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The German Federal Foreign Office has reminded foreign travellers on the existing rules of entry to Germany which have derived from the restrictions introduced by the government amid the Coronavirus outbreak, in a bid to deal with the number of infections, and prevent its further spread.

According to a notice published by this authority, travellers should be particularly aware of the border controls, categories permitted to enter, and the changes and facilities introduced for holders of visas and residence permits.

Effective Entry Restrictions

A travel ban to the European Union and the Schengen Area Member States through Germany has been in place since March 17 this year, upon the recommendation of the EU Commission on such a measure, as a way to combat the pandemic.

Even after over two months since the introduction of the ban, it remains in force for all foreign travellers, no matter if they want to reach Germany by plane or ship.

Exempt from this ban are only German citizens, as well as citizens of the rest of the EU Member States and their families who want to reach their home country if no other travel connection is possible. Citizens of the United Kingdom, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland as well as their families are also permitted to travel through Germany for the same purpose.

The two last categories can also enter the country if their home or legal residence is in Germany.

Germany’s Border Controls with Neighboring Countries

At the beginning of the pandemic’s outbreak in Europe, Germany, just as the rest of the EU countries moved on to introduce border controls at all of its borders even before the Commission’s recommendation on foreign travellers’ entry ban.

Months after, most of these border controls remain in place. Checks at the border with Luxembourg have ended at midnight on May 15, while those between Germany and France, Austria and Switzerland and air borders with Italy and Spain have been set to end on June 15.

Though there is no date set on when controls at the border with Denmark will end, both countries are willing to end the borders.

However, travellers planning to enter Germany should be aware that depending on the local regulations by the Länder, they might be required to spend two weeks in mandatory quarantine.

Passengers arriving from China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea by plane or ship, must provide information on their flight/trip. They will be handed a disembarkation card for this purpose. Disembarkation cards will also be mandatory on trains if there is a suspected case on board,” the notice of the Foreign Office also points out.

Travellers should also expect more stricks controls, as more comprehensive questions may be posed and health checks performed in doubtful cases.

Facilitations for Expiring Visas / Permitted Visa-Free Stay

Due to travel restrictions imposed by Germany, the rest of the EU countries, and countries worldwide, foreign travellers have encountered difficulties leaving Germany before the expiration date of their Schengen Visa.

Taking into account the difficulties Schengen Visa holders have encountered to leave Germany, and those in the country under visa-free stay, the authorities have introduced several facilities, so that such travellers would not face charges due to overstaying.

According to the Foreign Office, those who were in Germany on March 17 with a valid Schengen or who entered Germany after March 17 and before April 9 with a valid Schengen visa, can remain in Germany without the need to apply for a residence title until June 30.

Citizens who are allowed to enter and stay in the Schengen area for 90 days within a period of 180 days without a visa should contact the relevant immigration office before the expiry of that period and provide their personal details (see above) to legalize their stay (if necessary, by email). Provided that this application reaches the authority before the expiry of the named period, the stay will remain legal until a decision is made by the immigration office,” the notice reads.

It further advises travellers of this category to carry a printed version of the application in addition to the expired title and their passport/ID card.

Facilitations for Expiring Residence Permits

Due to the pandemic, many German residence permit holders found themselves outside the country, with their permits now near expiration.

The Foreign Office advises these persons to submit a request for renewal of their residence permit informally to the relevant immigration office (i.e. by email). If the request is filed before the expiration date of the residence permit, the permit will remain valid until a decision is made by the immigration office.

For subsequent re-entry, however, a Fiktionsbescheinigung (fictional certificate) is required, which will normally be sent to the diplomatic mission nearest to the person’s place of residence. The procedure described above also applies if the residence permit has already expired at the time of the application and the immigration office has approved its continued validity,” the Office notes.

In addition, the Foreign Office advises those who are in Germany and their residence permit is about to expire to submit an application for an extension to the relevant immigration office by email before expiry. Their residence in Germany will remain legal until the decision of the immigration office has been made.

It is advisable to carry a printed version of the application in addition to the expired visa and your passport/ID card.