Germany – Covid-19 – Immigration update

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Update: March 20th, 2020

Travel restrictions are being expanded

What is the change?

The German Ministry of the Interior has announced new travel restrictions to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Key points:

  • With immediate effect, controls at the inner-EU borders are being expanded to the air and maritime traffic.
  • This means that flights from Italy, Spain, Austria, France, Luxembourg, Denmark and Switzerland will be affected by stricter controls. Ships from Denmark will be as well.
  • Until 18-mar-2020, only the land borders to France, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg were closed.
  • Individuals commuting for work to their German employer, with a written confirmation proving their travel is employment-related, and transport of goods are still allowed to pass the inner-EU border as usual, everyone else will be refused.
  • Additionally, Germany’s Schengen borders are closed to all third-country nationals – exempted are German and EU nationals, individuals with essential functions (medical staff, diplomats etc.), and those holding a valid German long-term residence permit or permit from another EU member state and those having their permanent place of residence in Germany or in another EU member state.

The new travel restrictions will significantly impact travel to Germany. It is possible restrictions may be extended or additional ones may be announced. Employers should account for affected travelers and rearrange travel schedules accordingly. Significant delays may occur for consular and in-country processing, as more and more German missions abroad and Immigration offices in-country continue to close down their services and/or cancel visa appointments. The response to the COVID-19 outbreak continues to develop, and Deloitte will provide additional updates as information becomes available.

Update: March 17th, 2020

All non-essential businesses to shut down, most travel suspended

What is the change?

Germany is shutting down all non-essential businesses to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

Key Points:

  • All non-essential businesses are closed until further notice.
  • All non-essential domestic and international travel is suspended, including staying in hotels.
  • The borders to France, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark have been closed on 16-Mar-2020 and are only accessible for transport of goods and commuters.
  • Schools and universities have been closed until further notice.

Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the unprecedented measures today shortly after Germany began implementing border restrictions with neighboring countries. Germany has seen over 7000 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus. The Government has asked the people to avoid any social interaction until further notice.

Employers must be prepared for significant disruption to all but essential business activity. It is likely that the shutdown will also affect immigration-related services. Germany has over 500 immigration offices. We have seen an increase in Immigration offices changing their opening hours or even closing entirely, such as Berlin and Munich. It may be expected that more Government offices / immigration offices will be closing.

Additionally, a 30-day travel ban on non-EU/EFTA visitors to Schengen-Area countries is effective as today 17-Mar-2020. 

However, foreigners with a valid German residence permit can leave Germany and return and those currently outside of Germany on vacation can return, provided they don’t show any symptoms. The Government asked the people to refrain from any travels inside and outside Germany, and the Federal Foreign office have issued a travel world-wide travel warning for touristic purposes. The response to the COVID-19 outbreak continues to develop, and Deloitte will provide additional updates as information becomes available.

Deloitte’s View

The new restriction on inbound travel represents Canada’s latest efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Employers should note that the COVID-19 outbreak is a fluid situation that is changing rapidly, and additional controls may be implemented in the coming days.  


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