3G rules on public transport in Germany: What you need to know

3G rules on public transport in Germany: What you need to know

This week, 3G rules should start to apply on public transportation services across Germany. Whether travelling by bus, train or tram, passengers are expected to be either vaccinated against COVID-19, recovered, or have a negative test result. Some details, however, still need to be ironed out.

3G on German public transport: How will it work?

Anyone wishing to use public transport in Germany will soon need not only a valid ticket and a face mask, but also a valid 3G certificate. This was decided at the coronavirus summit on November 18 and was waved through by the Bundestag and the Bundesrat last week, in view of the escalating coronavirus situation. 

The implementation of the new rule, however, still raises a number of questions. “Nothing is concrete yet, except that the 3G obligation is coming,” said a spokesperson for the transport association that serves the Nuremberg area. 

Here’s what we know so far. 

When will the 3G rule come into effect on public transport?

It’s not entirely clear when the new rules will start to apply. The federal government had put forward Wednesday, November 24 as a possible date, but it all depends on when Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier signs the amended Infection Protection Act. This is expected to happen by the middle of the week. 

What are the new rules?

The new rule is essentially a 3G certificate system for all forms of transport. Passengers will be obliged, upon request, to demonstrate proof that they are vaccinated against coronavirus, have recovered from the disease, or have recently tested negative. 

Where will 3G apply?

3G rules will apply on all forms of public transport - including regional and long-distance trains, as well as buses, S-Bahns, U-Bahns, and trams. 

Taxis are, however, a special case, and will not be required to implement access restrictions. The industry expressed relief that drivers will not be asked to check the coronavirus tests and vaccination certificates of their passengers. The taxi drivers themselves will be subject to 3G rules, as in all other workplaces

What are the rules for tests for unvaccinated people?

Things could start to get complicated for your daily commute to work or university if you’re unvaccinated in Germany. This is because the rules stipulate that you must get tested no more than 24 hours before the start of your journey. 

The free, so-called citizen test (Bürgertest) can be used for this purpose, but people are only entitled to one per week. Employers should provide their employees with two tests per week. On the other days, it’s up to the individual to fund the cost of the tests. 

Are there exceptions for children?

As usual with 3G rules, exceptions are made for children and adolescents. Children under the age of six do not need any test, while those who attend primary or secondary school are already regularly tested and therefore do not need extra proof. 

Who is in charge of enforcing the rules?

This point is proving a bone of contention. According to the law, transport companies themselves are responsible for upholding the new rules. However, they have warned the government that their employees will not be able to take on this new role. 

“The transport companies are therefore already approaching the police and regulatory authorities on site so that effective spot checks can be carried out together,” said the Association of German Transport Companies. 

Nonetheless, there are doubts as to how effective this will be. “Comprehensive control can hardly be implemented and, if at all, can only be implemented on a random basis,” the Rhine-Ruhr Transport Association (VRR) has said. 

Are there any penalties for breaking the rules?

Anyone caught without the appropriate certificate is liable to be expelled from the bus or train at the next stop, and may face a fine.



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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