Is the United States finally set to open up to travellers from Germany?

Travel between the United States and Germany has been tricky for a while now, but that could all change soon - at least for some people. We look at the latest plans.

Is the United States finally set to open up to travellers from Germany?
Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York. America could soon open up to international travel and tourism once again. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christina Horsten

Can people in Germany travel to the United States at the moment?

It’s hard right now – but that could soon change. According to a report by Reuters, President Joe Biden plans to require proof of full vaccination from all foreign travellers entering the country during the Covid pandemic.

The plans are apparently being drafted with a view to reopening America’s borders to European countries and others around the world that have been shut out for more than a year by successive travel bans. 

The ban on travel from Europe to the United States was originally brought in by Donald Trump in March 2020 and extended when Biden entered the Oval Office in January 2021. It was a key discussion point on Angela Merkel’s state visit to Washington D.C. in July.

On July 26th, Biden’s administration said the travel restrictions would be extended due to the spread of the Delta variant of Covid. 

READ ALSO: Merkel pledges ‘full support’ to flood victims during White House visit

At present, non-US citizens and residents from Europe are generally unable to travel to the United States, unless they spend 14 days beforehand in a country that is not on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ‘prohibited’ list, such as Mexico or Canada.

When will the rules change?

At the moment, we haven’t heard anything directly from the White House on this – though Reuters say they’ve spoken with a “White House official” about the plans. That means there’s no fixed date for reopening, and a lot could change as civil servants thrash out the details in the coming days or weeks. 

According to reports, a number of working groups are currently busy developing plans for a transition to the new system. 

That includes “a phased approach that over time will mean, with limited exceptions, that foreign nationals traveling to the United States (from all countries) need to be fully vaccinated,” the official told Reuters.

Would I still need to take a test?

Since the plans are still being fleshed out right now, a number of other things are still unclear, like what vaccines would be accepted, whether vaccination would allow travellers to avoid quarantine, and whether a negative test would be necessary. At the moment, fully vaccinated travellers who fly into the United States are required to take a Covid test three days before travel. 


Taking another Covid test 3-5 days after arrival is also recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

It’s also worth checking the rules of the state you’re visiting to see if there are additional rules you may need to follow.

What about travelling back to Germany? 

This part should be a lot easier. The United States isn’t currently on the Robert Koch Institute’s list of ‘risk areas’, meaning that returning travellers don’t need to register their arrival on the Digital Entry Portal.

When you come back to Germany though, you will need to show a recent negative Covid test (no more than 48 hours old if antigen and no more 72 hours old if PCR), or proof of vaccination and recovery. 

As the US is on Germany’s ‘safe list’ it’s also open to both vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers.

READ ALSO: How Germany’s new travel rules to fight fourth Covid wave may affect your travel plans

But keep in mind that the US recommends that only vaccinated citizens and residents travel to Germany.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues travel advisories for each country, with most countries in Europe ranked either level 4 (very high risk) 3 (high risk) or 2 (moderate).

Germany is ranked as level 2 currently. Some European countries such as Spain are level 4, and Americans are not advised not to travel there at all.

Member comments

  1. Yet hundreds of thousands are allowed to cross into the US from Mexico without testing or vaccinations. Unbelievable!

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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.