Travel advice for German travellers in the UK and information on coronavirus (COVID-19)

as of: 26 May 2020

The Embassy in London and the Consulate General in Edinburgh have a hotline for Germans in the United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7824 1377 (open daily from 8am to 4pm)

Before calling, please read the below information and the German Foreign Office's FAQs (in German only).

You can also email the Embassy in London or the Consulate General in Edinburgh.

General guidance from the Federal Foreign Office on coronavirus can be found here.

Questions and Answers

German travellers without a permanent residence in the UK should aim to swiftly return to Germany due to potential flight cancellations.

Germans who reside in the United Kingdom can also return to Germany, even if they don’t have a permanent residence in Germany. The question, whether or not returning to Germany is sensible, depends on the individual circumstances and the embassy threfore cannot provide a general answer.

Please note that hotels in Germany are closed and at present it is difficult to rent accomodation.

On 11 May 2020, the British government eased some restrictions that were previously in place in England. The devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have implemented their own restrictions. You can find an overview of the current measures in place here for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As far as the Embassy is aware, travel to airports or train stations (and also in regard to travelling to the Embassy to obtain travel documents) is not subject to restrictions upon proof of relevant supporting documents (tickets, booking confirmation, appointment confirmation from the Embassy for a passport application).

On 22 May, the British government announced that all travellers entering the UK from 8 June will be required to self-isloate for a period of 14 days. Failure to do so will result in a 1000 GBP fine. Travellers will be required to fill out an online form prior to or upon arrival. Failure to do so will result in a 100 GBP fine. Further information can be found here and here.

The Embassy is not aware of restrictions for German citizens entering the United Kingdom. More information can be found on the German Foreign Office's travel and safety advice page (in German) as well as GOV.UK

In order to further slow the spread of coronavirus in a sustainable way, and to break through the infection chains, there are travel restrictions in place at Germany's internal airside borders, affecting travel from the United Kingdom to Germany. The regulations have been extended until 15 June 2020.

Travellers have to refrain from all non essential travel. At the external borders, travellers who are not German citizens, will not be allowed to enter, unless their travel is absolutely necessary.

The decision on permitting entry will be made by the German border police in situ.

If there are indications of an infection with coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the necessary measures in accordance with the health authorities will be introduced.

There are no travel restrictions for German nationals, they are allowed to enter Germany under any circumstance.

In addition, return travel is permitted for citizens of the European Union and citizens of the United Kingdom, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland and their family members to their home country or their main residence in Germany or another country. Transit through Germany is generally only permitted if no alternative travel options exist and an onward journey through transit countries is guaranteed. Transit stays should not exceed one night. The purpose of the journey and the entry requirements for the destination and transit countries have to be credibly documented, for example proof of residence, train or airline tickets. This applies accordingly to the travel of third-country nationals to their home country or to the country in which they are granted residence by a permanent residence permit, including a visa for long-term residence.

Entry is permitted for diplomats and other privileged persons, such as MEPs, as long as they are travelling in their official function.

Travellers who are not German citizens are only allowed to enter Germany if travel is absolutely necessary.

The reasons for absolutely necessary travel have to be made credible by presenting the necessary supporting documents or in other suitable ways.

Entering Germany is only permitted if the necessary requirements of the right of residence are fulfilled (eg possession of valid documents for crossing a border and visa, if necessary). If you are entering Germany for a long-term stay, eg. taking up residence in Germany, you will still need a residence permit visa (D-visa) issued by the German mission abroad. The visa section of the Embassy is closed for the public at present, visa applications will be accepted in case of an irrefutable emergency.

Urgent reasons for entry exist especially in the following cases.

1. Work-related reasons

  • limited to system relevant business segments according to announcement KOMM (2020/C 102 I/03): guidelines for free movement of labour during the Covid-19 pandemic, AB1. C 1021 as of 30 March 2020, including mechanical engineering. Press, media and media production
  • signing off and on of sailors, including inland waterway shipping
  • transit for business related reasons, including vocational training and studying, provided entry into the country of destination is proven to be possible and there are no alternative travel routes

2. Family-related reasons

  • accompanying a German spouse or registered partner to the residence or in order to take residence in Germany
  • reunification with a spouse or registered partner (German citizen or entitled to freedom of movement) to the residence or in order to establish a shared residence.
  • individual with custody of German children accompanies them to Germany in order to take residence in Germany, even if the German spouse or partner remains abroad
  • visiting a spouse or registered partner, if one of the partners has a residence in Germany.
  • custody and contact issues regarding the care of minor children.
  • childbirth by the wife, the registered partner or de-facto Partner.
  • when attending a funeral for relatives up to a relationship to the second degree, including those of the spouse: spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings.

