I'll try and make it short. My spouse will be arriving at an airport in Germany from a Non-EU country outside Europe and she will need documents, which I have in original, in order to pass, given COVID-19 restrictions. Normally she would enter on a 90 days tourist visa, as we don't yet have a long term family reunification visa.

How can I reach the border control at the airport, in order to hand her/help her at the border, with the required document in original, in order for her to be allowed to enter as my spouse? Documents would be our marriage certificate and proof of my residency in Germany, I am a EU citizen living in Germany and my spouse is moving in with me, so we will then further proceed in Germany for a long term visa for her.


  1. No, we did not plan for things to happen like this. We planned for me to go to her and then come back together. COVID-19 really messed things up.
  2. I did think I could send the documents to her by post, but that feels extremely ridiculous given that I can wait for her with the documents at the airport + It would be very very concerning, if the originals get lost in the post, given the chaos caused by COVID, as her country is on the other side of the world from Germany.

Edit - Appreciate all the answers.

I've reached out to the relevant Bundespolizei and their answers are very cautious in this new world. I've sent out via 3 separate e-mails and received more ore less the following answer back from all 3: "without a residence permit, third-country nationals are not allowed to enter the country for the next thirty days. To what extent an exception is possible in your situation cannot be answered at the moment. In the course of your personal responsibility you/your wife should generally refrain from travelling!" So they have no clue how to address this. We've sent e-mails to the German embassy as well, to see if we can clarify via themselves, since the BP are asking for a residence permit or some kind of visa, where none should be required in the case of a EU Nationals' wife and which we can really only get in Germany now, since all relevant documents are here with me.

  • 14
    Your spouse will have to persuade the airline that her trip constitutes 'essential travel' or she won't be allowed to board. That might be difficult on a 90-day visa-free entry. You should probably plan to have her stay where she is now for the foreseeable future and take the opportunity to sort out the paperwork properly. Consider also that if she is denied entry to Germany she'll be sent back and may have to self-isolate for 14 days.
    – user105640
    Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 22:23
  • 5
    Assuming the spouse is even allowed to fly - that is your main issue! - it is not simple, I had that situation before with a passport. Maybe you can email her photos of the docs, so she can show them and explain that you are outside with the originals.
    – Aganju
    Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 22:26
  • 2
    Hi Arthur - Thank you for the reply. Unfortunately it's not an option for her to remain, as we planned this for March, before this chaos. She literally closed her life there: national insurance, bank accounts, phone subscription, rented housing, everything is ceased. She can get new documents (Ex. marriage certificate) from her country to present on her end for boarding, however she'll need the documents on my end for the German side. (Ex. European Marriage Certificate + Annex IV and my Residency proof)
    – Rob
    Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 22:28
  • 9
    Virtually all airport immigration have secondary inspection where they will take her and the interviewing officer makes reasonable efforts including coming to the arrivals hall to seek out the passengers host/friend to collect relevant documents or interview them to confirm the passengers story. They are extremely unlikely to return her without verifying. Among western developed nations I’d say USA is probably the most likely to have such ruthless officers to deport without verifying such a simple thing. Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 23:34
  • 8
    @user56513 indeed, EU free movement law explicitly states that someone who arrives at the border without the necessary documents must be afforded the opportunity to have them brought or to prove eligibility by other means. The hard part is probably going to be getting the airline to allow her to board the plane.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 4:26

3 Answers 3


Normally she would enter on a 90 days tourist visa, as we don't yet have a long term family reunification visa.

Your wife will never get a long-term family reunification visa because such visas are not issued to beneficiaries of the free movement directive.

As a beneficiary from a so-called "Annex II" country (that is, a country whose citizens do not need a visa for short visits), your wife is supposed to enter without a visa and then apply for a residence card after entering Germany.

The trick, of course, is to find specific information about how the travel ban is being applied to non-EU citizens who enjoy freedom of movement through a family relationship but who do not yet reside in Germany. This may be difficult as the number of such cases is probably small and the possibility may not have been considered by the people writing the policies.

the best I have been able to find so far is at https://www.germany.info/us-en/coronavirus/2317268 (emphasis added):

EU-citzens and citizens of Great Brtain, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland and their family members will be allowed to transit through Germany to reach their home countries.

This suggests that beneficiaries of the free movement directive are included among those who may enter Germany. Your wife might want to say that Germany is her place of residence (which is arguably true) but that she hasn't yet lived there long enough to get a residence card (which is certainly true). Alternatively, she should call the German authorities and ask them what to tell the airline. To that end, see How to contact border authorities in EU/Schengen countries? on this site.

Regarding the documents, you might try asking the airline if they will pass them to her when she gets off the plane. My wife was in a similar situation recently, and that was the solution.

Part of this process was that the airline employee in the destination airport made a note in the airline's system that the documents were sufficient. This was necessary for her to be able to board the plane without having the documents with her. This may also prove necessary in your wife's case.

