As a means of preventing the COVID-19 pandemic from spreading, many countries, including Germany, have introduced travel restrictions. People were required to cancel their travel plans to Germany or elsewhere, while the plans of many international students have also been affected by the current coronavirus situation.
Many universities in Germany have postponed their summer terms to mid-April, while social gatherings of more than two people, including bars, theatres, and cinemas, are closed for the time being. Citizens are asked to practice social-distancing and hand/respiratory hygiene to avoid a potential increase in coronavirus-infected persons.
Although entry in Germany for German citizens will be possible no matter the circumstances, the travel restrictions that Germany has introduced will affect anyone who cannot provide proof of urgent reasons for their entry in Germany. Non-EU citizens and citizens of non-Schengen states travelling to Germany by plane or ship will also be impacted.
More on travel restrictions for international students in Germany just below:
1. People Entering Germany From Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg or Denmark
Non-essential travel is advised against and tourism is not allowed. German citizens will not be prohibited from entering Germany, while, non-German citizens are allowed to enter Germany only under certain conditions. Non-German citizens can enter Germany, by land, air or sea, during travel restrictions if the following apply:
- If you are returning to your home or legal residence in Germany.
- In urgent situations which require your entrance. Such situations include medical treatment or death of an immediate family member.
- If you have to work or carry out professional contractual services. In this case, you must prove your need to enter Germany by providing the needed documentation such as work contract, permit for frontier workers, etc.
- If you need to transit through Germany to travel to your home country, in case no other travel transit route is possible.
2. People Entering Germany From Non-Eu Countries
German citizens are allowed to enter Germany regardless of where they come from. Persons travelling from non-EU countries, by air or the sea, must comply with certain conditions.
- Citizens of EU member countries travelling to Germany from non-EU countries are allowed to do so if their home or legal residence is in Germany.
- Citizens of EU member countries, including the United Kingdom, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, travelling from non-EU countries to Germany, are allowed to do so if it is the only way to reach their home country.
- Non-EU citizens who are holders of a long-term visa or residence permit and whose home or legal residence is in Germany are allowed to enter the country.
- Non-EU citizens who have a residence permit or long-term visa in an EU country (including United Kingdom, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland) and their families can enter Germany to get to their home country as a travel connection.
- Non-EU citizens who do not have a long-term visa or residence permit, will not be allowed to enter Germany. The only way they can enter Germany is if they have an urgent reason to do so.
Reintroduced Border Controls
The German Ministry of Interior has temporarily reintroduced internal border controls on flights arriving in Germany from Italy, Spain, Austria, France, Luxembourg, Denmark and Switzerland. As of March 16, land border controls have been reintroduced with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark.
This is done as a means of halting the transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. People who travel for non-essential purposes will be restricted from entering and leaving Germany. Those who have symptoms similar to the ones that imply a coronavirus infection, will not be allowed to either leave or enter Germany, in coordination with the relevant neighbouring country.
Travelling From Germany to Other Countries
Travel restrictions have also been introduced by countries other than Germany, as a way to stop the transmission of the virus and protect the health of their citizens. Some of these countries may ban entry from Germany or impose quarantine restrictions for travellers coming from Germany. The situation may change depending on how the pandemic progresses. All those wishing to travel from Germany are advised to contact the relevant embassies in their home countries/or transit countries, to see whether they will be prone to any travel restrictions along the way.
Information on the Summer Semester for Higher Education Students in Germany
Many German universities have delayed their summer terms until April, 20. The semester was set to start this week (at the beginning of April), however, some universities have decided to start later on during April, while some have already commenced their semesters. The joint approach of German universities is that the summer semester will not be lost due to coronavirus, but it will be held even if it is done so in unusual circumstances. The higher education sector aims to create the necessary conditions and ensure that classes will proceed safely.
According to a survey done by Studying-in-Germany.org, a large majority of international students’ plans were affected by the coronavirus crisis. A number of students have also cancelled their Erasmus+ semesters and internships, and have returned to their home countries. The pandemic has also affected many businesses who are not able to operate during this time as the country is advising its citizens to remain home and avoid large crowds of people or gatherings.
If you’re an international student in Germany, you can find a coronavirus FAQs section in our article here, which also includes information on health insurance during the coronavirus pandemic.
Keep in mind that the virus spreads through person-to-person contact. That is, through cough/sneeze droplets. The elderly and those who have underlying health conditions are more vulnerable to the virus, this is why it is essential that everyone takes the necessary precautions to avoid the virus from spreading. Hand-washing and proper respiratory hygiene are some of the main safety measures against the virus, also including staying at least 2 metres away from people, avoid touching the face with unwashed hands, and disinfecting frequently touched objects.
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