Germany has moved from a partial lockdown, which began in November, to tough new Covid curbs over Christmas. Non-essential shops are closed across the country from Wednesday (December 16) as are schools. The measures already in place since November, including closed restaurants, bars, cafes, cultural and leisure facilities, have been extended until January 10. Restaurants can still offer takeaway services. Overnight stays in hotels for tourist purposes continue to be banned.  Museums and tourist attractions remain closed. 

What do the new restrictions consist of?

  • All nonessential shops and services will close until January 10, including hairdressers which remained open under the current lockdown “lite.”
  • Schools are urged to send students home and continue lessons online, as well as extend the winter break until January 10.
  • Day care centers will also close, but parents will be able to take paid holidays in order to look after their children.
  • Employers are encouraged to allow employees to work from home.
  • People will not be allowed to drink alcohol in public.
  • Religious events in churches, synagogues and mosques may take place if they follow hygiene rules, but communal singing is not allowed.
  • States still plan to ease stricter contact restrictions for December 24 to 26 so that close family members can spend Christmas together — a household may, during this time, invite up to four adults from other households but only from the immediate family, plus any number of children under 14.
  • People may not purchase fireworks for New Year’s Eve.

The chancellor also recommended that families who are planning to meet up should isolate for a week beforehand to be safe

The country is effectively closed to tourists, but as the borders remain open it is still possible to enter Germany. 

The quarantine rule for arrivals from foreign risk areas remains in place. People who arrive from a risk zone have to quarantine for 10 days, but this can be ended with a negative coronavirus test after five days at the earliest. The test is no longer free for people arriving from risk zones. In addition, returnees from risk areas must register online at new web application replaces the previous paper exit cards.

Travel warnings, risk areas, quarantine requirements: For many of our readers, the entry regulations for Germany are confusing. Here are a few answers to the most important questions relating to entry regulations.

All potential travelers are strongly advised to seek the latest information before packing their bags. What applies to the EU does not necessarily apply to Germany. Quarantine regulations are not only applied differently within the EU, but also within Germany. The plethora of regulations, rules and exceptions to the rule is confusing. It makes people uneasy.

“What do I do if …?” We are currently receiving lots of questions from our readers and through our social media platforms. To help out, we have looked into the most important questions and have researched the current situation.

Question 1

The list of countries from which I can enter Germany is constantly changing. Where can I find the latest information?

In principle, the German Interior Ministry is responsible for the entry regulations to Germany. Here travelers can find all current information, also in English. In addition, travelers should consult the website of the German Foreign Ministry , the German Federal Police, and the German Ministry of Health for information on current travel regulations. The European Union also maintains an informational portal with an EU-wide overview

The most important information can be found in the list of risk areas, which the Robert Koch Institute compiles and constantly updates in cooperation with the German Foreign Ministry and the Ministries of Health and the Interior. Listed here are, on the one hand, almost all third countries for which the German government has issued a general travel warning. On the other hand, individual regions are also listed in which there have been more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days. 

Anyone coming to Germany from risk areas must be tested for coronavirus on entry and placed in quarantine until the test results are known.

Currently, only citizens from countries of the European Union and the Schengen Area are allowed to enter Germany without restrictions. Anyone wishing to enter from a third country must have a valid justification. Only Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Uruguay are excluded from this requirement. If your country of departure is also classified as a risk area, you must adhere to the quarantine requirements that apply in Germany.

In cooperation with the German Foreign Ministry, the Health Ministry and the Interior Ministry, the Robert Koch Institute draws up a list of risk areas that is constantly updated. It is therefore essential to find out before you start your journey whether your country or region of departure is classified as a risk area. Even if your country of origin is not classified as a risk area, but you stayed in a risk area at any time in the 14 days before entering Germany, the quarantine requirements apply to you.

Question 2

Under what conditions can I enter Germany from a country that is subject to an entry ban? Are there exceptions and if so, which ones?

The list of exceptions to the ban on entering Germany is long. The German Interior Ministry has compiled a list of those who have a valid reason to travel and are thus allowed to enter Germany. 

Question 3

How do I find out if I have to be quarantined after entering from a third country and where do I have to remain while I do so? Can I avoid the quarantine with a negative coronavirus test?

Since November 8, new quarantine rules for Germany have been in effect for those entering the country from countries that the Robert Koch Institute classifies as risk areas: the mandatory quarantine period has been reduced from 14 to ten days. It can be shortened if the person concerned can present a negative corona test which must be done from the fifth day after entry at the earliest. In addition, returnees from risk areas must register online at The new web application replaces the previous paper exit cards.

The list of risk countries and regions is constantly updated. So, if you are planning to travel to Germany, it is essential that you find out whether your country of origin or departure is on this list before you leave. This also applies to returning travelers. The specific quarantine regulations are issued by Germany’s 16 states. Travelers can find out which conditions apply in which state here

The regulation does not apply to people who are merely passing through Germany. They must leave Germany again by the fastest route. Also, those who have been in a risk area for less than 24 hours during transit with neighboring countries are not affected by the quarantine obligation. Other exceptions include commuters as well as doctors and nurses and when visiting close relatives.

Since November 8, anyone wishing to enter Germany must register digitally at before entering the country. The new web application replaces the previous paper exit cards. Anyone who has been in a coronavirus risk area in the previous ten days must register.

Question 4

What if I am a citizen of an EU country, but Germany has declared my country a risk area — Can I still enter the country?

