How travel between Germany and the USA has become easier

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People walk in Frankfurt airport.

What’s happened?

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Because the Omicron variant of Covid-19 generally causes less severe illness than other variants, many countries have been significantly relaxing their travel restrictions. Germany and the US followed this path last week by announcing they were dropping entry measures. 

Meanwhile, new flight connections have been announced between Berlin’s BER airport and the US. We break down how travel between the two countries has become much easier and what you should still be aware of.  

What are the changes in Germany?

Germany on June 11th announced that all Covid-19 entry restrictions to Germany were being provisionally lifted.

It means that people can enter German from non-EU countries like the United States for any reason at all, including tourism – and they do not have to be vaccinated against Covid-19. 

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However, people living in China still need an important reason to enter Germany. 

READ ALSO: Germany drops Covid restrictions for non-EU travellers

Germany also relaxed the requirement for travellers to show their Covid status before being allowed into Germany. 

That means people no longer have to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative Covid test before coming to Germany – the so-called 3G rule. 

Travellers walk in Frankfurt airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hannes P. Albert

Germany has suspended the 3G on entry rule until the end of August. It is unclear if restrictions will be brought in again after this date, but it will likely depend on the Covid situation. 

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that if a country is classed as a ‘virus variant’ area, strict rules can come into place. They include non-German residents and citizens being barred from entry to Germany, and a 14-day quarantine for those who are allowed to enter Germany, regardless of vaccination/recovery status. 

It used to be a whole lot trickier to get to Germany from the States, as the below account by US writer and The Local reader Phil Schaaf shows:

What it’s like travelling to Germany from the US in the Covid era

What’s happened at the American end?

Across the Atlantic, the US government also relaxed its entry rules on June 12th. People arriving in the States now no longer need to show a negative Covid test or proof of recovery before boarding their flight. Everyone – including American citizens – previously had to show a negative test result or recovery details before being allowed to travel and enter the country. 

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However, people still need to be fully vaccinated to enter the country, although American citizens and legal American residents do not need to be jabbed.

The US Embassy in Germany said as of June 12th “travellers are no longer required to show a negative Covid-19 test or proof of recovery to enter the United States.

“However, all non-immigrant, non-citizen air travellers to the United States are required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to the United States.”

A flight to Chicago shown on a departure board in Frankfurt.

A flight to Chicago shown on a departure board in Frankfurt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

People can apply for an exemption to the vaccination requirement.

The American CDC says people are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after:

  • a dose of an accepted single dose vaccine
  • a second dose of an accepted 2-dose series
  • receiving the full series of an accepted Covid-19 vaccine (not placebo) in a clinical trial
  • receiving 2 doses of any mix-and-match combination of accepted Covid-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart

The US says people do not need a booster jab to be considered fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, someone who has had one dose and recovered from Covid is not considered fully vaccinated for travel to the US.

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Are there any Covid rules still in place?

In Germany there is still a nationwide requirement to wear a face mask – usually an FFP2 or equivalent mask – on public transport, including planes. That means travellers will have to wear a mask on the flight to Germany from the States, or vice versa. 

Masks also have to be worn in some places such as doctor surgeries and dentists. Individual businesses can also require customers to wear a mask so it’s best to take one with you when out and about. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s current Covid mask rules

People also have to isolate for at least five days if they get a positive Covid test result. Germany still offers free Covid tests for everyone – including tourists – at test centres or stations. This offer is in place until at least the end of June. People can ask for a Bürgertest at a test station, and all they need to do is fill out some details and show ID, such as a passport. 

In the US, states may still have some requirements in place such as mandatory masks on public transport so check the local rules before you travel. 

What’s this about new flight routes?

People flying from the German capital Berlin will soon be able to take more direct flights to the USA. 

The Norwegian airline Norse Atlantic Airways will connect BER Airport with New York and Los Angeles from mid-August, the company announced last week. 

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There will be daily flights to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport from August 17th, and three weekly flights to LAX in Los Angeles from August 19th. Cargo services are also to be offered with the Boeing 787 aircraft.

The airline will be competing with United Airlines at BER. The US carrier has been ferrying passengers from Berlin to New York’s Newark Airport since March.

There are direct long-haul connections from BER to Singapore, Doha and, in winter, Dubai. But politicians and businesses in the region have been demanding more long-haul routes for the airport for a number of years. Berlin’s former Tegel Airport only offered a handful of long-haul direct flights.

Passengers flying from the region usually have to change planes for longer connections at busier transport hubs like Frankfurt and Munich.

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