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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?

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How useful are Germany’s Covid restrictions?

Protective measures such as wearing a mask correctly and lockdowns can be effective in the fight against Covid, an expert commission in Germany has found. But many questions remain unanswered.

How useful are Germany's Covid restrictions?

The council of experts spent months evaluating the effects of measures imposed by the German government to help slow down the spread of Covid-19.

In the presentation of their findings on Friday, the panel said that measures like mask-wearing have had an effect, and can continue to be helpful against coronavirus.

The council said masks could be “an effective instrument”, but that there are limitations.

“An ill-fitting or not tight-fitting mask has a reduced to no effect,” said the council.

If masks are made compulsory again in the future, this should only apply indoors, because the risk of infection is higher there, the report said. 

However the experts added: “A general recommendation to wear FFP2 masks cannot be derived from the data so far.” Virologist Hendrick Streeck, who is on the panel, said that a “separate commission should look into this”.

READ ALSO: Germany’s current Covid mask rules 

On lockdowns, the experts said the usefulness of this measure depended on the infection situation. 

“When only a few people are infected, lockdown measures have a significantly stronger effect,” the report said. The longer a lockdown lasts, and the fewer people are willing to support the measure, the lesser the effect, experts added. 

Similar to to lockdown measures, contact tracing was also found to be effective in the early phases of the pandemic.

Members of the Covid expert panel Jutta Allmendinger, Hendrik Streeck, Harald Wilkoszewski and Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff speak on Friday.

Members of the Covid expert panel Jutta Allmendinger, Hendrik Streeck, Harald Wilkoszewski and Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff speak on Friday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

The report authors also said that the success of access restrictions, such as the 2G/3G measures (which mean people have to be vaccinated, recovered or tested to enter a public venue), depended on when people had had their jab or had been infected with Covid.

“The effect of 2G/3G measures is high with current variants in the first weeks after booster vaccination or recovery,” the report says. However, the protection against infection decreases significantly over time. 

In the current phase of the pandemic, it’s difficult to assess how useful these rules are, said the council. They recommended that in future, tests should be recommended as a condition of entry, regardless of vaccination status. 

Meanwhile, the evaluation concluded that risk communication in Germany was poorly used and that the information campaign to the public could have been better designed.

No statement on vaccinations

There are measures on which the committee did not make any statements, including vaccinations. Virologist Streek said that was the task of the Standing Commission on Vaccination (STIKO).

The experts were also weren’t clear on the controversial topic of school closures. Their effectiveness is “still open, despite biological plausibility and numerous studies”, the report said. The panel called for more studies on school closures.

READ ALSO: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

The researchers said that they struggled to evaluate some measures due to poor data, and urged authorities to adopt better methods and practices on that front. 

“We have a poor data situation,” said virologist Streeck. 

As Germany is preparing for possible Covid waves in autumn, the Health Ministry will be looking at the report closely.

But Greens’ health expert Janosch Dahmen said the findings were of limited significance.

“The report provides supplementary evidence, but by no means a conclusive assessment of the effect of Covid protection measures,” said Dahmen.

The completion of the report, which should have been published on June 30th, was delayed.

In the run-up, the head of the council of experts, Stefan Huster, dampened expectations for the report.

“Anyone expecting a list with a plus or a minus behind all the individual measures for ‘effective’ or ‘not effective’ will be disappointed,” Huster told Spiegel. “Our perspective is more fundamental and looks at the structures, in terms of being well prepared for a pandemic.”

The panel, which included scientists and researchers in various fields, was commissioned by the German government to carry out the research.