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Covid 19: Important information regarding travel to Germany and visa applications

05.04.2022 - Article

Covid 19: Important information regarding travel to Germany and visa applications

Reisende vor Corona-Testcenter am Flughafen
Corona Tests an deutschen Flughäfen. © dpa / Sven Simon

General entry restrictions and exemptions

EU-wide entry restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic remain in force. For Germany, these restrictions are issued by the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community (BMI).


Exemptions to entry restrictions

Who is exempted from the entry restrictions?

  1. German citizens or members of their immediate family (spouses, children under 18, parents of children under 18)
  2. EU citizens and citizens of Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland and the members of their immediate family (spouses, children under 18, parents of children under 18)
  3. citizens of non-EU countries who have a current long-term residence permit from an EU or Schengen country and their immediate family members, as long as they comply with passport and visa regulations
  4. fully vaccinated people irrespective of their travel purpose (please see “What rules apply for fully vaccinated people?”), as long as they comply with passport and visa regulations
    Please note: Due to the special vaccination situation of young people, persons under 12 years of age, even if not yet vaccinated, are exempt from entry restrictions when accompanied by at least one fully vaccinated parent. However, if they are 6 years or older they require a negative test result and must be accompanied by at least one fully vaccinated parent, in order to be exempt from entry restrictions.
  5. people who have an urgent need to travel (please see  “What constitutes an urgent need for travel?”), as long as they comply with passport and visa regulations

Full information is accessible on the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community

 

Visa applications

Long-term visas

Existing visas:
If you already hold a valid national visa, you may only use it for entering Germany if you fall under one of the exemptions from the travel and entry restrictions mentioned above.
Please make sure to carry along sufficient and suitable documentation on the exemption applicable in your case to prove to the airlines and German Federal Border Police.
The Embassy and the German Consulate General are not able to confirm whether you qualify for an exemption. The final decision upon entry into Germany lies with the Border Police. Kindly refrain from inquiries in that respect.
If you are not using an airline with direct flights to Germany (Lufthansa), you are also strongly advised to check whether the airline you are using is currently allowing passengers in transit on the way to Germany.

New applications:
Applications for long-term-visas can be processed and visas be issued for certain purposes. Please see the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community for comprehensive information regarding these purposes -Section IV: Restrictions applying to air and sea travel outside of Europe (entering Germany from countries that do not belong to the European Union)
If you intend to file an application for a long-term visa for one of the purposes under which third-country-nationals may currently enter Germany, the application process is the same as under non-Covid-regulations. You may find more on this topic here: here

Expired visas or visa applications withdrawn:
You couldn’t travel to Germany due to the entry restrictions which came into effect when South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini were classified as areas with virus variants of concern on 28.11.2021 and due to the fact that no exemption was applicable in your case and your visa has now expired or you withdrew your pending visa application?
The deadline for re-issuance of visas under a simplified procedure has expired.
You will have to apply for a new visa -if needed- under the regular procedure (see above “new applications”).

Short-term (Schengen) visas

Existing visas:
If you already hold a valid short-term visa (Schengen visa), you may only use it for entering Germany if you fall under one of the exemptions from the entry restrictions mentioned above.
Please make sure to carry along sufficient and suitable documentation on the exemption applicable in your case to prove to the airlines and German Federal Border Police.
The Embassy and the German Consulate General are not able to confirm whether you qualify for an exemption. The final decision upon entry into Germany lies with the Border Police. Kindly refrain from inquiries in that respect.

If you are not using an airline with direct flights to Germany (Lufthansa), you are also strongly advised to check whether the airline you are using is currently allowing passengers in transit on the way to Germany.

New applications:
Should you be planning a trip under one of the exemption categories mentioned above, you may schedule an appointment with the external service provider TLS  to submit your application.
Please make sure that, in addition to all the documents required for the basic purpose of the trip you also submit supporting documentation to prove the exemption category you apply under (e.g. proof of full vaccination or recovery, proof of family relationship, same household, doctor´s certificate on medical treatment in Germany in life-threatening cases etc.).

Applications for which the required documentation is missing, including proof of the existence of an exceptional case, must unfortunately be rejected. Neither the visa fee nor the service providers’ fee will be refundable in these cases.

You can find general information on Schengen-Visas here

When travelling please make sure that the documentation is on hand at all times in case requested by the Federal Border Police upon entry.

Expired visas or visa applications withdrawn:
You couldn’t travel to Germany due to the travel and entry restrictions which came into effect on 28.11.2021 and due to the fact that no exemption was applicable in your case and your visa has now expired or you had to withdraw an application already pending with the German mission?
The deadline for re-issuance of visas under a simplified procedure has expired.
You will have to apply for a new visa -if needed- under the regular procedure (see above “new applications”).

