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Germany added to the UK’s green travel list: What does it mean?

The UK government has placed Germany on its much-coveted 'green list' for travel. What does that actually mean?

Germany added to the UK's green travel list: What does it mean?
People getting ready to fly at Munich airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Kneffel

What’s happening?

The UK government announced late on Wednesday last week that Germany was being put on the so-called “green” list of countries under its traffic light system for arriving travellers. 

It further eases the entry rules for arrivals coming to England. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales announced later that they would implement the changes. 

Along with Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway were also added to the green list.

The changes came into force at 4am on Sunday, August 8th. Those who arrived in the UK before this point face the amber country rules. 

READ ALSO: UK adds Germany, Austria and Norway to green list

What does being on the green list actually mean?

People coming from green list countries to the UK do not have to quarantine – even if they are unvaccinated against Covid. But they still have to book and do a Covid-19 test before arriving in the UK and on or before day two of being back in the country.

What does it mean for fully vaccinated people?

The government late last month eased the rules to allow people from amber countries like Germany who were fully jabbed with a vaccine approved by regulators in the EU and in the US to enter the UK without having to quarantine. 

This followed a decision earlier in July that only allowed people vaccinated in the UK under the NHS system to avoid quarantine if coming from amber countries – but not British residents living abroad who received their jabs in their new country.

READ ALSO: ‘Troublesome but possible’ How Brits in Germany feel about going home now quarantine rules are eased

That means that Germany becoming a green list country doesn’t really change anything for people who fall into those categories. 

Since the start of this week they’ve already been able to avoid a quarantine period and do the day two test after arrival. 

So the biggest change is that it opens up quarantine-free travel to unvaccinated people in Germany. 

The Our World in Data chart below shows the daily number of Covid cases in a selection of countries compared to Germany.

What should I know about tests?

As we wrote in a recent explainer about UK/Germany transport rules, travellers will still need to take either an antigen or PCR test – regardless of their vaccination status – 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 are exempt from isolation.

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

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 about driving to the UK from Germany?

That is easier now that France has been downgraded in risk status by the UK – but may have implications if you are not vaccinated. 

France was on on the ‘amber plus’ list due to fears over the Beta strain of Covid-19 which meant meant travellers from France to the UK still had to quarantine for 10 days even if fully vaccinated. 

From 4am on August 8th, France moved to the amber list which means fully vaccinated people won’t have to do the 10 day quarantine. If you’re travelling through France, though, the amber rules will apply even if you’re coming from a green list country like Germany or Austria. 

The UK government says: “If you are travelling to England in a private vehicle, the rules of the countries and territories you drive through apply. For example, if you drive through an amber list country, then you must follow the amber list rules when you arrive in England.

“This applies whether you stop in the country or territory or not. You need to record the countries and territories you drive through on your passenger locator form.”

What are the other changes to the UK’s travel rules?

As well as the changes we’ve mentioned above, there are a few other countries shifting around on the traffic light system of the UK.

Despite speculation that restrictions on Spain would be tightened, it stays on the amber list.

India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE have been moved to amber after being on the red list, which requires a costly 10-day hotel quarantine on arrival.

Meanwhile Georgia, Mexico, and France’s Indian Ocean territories of La Reunion and Mayotte have been moved onto the red list.

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Who benefits from Germany’s €9 public transport ticket offer?

With Germany set to roll out the €9 monthly transport ticket soon, we looked at how it could benefit you (or not) - whether you're a car owner, tourist or a day tripper.

Who benefits from Germany's €9 public transport ticket offer?

For just €9 a month, passengers will be able to travel by bus, train and tram on local and regional transport throughout Germany over summer.

The ticket, which is in place for three months from June, is an unprecedented attempt to relieve German residents financially amid spiralling inflation, and to convince car owners to switch to more climate-friendly choices.

This Thursday, the Bundestag (German federal parliament) will make a final decision on the financing aspect to it, and on Friday it will go to the Bundesrat, which represents the 16 states.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block €9 ticket

Supporters see a great opportunity for more climate-friendly transport, while critics fear a flash in the pan and warn that overcrowded buses and trains are more likely to scare off potential new users. Of course, people with less disposable income will be helped most by this offer. But which other groups will actually benefit from the €9 ticket?

