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What to know about Germany’s relaxed Covid entry rules for travellers

Germany has temporarily dropped the requirement to show proof of vaccination, recovery or testing when entering the country, but there are still some regulations. We explain what you need to know.

Busy scenes in Hamburg Airport for the start of the Pentecost holidays. There are changes to entry rules for Germany from June.
Busy scenes in Hamburg Airport for the start of the Pentecost holidays. There are changes to entry rules for Germany from June. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Markus Scholz

What’s happening?

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said earlier in May that authorities were to ease the Covid travel entry rules. 

It means that from June 1st until at least August 31st, travellers entering Germany from abroad no longer need to show proof of their vaccination status, recovery or a recent negative PCR or rapid Covid test. 

Up until that point, the so-called 3G rule applied to anyone entering Germany from abroad. That means travellers over the age of 12 have had to show their Covid status before being allowed into the country. This can happen through uploading the proof to the airline when checking in online, showing it to a member of airline staff or, in some cases, showing it at the border before being allowed into Germany.

Travellers who transfer at an airport in Germany have also had to show proof before arriving in the country. It applied both to non-Schengen transit from or to third countries outside the EU, and to transit from or to Schengen states. These rules have now been dropped. 

READ ALSO: Germany to relax travel restrictions for summer

However, the rules for people entering Germany from red list (known as virus variant areas) will remain. They have to go into a 14-day quarantine on arrival, even if they have been vaccinated or have recovered. No country is currently a virus variant region.

“Until the end of August, we are suspending the 3G rule on entry,” Lauterbach said. “However, we will continue to keep a close eye on virus variant areas. If such areas are defined, entrants must be quarantined. Even with lower incidences in the summer, we must remain cautious during a global pandemic.”

Why is this changing?

Lauterbach said the relaxation of rules is due to the falling number of Covid infections, which means the situation is more stable. 

However, note that the 3G rule is on pause – and it will return from September 1st unless the law is adapted before then. 

What does this mean?

This move could be a big boost, especially for families who’ve previously had to shell out on several Covid tests for children before returning to Germany.

It will certainly make summer holidays easier – and cheaper. As we mentioned above, everyone over the age of 12 has had to show their Covid status, so unvaccinated teens have needed to show a negative test. 

Are there any other changes to know about?

From June 1st vaccines listed on the WHO emergency use list will be recognised in Germany – not only those approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

A spokesman from the German Health Ministry told The Local: “For entry into Germany, complete vaccination with vaccines other than those approved in the EU will also be recognised in future, provided they are listed in the WHO emergency use list. These include CoronaVac, Sinopharm BIBP and Covaxin.”

In Germany, people are classed as fully vaccinated 14 days after their second jab. After 270 days (around nine months) people also need to show proof of a booster shot to count as fully vaccinated.

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

People arrive at Hamburg airport.

People arrive at Hamburg airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Markus Scholz

Does this mean anyone from non-EU countries can enter, even if they are unvaccinated?

There are additional restrictions that apply to entry from non-EU countries to Germany, and it doesn’t look like these are changing.

Up to this point, you have to be fully vaccinated to enter Germany if you are coming from most non-EU countries. Unvaccinated people are generally not allowed to enter unless they have an essential reason. There are exceptions for German and EU residents.

Germany does, however, allow unrestricted entry for people coming from a group of ‘safe list’ countries.

Children under 12 who are not yet vaccinated can enter the country with proof of a negative test result (PCR test or antigen test) when accompanied by at least one fully vaccinated parent. Children under the age of six do not require proof of a negative test result.

The Health Ministry told us this rule is not part of the 3G entry regulation, and so remains in place. 

“Germany plans to abolish the 3G regulation for entry with the fifth amendment to the Coronavirus Entry Regulation (EinreiseV) with effect from 1st June 2022 for the ‘how’ to enter,” said the spokesman.

“However, the EinreiseV does not regulate the ‘whether’ they can enter, i.e. under which circumstances persons from third countries can enter the EU and thus also Germany.”

The spokesman said entry into the EU from non-EU countries is only granted to third-country nationals when they are coming from a country on the EU ‘safe list’ or if they have a compelling reason to entry (including if they are diplomats, seasonal workers or for family reunification).

People whose country is not on the ‘safe list’ but have been “fully vaccinated with an EU-approved vaccine or an EU-equivalent vaccine” can also enter. From June 1st, a vaccine approved by WHO should also be accepted. 

You should check with your airline before the trip in case there are any other requirements. 

What does this mean?

It means that despite the 3G entry being dropped, people coming from non-EU countries will generally need to show they are fully vaccinated to enter Germany. Though the changes to the variety of vaccines accepted from outside the EU will no doubt make it much easier for many to enter the country. 

The German government has more information on this regulation in English.

What else should I know?

