Germany drops Covid entry restrictions for non-EU travellers

Germany has relaxed all of its entry restrictions, making it easier for people to travel from non-EU countries.

Travellers at Berlin's airport.
Travellers at Berlin's airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

The German government said that from Saturday June 11th “all Covid-19 entry restrictions to Germany will be provisionally lifted “.

The change means that entry into Germany is now allowed for all travel purposes, including tourism. The move makes travel easier – and cheaper – for people coming from non-EU countries, particularly families who may have needed multiple Covid tests for children. 

However, people living in China still need an important reason to enter Germany, the Foreign Office said, unless they are a German citizen.

It comes after Germany relaxed the requirement for travellers to show their Covid status before being allowed to Germany. 

People no longer have to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test against Covid before coming to Germany – the so-called 3G rule. 

However, if a country is deemed a ‘virus variant area’ then tougher entry rules apply. These include a ban on entry for non German residents, and a two-week quarantine for those who are allowed to enter, even for the fully vaccinated.

No country is classified as ‘virus variant’ by Germany currently. Travellers should keep an eye on any risk-level changes on the Robert Koch Institute’s risk list.

Authorities said that rule had been temporarily lifted until at least August 31st. 

What were the rules for people coming from non-EU countries?

Travel from within the EU to Germany has been more simple for some time now. 

But before June 11th, there were additional restrictions for entry from non-EU countries. 

People coming from most non-EU countries had to be fully vaccinated to enter Germany. Unvaccinated people were generally not allowed to enter unless they had an essential reason to do so. There were exceptions for German and EU residents.

Meanwhile, children under 12 who were not yet vaccinated could enter the country with at least one fully vaccinated parent and proof of a negative Covid test. Children under the age of six didn’t need a test. 

The changes mean people are allowed to freely enter Germany from almost anywhere in the world for any reason without having to show their Covid status, unless any additional restrictions apply such as a country becoming a ‘virus variant’ region. 

What else has changed?

Another change is that Germany now accepts vaccines approved by WHO, as well as by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

A spokesman from the German Health Ministry recently 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.”

This is important to know in case entry restrictions do come back into force. 

READ ALSO: What to know about Germany’s relaxed Covid entry rules

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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”.