Citizens from EU member states and countries in the Schengen Area can enter Germany without restrictions. But here too, the quarantine rules apply to entry from risk areas. This means: you must also undergo compulsory quarantine for ten days. From the 5th day at the earliest you can have a coronavirus test which if negative will end the must be tested no later than 10 days after 

Because persons entering from another EU country are usually not checked at the border, it is your responsibility to comply with the mandatory quarantine. You must report to the responsible health department immediately after entering the country and provide your address. For further details you can call the telephone info service from within Germany at 116 117. If you fail to comply with the obligations of testing, reporting or quarantine, you risk considerable fines.

Within ten days of your arrival, the health authorities may ask you to present a negative test result or, if you do not have such a result, to take a test.
The test is free of charge for people entering the country from risk areas within 10 days of entry until December 1. You can find out where you can take a test near your home by calling 116 117 or on the Internet at Those who would like to be tested by a general practitioner should call beforehand. It is important: Until the test result is available, you must remain in quarantine.

Question 5

If I test positive and have to go into quarantine, where do I have to stay and who pays for it?

If you have had a corona test and it turns out positive, the health authorities will automatically be informed and a ten-day quarantine must be completed, if possible, in your own apartment or other suitable accommodation.
What constitutes “suitable accommodation” is decided by the local health authority in the event of quarantine. There are no concrete guidelines on the type of accommodation, neither at the federal nor the state level, and the local health department will give you specific instructions and information. Compliance with the quarantine obligation is monitored by the local authorities. Violations can be punished in some federal states with a fine of up to 10,000 euros.
If additional costs are incurred, for example for hotel stays or visits to the doctor, these are not covered by the German government. However, tour operators and international health insurance policies could cover these costs if these conditions were agreed upon beforehand. Foreign citizens are also advised to inform their embassy in Germany about their quarantine stay.

Question 6

I want to enter Germany: Does the law differentiate between the country I enter from and my citizenship?

In this case, whether you can enter Germany depends on whether you have a valid residence permit or visa for Germany or the Schengen area.  In this case, the place of residence or long-term stay takes priority over nationality. An example: An Australian living in Nigeria wants to travel to Germany. Australia is on the “positive list” for entry to Germany (see above). However, since this Australian lives in Nigeria, he may not enter Germany without an urgent reason for travel. However, a Brazilian who lives in Austria can enter without an urgent reason. By the way: Visas for the Schengen area will not be issued until further notice — with a few exceptions in urgent cases. You can find out whether you need a visa to enter Europe here.

Question 7

What happens if I want to enter from a country for which Germany has issued a travel warning? For instance, I am Turkish and live in Turkey. Germany has issued a travel warning for my country. Can I enter Germany, or will I be turned away at the airport?

On October 1, 2020, the general travel warning for all third countries was replaced by differentiated travel and safety information. However, the travel warning will automatically continue to apply to risk areas. Travel warnings are primarily aimed at German citizens who want to travel abroad and are therefore not directly related to the entry restrictions to Germany.

For entrance into Germany from Turkey you need a valid reason (see above). In addition, Turkey is currently on the list of risk areas. This means that you would be bound by the quarantine requirements (see above) after a potential entry.

For departure to Germany: Turkish air carriers require proof of a PCR test carried out no more than 48 hours before departure. Without this test, you are not allowed to board the aircraft. However, even if you leave Turkey successfully, this does not automatically mean that the German border officials will let you enter the country. If they rate your reason for travel as insufficient or if there are last-minute changes to the entry restrictions, you have to fly back.

Question 8

Individual EU countries seem to deal differently with entries from third countries. Can I make use of this? So, I might be able to enter Greece, but not Germany. Once I have made it to Greece, can I travel from there to Germany?

Not necessarily. Each EU and Schengen country — despite relatively uniform decisions at EU level — has the power to decide on its own entry restrictions. If you have successfully entered Greece, this does not mean that you will automatically be granted free entry to Germany — unless you live in the Schengen area or have a valid visa. Therefore, before you plan your trip, you should find out exactly what the current regulations are for entering Germany. If you have any further questions, please contact the relevant embassy in Germany.

Question 9

I am in Germany and am developing coronavirus symptoms: What do I do?

Immediately inform the responsiblehealth authority . In the event of more severe symptoms, also contact a doctor or the coronavirus hotline (Tel. 116 117 from German phones). If you show serious symptoms, go to hospital, or call an ambulance. Before you start your journey, find out the contact details of your embassy in Germany in case you need to contact them if you become seriously ill.

Question 10

What happens if the regulations change during my stay in Germany? For example, if my return becomes impossible because Germany or my home country closes its borders again?

Please contact your embassy in Germany as soon as possible. In principle, it should be possible to leave Germany and re-enter your home country — provided you are not in quarantine or actively infected. How you can leave the country and who will cover the costs depends on your booking conditions. Ask the tour operator or airline whether and when a return is possible and who will cover the potential costs. As a precaution, make sure you have a financial buffer before departure if additional costs are incurred. Because if the building, city or region where you are staying in Germany is placed under quarantine, you will have to remain there until the authorities allow you to leave the area again.

Question 11

Germany’s 16 states have different rules regarding coronavirus prevention and restrictions. How do I best inform myself if I want to travel in Germany?

The regulations and rules for the individual states can be found here. It is particularly important to bear in mind the different rules on quarantine requirements for entrants coming from locations designated as risk areas. Also keep an eye on the news situation in Germany and your region of residence. It could happen that certain cities, districts or regions are quarantined because of a high number of new infections and may also be declared a risk area within Germany. The individual states may also decide on a lockdown. This can impact your travel within Germany and your return or onward journey abroad. If you have any questions, please contact the local authorities or the embassy of your country in Germany.