stamping by border guards. It will register the person’s name, type of the travel document, biometric data (fingerprints and facial images) and the date and place of entry and exit. The data will be kept in a centralised database on a rolling three-year basis that is re-set at each entry. 

What the EES is intended to do is increase border security, including the enforcement of the 90-day short-stay limit for tourists and visitors. EU citizens and third-country nationals who reside in a country of the Schengen area will not be subject to such checks.

READ ALSO: Foreigners living in EU not covered by new EES border checks

But given its scale, the entry into operation of the system has been raising concerns on many fronts, including the readiness of the physical and digital infrastructure, and the time required for border checks, which could subsequently cause massive queues at borders.

A document on the state of preparations was distributed last week by the secretariat of the EU Council (the EU institution representing member states) and published by Statewatch, a non-profit organisation that monitors civil liberties.

The paper contains the responses from 21 member states to a questionnaire about potential impacts on passenger flows, the infrastructure put in place and the possibility of a gradual introduction of the new system over a number of months.

This is what certain the countries have responded. Responses from Denmark, Spain and Sweden do not appear in the report but the answers from other countries will be relevant for readers in those countries.

READ ALSO: What the EU’s new EES border check system means for travel

‘Double processing time’

Austria and Germany are the most vocal in warning that passport processing times will increase when the EES will become operational.

“The additional tasks resulting from the EES regulation will lead to a sharp increase in process times”, which are expected to “double compared to the current situation,” Austrian authorities say. “This will also affect the waiting times at border crossing points (in Austria, the six international airports),” the document continues.

“Furthermore, border control will become more complicated since in addition to the distinction between visa-exempt and visa-required persons, we will also have to differentiate between EES-required and EES-exempt TCN [third country nationals], as well as between registered and unregistered TCN in EES,” Austrian officials note.

Based on an analysis of passenger traffic carried out with the aviation industry, German authorities estimate that checking times will “increase significantly”.

France expects to be ready for the introduction of the EES “in terms of passenger routes, training and national systems,” but admits that “fluidity remains a concern” and “discussions are continuing… to make progress on this point”.

Italy is also “adapting the border operational processes… in order to contain the increased process time and ensure both safety and security”.

“Despite many arguments for the introduction of automated border control systems based on the need for efficiency, the document makes clear that the EES will substantially increase border crossing times,” Statewatch argues.

‘Stable service unlikely by May 2023’

The border infrastructure is also being adapted for collecting and recording the data, with several countries planning for automated checks. So what will change in practice?

Austria intends to install self-service kiosks at the airports of Vienna and Salzburg “in the course of 2023”. Later these will be linked to existing e-gates enabling a “fully automated border crossing”. Austrian authorities also explain that airport operators are seeking to provide more space for kiosks and queues, but works will not be completed before the system is operational.

Germany also plans to install self-service kiosks at the airports to “pre-capture” biometric data before border checks. But given the little time for testing the full process, German authorities say “a stable working EES system seems to be unlikely in May 2023.”

France will set up self-service kiosks in airports, where third-country nationals can pre-register their biometric data and personal information before being directed to the booth for verification with the border guard. The same approach will be adopted for visitors arriving by bus, while tablet devices such as iPads will be used for the registration of car passengers at land and sea borders.

Italy is increasing the “equipment of automated gates in all the main  airport” and plans to install, at least in the first EES phase, about 600 self-service kiosks at the airports of Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa, Venice and in those with “significant volumes of extra-Schengen traffic,” such as Bergamo, Naples, Bologna and Turin.

Switzerland, which is not an EU member but is part of the Schengen area, is also installing self-service kiosks to facilitate the collection of data. Norway, instead, will have “automated camera solutions operated by the border guards”, but will consider self-service options only after the EES is in operation.

Gradual introduction?

One of the possibilities still in consideration is the gradual introduction of the new system. The European Commission has proposed a ‘progressive approach’ that would allow the creation of “incomplete” passenger files for 9 months following the EES entry into operation, and continuing passport stamping for 3 months.

According to the responses, Italy is the only country favourable to this option. For Austria and France this “could result in more confusion for border guards and travellers”. French officials also argue that a lack of biometric data will “present a risk for the security of the Schengen area”.

France suggested to mitigate with “flexibility” the EES impacts in the first months of its entry into service. In particular, France calls for the possibility to not create EES files for third-country nationals who entered the Schengen area before the system becomes operational, leaving this task to when they return later.

This would “significantly ease the pressure” on border guards “during the first three months after entry into service,” French authorities said.