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Coronavirus and Germany

Germany’s economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic continues throughout 2021. A high global demand for products made in Germany and a robust labor market paralleled by stable consumer spending support the rebound of the economy.

Germany Trade & Invest is working for you – with regular information updates and answers to your questions about your business expansion to Germany. Our industry teams provide ongoing support and are happy to connect with you – in Germany and around the world.

National Corona Regulations

Germany’s federal and state governments have agreed on an enhanced and comprehensive set of measures to combat rising infection rates across the country.

Enhanced Containment Measures

The current national measures set uniform minimum standards nationwide. However,  individual federal states can, where necessary, impose stricter rules. The main points of the measures are:

  • Irrespective of the incidence rate only vaccinated or recovered persons (2G) will have access to shops (excluding those selling groceries and convenience goods).
  • 2G is also applicable for cultural and leisure activities e.g. cinema and theater visits.
  • In addition, a mandatory negative test can be required (2G+) for cultural and leisure activities.
  • Private gatherings for unvaccinated people will be limited to one household and maximum two persons from another household.
  • Private gatherings of vaccinated and recovered persons will only be allowed with a maximum of ten persons. As soon as an unvaccinated person attends a gathering, the same contact restrictions apply as do for unvaccinated persons.
  • All major events take place without spectators and clubs and discos are closed.

In response to the omicron variant there will be tightened restrictions in the  restaurant sector. Visits to restaurants, bars and cafés will only be possible for vaccinated and recovered persons with a daily test or for persons who have received booster vaccinations (2G+). Under the new measures, the COVID-19 quarantine/self-isolation rules and periods for infected and contact persons have been adjusted. For details please refer to the website of the German Federal Government.

Triple vaccinated persons are exempt from compulsory testing (2G+). The exemption applies 14 days after the booster vaccination. However, mandatory testing remains for this group when they visit a hospital or nursing home.

Mandatory vaccination for certain institutions - including elderly care facilities and hospitals - has been decided. Employees in affected institutions must provide proof of vaccination or recovery by March 15, 2022, at the latest. The German Bundestag will also soon decide on a general vaccination obligation.

3G Rule at the Workplace 

The 3G rule (recovered, vaccinated or tested) applies for employees and employers at the workplace. A rapid antigen test that is no more than 24 hours old or a PCR test that is no more than 48 hours old is valid. Compliance with the 3G rule must be monitored and documented by the employer on a daily basis. Employers must - wherever possible - enable their employees to be able to work from home. Employers are required to offer all employees who cannot work from home Covid-19 testing at least twice a week.

3G Rule in Public Transportation

The 3G rule (recovered, vaccinated or tested) also now applies to the use of local public transport and regional and long-distance trains in addition the already existing obligation to wear a medical mask.

Social distancing and the wearing of a medical mask in shops and public transport remain the most important measures in place to control the number of infections. 

Covid-19 Testing

Rapid antigen tests for asymptomatic citizens have become free of charge for citizens in Germany since November. Employers are still required to offer employees who cannot work from home Covid-19 testing at least twice a week. Schoolchildren are tested regularly in school.

Testing is mandatory for employers, employees and visitors in hospitals, preventive care and rehabilitation facilities. The obligation to wear a medical mask and maintain social distancing remains in place for everyone.

Useful further information

The new rules will be implemented at the federal state level. Stricter rules may be imposed in the event of a high incidence rate. For further information on the  federal level measures,  please refer to this website linking to the corresponding websites of the federal states. 

Additionally, the special information website for the Corona virus provided by the Federal Ministry of Health offers useful information.

Entry Regulations, Border Controls, Travel Restrictions

Due to the worldwide dynamic Corona situation Germany has extensive entry requirements for travelers – thightened rules apply for entries from virus-variant areas.

Who can enter Germany?

Fully vaccinated travelers from countries outside of the EU are in general allowed to enter Germany. This group may enter Germany for any valid purpose, e.g. business trips, tourism or for family visits provided that they meet the general requirements of residence law. 

For travelers not falling under this category, unrestricted entry to Germany is allowed from specific third countries with low infection rates. For up-to-date information and a list of all relevant countries, please refer to the dedicated website of the German Federal Ministry of Interior.

