Unlocking the World

Travel to Germany during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

CNN staffUpdated 21st September 2021
The iconic Neuschwanstein castle is pictured near the village of Hohenschwangau in southern Germany during its reopening on June 2, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. - Famous for its fairy tale architecture, Neuschwanstein castle reopens after two and a half months of closure due to the Covid-19 crisis. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images)
Editor's Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on September 20.
(CNN) — If you're planning to travel to Germany, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

Germany is operating one of Europe's most stringent border policies, as it attempts to lessen the impact of the Delta variant while rapidly vaccinating its population.

What's on offer

Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt have long been cultural big-hitters. But there's more to Germany than its superb cities -- from hiking in Bavaria to wild forests on the French border and a hugely underrated coastline in the north. Throw in excellent public transport and road links and this is a country ripe for those keen on a long, free-form vacation.

Who can go

In principle, residents of EU member states and the Schengen-associated states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland may enter Germany without restrictions -- although if they become classed as high risk, or having a variant of concern, restrictions apply.
Arrivals from other countries depend on the epidemiological situation and vaccination status. As of September 20, tourists are allowed without restrictions from 14 non-EU countries, including Hong Kong and Canada. See here for a full list.
Arrivals from countries not on that list are allowed if fully vaccinated -- see here.
However, special measures are in place when traveling from countries deemed high risk or having variants of concern -- see here for a list, valid as of September 19. Arrivals from both need to quarantine whether you will have to quarantine or not depends on the risk level -- see below.

What are the restrictions?

All arrivals must complete a digital registration form before travel. Those entering by plane must provide either a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of travel, or proof of completed vaccination.
Travel for EU and Schengen-related residents is unrestricted -- though you must use your EU Digital Certificate to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test.
If you have been in a country designated to have a high level of risk within the past 10 days, you must provide a negative test result, and you must travel directly to your destination and quarantine there for 10 days. Those from a high-risk area may end quarantine early if they test negative after five days. The quarantine requirement is waived upon proof of vaccination or recovery.
If you have been in an "area of variant of concern," there is a ban on entering via rail, ship, plane or bus. Essentially, you must drive, and then quarantine for 14 days.
As of September 17, there are no areas of variant of concern.
There are around 70 high-risk areas, including the UK, the US and Israel, as of September 19. New additions to the high-risk list include Barbados, Guyana and Antigua and Barbuda.
Anyone entering from countries not on the "safe list" must be fully vaccinated with either Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson, with the last dose having been administered at least 14 days before travel -- see here for requirements.
If not vaccinated, only those traveling for essential reasons can enter. Unvaccinated children under 12 can enter if traveling with a vaccinated parent.
The Robert Koch Institute keeps track of country classification.

What's the Covid situation?

Germany is beginning to cautiously reopen after a number of strict lockdowns since March 2020. Following spikes in winter and spring, it has seen case numbers drop dramatically as it ramps up its vaccination program. However, it has major concerns about the Delta variant, which has resulted in the federal government clamping down on travel from the UK and Portugal (the latter has now been removed from the high-risk list). So far, it has seen 92,977 deaths and more than 4.1 million cases as of September 20.

What can visitors expect

Restrictions across Germany vary between the country's 16 states, although vaccinated people tend to be exempted from restrictions. You can find links to each state's regulations on this government page.
A number of states, including Hamburg and Brandenburg, are allowing businesses the choice to bar entry to people who are not vaccinated.

Useful links

Our latest coverage

Germany does a huge amount of things better than most countries, including beer, castles and trains. It's also a beautiful place, one that's often overlooked for supposedly flashier destinations in southern Europe. And its food, far from being stodgy, is first rate too.