Important COVID-19 Travel
Under current UK COVID-19 restrictions, you must stay at home. You must not travel, including abroad, unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so. It is illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes.
If you intend to travel to the UK from abroad, including UK nationals returning home, you must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to 3 days before departure. If you do not comply (and you do not have a valid exemption) your airline or carrier may refuse you boarding and/or you may be fined on arrival.
When you enter England from abroad (except Ireland), you must follow the new requirements for quarantining and taking additional COVID-19 tests. For those travelling from a country on the banned travel list you will be required to quarantine in a hotel. Different rules apply for arrivals into England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
If you are legally permitted to travel abroad, check our advice on your country of destination. Some other countries have closed borders, and may further restrict movement or bring in new rules including testing requirements with little warning.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Entry to Germany
The German government has restricted entry from designated virus variant areas and risk areas, including all non-Schengen countries not on the country’s travel corridor list. The UK is currently designated a virus variant area, so travellers from the UK are only permitted to enter Germany if they are returning to their place of residence or if they can demonstrate an urgent humanitarian need such as an immediate family bereavement. More information about possible exceptions non-residents may seek to invoke is on the Federal Interior Ministry website. In addition, the German government has imposed a general ban on commercial travel from the UK or other designated virus variant areas for all non-residents until 3 March 2021.
UK nationals resident in Germany must demonstrate proof of residence. If you are not yet in possession of a residence card, you will be required to provide credible evidence that you are resident in Germany.
This could include an address registration certificate (Meldebescheinigung), a tenancy agreement, a utility bill in your name, or a certificate of application (Fiktionsbescheinigung).
The German authorities have confirmed that individuals who are registered at a German address in the population register (Melderegister), who can present identification (including residence documents) displaying a German address, or documents (paper or electronic) issued in their name by third parties stating an address in Germany, may be presumed to be resident in Germany. A document which has been left in Germany but which can be accessed by someone else may be photographed or scanned and sent to the traveller abroad by email or via cloud for presentation at checks. See the guidance from the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community.
If you’re travelling to Germany from an EU/EEA country not designated as a virus variant area, you are not subject to COVID-19 entry restrictions but may be required to quarantine (see below).
Non-resident UK travellers coming from non-Schengen countries not on Germany’s travel corridor list but not designated as virus variant areas will still need to prove an urgent need for their travel. This exemption includes healthcare workers, some skilled workers, and travel for urgent medical reasons. See the detailed guidance on acceptable urgent needs from the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community. The decision on whether to allow entry in such circumstances is at the discretion of border guards.
The German government has published guidance on circumstances in which individuals may enter Germany for urgent medical reasons and the process to be followed. This includes obtaining a certificate completed by the treating physician.
All travellers from the UK must comply with the pre-departure digital registration requirement.
For further details about German travel restrictions and border controls see the Federal Ministry of Interior, Building and Community website
Hauliers from the UK are generally exempt from the requirement to quarantine when entering the German federal states, subject to specific conditions laid down in the states’ regulations. These conditions typically include a requirement that the hauliers do not stay in the state’s territory for more than 72 hours and that they comply with appropriate health protection and hygiene plans.
For specific rules please consult the relevant federal states for the applicable rules ( in German). There are separate standard pre-arrival registration and testing requirements for entry from virus variant areas for which no exemption applies.
Travellers arriving in Germany who have been in the UK in the preceding 10 days must present a negative COVID-19 test to border officials whilst entering Germany. Airline passengers will have to present their negative test at the start of their journey. In both cases the result can either be in paper or electronic form. The test must have been taken less than 48 hours before entry to Germany. Children aged five or under are exempt from the test requirement. Even with a negative test, travellers will still be required to self-isolate for 10-14 days following arrival in Germany, with the possibility of test and release after 5 days in some parts of Germany. Contact your local public health authority for further details on test and release.