Travel to Germany from other third countries is also permitted in specific cases including for example:

  • nationals from EU countries and associated Schengen countries
  • third country nationals with a valid residence permit for Germany
  • foreign experts and highly qualified personnel whose work is necessary from an economic point of view and which cannot be postponed or carried out abroad

A travel ban has been imposed on countries with coronavirus variations (virus-variant areas). Exempted from this travel ban are for instance:

  • German citizens
  • persons who are resident in Germany with a current right to reside in the country
  • persons on connecting flights who do not leave the transit zone of an international airport

For detailed information please refer to the dedicated website of the Federal Ministry of Interior.

Please note: The ability to enter Germany is subject to the place of departure and not the individual's nationality.

Requirements when entering Germany

 All travelers from abroad aged 6 and above must present a current negative test (PCR maximum 72 hours or antigen test maximum 48 hours) when entering Germany. Exempted are fully vaccinated or recovered persons. For entries from high-risk areas or virus-variant areas specific rules apply.

Requirements for Travelers Entering Germany

Area visited

Status of traveller

Online registration

Negative test

Quarantine

High risk area


Vaccinated/recovered

YES

no

no

Not vaccinated*

YES

YES

10 days**

Virus-variant area


Vaccinated/recovered

YES

YES (PCR test)

14 days***

Not vaccinated*

YES

YES (PCR test)

14 days

All other areas


Vaccinated/recovered

no

no

no

Not vaccinated*

no

YES

no

*Special rules apply for children below the age of 6 years. **Can be ended after five days by taking a test five days after entering Germany, provided the result is negative. *** Exception: Vaccine provides protection from prevailing virus variant.Source: German Federal Government 2021

Entering Germany from high-risk or virus-variant areas

Germany has a quarantine requirement in place for those entering Germany from regions designated by the Robert Koch Institute as being high-risk or virus-variant areas within the last 10 days prior to entry. 

All travelers to Germany from these areas must register online prior to their arrival. Travelers must present proof of registration when entering Germany. 

All travelers from virus-variant areas above 6 years of age must present a current negative PCR test when entering Germany. The test must not be older than 48 hours when entering the country individually. If the person arrives by plane, ferry, bus or train, the test must not be older than 48 hours from the start of transportation. A proof of vaccine or of recovery from Covid-19 is not sufficient.

For details of the current entry regulations, please see the German federal government’s FAQs.

Quarantine period

Persons entering Germany following a stay in a high-risk area in the last 10 days must self-isolate at home for 10 days after arrival at their destination in Germany.

  • Proof of vaccination or of recovery from Covid-19 can exempt you from quarantine on entry.
  • For all other persons the quarantine can be ended earlier by taking a test five days after entering Germany, provided the result is negative. 

Persons entering Germany following a stay in a virus-variant area in the last ten days must self-isolate at home for 14 days. The duration of quarantine may not be shortened.

For details about the quarantine and testing requirements please refer to the dedicated website of the Federal Ministry of Health.

Current Economic Developments

Current forecasts expect Germany’s economy to return to pre-crisis level in early 2022. Positive trends in the service sector, private spending and exports are main reasons.

Effects on the German economy

The economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been less severe than previously expected. The federal government's comprehensive and rapid support since the beginning of the crisis has proven effective to date.

According to data published by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Germany’s GDP fell by 4.6 percent in 2020. The latest data shows GDP growth of 2.7 percent in 2021– slightly better than the projected forecast of 2.6 percent of last autumn. The German government expects growth of 3.6 percent for the year 2022.

The current year has started in slow fashion, with the service sector in particular affected by the pandemic. However, declining infection rates in the weeks ahead should see the economy pick up again as the lifting of current restrictions becomes a possibility. The service sector and industry are expected to noticeably increase activity.

The domestic labor market has also shown signs of continued recovery in the previous year. As the Federal Employment Agency reports, unemployment and underemployment rates have fallen significantly. Employment growth is picking up momentum and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action expects short-time work to largely disappear within the year ahead.  The global coronavirus pandemic has also failed to dampen new start-up activity in Germany, with 165,000 new companies founded in 2020 according to a joint study conducted by Creditreform and the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW).

