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Coming back from Christmas: What are the rules?

Do I need to quarantine? What are the test requirements? What does high risk area mean?

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New covid rules are proving confusing for xmas travel. Photo: IMAGO / Sabine Gudath

Christmas is behind us, and many people are travelling again – either coming back from seeing family or coming to visit Germany. But what exactly are the rules concerning quarantine, testing and vaccination right now? They seem to change all the time. So where do things stand right now?

If I’m coming to Berlin, do I need to quarantine? 

The short answer is, probably not, unless you’re unvaccinated.

Why not? Well, there are 3 different categories of risk areas:

  • No risk areas (hardly any)
  • High risk areas (almost everywhere)
  • Virus Variant areas (countries on this list were all moved to the high risk category on January 4)

On January 4, the U.K. was officially removed from Germany’s “areas of variant concern” list, a designation reserved for countries with an exceptional number of Omicron cases. It now joins most other countries on the less-intense “High Risk Areas” list.

On January 1, Italy, Canada, Malta and San Marino were also moved to the High Risk Areas list, up from their previous “No Risk” statuses.

Germany has divided countries into three categories: Virus Variant Areas, High Risk Areas and No Risk Areas. Different entry requirements apply to each, so if you’re leaving Germany for Christmas, make sure you know which list your country is on before returning. You can check your country’s status here. The latest list, updated on 30 December, can be found here. Entry regulations are as follows:


A travel ban is in place for anyone who is not a resident of Germany. Spouses and children of residents are also permitted to enter the country, along with family members traveling due to exceptional circumstances. Proof of familial relations like birth certificates or marriage certificates may be required to enter. Foreigners with no familial relations in Germany are allowed to enter if they can prove they qualify for an urgent need to travel

You will need to fill out the Digital Entry Form. It is recommended to do this the night before you travel. Travellers must also provide either a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of travel or a negative Antigen test taken within 24 hours of travel. All travellers are subject to a 14-day quarantine upon landing in Germany. 


Anyone coming from a “high risk” area will need to fill out the Digital Entry Form. Travellers who can provide proof of vaccination or recovery (within the last six months) are exempt from needing to take a test in order to enter. They are also exempt from quarantine measures. The unvaccinated are required to produce a negative test (either a PCR within 48 hours of travel or an Antigen within 24 hours of travel) and are subject to a ten-day quarantine on arrival. You have the option to take a test on day five and, if the result is negative, end the quarantine early.


If your country does not appear on the Virus Variant or High Risk lists, you do not need to complete the digital entry form. If you are fully vaccinated or recovered (within the last six months), you do not need to take a test or quarantine on arrival to Germany. Unvaccinated travellers will be required to provide a negative test before departure (either a PCR 48 hours before or an Antigen 24 hours before) and will need to quarantine for 10 days on arrival. Again, early release is possible on day five, provided a negative test result. 

Current measures are updated daily and can be found here.