Molecular based tests (PCR tests) from the UK are accepted in Germany. Antigen tests are accepted as well, provided they meet the minimum criteria recommended by the WHO. This includes tests that meet ≥80% sensitivity and ≥97% specificity, compared to a PCR test. Most lateral flow tests work on the same basis as antigen tests and must meet the same criteria to be accepted. Details on the antigen or lateral flow test manufacturer must be given on the test certificate. ‘LAMP’ (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) tests are also now accepted. Border officials and local public health authorities will not accept a negative test result if there is justified doubt about whether the test meets the minimum performance requirements.
You can find more information about acceptable tests from Germany’s public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute’s, website (in German). Further information on testing requirements can be obtained from your local public health authority.
You can find further details about the current restrictions, including quarantining after a negative test on the German Health Ministry website (in German).
Travel from increased risk areas
If, in the 10 days before you travel to Germany, you have been in an area designated as presenting an increased risk of infection, you must register online in advance of travelling to Germany.
On arrival you must travel to your accommodation and quarantine there for ten days. After five days it is possible to secure release from quarantine with a negative test in some parts of Germany. Some states are requiring up to 14 days of quarantine for travellers from virus variant areas such as the UK. Contact your local public health authority for further details on test and release.
There are some exemptions from the quarantine requirement, including for frontier workers and individuals deemed to be providing essential activities. Precise rules are set by the federal states, so please consult the provisions applicable in the place where you are staying.
Germany is currently only allowing travellers from designated virus variant areas such as the UK to transit Germany by air, without passing national border control. Transit is not possible by land for travellers coming from virus variant areas, such as the Czech Republic or Tyrol (Austria). Otherwise, in general British citizens (and all EU/EEA citizens) may transit via Germany as part of a longer journey, provided they do so directly, their stay in Germany is limited to the minimum period necessary, and their admission to their country of destination is demonstrably secured. Travellers in transit should therefore have onward travel booked and check with their airline in advance of travel. Travellers who have been in the UK at any point in the previous 10 days, even as part of a longer journey, will still need to present a negative COVID-19 test on arrival at their transit airport in Germany.
Further information about the transit requirements is on the Federal Ministry of Interior, Building and Community website. You should also check the travel advice for any country that you are transiting on the way back to the UK.
Regular entry requirements
The rules for travelling or working in European countries changed on 1 January 2021:
- you can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training
- if you are travelling to Germany and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days
- to stay longer, to work or study, for business or for other reasons, you will need to meet the German government’s entry requirements. Check with the German Embassy what type of visa and/or work permit, if any, you will need
- if you stay in Germany with a visa or permit, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit
Any time you spent in Germany or other Schengen countries before 1 January 2021 does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.
At German border control, you may need to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing. Your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. You may also need to:
- show a return or onward ticket
- show you have enough money for your stay
UK nationals resident in Germany should not have their passports stamped on entry and exit, though they are required to demonstrate credible evidence of residence during checks to avoid receiving a stamp (see above). If a resident’s passport is stamped, this has no bearing on their legal status or rights, for instance as a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement. You should consult the Federal Police (Bundespolizei) if you wish, as a resident, to have any stamp annulled. You should bear in mind that if your passport is stamped and you subsequently exit the Schengen area after more than 90 days, you must carry credible evidence of residence status with you.
Entry for British citizens who are resident in Germany
If you are resident in Germany, please carry proof of your residence when travelling.
If you were living in Germany before 1 January 2021, you should carry your residence document (Aufenthaltsdokument-GB), as well as your valid passport when you travel. If you have applied but not yet received your document, carry your certificate of application (Fiktionsbescheinigung).
If you have not yet applied for a residence document GB, you should carry credible evidence that you are resident in Germany. This could include an address registration certificate (Meldebestätigung), tenancy agreement, or a utility bill in your name, dating from 2020.
If you cannot show that you are resident in Germany, you may be asked additional questions at the border to enter the Schengen area, and your passport may be stamped. This will not affect your rights in Germany.
Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip, and renew your passport if you do not have enough time left on it.
You must have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland).
If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Germany.
Working in Germany
If you intend to work in Germany, you should get detailed information on employment regulations from the German Embassy.