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Four things to know about Germany’s paid-for Covid tests

How much will rapid Covid test cost? How can I prove I can't get vaccinated? And are there any exceptions to the '3G' rule? Here are four important things you may have missed about Germany's new paid-for Covid tests.

Four things to know about Germany's paid-for Covid tests
A helper stands outside the testing station at Berlin Zoo. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

After meeting with the 16 state premiers on Tuesday, Chancellor Merkel announced in a press conference that the country’s ‘health pass’ scheme would be rolled out nationwide. From August 23rd, areas with a 7-day incidence of 35 new Covid infections per 100,000 people or more will require a health pass to access most indoor public spaces and events. 

That means that vaccinated and recovered people can simply flash their digital CovPass, PCR test or yellow booklet – while unvaccinated people will need a negative rapid test taken within the last 24 hours, or a PCR test taken in the last 48 hours.

To make matters worse for those who haven’t yet got their jabs, people will have to pay for their own rapid tests from October 11th. But there are exceptions.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany aims to increase vaccinations and control the Covid fourth wave

Here are four things to bear in mind when the new rules come into force. 

1. You don’t have to pay for a test if you can’t get vaccinated

Pregnant women, children and people with compromised immune systems are generally unable to get a jab even if they want one. In order to make the system fairer for people who haven’t chosen to remain unvaccinated, these groups of people will still be eligible for free tests, the government confirmed. This will also apply to anyone under-18, since the German Vaccines Commission hasn’t yet issued a recommendation for under-18s to be vaccinated.

READ ALSO: Germany opens vaccine centres for teenagers: What you need to know

So, how do you prove you fall into one of these categories? According to DPA, a letter from your GP will suffice. Or, if you’re under 18, you can also bring along some form of ID to prove your age. 

2. Tests could cost anywhere between €15 and €50 

As the Berliner Morgenpost reported on Wednesday, before rapid tests became free-of-charge, the costs of getting one varied wildly across providers. With a local GP, you might be expected to pay €15-25, while pharmacies charged around €29 and dedicated test stations charged between €30 and €50 for an antigen test. 

While the future cost of tests remains unclear, the government has said that it will be up to the market to decide how much they want to charge – so they could end up being pricey. At present, providers receive €11.50 per antigen test and €43 per PCR test from the government – though customers who aren’t eligible for free tests tend to pay more out of their own pocket. 

READ ALSO: When (and why) Germany plans to scrap free Covid tests for all

3. Very young children and school pupils won’t need tests 

To make life that little bit easier for families with vaccinated parents, children under 6 will be exempt for having to show a negative test – so they won’t have to be bundled off to the test centre ahead of a trip to the cinema or a stay in a hotel. 

School children will be able to show their pupil ID rather than a negative test, while children under 6 will be exempt from the ‘3G’ rule. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Jens Büttner

In addition, older school pupils who are regularly tested as school will be able to show their student ID as proof, rather than the test, according to Bavarian state premier Markus Söder.

When travelling into Germany from abroad, children under 12 (who are unable to get vaccinated) will be exempt from showing tests.

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

4. Free tests will continue in workplaces and care homes

The government has indicated that employees will still be able to receive regular workplace tests free of charge in the coming months – possibly funded by their employers.

In addition, the elderly and disabled will continue to get free tests to ensure that Covid infections remain as low as possible among this highly vulnerable.

Full details of the new regulations will be set out in an upcoming piece of government legislation on tests – so we’ll keep you informed on that in the coming days. 

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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.