Germany Begins Requiring Negative COVID-19 Tests From All Arrivals

As of today, all international arrivals in Germany will be required to hold a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival. The move has been brought in to attempt to curb the importation of new COVID-19 cases and variants ahead of an expected surge in Easter travel.

Lufthansa A350 on the ground at Newark
Germany has brought in new COVID-19 testing rules for all international arrivals. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Around the world COVID-19, related travel policies are constantly being altered and reworked as different countries change how they react to the pandemic’s ever-changing nature. For example, England currently has its strictest travel rules since the pandemic began despite a significant relaxation towards the end of summer 2020. Now Germany has altered its testing rules slightly.

All arrivals must have a negative test

Needing a negative test to travel to Germany is nothing new. Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) maintains a list of countries based on their COVID-19 risk split into three categories. These categories were virus variant areas, high incidence areas, and risk areas.

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If the passenger had been in one of the countries listed by the RKI, they would need to take a COVID-19 test either before travel or directly after, depending on which category contained the country. Traveling from a country not listed did not carry restrictions.

A rapid COVID-19 antigen test laid out on a table
Airlines will accept rapid tests meeting a certain standard if they come with a certificate. Photo: British Airways

However, according to German broadcaster DW, since shortly after midnight, all international passengers arriving in Germany must now have a negative COVID-19 certificate regardless of origin. Both PCR and recognized rapid tests are accepted, with the test having to be completed within 48 hours before travel.

Passengers must bear the cost themselves and will be refused by airlines without a negative test. Passengers must carry a certificate in English, French, or German with a limited number of circumstance-based exceptions.

Why has the change been brought in?

Earlier in March, Germany removed parts of Spain and Portugal from the risk list altogether, meaning that Germany would require no quarantine on return. While non-essential travel is discouraged in Germany, holidays are not illegal, unlike in the United Kingdom. Recently the nation loosened restrictions on travel from the UK as the RKI removed the country from its variant areas list.

Germany Begins Requiring Negative COVID-19 Tests From All Arrivals
A surge in bookings to Mallorca is partly behind the policy change. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

This led to a surge in bookings for Germans to travel to the popular holiday destination of Mallorca for the Easter break. According to The Local, in mid-March, the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that the removal of Mallorca from the risk list was “not an invitation to go there”, while calling upon everybody to do their part.

It seems as though travelers didn’t heed this message. Indeed, Simple Flying previously reported that Eurowings had seen a 700% increase in Mallorca bookings since the area was removed from the RKI’s risk list.

What do you make of Germany’s new test before departure rule? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!