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What are the new rules for travel between Germany and the UK?

Are people allowed to travel between Germany and the UK? Do you have to be vaccinated? What do the UK's new quarantine rules actually mean? Here's a look at some of these questions.

What are the new rules for travel between Germany and the UK?
The departures board at Hanover airport recently. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

Are people in Germany allowed to travel to the UK?

Yes, Germany has not banned any travel from the country. But the UK is classed as ‘high incidence’ by Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, meaning that there is a travel warning.

The Foreign Office says: “A travel warning is an urgent appeal not to undertake unnecessary trips. The travel warning is not a travel ban. Travellers decide at their own risk whether to go on a trip.”

What do the new rules on arriving in the UK mean?

Up to this point people coming from amber list countries like Germany had to complete a 10-day quarantine when arriving in the UK and pay for expensive PCR tests that had to be taken on day two and day eight. 

Last week, the UK government said that people who were fully vaccinated in the EU and the US will no longer need to quarantine when arriving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from an amber list country like Germany (excluding France as it is an ‘amber plus’ country). This rule came into place on Monday August 2nd.

This followed a decision earlier in July that allowed people vaccinated in the UK under the NHS system to avoid quarantine if coming from amber countries.

READ ALSO: Do Brits living in Germany still need to quarantine when arriving in UK?

Note that your vaccine must be approved by the European Medicines Agency or US Food and Drug Administration. These include Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstaZeneca and Johnson and Johnson (also known as Janssen).

However, there are barriers in place: travellers will still need to take either an antigen or PCR test before departing for the UK and a PCR test on or before the second day after they arrive. PCR testing is costly in the UK. 

The test for arriving in the UK has to meet the performance standards of ≥97% specificity, ≥80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml. Most test centres in Germany will say on their website whether they can meet these standards. 

Children aged 10 and under do not need to take a test for travelling to the UK, and children aged 4 and under are exempt from tests after arrival. You can find more details on rules on testing here. 

There are also some other exemptions for tests – for example if you are going to the UK for urgent medical treatment. 

According to the UK government, under-18s will be exempt from isolation.

Everyone arriving in the UK has to register with the passenger locator form. 

Are people allowed to travel from the UK to Germany?

As the UK is a non-EU country, only vaccinated people are generally allowed to come to Germany for any purpose. Unvaccinated people need to have an essential reason to travel into Germany.

READ ALSO: Germany relaxes travel rules for non-EU travellers: What you need to know

In the case of young children under 12 who are not vaccinated usually because a Covid vaccine has not been approved for them yet, Germany is allowing them to enter the country with a vaccinated adult, or adults.

Minors of third country nationals (not on Germany’s safe list of countries) over the age of 12 are only allowed to enter if they have a compelling reason or if they have been fully vaccinated.

READ ALSO: Can families with unvaccinated children holiday in Germany?

These entry restrictions do not apply to German citizens or members of their immediate family. EU citizens are also allowed to enter Germany, as well as third-country residents of Germany.

What are the rules for entering Germany from the UK?

If you fit the criteria for entering the country, you will have to keep your proof of being fully vaccinated handy when travelling. 

To visit Germany from a non-EU country, you must have received a vaccine that is approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). People in Germany are counted as being ‘fully vaccinated’ on the 15th day after their last vaccine dose.

The proof showing you have been fully vaccinated should be an official document issued by a recognised health authority in your country of residence, for example from the NHS. 

The German government says the EU digital Covid pass or comparable proof of vaccination in German, English, French, Italian or Spanish must be presented upon entry to Germany.  This certificate should include the following information:

  • The personal data of the vaccinated person (at least first and last name plus your date of birth)
  • The date/s of vaccination and number of vaccination doses
  • The name of the vaccine
  • The name of the disease against which the person was vaccinated
  • The name and address of the person or institution responsible for vaccinating the person
  • Confirmation in written or electronic form with the qualified electronic signature or qualified electronic seal of the person who carried out the vaccination; if for administrative reasons this is not possible, a suitable format such as a stamp or state symbols should be used to clearly identify the responsible person or institution.

Keep in mind that a photo of a vaccine certificate will not be accepted – it should be a digital or paper pass.

We’ve heard anecdotally from travellers from the UK that the NHS Covid pass is accepted when travelling into Germany. 

You also have to register online before departure to Germany at www.einreiseanmeldung.de and can upload proof of vaccination there. 

In Germany proof of vaccination (or recovery from Covid/negative Covid test) is needed to access some activities such as events, going to the gym or indoor dining, but it does depend on the region. 

What about driving to the UK from Germany?

You can, but one thing that’s throwing a spanner in the works currently is that France is on the ‘amber plus’ list which means people coming from France to the UK still have to quarantine for 10 days even if fully vaccinated. 

The UK government says: “Anyone who has been in France in the last 10 days will need to quarantine on arrival to England in their own accommodation and will need a day 2 and day 8 test, regardless of their vaccination status. This includes any fully vaccinated individual who transits through France from either a green or another amber country to reach England.”

READ ALSO: Do vaccinated travellers transiting through France from Germany still have to quarantine in the UK?

Do I need the EU digital pass?

No, you don’t need it in Germany – and authorities say it is only for people who are based in Germany currently. This may change in future. 

READ ALSO: Can tourists in Germany access the EU digital pass?

Can unvaccinated people visit Germany from the UK?

As we mentioned above, the general rule is that if you are not vaccinated, and you don’t come from a ‘safe list’ country, you will not be allowed to enter unless there is an essential reason. So a negative Covid test will not permit entry.

This excludes residents and citizens. 

What else should I be aware of?

Be aware that the rules can change quickly, especially if new variants of concern are detected. Germany classified the UK as a ‘virus variant of concern’ at short notice back in May when the Delta variant was becoming more widespread in the UK. 

Then earlier in July, the UK was downgraded to a ‘high incidence’ country (along with four other countries including Portugal and India) after the Delta variant became the dominant Covid strain in Germany. 

If a country is made a ‘virus variant area of concern’ then a travel ban is put in place (excluding German residents and citizens). But everyone entering Germany from a virus variant area, including the vaccinated, has to show proof of a negative Covid test. 

You should also keep in mind that airlines may have their own restrictions in place, like mandatory testing. So check before you travel.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new quarantine rules for vaccinated travellers

Member comments

    1. Hi Phil, thanks for that. You’re right, it does seem to be different. We’ll change our original copy for now and check with the UK government to be certain.

    2. Hi Phil, actually I’ve found this information here from the UK govt – “Children under 18 who are residents of the USA or the listed European countries also do not need to quarantine or take a day 8 test. They must follow the same rules as children and young people from the UK which are in this guide.”
      So it looks like the quarantine rules applies to children coming from France which is an ‘amber plus’ country.

      1. Thanks for this Rachel, so many changes at the moment it’s difficult to keep up!

        As we would drive, we’re keeping fingers crossed that the status of France changes soon. Thanks for getting back to me

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COVID-19 RULES

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.

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