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Travel to Germany and visa applications under COVID-19 restrictions

19.09.2021 - Article

With effect from 19 September 2021 South Africa is no longer listed as high risk area.
However, some restrictions still exist when travelling.

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

Travel to Germany

With effect from 19 September 2021 the Federal Republic of Germany no longer lists South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini as countries with a significantly elevated risk of infection (high risk area).

Nevertheless, EU-wide travel restrictions remain in place when entering Germany from South Africa, Lesotho or Eswatini.

Who is exempted from the entry restrictions?

  • German citizens or members of their immediate family (spouses, children under 18, parents of children under 18)
  • 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)
  • 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
  • fully vaccinated people (please see “What rules apply for fully vaccinated people?”) as long as they comply with passport and visa regulations
  • people with important reasons to travel -as long as they comply with passport and visa regulations-, such as:
  • residents of a country who are allowed unrestricted entry into Germany (please see the list of countries here)

Visa applications

Long-term (National) Visas

Important: If you have already applied for a long term visa (national visa), do not book any flights until the German Mission informs you that your application has been approved!

New applications for long-term-visas can be processed and visas be issued for certain purposes. Please see Section IV: Restrictions applying to air and sea travel outside of Europe (entering Germany from countries that do not belong to the European Union) on the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, for Building and Infrastructure for comprehensive information regarding these purposes.

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: Visa - long term (National visa)

Short-term (Schengen) Visas

Applicants for short-term-visas who are not fully vaccinated must file their visa applications with additional documents supporting their claim for an urgent need for travel. Comprehensive Information on which documents can serve as proof in this respect can be found here

Apart from the additional documents to be submitted, the visa application process is the same as under non-Covid-regulations. You may find more on this topic here: Visa - short term (Schengen visa)


Digital entry registration for Germany

The obligation to register digitally before departure for Germany at www.einreiseanmeldung.de and to carry the proof with them only exists for travellers who have stayed in the last 10 days in a country that is classified as a high-risk area or virus variant area at the time of the planned entry to Germany.

Since 19.09.2021, South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini are no longer considered high-risk areas. This means that from 19.09.2021, the obligation to submit a digital entry declaration when entering Germany from these countries no longer applies.

Mandatory testing or proof of immunity 

Travellers aged twelf years or older must hold proof of the following upon entering Germany :

  • a negative COVID-19 test result or
  • proof of a full COVID-19 vaccination 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 where applicable.
Exemptions apply in particular to persons who have passed through a high risk area without a stopover. Regulations regarding transit can be found below.

Information on the requirements for acceptable proof can be found in the next section.

The proof must be presented to the relevant authorities upon request up to ten days after entry.


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, LAMP, TMA) in German, English, French, Italian or Spanish. The test must have been carried out no more than 72 hours prior to entry (time of swabbing).

Alternatively, a negative antigen rapid test result in German, English, French, Italian or Spanish. Following a stay in a risk area or high risk area (such as currently South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini), the test must have been carried out no more than 48 hours prior to entry.

Further details on the recognition of tests are provided on the Website of the Federal Ministry of Health.

  • Proof of vaccination:

Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in German, English, French, Italian or Spanish in digital or paper form (e.g. WHO vaccination booklet). The vaccine used must be one of those listed on the website of the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut.
The same applies to persons who have recovered from COVID-19 and whose positive PCR-test is older than six months, who have received only one vaccination.

A period of at least 14 days must have elapsed since receiving the last vaccine dose.


The proof of vaccination must always include:

  • the personal data of the vaccinated person (at least family name, first name and date of birth or Passport/ID-Card-no.),
  • date of vaccination, number of vaccinations,
  • name of vaccine,
  • name of disease vaccinated against,
  • written documentation or electronic confirmation with a qualified electronic signature or a qualified electronic seal from the person responsible for administering the vaccine; if such information is not possible for administrative reasons, the confirmation provided by the person/institution responsible should appropriately be made clear, specifically through the use of a stamp or a state Symbol.
  • (for recoverd persons who have only received one vaccination with a vaccine requiring two vaccinations: additionally proof of positive PCR-test longer than 6 months ago)

    The commonly used South African Vaccination Record Card -if properly filled out- does fulfill these formal requirements.


  • Proof of recovery:

A positive PCR test result carried out at least 28 days but no more than six months previously. The proof of illness must be written in German, English, French, Italian or Spanish and available in digital or analogue form (paper form).

Quarantine regulations

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

Since 19.09.2021, South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini are no longer considered high-risk areas. This means that from 19.09.2021 the obligation to quarantine on entry from these countries no longer applies.

Transit through Germany

Airport transit (non-Schengen travels)

Changing flights without leaving the international transit area of an airport does not constitute an entry into Germany for the purposes of the relevant regulation (Corona-Einreiseverordnung). In these cases the digital entry registration, requirements for mandatory testing or providing proof of vaccination, quarantine regulations and travel bans from countries affected by coronavirus variants​​​​​​​ do not apply.

Transit within, from or to Schengen

When travelling from or to the Schengen area by air you will need to leave the international transit area of an airport. Under the new Corona Entry Ordinance which came into force on 01.08.2021 and for Covid-related purposes only, changing of planes on the same airport are now also not qualified as an entry to Germany and the same as for non-Schengen travels applies (see above).


However, please make sure what the airlines you are travelling with require in complying with their own health protocols or with requirements imposed on them by the countries of origin or final destination to allow you boarding. Most airlines insist on negative tests or proofs of vaccination in order to be able to transport passengers.

How to conduct yourself when in Germany?

Mouth and nose must be covered aboard any public transport, in stores and busy outdoor places, where the minimum distance to others cannot be kept at all times. Masks must fulfill the requirements of FFP2 or KN95/N95.

If travellers develop symptoms associated with COVID-19 (coughing, a runny nose, sore throat or fever) they should get in touch by phone with a doctor or contact the hotline 116 117. Often travel guides or hotels can also help in such cases. Travellers should keep the contact details of their home country’s embassy or consulate in Germany in case they need to contact them.

An overview on what to do to help protect yourself and others is available here: Coronavirus – Informationen and practical advice.


Watch out for local regulations

Measures for fighting the spread of COVID-19 are subject to local regulation. This may include quarantine measures in the case of a confirmed infection.

The international advice on reducing the spread of COVID-19 should be followed. This includes washing hands regularly and thoroughly with soap for 20-30 seconds, sneezing into the elbow or the quick disposal of handkerchieves or tissues, keeping a distance from other people and avoiding shaking hands. Further information and details can be found on the World Health Organization’s Website

Where possible, travel should be reduced and public transport avoided to further reduce the risk of infection.

Where to find more information

More information is available from the following institutions:

Information on coronavirus and regulations in English and other languages 

Ministry of the Interior 

Ministry of Health 

Ministry of Transport 

The World Health Organization 

Robert Koch Institute 


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