3. Medical reasons

  • care of family members (up to second degree relatives, including those of the spouse: children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings), who live in Germany.

  • medical treatment

4. Educational reasons

  • continuation of education or studies when in-person attendance is required, but return to the residence is permitted
  • initial entry: documentation from the apprenticeship or study institution regarding the requirement of in person attendance as well as proof of accommodation.

Generally the following do not qualify as urgent reasons:

  • Visiting family and friends
  • working as an au-pair  unless already resident in Germany
  • Student exchange or school trips
  • getting married in Germany
  • touristic reasons or shopping

More information from the German Ministry of Interior here.

Occasionally there have been misunderstandings regarding the travel documents that are required or the interpretation of the relevant legislation.

For this reason we advise that if you’re in doubt, clarify via email before purchasing your ticket whether entering the country is likely to be approved.

If you receive a provisional positive response, make sure you have the email correspondence along with all documents attached on you ready to show to the airline and the border police if necessary.

Here is a list of the border police stations responsible for air passengers at present:

Border Police Station Berlin-Tegel Airport (Bundespolizeiinspektion Flughafen Berlin-Tegel)

telephone: 00 49 30 41033-0

fax: 0049 30 4123086

email: bpoli.tegel@polizei.bund.de

Border Police Station Airport Frankfurt am Main (Bundespolizeidirektion Flughafen Frankfurt am Main)

telephone: 0049 69 3400-4999

fax: 0049 69 693075

email: bpold.frankfurt@polizei.bund.de

Border Police Station Dusseldorf Airport (Bundespolizeiinspektion Flughafen Düsseldorf)

telephone: 0049 211 9518-0

fax: 0049 211 9518-111

email: bpolifh.dus@polizei.bund.de

You can find the complete list of the border police stations here.

Important: The German Embassy London and the Consulate General Edinburgh cannot issue any border crossing permits.

There are still daily flights, trains and ferries from the United Kingdom to Germany and Calais respectively.

You can find non-binding information on flights still operating here (no guarantee). Please make sure that you contact the airlines directly to check if your chosen flight is operating on the day of travel.

Please note that the Embassy cannot help you with flight cancellations or changing your tickets.

Please contact the airline or your travel agency directly to clarify the conditions of your return trips.

Please note that you will have to show proof of the information you provide at the border or the airport. This can be regarding the family relations of the people you are travelling with, or if you are in transit, tickets to prove you are travelling to your home country, for instance. If you or your spouse need a visa, you will have to show a valid and approved residence permit or visa. Those commuting to work and people who travel for a good reason (eg a vitally essential doctor’s appointment) should also have the relevant travel documents on them.

More information on the website of the German Border Police (in German only).

On 14 May, the federal states, in coordination with the federal government, agreed that in the coming days federal states would start to exclude travellers entering and returning from EU and Schengen associated countries, as well as the United Kingdom, from the requiremenet to undergo quarantine for an initial 14 day period. Some federal states have already implemented this.

Before travelling, please check on the website of your federal state via which you are entering Germany what the measures in place are. Should the federal state of entry not be the final destination of your journey, please additionally check the website of the relevant federal state. Please contact the local health authority if you have specific questions.

A list of the relevant websites of the federal states can be found here:

Should German citizens returning to Germany, their family members, EU citizens, as well as British nationals and nationals from Schengen associated countries and their family members, citizens of a third country with long-term residency in Germany and travellers with essential functions experience difficulties at airports in the United Kingdom while in transit on the way to Germany (eg. at check-in or with the flight onwards), they can call the coronavirus hotline of the German Embassy London:

+44 (0)20 7824 1377 (daily from 8am-8pm)

The Embassy can only help in those cases where all the criteria necessary for entering Germany are fulfilled.

The rights of air passengers are established under the EU's air passenger rights regulation, setting out the rules of compensation and assistance to passengers (eg. hotel accomodation or meals) by airlines in the event of denied boarding, cancellation or long delay of flights.

The EU Commission has published the so-called Interpretative Guidelines to clarify how certain provisions of the EU passenger rights legislation apply.

In order to assert your claim, the European Consumer Centre (ECC) recommends following these steps:

  • contact your airline
  • keep a track record of your spending: keep your receipts covering the costs of hotels, taxi, meals that have occurred as a consequence of your flight delay, cancellation or denied boarding
  • get written confirmation: get the ground crew of your airline to give you written confirmation of the flight delay, cancellation or denied boarding, preferably with specific details of the circumstances. If the ground crew refuses to draft the relevant piece in writing, get a fellow passenger to do so.
  • screenshot of an online complaint: if you have filled in the online complaint form of the airline, take a screenshot just in case.
  • extrajudicial settlement: if the airline refuses to fulfil the (legitimate) claims within 2 months, we recommend seeking extrajudicial settlement to begin with.

