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EXPLAINED: The new rules for entering Germany with an EU Covid pass

A Covid rule change for travellers in Germany and the EU came into force on February 1st. Here's a look at what it means for entry to Germany.

An EU Covid vaccination certificate in Germany.
An EU Covid vaccination certificate and German passport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Puchner

Being vaccinated against Covid-19 will no longer be enough for many travellers to visit Germany from February 1st 2022.

German authorities have followed the EU’s recommendations to Member States, meaning that the travel rules regarding Covid-19 certificates and the required vaccinations have changed.

From February 1st, if you were fully vaccinated more than 270 days ago (about nine months), you will need to show you’ve had a Covid booster shot to be able to visit Germany while using the EU digital vaccination pass. 

After this period, people without a booster shot will be treated as unvaccinated when crossing EU borders. 

Instead, they should be asked for a recent negative test and may even have to quarantine for a short period when travelling across borders in the EU.

“This reflects the declining protection of the vaccine and underlines the importance of a booster,” said EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders.

The EU decided on nine months to allow people to get a booster shot within six months after their last jab, with a three month grace period. 

In Germany, authorities recommend that people get their booster jab three months after they were fully vaccinated.

A German Health Ministry spokesperson confirmed to The Local that the EU Council had “established a recognition period of 270 days for the EU digital vaccination certificate for travel purposes”.

“This regulation will apply from February 1st 2022. As a regulation, it is directly applicable EU law and therefore does not require transposition into national law.”

READ ALSO: EU countries agree to simplify travel rules with Covid certificates

The spokesperson said there is no time limit on the validity of the booster jab.

“For entry into Germany – and other EU member states – EU digital Covid vaccination certificates are therefore valid for 270 days after completion of the first vaccination series (basic immunisation), and indefinitely in the case of booster vaccination,” said the spokesperson.

“The check-apps will be adapted accordingly so that it is recognisable in travel whether someone is considered fully vaccinated according to EU requirements.”

A traveller pulls a suitcase in Hamburg airport.

A traveller pulls a suitcase in Hamburg airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jonas Walzberg

“The new rules for travel within the EU harmonise the different rules in the Member States,” said the EU Commission. However, the rules on how long basic immunisation is valid in EU countries – for example for visits to restaurants or events – can still differ from place to place.

Do these rules apply to all vaccinated arrivals to Germany?

Apparently not. There is no indication that people arriving in Germany with a foreign vaccination certificate (for example, with a CDC card from the US, or a digital vaccine certificate from India or the UK) have to get a booster shot within nine months to be allowed into Germany.

The Local asked the Health Ministry directly if this was the case. They did not answer our question, but we’ll chase it up. 

Unvaccinated people from non-EU countries are generally not allowed to enter Germany unless they are from a so-called ‘safe country’ or they have an exceptional reason to come to Germany. 

READ ALSO: What you should know about travel to Germany during the Omicron wave

Does this apply within Germany too?

Germany has several strict Covid-19 health pass rules, such as the 3G, 2G and 2G-plus restrictions. 

2G-plus, for instance, means that people have to show proof of vaccination/recovery and a booster shot or a negative test for entry into places like restaurants, bars and cafes in most states.

However, the ‘nine month validity rule’ does not apply in Germany for restrictions like this, even though many people use their EU digital vaccination certificate as proof. 

“For other purposes within Germany (2G and 3G), the time limit does not apply,” the Health Ministry spokesperson told us. 

In fact, in Germany, there is currently no regulation that limits the recognition period of vaccination certificates.

However, people with booster vaccinations can be exempt from testing requirements under certain circumstances which is aimed at encouraging people to get a booster.

What about if I’ve recovered from an infection?

Germany recently changed the rules on the recovery status of people who’ve had Covid.

People in Germany are now classed as ‘recovered’ in Germany if they had a Covid infection within the last three months instead of six months.

This is also the case for travel into Germany. 

“The validity of the ‘certificate of recovery’ has already been limited to 90 days for Germany since January 15th,” the Health Ministry spokesperson told us. “This period also applies to entry into Germany.”

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach recently brought in this change of rule, however, it has been controversial – not least because there are exceptions for politicians while in the Bundestag debate room.

It also means Germany has veered away from the EU line on this topic. 

At the EU level, countries agreed that the recovery status should be recognised for travel for six months.

How do I get the EU digital vaccination certificate?

The vaccination certificate consists of a QR code that is generated after the vaccination by doctors’ offices or vaccination centres. It can also be given out in pharmacies if you provide proof of your jab. 

An EU Covid vaccination certificate in Germany.

An EU Covid vaccination certificate in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Puchner

People can upload it into their smartphone and onto an app such as the Corona Warning app or CovPass app, or use the QR code paper.