Digital entry registration for Germany

The obligation for a digital entry registration in Germany prior to departure at www.einreiseanmeldung.de only applies to travellers who -in the 10 days preceding entry into Germany- have stayed in a country that is classified as a high-risk area or virus variant area at the time of the planned entry into Germany.
South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini are no longer classified as high-risk areas. This means that the obligation for a digital entry registration no more applies when entering from these countries.

Obligation to provide proof of test or immunity 


All travellers aged twelve years or older (for non EU-nationals without long-term EU residence permit: six years or older) who have stayed in South Africa, Lesotho or Eswatini in the last ten days must hold proof of the following upon entering Germany:

  • proof of a full COVID-19 vaccination or
    important: see general entry restrictions for not fully vaccinated travellers above
  • a negative COVID-19 test result or
  • proof of recovery from an infection.

This proof must be held prior to entering the country, and must be presented to the airline before departure. The obligation to  provide proof of testing, proof of recovery or proof of vaccination also applies to travellers transiting Germany.
Further regulations regarding transit can be found below.
Information on the requirements for acceptable proof can be found below.

Please also take into consideration what airlines may require from you in terms of proof to allow you boarding in order to comply with their own health protocols or to fulfill obligations of the countries of departure or arrival. 

Requirements for tests and proof of vaccination or recovery

In principle, the following forms of proof are accepted:

Proof of a negative test result:
A negative test result obtained using nucleic acid amplification technology (e.g. PCR, PoC- PCR) in German, English, French, Italian or Spanish. The test must have been carried out (time of swabbing) no more than 48 hours prior to departure.
Alternatively, a negative antigen test result in German, English, French, Italian or Spanish. The test must have been carried out no more than 48 hours prior to entry into Germany.

Proof of vaccination:
Proof of vaccination for entry purposes must fulfill all of the following three requirements:

  1. Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 must be a digital EU COVID certificate or comparable proof of vaccination in digital or physical (paper) form in German, English, French, Italian or Spanish. Photographs of physical proof cannot be accepted as digital proof. Proof in digital form should have been issued digitally by the authorised issuer and transmitted digitally to the entitled holder.
  2. Proof of vaccination must contain the following information:
    1. the personal data of the vaccinated person (at least family name, first name and date of birth or the number of a valid passport or other official photo ID, which is to be presented upon inspection),
    2. date of vaccination, number of vaccinations,
    3. name of vaccine,
    4. name of disease vaccinated against,
    5. identifiers that indicate the person or institution responsible for administering the vaccination or issuing the certificate, for example an official symbol or the name of the issuer
  3. The vaccines that were used need to be approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or equivalents of these vaccines used in non-EU countries.
    To be considered fully vaccinated up until 30 September 2022 two approved vaccination doses are required, from 1 October 2022 three approved vaccination doses are required.
    More detailed information and exceptions can be found here.


Before all planned travel, you should therefore check whether your proof of vaccination meets the above requirements – in particular, whether the vaccination that you have received meets the criteria.


N.B.: While the German missions in South Africa still accept the handwritten certificates issued in South Africa, travellers are strongly recommend to apply for a certificate with a generated digital barcode. Such certificates can easily be verified by your chosen airline and avoid any misunderstanding or problems upon check-in at the airport.

However, they are so far not readable by the commonly used applications in Europe, thus acceptance at private or public establishments such as restaurants, museums, shops etc. can not be assumed. The transfer of South African Digital COVID certificates into those according to EU-Standard is unfortunately not possible through the German missions in SA.

Proof of recovery:
Proof of recovery must fulfill all of the following requirements:

  1. The test showing a previous infection must have been carried out using nucleic acid amplification technology (e.g. PCR, PoC- PCR)
  2. the date of taking the sample for the positive test must be at least 28 days in the past
  3. the date of taking the sample for the positive test must not be more than 90 days ago at the time of entry.

Quarantine regulations

The obligation to quarantine only applies to travellers who have stayed in a country that is classified as a high-risk area or area with virus variants of concern at the time of the planned entry into Germany in the 10 days preceding entry.

South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini are no longer classified as high-risk areas. This means that the obligation to quarantine on entry from these countries no more applies.

Transit through Germany

The above-mentioned obligation to provide proof of test, vaccination or recovery also applies to transit by air via German airports.
Please also take into consideration what airlines may require from you in terms of proof to allow you boarding in order to comply with their own health protocols or to fulfill obligations of the countries of departure or arrival. 

You must also make sure to be allowed in the country of your final destination and carry adequate proof thereof.

COVID-19 restrictions on public life in Germany

Restriction on public life in Germany depend on the local epidemiological situation. These restrictions are subject to change anytime. Prior to your intended travel to Germany, please inform yourself about whether your trip, and activities planned in its course, can actually be conducted. Respective information is available at the websites of the German Federal State (Bundesland) you are travelling to. The German diplomatic and consular missions abroad cannot take any responsibility or provide any guidance in this regard.
Please also note that the exchange of a South African digital COVID-vaccination certificate into one according to EU standards is not possible in Germany, nor can the German Embassy or Consulate General effect such exchange.

 

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