Unfortunately there is no general solution for stranded passengers. Those who need support in their individual cases, should contact the European Consumer Centre.

The German Embassy London has appealed to airlines to name contact persons especially for stranded minor passengers

More information on the website of the German Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection here.
Case studies on the website of the European Consumer Centre are available here

The Federal Government's repatriation flights have now mostly ended. 

As things currently stand, there are flights available from the United Kingdom which can be booked.

Since 24 March, hotels have been required to shut by the government. Although there are exceptions in place for some hotels, they do not cover accommodating tourists. Hotels are only permitted to accommodate key workers, the homeless and families who have been left without a home due to flooding and who will use the hotel as temporary accommodation.

The borders are not closed, however border controls are in place and freedom of movement has been restricted. Travel is to be kept to an absolute minimum. German citizens and those with permanent residence in Germany are however permitted to cross borders in order to reach Germany. On request, they should be able to explain that they are on a transit journey to Germany (in particular by providing their residence in Germany).

As requested by French authorities, please ensure you have an 'attestation', hand-written if possible.

Please note that not all border crossings to Germany are open and that the federal police continue to carry out checks. On 13 May, the German Ministry of Interior announced that the following applies:

The temporary checks at the borders with France, Austria and Switzerland will continue until 15 June 2020. Travellers will still need a valid reason for entering Germany, however more allowances will be made for travel for family-related and personal reasons. All cross-border traffic routes with France, Austria and Switzerlandwill be reopened. Checks will no longer be systematic, but rather flexible and risk-based.

Checks at the border with Luxembourg will end at midnight on 15 May 2020.

The German Ministry of Interior is also willing to end checks at the border with Denmark. A date will be agreed with Denmark as soon as the Danish government has completed its current consultations with its neighbouring states.

More information can be found on the website of the German Ministry of Interior.

In the event of displaying coronavirus symptoms, your entry can be denied. Everyone entering Germany must immediately undergo quarantine for 14 days.

Typical business trips are not permitted. Entry to Germany is currently only permitted to employees carrying out so-called ‘essential functions’. These include:

  • medical and scientific personnel, representatives of professions related to patient care,
  • persons whose activities are related to border crossing, transport workers in the field of freight transport and other necessary areas (for example, aircraft crews)
  • diplomats, employees of international organizations, military personnel, humanitarian workers who are on duty

If you carry out an ‘essential function’, please ensure your employer provides you with a comprehensive certificate attesting as such.

Please note that contract restrictions, as well as strict hygiene and distancing measures are in place. Hotels are largely closed.

We advise against all but essential international travel. There is a high risk in many destinations that return travel might not be possible.

Critically consider if your planned trip is absolutely necessary.

This applies to all international travel. This applies to travellers to the United Kingdom as well as Germans who have permanent residence in the United KIngdom, and for whom travelling to German would constitute ‘international travel’.

Travellers to the United Kingdom should read the German Foreign Office’s travel and safety advice

As things currently stand, there are no additional restrictions due to the pandemic, as pets are not known to pose a risk of infection.

There are currently no direct connections to Germany. The airports in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Newcastle remain open and there are connections to London, Amsterdam, Paris, among others.

Train connections from Scotland, for example from Edinburgh, to London are still available.

However transport possibilities can change at short notice. Please refer to the relevant websites for up to date travel information.

We would ask German nationals in the United Kingdom to follow NHS advice.

Anyone with a cough or high temperature should self-isolate themselves and anyone living in the same household for 14 days.

If the illness is severe enough to potentially require medical treatment, we would ask you to call the NHS hotline on 111.

The hotline can be called from anywhere in the United Kingdom by landline or mobile phone.

The hotline is free of charge and can be used whether or not you are registered with the NHS and/or live in the United Kingdom.

If you suspect you may be infected with coronavirus, please do not visit the doctor’s surgery without telephoning in advance.

In the event of an acute or life-threatening condition, please always call the emergency number 999.

Registering on the German Foreign Office’s crisis prevention list serves the purpose of receiving information of essential importance, such as the current situation in your host country, travel restrictions, natural catastrophes or (relevant for developing countries or tourist destinations in which flight operations have ceased), notice of planned repatriation efforts.

The Embassy’s communications do not replace regular reading of the press or information from news programmes. They do not take individual cases into account (such as flight cancellations). Affected persons should, in particular during times of crisis, stay abreast of current developments via the media, travel company/airline, airports and so on.

