EXPLAINED: The current travel rules between India and Germany

Due to the severe Covid-19 situation, there are strict travel regulations in place for travel from India to Germany and vice versa at the moment. Here's what you need to know about the latest travel rules and conditions.

EXPLAINED: The current travel rules between India and Germany
A Lufthansa plane in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Alejandro Ernesto

Currently in the midst of a major crisis, India has been recording over 300,000 new Covid-19 infections a day for the last two weeks

On April 24th, Germany joined the list of countries to impose a temporary travel ban on visitors from India, with few exceptions.

Here are the circumstances under which people can travel to India from Germany. 

READ ALSO: Germany restricts travel from ‘high-risk’ India

Who can enter Germany? 

Germany has a classification system that divides geographical regions into risk areas, high-incidence areas and virus variant areas. The website of the Robert Koch Institute shows which countries falls into which category. 

For virus variant areas, stricter rules apply when returning to Germany.

There is essentially a ban on all transport from areas with concerning variants circulating. The ban is initially in place up to and including May 12th but may be extended.

Only people with residence or right of residence in Germany and transit passengers may enter the country if travelling from a country that is on “areas of variant of concern” list. India was recently added to this list, as well as the high incidence area list.

In a tweet on Wednesday May 5th, the Indian Embassy in Berlin laid out what travellers to Germany need to know about the current coronavirus situation, and what travel rules apply.

What are the exceptions?

German nationals and their accompanying close family members (spouse and children) are exempt from the travel ban.

People with a German residence permit can also enter Germany. But holders of German short and long term visas are not allowed entry at this time. Any Indian traveller who enters Germany, regardless of the length of stay, is normally required to have a visa first. 

Only students who have both a student visa and a residence permit will be allowed to enter the country. 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know as an Indian student moving to Germany

Members of foreign diplomatic missions and consular offices and accompanying family members can also enter the country, provided their arrival to Germany has been notified by the German Federal Foreign Office. 

Arrival in Germany

If you meet the above categories and are travelling to Germany, you have to register on the Einreise Anmeldung’s website before setting off on your journey.

Additionally, everyone travelling to Germany by air has to provide a negative Covid-19 test and present it to the airline prior to boarding. This includes transit passengers. The test result may also be checked by border police.

The test has to be taken no later than 48 hours prior to the scheduled arrival time in Germany. Children under six are exempt from taking the test.

A home quarantine is mandatory on arrival in Germany for people coming from any type of risk areas. People coming from “virus areas of concern” are required to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival in the country.

Check with the state regulations for the area you are travelling to for any regional variations on rules after travel.

READ MORE: What you need to know about the latest rules on travel to and from Germany

What about travel in the other direction?

The German Foreign Office advises against all non-essential tourist travel to India due to the current situation.

According to the Foreign Office, airlines flying to India are only allowed to carry passengers who present a negative PCR test (max. 72 hours old).

Prior to travel, it is mandatory to complete a self-declaration form and upload the negative PCR test result.

A printout of the registration form, as well as a passport copy should be carried by passengers. The use of the Covid-19 tracking app Aarogya Setu is mandatory. Current information on entry, testing and quarantine regulations can be found on the New Delhi Airport website.

Keep in mind that there are varying local rules such as in the state of Maharashtra which has imposed a 14-day mandatory quarantine for travellers from the EU, the UK and the Middle East. Part of this must be spent in a state institution.

After entry to India, a further Covid-19 test, for which a fee is charged, must be carried out at the airport. Transit passengers are not allowed to leave the arrival area until the test result is received, which can take several hours.

Commercial international travel is currently prohibited in principle in India. Tourist travel remains banned until further notice.

Donating to India

A day after the temporary travel ban was issued against travellers from India, Angela Merkel announced that Germany was preparing emergency aid for India. 

“To the people of India I want to express my sympathy on the terrible suffering that Covid-19 has again brought over your communities,” Merkel said in a message shared on Twitter by her spokesman Steffen Seibert. 

While Germany is in the process of sending and preparing aid for India, people can donate to various foundations tackling the lack of oxygen tanks, shortage of food supply, arrangement of ambulances, among other noteworthy causes.

One Indian activist has compiled a list of credible nonprofits to consider donating to. 

READ ALSO: Germany prepares ‘urgent support’ for Covid-hit India

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Is the pandemic over in Germany?

As much of Germany lifts - or prepares to lift - the last remaining Covid-19 measures, intensive care units say Covid-19 admissions are no longer straining the system.

Is the pandemic over in Germany?

Despite a difficult winter of respiratory illnesses, intensive care units in Germany say Covid-19 admissions have almost halved. The number of cases having to be treated in the ICU has gone down to 800 from 1,500 at the beginning of this month.

“Corona is no longer a problem in intensive care units,” Gernot Marx, Vice President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, told the German Editorial Network. “A the moment, we don’t have to think every day about how to still ensure the care of patients, but how to actually run a service that can help.”

Marx said the drop has allowed them to catch up on many postponed surgeries.

The number of sick employees in hospitals is also falling, helping to relieve the pressure on personnel.

The easing pressure on hospitals correlates with the assessment of prominent virologist and head of the Virology department at Berlin’s Charite – Christian Drosten – who said in December that the pandemic was close to ending, with the winter wave being an endemic one.

German federal and state governments are now in the midst of lifting the last of the country’s pandemic-related restrictions. Free Covid-19 antigen tests for most people, with exceptions for medical personnel, recently ended.

READ ALSO: Free Covid-19 tests end in Germany

Six federal states – Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hessen, Thuringia, Lower Saxony, and Schleswig-Holstein – have ended mandatory isolation periods for people who test positive for Covid-19.

Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt, and Schleswig-Holstein have ended the requirement to wear FFP2 masks on public transport, while Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony, Thuringia, and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania will follow suit on February 2nd.

At that time, the federal government will also drop its requirement for masks to be worn on long-distance trains. Labour Minister Hubertus Heil says that’s when he also intends to exempt workplaces – apart from medical locations – from a mask requirement.

READ ALSO: Germany to drop mask mandate in trains and buses from February 2nd

Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg will also end the requirement for patients to wear a mask in doctor’s offices. That’s a requirement that, so far, will stay in place everywhere else. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has also said that he thinks this requirement should remain. 

But some public health insurers and general practitioners are calling for a nationwide end to the obligation for wearing masks in doctor’s offices.

“The pandemic situation is over,” National Association of Statutory Health Physicians (KBV) Chair Andreas Gassen told the RND network. “High-risk patients aren’t treated in all practices. It should generally be left up to medical colleagues to decide whether they want to require masks in their practices.”