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

03.01.2022 - Article

With effect from 04.01.2022 the Federal Republic of Germany no longer lists South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini as areas of variants of concern. This implies that most of the travel restrictions have been lifted.

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


With effect from 04.01.2022 the Federal Republic of Germany no longer lists South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini as areas of variants of concern. This implies that most of the travel restrictions have been lifted.

The three countries are now being designated as high risk countries. Some entry restrictions remain in place.


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
  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

What does the new listing of South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini as high risk areas mean for visa applicants?

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 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?
If your purpose of stay and your destination remain unchanged you might qualify for a re-issuance of your visa in a simplified procedure with no extra fees.  In this case please contact the competent German mission via the contact form and explain your case with all relevant details. You will then be advised individually by email how to proceed. Any new application under the simplified procedure has to be submitted not later than two months after the lifting of the travel restrictions, i.e. not later than 03.03.2022.

 

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 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:
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 expemtion category you apply under (e.g. proof of full vacination 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?

If your purpose of stay and your destination remain unchanged you might qualify for a re-issuance of your visa in a simplified procedure with no extra fees.  In this case please contact the competent German mission via the contact form and explain your case with all relevant details. You will then be advised individually by email how to proceed. Any new application under the simplified procedure has to be submitted not later than two months after the lifting of the travel restrictions, i.e. not later than 03.03.2022.

Please note: A simplified re-issuance of a Schengen visa will only be possible if

  • Your visa was already issued and you couldn’t use it due to COVID 19-pandemic-related German travel restrictions
    or
  • You withdrew your pending visa application due to COVID 19-pandemic related travel restrictions.

Furthermore

  • the purpose of your intended journey and the place of your stay remain unchanged
    and
  • the former visa was applied for at one of the application centers of the German Missions in South Africa
    and
  • the validity period of the visa was 90 days or less.


Digital entry registration for Germany

Travellers who have stayed in South Africa, Lesotho or Eswatini in the last ten days before entry into Germany must register at www.einreiseanmeldung.de before arriving in Germany and carry proof of registration with them upon entry. Exemptions to this registration requirement apply in particular to persons who

  • are only passing through Germany and leaving the country via the fastest route available, e.g. transit via air, see below


Obligation to provide proof 

All travellers aged 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:

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

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. 

Important: Please be aware that further tests or additional measures may be ordered by the local health authorities in charge of the arrival airport or your place of quarantine. 

The obligation to  provide proof of testing, proof of recovery or proof of vaccination also applies to travellers transiting Germany.

Requirements for tests and proof of vaccination or recovery

Information on proof of immunity is available on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health.

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 rapid test result in German, English, French, Italian or Spanish. Following a stay in a 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.

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). Only persons who have been vaccinated with one of the vaccines listed on the website of the Paul‑Ehrlich‑Institute and whose last required vaccination was administered at least 14 days ago can enter Germany. This currently applies solely to vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and on the WHO EUL (Emergency Use Listing).

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,
  • name and address of the person/institution responsible for administering the vaccine, and
  • 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.

Travellers younger than 12 years of age who have not been vaccinated, may enter with a negative test when accompanied by at least one fully vaccinated parent. Travellers younger than 6 years do not need a negative test in this case.
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:

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

A requirement to self-isolate is in place in Germany pursuant to the Federal Ministry of Health’s Ordinance on Coronavirus Entry Regulations.

Under this ordinance, persons entering Germany following a stay in a high risk area such as South Africa, Eswatini or Lesotho in the last ten days must proceed directly to their destination following entry and self-isolate there for ten days (quarantine).

During this quarantine, travellers may not leave the house or flat or receive guests.
More information is available on the Website of the Federal Ministry of Health.

A stay in a high risk area means a stay in the area concerned at any point within the 10 days prior to entry. What counts is whether the area was classified as such an area at the time of entry to Germany (i.e. not necessarily at the time of the stay).

Exemptions from the requirement to quarantine:

Exemptions from the requirement to quarantine apply in particular to persons – except those travelling from areas of variant of concern – who:

  • have merely passed through a high risk area area (not an area of variant of concern) without a stopover or
  • are only passing through Germany and leaving the country via the fastest route available

Reduction of the quarantine period for persons who have been vaccinated, recovered from an infection, or have tested negative:
For persons who have been vaccinated or recovered from an infection and arrive from a high risk area such as currently South Africa, Lesotho or Eswatini, mandatory quarantine ends immediately after submitting proof of vaccination or proof of recovery during the digital entry registration process on www.einreiseanmeldung.de. The quarantine period may be ended on the basis of a negative test carried out no earlier than five days after entry, to be submitted to the locally competent health authority at the place of your quarantine.

Further information on acceptable proof can be found on this page above.

Transit through Germany

When transiting through Germany (including international airport transit), the requirement for digital entry registration and mandatory quarantine regulations do not apply. However, you must still provide proof of negative test, vaccination or recovery, see above.
Please note that further tests or additional measures may be ordered by the local health authorities in charge of the arrival airport or your place of quarantine.
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

In many places in Germany, restrictions on public life are currently in force, partially depending on the local epidemiological situation. These restrictions are subject to change anytime. German Federal Government and German Federal States (Bundesländer) have restricted, and may further restrict, access to accomodation (in particular hotels), hospitality businesses (restaurants, bars, clubs etc.) as well as leisure, culture and sports events to individuals in possession of a valid certificate of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 (“2G rule”) or an additional test certificate (“2G plus”), as the case may be. As a general rule, Germany only recognizes vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or licence products thereof (see above). Furthermore, in some cases, only EU Digital COVID Certificates or equivalent certificates are accepted. As a consequence, holders of foreign certificates (physical or digital) are allowed entry into Germany but are in many cases not granted access to certain venues and events. Therefore, 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.

 

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