European Commission – Germany back on economic track

According to the European Commission, large catch-up and carry-over effects in 2021 and 2022 should buoy the German economy, with projected GDP increases of 2.7 percent and 4.6 percent respectively - allowing Germany to reach its pre-crisis level in 2022 at the latest.

Global FDI perspectives

Looking back at 2020, Germany’s reputation as a FDI safe haven helped maintain stability in an otherwise unstable environment. Despite the severe global economic downturn caused by Covid-19 in 2020, FDI levels in Germany dropped by nine percent compared to the previous year. The number of greenfield projects in Europe, for example, saw a decrease of 15 percent in 2020. In its FDI Report for 2020, Germany Trade & Invest recorded 1,684 FDI projects in Germany. Germany’s reputation as Europe’s most attractive business location helped to keep the slump within limits and generate a better result than expected.

The future outlook for FDI is positive. According to a survey of 550 decision-makers conducted in this year’s EY European Attractiveness Survey 2021, Western Europe is seen as the most attractive region in the world once the pandemic is over. When asked specifically about the prospects for Europe, some 15 percent of respondents said that Europe’s attractiveness will improve significantly while 47 percent said Europe’s attractiveness will improve slightly. Germany was ranked the highest country of all European Union member states with “the most credible and investment-friendly COVID-19 recovery plans.”

Financial Government Support Measures

Germany’s government moved swiftly and decisively to confront the potentially devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on  the economy.

The country’s economy is in a strong position to introduce measures supporting the economy over a prolonged period. By providing businesses with sufficient liquidity, the government measures have helped ensure that enterprises emerge from the crisis intact.

In June 2020, the German federal government agreed on an economic stimulus package worth EUR 130 billion. The program ("Future Package") includes a number of measures to foster economic growth and investment in Germany. All measures will improve the general environment for companies, ensuring Germany remains highly attractive to foreign investors. Foreign investors wishing to invest in Germany can benefit in particular from funding in the areas of mobility, medical devices, CO2 reduction, digitalization, and artificial intelligence. 

Record package of financial support for companies

The German government pledged EUR 1.7 trillion to companies of all sizes - from self-employed persons to large companies - and other public measures to tackle the coronavirus crisis. The money has been spread across a wide range of financial instruments including guarantees, short-term liquidity loans, short-term grants, salary coverage for working-hours reductions, short-term tax relief, and stocking up of public venture capital support funds and consortial financing support for larger projects.

The most important short-term instruments were support for working-hours reductions (EUR 10 billion) which has enabled companies to retain employees and liquidity grants enabling businesses whose revenues were impacted to stay afloat.

At this current juncture in the pandemic, the most important support is now the EUR 1.1 trillion committed to a wide variety of loans, liquidity grants, financing programs, and guarantees. These measures keep businesses liquid in the short-to-medium term, as well as encouraging further research and development and enabling business with longer product development cycles to continue working towards market maturity. Small to medium-sized companies are still eligible for liquidity aid grants up to 90 percent of fixed costs (depending on assessed decline in revenue) up to March 31, 2022.

A detailed overview of the available and comprehensive pandemic crisis support programs is available on the dedicated website of the Federal Ministry of Finance.

Flexible rules for short-time allowance schemes

The Federal Employment Agency pays the short-time allowance as partial compensation for a loss of earnings caused by a temporary cut in working hours. This reduces the costs faced by employers in the context of employing workers, and enables companies to continue to employ their workforce even in the event of a loss of orders. In other words, short-time allowances help to prevent dismissals and/or redundancies.

Short-time allowances schemes can currently be granted on a more flexible basis for a limited period until March 31, 2022. For instance, companies are eligible to apply if10 percent of the employees are effected by shorter working hours.

Until December 31, 2021, social security contributions solely paid by employers for employees working short-time are reimbursed in full. From January 1 until March 31, 2022, 50 percent of social security contributions will be reimbursed by the Federal Employment Agency. Employers can receive the other 50 percent for employees who participate in vocational training during short-time work. 

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