  • 5
    This answer, especially the part about providing the documents to the airline and doing so before boarding.
    – Tom
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 11:08
  • -1 Since the spouse (citizenship unknown) is at present a resident outside the European Union the freedom of movement directive does not apply. A D-Visa is required to enter to take up residence. Since visa free entry has been suspended, this is true for all 3rd country citizens who do not have an EU residence permit. Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 2:48
  • 1
    @MarkJohnson the freedom of movement directive applies regardless of the place of residence. This may be seen in the fact that EU consulates accept free movement visa applications from family members who reside outside the EU. But, under the directive, such visas are required only for Annex I nationals, while the question concerns an Annex II national. A D visa is not required.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 4:16
  • This government site states otherwise: Spouses joining EU citizens. Annex II nationals cannot enter at the moment. Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 4:23
  • @MarkJohnson once again, you are linking to a public information page that oversimplifies to the point of being incorrect for certain cases. The actual law cited on that page reflects the directive faithfully and requires a visa only for those who are required to under the AufenthaltsGesetz. See also auswaertiges-amt.de/en/aamt/zugastimaa/buergerservice/faq/-/…, which notes that free movement applies to family members who reside outside the EU.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 4:46

A simple solution would be that you bought a ticket for flying from Germany that departed the from same part restricted area your wife is arriving to. That way, you would be able to join her there. Needing to buy an useless ticket seems wrong on many fronts, but would be relatively easy solution. You would need to ensure it doesn't depart from a different terminal or zone (e.g. it may need to be an international flight). Additionally, it won't help if the airline doesn't allow your wife to board.

I think the best solution would be that your wife travels with a copy of the documents that you will be holding with you. In case that they don't consider it sufficient at the border control, you could come with the originals that you would take to the airport.

An even better option than a copy print at home, which doesn't require you to send the originals -I understand your concerns- is that you go to a German notary and get a notarized copy of those documents, then send such copy by post. A notarized copy has the same value of the original.¹ If that copy gets lost / delayed, you still hold the originals with you.

¹ And in this case, it would be a document made by a German notary to be used in Germany, a much clear case than if it was done by a foreign notary where they could suspect a forgery.

  • 3
    Note that this may not work in all airports. I've been in airports where incoming international flights have to go through the customs/immigration area before they can get to the rest of the airport. Being inside the departures terminal may not be sufficient for a document handoff.
    – bta
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 19:05

Based on the present situation (effective immediately until after Easter), non EU Citizens¹, that do not have a valid residence permit (or a D-Visa to start a residence), will not be permitted to enter Germany and any traveler that may arrive that does not fullfill these conditions will be sent back.

Assume therefore, that visa free citizens and holders of a valid Schengen C-Visa are affected. Persons in transit through the Schengen Area are not mentioned.

Persons permitted entry, who are not residents of Germany, are expected to travel to their country of residence.

If not done already, other Schengen countries will also implement similar regulations soon.

Therefore your spouse should apply for D-Visa based on your marriage status.

¹ except Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kindom.

Contact the Bundespolizei at the airport where your spouse will arrive (below is a link for Frankfurt am Main).

  • search: bundespolizei flughafen grenzschutz for others

They are the only ones that can tell you if and how this can be done.

Assume that you would have to arrive at the Airport in a timely manner to deposit the documents at their office.

When you call them and they say this is possible, they will tell you exactly where to find the appropriate office - which may be different based on date and flight (so have this information available).

Wer darf nach Deutschland einreisen?
An den betroffenen Grenzen dürfen grundsätzlich folgende Personengruppen einreisen:

  • Personen mit deutscher Staatsangehörigkeit
  • Personen mit deutschen Aufenthaltstitel
  • Personen mit Wohnsitz in Deutschland
  • Berufspendler (Nachweise sollten mitgeführt werden)
  • Personen, die triftige Gründe für die Einreise haben (Nachweise sollten mitgeführt werden)

Darüber hinaus bleibt der grenzüberschreitende Warenverkehr gewährleistet

Who can enter Germany?
The following groups of people are allowed to enter the affected borders:

  • People with German citizenship
  • People with German residence permits
  • people residing in Germany
  • commuters (evidence should be carried)
  • People who have valid reasons for entering the country (proof should be kept)

In addition, the cross-border movement of goods remains guaranteed

Wann wird die Einreise verweigert?
Eine Einreise wird verweigert, wenn Sie zu keiner der vorgenannten Personengruppen gehören. Außerdem kann die Einreise verweigert werden, wenn Sie Krankheitssymptome aufweisen. In diesen Fällen wird zur Entscheidung durch die Bundespolizei die zuständige Gesundheitsbehörde hinzugezogen.

When is entry denied?
Entry will be refused if you do not belong to any of the aforementioned groups. You can also be refused entry if you have symptoms of illness. In these cases, the competent health authority is consulted for a decision by the federal police.

6. … ich meinen Ehepartner/in besuchen möchte?
Eine Einreise ist in diesem Fall grundsätzlich nicht möglich.

6. … I want to visit my spouse?
In this case, entry is generally not possible.

Spouses who are third-country nationals
If you are a citizen of a member state of the EU or EEA but your spouse is not, they must apply for a visa for spouses joining their partners.
If your spouse holds a residence permit for another EU state, they do not need a visa to enter Germany (Section 2 (4) of the freedom of movement Act/EU [FreizügG/EU]).
How your spouse can join you in Germany
If your spouse requires a visa to enter Germany they must apply for it at the German Embassy or a German Consulate in their country.

This is based on Section 2 (4) Sentence 2 of the Freedom of Movement Act/EU:

(4)... Dependants who are not EU citizens shall require a visa in order to enter the federal territory according to the provisions for foreigners to whom the Residence Act applies.
(6) No charges shall be imposed for issuance of the visa.

Since your spouse is coming from outside the European Union

  • the freedom of movement directive does not apply
  • A D-Visa must be issued
    • exceptions exist (under normal circumstances), see link below

Contradicting information should be taken with a ton of salt.


  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Willeke
    Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 5:17
  • There is still a lot of confusion on more delicate issues and as I said I would not be surprised if the police would take illegal decisions (as suggested by their letter) or ignore EU law but claiming that the freedom of movement directive does not apply to people coming from outside the EU is just silly. Your desire to defend your initial interpretation is leading you astray here...
    – Relaxed
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 17:16

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