Travellers should keep an eye on any risk-level changes to countries they are travelling to Germany from on the Robert Koch Institute’s risk list.

Furthermore, keep in mind that face masks are still mandatory on flights to and from Germany

Member comments

  1. There are additional restrictions that apply to entry from non-EU countries to Germany, and it doesn’t look like these are changing.

    Up to this point, you have to be fully vaccinated to enter Germany if you are coming from most non-EU countries. Unvaccinated people are generally not allowed to enter unless they have an essential reason. There are exceptions for German and EU residents.

    Germany does, however, allow unrestricted entry for people coming from a group of ‘safe list’ countries.

    The Health Ministry told us this rule is not part of the 3G entry regulation, and so will remain in place.

    If you fill in the einreiseamelsung form for entry, and you say you are coming from the USA, it quotes 3G as the rule, not 2G. Germany needs to get their crap straight. Several websites quote different rules and many of the “safe countries” they list have higher infection rates than the USA. Taiwan having the highest rate in the world at the moment. Are unvaccinated tourists welcome or not?

  2. The 270 day rule for over 12s is a major issue coming from the UK. No option for 12-15 to have a booster so effectively banned from entry from around October time when the 270 days expire. Hope rules will relax further as in other EU countries.

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TRAVEL NEWS

UPDATE: When will Germany’s €49 ticket start?

Germany announced a €49 monthly ticket for local and regional public transport earlier this month, but the hoped-for launch date of January 2023 looks increasingly unlikely.

UPDATE: When will Germany's €49 ticket start?

Following the popularity of the €9 train ticket over the summer, the German federal and state governments finally agreed on a successor offer at the beginning of November.

The travel card – dubbed the “Deutschlandticket” – will cost €49 and enable people to travel on regional trains, trams and buses up and down the country.

There had been hopes that the discount travel offer would start up in January 2023, but that now seems very unlikely.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s €49 ticket

Martin Burkert, Head of the German Rail and Transport Union (EVG) now expects the €49 ticket to be introduced in the spring.

“From our point of view, it seems realistic to introduce the Deutschlandticket on April 1st, because some implementation issues are still unresolved”, Burkert told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland on Monday. The Association of German Transport Companies, on the other hand, said on Wednesday that they believe the beginning of May will be a more realistic start date.

The federal and state transport ministers have set their sights on an April deadline, but this depends on whether funding and technical issues can be sorted out by then. In short, the only thing that seems clear regarding the start date is that it will be launched at some point in 2023. 

Why the delay?

Financing for the ticket continues to cause disagreements between the federal and state governments and, from the point of view of the transport companies, financing issues are also still open.

The federal government has agreed to stump up €1.5 billion for the new ticket, which the states will match out of their own budgets. That brings the total funding for the offer up to €3 billion. 

But according to Bremen’s transport minister Maike Schaefer, the actual cost of the ticket is likely to be closer to €4.7 billion – especially during the initial implementation phase – leaving a €1.7 billion hole in finances.

Transport companies are concerned that it will fall to them to take the financial hit if the government doesn’t provide enough funding. They say this will be impossible for them to shoulder. 

Burkert from EVG is calling on the federal government to provide more than the €1.5 billion originally earmarked for the ticket if necessary.

“Six months after the launch of the Deutschlandticket at the latest, the federal government must evaluate the costs incurred to date with the states and, if necessary, provide additional funding,” he said. 

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why Germany’s €49 travel ticket is far better than the previous €9 ticket

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bahn has warned that the network is not prepared to cope with extra demand. 

Berthold Huber, the member of the Deutsche Bahn Board of Management responsible for infrastructure, told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that a big part of the problem is the network is “structurally outdated” and its “susceptibility to faults is increasing.” 

Accordingly, Huber said that there is currently “no room for additional trains in regional traffic around the major hub stations” and, while adding more seats on trains could be a short terms solution, “here, too, you run up against limits,” Huber said.

So, what now? 

Well, it seems that the federal states are happy to pay half of whatever the ticket actually costs – but so far, the federal government has been slow to make the same offer.

With the two crucial ministries – the Finance Ministry and the Transport Ministry – headed up by politicians from the liberal FDP, environment groups are accusing the party of blocking the ticket by proxy. 

According to Jürgen Resch, the director of German Environment Aid, Finance Minister Christian Lindner and Transport Minister Volker Wissing are deliberately withholding the necessary financial support for the states.

Wissing has also come under fire from the opposition CDU/CSU parties after failing to turn up to a transport committee meeting on Wednesday. 

The conservatives had narrowly failed in a motion to summon the minister to the meeting and demand a report on the progress of the €49 ticket.

“The members of the Bundestag have many unanswered questions and time is pressing,” said CDU transport politician Thomas Bareiß, adding that the ticket had falling victim to a “false start”. 

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