The codes are recognised everywhere in the EU despite the different apps of the individual countries, and make it easier to prove your Covid-19 status when travelling in the bloc. 

One issue in Germany is that the EU digital vaccine certificate is only for people who are based in Germany so tourists are not meant to get it. However, some people have reported to The Local that they have been able to get the digital pass in a pharmacy. 

READ ALSO:

Member comments

    1. Can you explain how EU border control regulations relate to Germany shutting down shops or small businesses?

  1. Are they taking the p*ss? This is governmental incompetence taken to new heights. Prof Lauterbach; stop fannying around the edges of the issue and patting yourself on the back for how many booster shots have been issued. Sure…this will prevent serious illness in many cases of infection but the real elephant in the room is the 15m anivaxers who will throw Germany into an annual cycle of infection spikes by waving their 3mth “recovered” QR code around until autumn then guess what…?

    Grow a pair and deal with this rather than confusing the hell out those who’re trying their best to help. Equally, issuing direction on vaccine usage way outside of any clinical data which proves its safety or effectiveness is almost Boris Johnson-esque in it’s irresponsibility.

    1. Why do you blame the “antivaxxers” ? Everyone is entitled to their own choice. Bodily autonomy trumps collective good.

      Covid is pretty much endemic now. We are all going to catch it. Vaxxed or unvaxxed. The only thing all 3 jabs do is prevent serious illness in the person who received the jab. (Although the earliest phama companies will release actual data is oct 2022).pfizer won’t entertain the idea of data until May 2025.

      As far as I can see making sure you are as prepared as possible for an infection is all you can do.
      (If particularly at risk then shield away. We do this for our sick relatives.).

      Make sure you have plenty of vitamin d + k2
      Quit smoking.
      Loose weight.
      Drink less alcohol.
      Get plenty of rest.
      Twice daily deep breathing exercises (was mainly for the original variant).
      Get vaccinated ( ONLY IF YOU WANT TOO.)

      Being overweight is proven to be the biggest co morbidity of this entire pandemic. Unfortunately truly solid data for the vaccines tend to take a while. Usually about 10 years. We are not there yet. So I dont blame people for not being too willing.

      You’re scared of covid.
      Their scared of the jab.
      Same thing in my books.
      Have a wonderful day.

      1. Not being overweight, but rather obese and in addition to that, diabetes almost invariably. I know tons of people who are fat and did just fine, vaxxed or unvaxxed. The only one I know who died wasn’t fat, but he did have diabetes. It’s the diabetes more.

        1. The list i last saw had obesity as a leading course. But your right. By a big difference.

          Then I would add look into the soup and shake diet. Some of the participants went into diabetes remission after 1 year to my previous comment.

          Im sorry for your loss.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

With the EU changing its Covid recommendations for flights, there is some confusion around whether people boarding a plane in Germany will still need to wear a mask. Here's what we know so far.

Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

As of Monday, the aviation safety agency EASA and the EU health authority ECDC no longer recommend mandatory Covid masks in airports and on planes.

However, if masks are compulsory at the point of departure or destination, this should continue to apply in aircraft as well, they say.

So, what does this mean for passengers boarding flights in Germany? At the moment, not very much at all. 

In Germany, the Infection Protection Act still stipulates that masks have to be worn on long-distance trains and planes. Masks are also compulsory on local public transport.

The previous weeks have seen Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) come out in favour of scrapping compulsory masks – especially on flights.

But so far, nothing concrete has been done to change the Infection Protection Act, which is due to expire on September 23rd. 

READ ALSO: German politicians row over lifting mandatory Covid mask rule

What are the current rules on flights? 

According to the Federal Ministry of Health, masks are compulsory on all flights taking off or landing in Germany.

FFP2 or medical masks must be worn when boarding and disembarking and throughout the flight, though they can be removed when eating and drinking.

Children under the age of six are exempt from the mask-wearing requirement. 

The ministry has argued that the obligation to wear masks also complies with the new EU recommendations. 

What are the rules across the EU? 

In general, the relaxed EU recommendation does not mean that masks are no longer compulsory on all flights. However, many countries have kept this measure in place as a simple way to reduce infection. 

Europe’s largest low-cost airline, Ryanair, published a list of 14 EU countries in which national laws continue to require the wearing of face masks to prevent the spread of Covid.

Besides Germany, popular tourist destinations such as Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy and France are included on the list. 

In other EU countries, the airline said it would be dropping mandatory masks on flights, adding that it “welcomed” the relaxed recommendations from the EU health authorities.  

READ ALSO: Will Germany soon get rid of mandatory face masks on public transport?

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