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What to Do If You Get Stuck in Germany?Germany, along with all other EU Member States recently approved a plan proposed by the EU Commission to shut down the external borders of the Schengen Zone in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This means that foreigners who are not from the EU will not be allowed to enter Germany for at least the next 30 days. 

However, Germany is currently one of the countries with the highest number of coronavirus infections in Europe. As of March 18, there have been more than 11,000 reported cases, with the numbers increasing daily. This means that a significant number of countries in the world have travel restrictions in place for German citizens and anyone travelling from Germany.  Due to this, flights departing Germany are becoming cancelled, leaving tourist stranded. For travellers who are visiting Germany on a Schengen visa, this can be worrisome, since the visa can expire before you are able to find a departing flight. 

What to Do If You Get Stuck in Germany Due to Coronavirus?

If you are stuck in Germany because your departing flight is cancelled, you should contact your airline to inquire about rescheduling or getting a refund. But first, check the websites or social media accounts of the airline to see if they have provided any information. 

In most cases, it is the airline’s responsibility to find alternate means of travel for you if they have cancelled. If you accept to receive a refund instead of rescheduling, however, the airline could refuse to take further responsibility.

If you were travelling as part of an organized group, check with your travel agency. You can also contact your travel insurers since they can sometimes help their clients in situations of emergency.

As a last resort, and if the situation is an emergency, you can also try contacting an Embassy or Consulate of your country in Germany, if one is available. 

Stuck in Germany Due to Coronavirus and Visa Is About to Expire?

If you are stuck in Germany after travelling on a Schengen visa, and it is set to expire in the next few days (or maybe it has already expired) there is no need to panic. In this case, you should not be penalized for overstaying. You can simply apply to extend your visa, and you will receive a 90-day extension free of charge. This is stated on the Visa Code of the European Union:

“In case a visa holder who is already present on the territory of the Member States is unable to   leave before the expiry of his visa for reasons of force majeure, humanitarian reasons or serious personal reasons, he should address the request for extension of the visa to the competent authorities of the Member State where he is present even if that is not the Member State whose consulate issued the visa.”

A force majeure is defined as “last-minute change of flight schedule by the airline (e.g. due to weather conditions, strike, etc.)”. Since the change or cancellation in flight schedule is outside your control, the German authorities will have to extend your visa free of charge.

The same applies to tourists who have entered Germany on a visa-exemption but are close to exhausting their permitted visa-free days. You can also contact the immigration authorities for an extension of your stay or to receive a visa.

If you are an international student who wants to go back to your home country or your visa application appointment got cancelled, Fintiba has created an information page and how will coronavirus affect you, you can read it here.

Due to Coronavirus, Can I Depart Germany Through Land Borders?

The situation with COVID-19 has made crossing land borders in the Schengen Area difficult. If you are a non-EU citizen, Germany’s neighbouring countries may not allow you to cross the border, since as of March 17, all Schengen Area Zone external borders are closed. Entry into EU/Schengen countries will be allowed only to EU citizens or those who have a residence permit.

What’s more, Germany is one of the countries with the highest numbers of infections. Due to this, you may also be denied entry simply for travelling directly from Germany. Germany has also closed its borders with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

See the travel restrictions of Germany’s neighbouring countries as of March 18, 2020:

  • Denmark: Denmark has closed its borders to most foreign travellers at least one month as of March 14.
  • Poland: Poland will ban foreigners from entering the country, suspend flights and rail services for citizens and will temporarily restore border controls.
  • Czech Republic: The Czech Republic has banned entry to travellers from high-risk countries, which also includes Germany.
  • Austria: Austria has closed the borders with Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Slovenia.
  • Switzerland and France: As of March 18, they do not have any restrictions in place other than for non-EU citizens.
  • The Netherlands: The Dutch government has announced they will suspend flights from “risk countries”, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy and South Korea. Germany is not currently included.