If a traveler was coming to Germany from a location not listed as a Risikogebiet by Germany's RKI but transited through a place that was listed as a Risikogebiet would they be subject to quarantine when they arrive in Germany? For instance, if they changed trains at Brussels-South railway station (Brussels region is currently a risk area as per the RKI) or changed planes an a Paris airport (Île-de-France is currently a risk area as per the RKI).

Currently, this FAQ from the German Health Ministry states:

Who is required to enter home quarantine when travelling to the Federal Republic of Germany?

Anyone who enters the Federal Republic of Germany having spent time in a risk area up to 14 days before their arrival is obliged to proceed directly to their own home or another suitable accommodation and self-isolate there for 14 days. This does not apply if the person only travelled through a risk area without spending time there.

However, looking at the Einreiseverordnung of individual Länder such as the current one for NRW this distinction is less clear.

Personen, die auf dem Land-, See-, oder Luftweg aus dem Ausland in das Land Nordrhein-Westfalen einreisen und sich zu einem beliebigen Zeitpunkt innerhalb von 14 Tagen vor Einreise in einem Risikogebiet nach Absatz 3 aufgehalten haben, sind verpflichtet, unverzüglich das für sie zuständige Gesundheitsamt zu kontaktieren und auf ihren Aufenthalt in einem Risikogebiet nach Absatz 3 hinzuweisen.

Google Translate translates the above to

Persons who enter the state of North Rhine-Westphalia by land, sea or air from abroad and have stayed in a risk area according to paragraph 3 at any time within 14 days prior to entry are obliged to do so immediately for to contact the responsible health department and to inform them about their stay in a risk area according to paragraph 3.

However, the key verb in the original German text is aufhalten which can depending on context can either mean

  • to stay (giving some leeway that transit stops are exempt) or
  • to stop implying transit stops aren't OK but driving through non-stop is OK or
  • to be implying any physical presence triggers the quarantine obligation.

What is actually allowed?

  • 1
    You are right that the regulations are ambiguously written and I am afraid that you must expect the authorities in each state to therefore also interpret them differntly. I can*t answer your question, but if you are travelling to and staying in NRW, I would contact the authority in that state and ask in advance if your travel plans would be categorized as something leading to a quarantine requirement. Sep 6, 2020 at 9:52

2 Answers 2


The 'German' rules are, in reality, the rules of the individual Federal states (Länder).

As your first source also states:

Regulation of the quarantine obligation falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Laender.

Both your second source (Nordrhein-Westfalen) and the corresponding Berlin law use the word aufgehalten, which in the English version of the Berlin law is translated as who were in. The word Durchreise (transit) is later used in § 9 for persons travelling through Germany/Berlin by a direct route.

Berlin: Part 3 §8 (English text) (German text)

(1) Persons who enter the state of Berlin by land, sea, or air from another country and who were in a risk area listed in subsection 4 at any time within the 14 days before entering the state of Berlin shall be obliged to go directly to their own home or other suitable accommodation immediately after entry and to remain there without interruption for a period of 14 days after entry;
(2) The persons included in subsection 1 sentence 1 are obligated to contact the health office responsible for them without delay and to report that they are subject to domestic quarantine according to the conditions described in subsection 1.

Similar rules apply when traveling within Germany through high risk areas.

The health authorities, based on public statements made in the past, do distinguish between driving directly through an infected area and those that stop for a meal in a restaurant where contact with others are possible.

A train stopping at a station within a high infected area, where passengers from that area can get on or changing a plane at an airport within a transit area where others from the infected area can also enter - will probably be considered situations where an infection is possible by the responsible heath authorities.

  • 1
    OP is right that the regulations are ambigously written. On what basis are you interpreting the text the way you do, that a transit stop 'probably' requires a quarantine? The Hessian state authority, the only authority I could find, explicitely mentioning transit stops, clearly informs that transit stops at an airport do not lead to a quarantine requirement. There is no reason to believe that changing a train would be seen differently. soziales.hessen.de/gesundheit/infektionsschutz/corona-hessen/… Sep 6, 2020 at 9:40
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I am not interpretatiing anything, but quoting the English text of the Berlin law as published by the The Governing Mayor of Berlin – Senate Chancellery (see link in the answer). §1 of the law in Hessen corresponds in its wording to the § 8 of the Berlin law. Since states decides these matters themselfs, their implementation may differ. The exception meationed in your source (unverzügliches umsteigen am Flughafen [ Immediate change at the airport]) is not listed in § 2 (Exceptions) of the Hessen law - last updated on the 15th of August 2020. Sep 6, 2020 at 13:08
  • It is not an exception, but a clarification of the ambigious use of the word 'Aufenthalt'. A transit stop at an airport in a risk area is not considered 'Aufenhtalt' in a risk area in the sense of the regulation. So I ask again: What makes you think that 'A train stopping at a station within a high infected area, where passengers from that area can get on or changing a plane at an airport within a transit area where others from the infected area can also enter - will probably be considered situations where an infection is possible by the responsible heath authorities.'? Sep 6, 2020 at 13:17
  • That is indeed your interpretation of the text of the regulation and your interpretation is contradicted by the official clarification. Yet again, you are obviosuly linking to, quoting from and trying to interpret official texts and regulations, which you have no qualification to understand and therefore only lead to confusion and improper advice to questions asked here. Sep 6, 2020 at 13:19
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo Again, it is not my interpretation of the word aufgehalten (not Aufenthalt) but the interpretation of those who wrote the law, where in their published English version the term who were in was used. Sep 6, 2020 at 13:27

In addition to @MarkJohnson's answer, you'll want to check the exceptions (Ausnahmen) articles of the relevant Land's legislation.

Yes, the rules apply, but these rules do have several exceptions and/or alternatives to quarantine.

You'll have to notify the Gesundheitsamt in any case. But:

  • the linked Berlin and NRW rules both accept a fresh (up to 48 h old when entering the Land) medical attestation with negative SARS-CoV2 PCR test result that states that there are no indications you have Covid.

  • They also allow a PCR test done in Germany to shorten the quarantine.

  • Both have a provision that the Gesundheitsamt can grant exemptions from quarantine on judging the traveller's interests and the particular epidemiological circumstances.

As an example excerpt form Berlin regulation §9

(3) Not covered by § 8(1) sentence 1 are persons who have a medical certificate together with current laboratory findings in German or English confirming that there are no indications of infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and who present this certificate to the competent authority without delay on request. The medical certificate in accordance with the first sentence above must be based on a molecular biological test for the presence of infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 carried out in a member state of the European Union or another state published by the Robert Koch Institute and carried out no more than 48 hours before entry into the Federal Republic of Germany. The medical certificate in accordance with sentence 1 shall be retained for at least 14 days after entry.

 (4) Besides the exemptions covered in subsections 1 to 3, exemptions from § 8(1) may also be granted in duly justified cases, provided that this is justified in the light of all interests involved and epidemiological considerations. In particularly urgent individual cases, the Senate Department responsible for health may grant an exemption pursuant to sentence 1; the responsible health office shall be informed of the exemption.

  • 1
    It is worth noting that Germany is expected to transition in mid-October to requiring five days of quarantine before a negative COVID test can release an individual from quarantine. Oct 4, 2020 at 8:23

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