Please note that the legal and consular sections of the German Embassy London and the Consulate General Edinburgh can at present only offer limited services due to the ongoing situation regarding coronavirus/Covid-19.

We advise those applicants with routine matters that can be postponed, to stay at home in the interest of their own health.

Thank you for your understanding.

For more information please see: Appointment Booking, Visa information, General information on procedures and appointments, Legalisation, Appointment Booking

Information for passport applicants

Owing to the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic, the passport departments in London and Edinburgh are closed until further notice. All existing appointments have already been cancelled. Unfortunately, this means that we are not in a position to process new passport applications at this time.

The online appointment booking systems for passports in both London and Edinburgh have been deactivated and will remain so until a return to normality is foreseeable. The decision as to when we can reactivate our online booking systems will take into account all available information and guidelines and will be made as soon as possible. Please understand that we cannot respond to queries requesting information about which we can currently only speculate.

Our restrictions to the flow of applicants are based not only on a worldwide directive from the Federal Foreign Office, but also on adherence to social distancing guidelines from the British government. Unfortunately, limiting applicants is the only option we have during this unprecedented time. Almost all British and German authorities have taken similar measures. Any changes to this exceptional situation will be published on our website. We appreciate your understanding in this matter.

German passport law does not allow for the possibility of postal or online passport applications and requires that applicants apply for their passports in person, without exception. Applicants must also provide fingerprints in order to apply for a passport and this can only be done using fingerprint scanners in our consular departments.

Our German Honorary Consuls in the UK are also taking pandemic-related precautions and are similarly not accepting passport applications at this time.

Urgent return to Germany
Should you urgently need or wish to return to Germany and find yourself without a valid travel document, we would be able to issue you an emergency document, valid for single entry into Germany and for a maximum of 30 days. We would kindly ask you to contact us by email (Embassy London or Consulate General Edinburgh) so that we can arrange an emergency appointment for you.

Urgent, unavoidable travel requirements
Please be aware that we can only process an application for a regular passport in the event that you have urgent, unavoidable travel requirements in the immediate future and do not hold any other valid travel document. Please outline the nature of your emergency travel requirements by email to London or Edinburgh and ensure to include all relevant documentation to prove and justify your request for a new passport. Should you be unable to provide proper proof of your emergency and fail to reasonably justify your request, our skeleton staff will not be in a position to assist you. Holiday travel plans do not constitute an emergency at this critical time.

As soon as the severity of the current situation lessens and a return to normality becomes foreseeable, we will announce the resumption of our passport service on our website. German nationals abroad who are registered on the online crisis prevention list (ELEFAND) will be informed via this platform. For further information and guidelines on registration, click here. We will also publish a dedicated email address intended specifically for applicants whose passport appointments at the Embassy in London were cancelled as a result of pandemic restrictions and to whom we would therefore offer priority appointments. We would ask those individuals to contact us as soon as this email address has been published, specifying the date on which their existing appointment was cancelled and providing full personal data (full name and date of birth) as well as a current telephone number so that we can arrange a new appointment. Applicants at the Consulate General in Edinburgh will be contacted directly by the Consulate.

Please be aware that the return to normal activity will be gradual. We will use all available means to resume consular operations as soon and as extensively as possible, but our capacity will likely still be limited. Applicants should expect and plan for lengthy waiting times of up to several months. You may also wish to make alternative arrangements in order to apply for passports with a passport authority in Germany.

There is no general requirement to possess or carry identification with you in the UK. German (EU) citizens are permitted to stay in the UK even without a passport / ID card. Passports / ID cards are only required for entering or exiting the UK. This rule will remain in place until at least the end of the transition period on 31/12/2020. Should you require a biometric passport for the purposes of applying to the “EU Settlement Scheme”, your request will unfortunately not be prioritised as you have until 30/06/2021 to apply to this scheme.

In the event that you are trying to access benefits (universal credit, student finance etc.) in the UK and the British government is requesting proof that you are currently unable to apply for a new passport, we would kindly ask you to send us an email with a scan / photo of the biodata page of your most recent travel document. We will then issue you a relevant certificate by email. Should you require a certificate for any other purpose, we would ask you to contact us by email and outline the reasons for your request.

Should you have applied for a new passport / ID card prior to the pandemic and have already received a collection notification, we would kindly ask you to send us a Royal Mail prepaid, self-addressed special delivery envelope (paid up to 500g), as collections are no longer permitted. If you still hold a valid passport / ID card, we would ask you to send this to us for invalidation. You’ll then receive your new passport / ID card along with your invalidated old passport / ID card as soon as possible by post. Alternatively we can keep your new passport / ID card at our embassy until things have returned to normal.

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