Long-term public transport customers (ÖPNV-Stammkunden)

If you have a subscription – known as an Abo in Germany – for local transport with a monthly or annual ticket, the ticket is a huge boost. That’s because you will only be charged €9 for the months of June, July and August or you’ll receive a refund or credit note. Many transport associations even hope to gain permanent subscription customers with the the lure of three low-cost months.

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin

Car commuters (Auto-Pendler)

In a survey by Germany’s KfW, three quarters of households that use a car said they would consider switching regularly to buses and trains. So those who are well served by public transport, and who have suitable bus and rail connections to work, may well decide to make the switch because of the cheap offer. This will especially benefit people in large and medium-sized towns. 

If this is you, you’ll definitely save cash by leaving your car at home and taking public transport. The €9 monthly ticket costs less than 50 cents per working day. You won’t get back and forth by car to your destination that cheaply, even if the cut on fuel tax comes as planned.

READ ALSO: How many people will use the €9 ticket?

People driving to and from Cologne.

People driving to and from Cologne. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Henning Kaiser

Day trippers (Ausflügler)

For many day trips and weekends away, and even for some longer holidays in Germany, it can be worth buying a car. But the €9 ticket does hold the promise of offering excursions throughout the country, as long as you use regional trains since long-distance trains – like the high speed ICE – are not included. 

The Local has even gathered some of the best trips possible with the ticket, and tourism is expected to see a big boost. However, at the start and end of long weekends, such as the upcoming Whitsun (June 5th and 6th) and Corpus Christi (June 16th) in some states, the passenger association Pro Bahn expects chaos on trains heading for the coast and mountains. So perhaps choose your times to travel wisely. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

Residents in villages and small towns (Dorfbewohner)

As some Local readers have pointed out, the low-cost ticket for public transport is not so much use if buses – or even trains – rarely stop at the place you live. This is the case in many villages across Germany. According to calculations by the railway subsidiary Loki, many rural stops don’t even have an hourly service. 

Drivers can save on fuel and parking fees with a €9 ticket, but you need the transport connections to be able to benefit from it. Otherwise you’ll have to shell out more on taxis on top of the public transport cost. 

Cyclists (Radfahrer)

First thing first, the €9 ticket does not include a bike ticket, so you’ll have to buy one if you want to board a train with your bicycle. However, even if you buy a ticket for your bike to carry alongside your €9 ticket, the quality of your trip will very much depend on the day and time of travel, as well as the route you’re going on.

It often gets cramped on trains for passengers with bicycles, plus the number of bike parking spaces is limited. If it gets too crowded, train staff can decide not to let any more people with bikes on – even if you already have a ticket.

Trains are expected to be very busy during summer because of the low-cost ticket offer. Some operators are asking people not to take bikes on board. Berlin and Brandenburg operator VBB, for instance, urged all passengers to refrain from taking bikes with them during the campaign period and recommends travelling outside of rush hours. 

A cyclist enjoys a break in Ingelheim, Rhineland-Palatinate.

A cyclist enjoys a break in Ingelheim, Rhineland-Palatinate. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Arne Dedert

Tourists (Touristen)

A group that will definitely benefit form this ticket is people visiting Germany. The ticket costs €9 per calendar month (so €27 in total). But a single day ticket in Munich costs €8.20 normally (and even more depending on the zone). In Berlin, a single day ticket costs €8.80. So even if you’re staying in Germany for two days, if you plan to be on public transport, you’ll get a good deal. 

READ ALSO: What tourists to Germany need to know about reduced-price public transport

Families (Familien)

According to Deutsche Bahn, 6-to 14-year-olds need their own €9 ticket or another ticket; as free transport is excluded from the cheaper transport offer.

Children under six do, however, generally travel free of charge. If you have a lot of children and only want to make a one-off trip, you may be better off with a normal ticket; it includes free travel for children up to the age of 14. For this one, it’s best to check on the local public transport provider’s options before you commit to the €9 ticket. 

Long-distance travellers and commuters (Fernreisende und Fernpendler)

As we mentioned above, the €9 ticket is not valid for long-distance travel, whether on ICE, Intercity and Eurocity, or the night trains of different providers, or on Flixtrain or Flixbus.

The DB long-distance ticket also includes the so-called City Ticket in 130 German cities: free travel to the station and on to the destination by public transport. So if you have this ticket, the €9 ticket is probably not needed.