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My partner is coming from Japan to the UK next month to deal with some visa issues (we are applying for a family visa in the UK). She is a Japanese citizen. Most flights from Japan to the UK have a connection in the EU, but a lot of EU countries have active travel bans at the moment. For example, entry into France requires a 'certificate of exceptional travel', which as far as I can see we don't qualify for.

Do these requirements apply to connecting flights, or just entry into the country? If so, do any EU countries not have these restrictions?

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  • Airside transit (flights on the same ticket, luggage checked through, sometimes need to be on the same day and/or same terminal) should be fine in most countries. You usually don't need to pass immigration for airside transfer. – xngtng May 7 '20 at 13:47
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    @zhantongz that information is incorrect. Countries have tightened security measures, please base your answers/comments on facts and use reliable sources. – Ozzy May 7 '20 at 13:55
  • How is your relationship with your partner recognized? Is it legally registered? Are you an EU/EEA/Swiss/UK national and travelling with her? – xngtng May 7 '20 at 21:35
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Many changes can happen currently in a month (likely looser restrictions for some countries, but can also be tightened if the numbers require it); so don't rely on current information too much. Always check with your airlines and the border authority before travel.

For France, transit is possible only for returning to country of residence/origin. The check of the certificate is done before boarding.

The restriction applies even if you do not leave the international zone.

Individuals in transit to reach their country of origin who are holders of a travel document to their country of origin and remaining in the international area with no intention to enter the national territory.

If your partnership is recognized as a spousal relationship, and if you are also an EU national and travelling with her, this may also be applicable:

Individuals transiting through France to reach their residence, accompanied by their spouse and children.

Netherlands affirmatively exclude any transit passenger to third countries from its restrictions without necessarily returning to country of residence or origin:

The travel restriction does not apply to the following categories of persons:

Transit passengers who wish to travel via the Netherlands to another third country;

https://www.netherlandsandyou.nl/travel-and-residence/visas-for-the-netherlands/qas-travel-restrictions-for-the-netherlands

Switzerland also exempts transit passengers:

It is possible to stop over at one of the Swiss airports, as long as you do not leave the transit zone of the airport and you can prove that you can continue your journey to your destination country.

https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/en/home/aktuell/aktuell/faq-einreiseverweigerung.html#Rules%20applicable%20to%20unmarried%20couples

TIMATIC doesn't indicate any extra requirements for same-day airside transfer for Germany and I can't find any authoritative source excluding non-Schengen transit from restriction (although personal hearsay indicates it's possible).

Update:

I asked German Federal Police (excuse my German) at the Frankfurt Airport today:

Mit einem Zwischenstopp in Frankfurt möchte ich von Japan nach Großbritannien reisen.

Ich bin weder EU/britischer-Bürger noch habe ich eine gültige Aufenthaltsgenehmigung. Ist diese Route möglich (durch die internationale Transitzone)?

I would like to travel from Japan to Great Britain with a stopover in Frankfurt.

I am neither an EU / British citizen nor do I have a valid residence permit. Is this route possible (through the international transit zone)?

Reply:

Ja dies ist möglich solang sie den Transit nicht verlassen.

Yes, this is possible as long as you do not leave the transit.

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  • Looks like I'll have to find a transfer outside of the EU. – Omegastick May 8 '20 at 10:50
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    @Omegastick Amsterdam or Zurich are still viable options. There are still flights operating from Japan to UK directly as well. But in one month a lot of things can change, many airlines are resuming operations little by little. You can also ask border official directly – xngtng May 8 '20 at 10:59
  • @Omegastick I asked the German Federal Police and it should also be possible to transit through Germany (Frankfurt at least) if you don't leave the transit zone (check with the airlines and the airport before booking). – xngtng May 8 '20 at 11:13
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I'll use France for my example since you mentioned that country. Since your partner is a "third-country" citizen, she does in fact need a declaration as stated in the website of the French Consulate General in London:

Anyone travelling to France from abroad is still required to show an official declaration for international travel, in paper or digital format.

This document is required for entry to and transit through French territory as of 6.00 p.m. (Paris time) on Monday 6 April.

Germany has similar, if not more strict, guidelines in place. You can find them here. Briefly, they state the following:

Non-German citizens, including EU and foreign nationals alike, are allowed to enter the country under certain conditions. According to the Interior Ministry, those conditions include:

  • transit through Germany to return to one's home country if no other travel connection is possible.(Emphasis is mine)
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    What is somewhat unclear is whether or not OP would have to "enter" Germany as normally transit passengers travelling between two non-Schengen countries do not need to "enter" Germany. – Jacob Horbulyk May 7 '20 at 13:59
  • @JacobHorbulyk I understand transiting through sterile areas. The issue is we are not in normal operating mode. I transited through airports in Panama and France during this to get home and was checked at Panama to justify my transit, and it is a sterile transit area. I would expect if the germans included "transit passengers" because they have a mechanism to check who is arriving and for what reason. – Ozzy May 7 '20 at 14:08
  • I know, albeit anecdotally, that at least the German restriction cited does not always apply to air side transfers between non-Schengen countries. It applies when e.g. a Swiss resident returning from Canada has no direct flight available, so they will be allowed to enter Schengen in Frankfurt and return to Switzerland. – xngtng May 7 '20 at 14:14
  • @Ozzy Were you returning to a Schengen country? – xngtng May 7 '20 at 14:23
  • @zhantongz Yep, Austria – Ozzy May 7 '20 at 14:27

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