Explained: Germany's new COVID test requirement for flight arrivals

Explained: Germany's new COVID test requirement for flight arrivals

Explained: Germany's new COVID test requirement for flight arrivals

As of Tuesday, March 30, anyone travelling to Germany by plane needs a negative coronavirus test result. Here’s an overview of the new rule and what it means for you. 

Germany makes coronavirus tests compulsory for air travel

Flying to a German airport is now only possible if you are able to present a test that is negative for COVID-19. A corresponding change to the coronavirus entry regulation came into effect at midnight on Tuesday, March 30, and is initially due to apply until May 12, 2021. 

The general testing obligation now applies to everyone travelling to Germany by air, regardless of where they are coming from. Previously, only those travelling from designated “high risk areas” or “areas of variant concern” were required to present a negative test result.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of the federal states agreed to the change at the coronavirus summit on March 22, citing concerns about returning travellers potentially bringing more contagious virus variants back to Germany. The precautionary measure is designed to discourage international travel, prevent the spread of the virus and, where travel is absolutely necessary, protect passengers on planes. It does not amount to a blanket ban on travel. 

Here’s a quick overview of what the change means for air travel passengers. 

What coronavirus test is required to enter Germany?

As of Tuesday, March 30, anyone travelling to Germany by plane must get themselves tested for coronavirus before take-off in their country of departure. If you cannot provide the airline with proof of a negative test result you will not be allowed to board. 

Both PCR tests and rapid antigen tests that meet certain quality standards are allowed, the Health Ministry has stated. You must receive a test certificate with the result, either on paper or in digital form, in German, English or French. It must state the date and type of test, and can be no more than 48 hours old at the time of arrival in Germany. You must pay for the test yourself. 

You can find more information about testing requirements on the Robert Koch Institute website, but bear in mind that some of the information about the rules is now out of date. 

Who is responsible for checking test certificates?

You must present your negative test result to airline staff before being allowed to board any plane destined for Germany. Additional checks by the federal police and by local health authorities may also be carried out upon arrival in Germany. 

Is anyone exempt from the testing requirements?

Airline crew members and children up to the age of five are not obligated to get themselves tested for coronavirus before travelling. 

What if my test is positive?

If you test positive for coronavirus, you will not be allowed to travel. You must go into quarantine according to the rules of the country you are in, and you will usually have to bear the cost of this yourself (unless, for instance, you are covered by insurance). Only when you are able to provide a negative test result will you be allowed to travel to Germany. 

Other travel rules

The testing requirement is only one of a package of rules introduced by the federal government to control the spread of coronavirus. Depending on where you are travelling from, other regulations may apply, such as the obligation to digitally register your arrival and quarantine after entering Germany. Make sure you check the rules in your region before you travel. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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