Travel restrictions due to the corona pandemic
On 30 June 2020, the Council of the EU made a recommendation to further extend the temporary travel restrictions, in place since 16 March 2020, except for travelers from a limited number of countries (“positive list”). Germany has adopted this recommendation.
As a result, the restrictions remain in force for the USA, among others, until further notice. The “positive list”, however, will be reviewed and updated regularly. Depending on the developments of the epidemiological situation, changes in the list may occur.
Despite the continuing entry restrictions, existing exceptions for entering Germany will be significantly expanded.
Exemptions from travel restrictions
- EU citizens and citizens of Schengen Associated States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), Great Britain, and their respective family members*, regardless of whether they return to their place of residence or not. However, entry for family members for visiting purposes or for tourist reasons is still not possible, only on grounds of family reunion or for imperative family reasons, such as travel to funerals, weddings, visits by under-age children to their parents and similar cases.
- Third-country nationals with a long-term right of residence in an EU State and/or in the aforementioned State (residence permit or long-term visa, e.g. for studies or starting a job) as well as their respective family members*, irrespective of whether they return to their place of residence or not. However, entry for family members for visiting purposes or for tourist reasons is still not possible, only on grounds of family reunion or for imperative family reasons, such as travel to funerals, weddings, visits by under-age children to their parents and similar cases.
- Third-country nationals with so-called “essential functions or needs”, which include (among others):
- healthcare professionals and health researchers, care professionals
- cross-border workers, transport personnel employed in the movement of goods and other essential sectors (e.g. air crews)
- diplomats, staff of international organisations, military personnel, humanitarian aid workers insofar as they are performing official duties
- passengers in transit (including those being repatriated to their homeland with consular assistance)
- passengers travelling for imperative family reasons
- persons in need of international protection or travelling for other humanitarian reasons
- students, under the condition that the studies cannot be carried out from abroad (see below for further information)
- skilled workers (see below for further information)
* Family members within the meaning of the exception are defined in Paragraph 3 of the Freedom of Movement Act/EU and include spouses and children up to the age of 21.
Please note that at border control, appropriate proof of the existence of one of the above exceptions must be presented.
U.S. citizens may still enter Germany without a visa, if they can show proof of one of the afore-mentioned exceptions to the airline and border authorities. Entry for the sole purpose of a visit or for tourist reasons is therefore still not possible.
Use/Renewal of type D visas that have already been issued
The entry restrictions on all non-essential travel from third countries to the Federal Republic of Germany to contain COVID-19 may mean that you will not able to use a national visa issued by any German Consular Mission in the United States prior to the entry restrictions promulgated on 17 March 2020. In light of this, a new visa can be issued as part of a simplified procedure upon application. This fast-track procedure will be available if your date of travel has changed, but the purpose of your stay and destination remain unaltered and your visa has expired or will expire in less than one month. If you belong to this case group, please contact the German Consular Mission which serves your U.S. home state by August 10, 2020, via the online contact form on our website.
Processing of new visa applications
Visas can currently only be issued in the specific exceptional cases listed below:
- Applications complying with the above mentioned exceptions to the entry restrictions (pursuant to the notification from the European Commission of 16 March 2020 – 155 final)
- Applications for family reunification
- Applications from skilled workers from the following categories:
- skilled workers with a concrete job offer as defined by the Skilled Immigration Act and as evidenced by the Declaration regarding a contract of employment (Erklärung zum Beschäftigungsverhältnis)
- secondments and in-company transfers (ICT) restricted to managers and specialists
- IT experts
- employment in particular public interest
This also includes C visas for urgent business trips on condition that the applicant can provide sufficient evidence (e.g. verification from their employer) that it is absolutely essential for them to enter Germany even taking the pandemic situation into account.
A prerequisite in each case is proof of an obligation to be present in Germany (e.g. employment contract) and prima facie evidence that employment is necessary from an economic perspective and that the work cannot be postponed or carried out from abroad (presentation of verification from the employer/contractor). Economic necessity refers to economic relations and/or Germany’s economy or that of the single market. Relevant documentation must be carried and presented to border control personnel.
- Students whose studies cannot be performed entirely from outside Germany. This exemption applies to all those who have a notification of admission (even if preceded by a language course or an internship). It does not, however, apply to University applicants and those who wish to travel to Germany for a language course and then look around for a course of study (isolated language course). C visas for students are still not permissible. Evidence of an obligation to be present in Germany is necessary in the form of verification from the university (e.g. via email); documents must also be presented to border control personnel.
Quarantine regulations for entry to Germany
In principle, travellers entering Germany from the United States must spend 14 days in home quarantine immediately upon arrival. Upon entry into Germany following a stay in a risk area within the last 14 days
- you must, under these agreements, proceed directly to your destination following entry into Germany,
- self-isolate at home and
- email or phone your competent authority, as a rule the health office in your place of residence/accommodation.
A stay in a risk area at any point within the 14 days prior to entry is regarded as a stay in a risk area. What counts is whether the area was classified as a risk area at the time of entry (i.e. not necessarily at the time of the stay).
The obligation to self-isolate at home does not apply in the case of transit through Germany. In this case, however, you are obliged to leave Germany immediately.
Exception: proven negative test result
If you can prove that you are not infected with the SARS CoV-2 virus, these quarantine regulations do not apply.
This proof must take the form of a medical certificate. The molecular test to detect an infection must have been conducted no more than 48 hours prior to entry (i.e. the swab must have been taken no more than 48 hours prior to entry). The test must have been carried out in a European Union member state or a state with comparable quality standards.
Alternatively, the test may be carried out upon entry at the border crossing point or at the place where you are staying. The test result must be retained for at least 14 days after entry – regardless of whether the test was conducted prior to or following entry. It must be submitted to the health office upon request.