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My wife and I are planning to travel from Austria to the Netherlands on 31st January 2021 via train. Our train journey has two layovers : Frankfurt (~ 50 minutes) and Utrecht (~ 20 minutes).

What exactly are the COVID-19 related requirements (from the German government and the Dutch government) for this train journey?

I tried looking through the official websites of the German government and the Dutch Government, but I couldn’t find clear answers. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Pertinent details:

  1. I am moving to the Netherlands to start a job at an university there.
  2. I hold an Austrian residence permit (and an approval letter for the Dutch residence permit from Dutch Immigration Service (IND))
  3. My wife holds Austrian visa D (and an approval letter for the Dutch residence permit from Dutch Immigration Service (IND))
  4. We haven't been outside Austria for 2.5 months now.

Edit: We are planning to get a test done (on 29th January) and we will carry the results with us.

I have some clarity now about the requirements from Netherlands. However I am not so sure about the requirements in Germany.

In particular, are there any additional requirements from Germany if we only have a stopover in Frankfurt and we have the negative test results and the onward train tickets to the Netherlands? Do we still have to fill the digital entry registration?

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  • 1
    The corona situation in Germany is currently not so bright. Even if Germany is allowing transiting passengers at the moment, I would be quite surprised if not stricter measurements are introduced in the next couple of weeks before you are intending to travel. Jan 18 at 13:49
  • You are required to wear masks in trains within Germany, and there is talk about upgrading the requirement to FFP2 masks rather than cloth masks. You can still have lunch during longer trips, but if you're not chewing, wear the mask!
    – o.m.
    Jan 18 at 15:41
  • The situation in the Netherlands is changing, there are new measurements expected in this week, so do check regularly before you travel as the rules may have changed.
    – Willeke
    Jan 18 at 17:01
  • @o.m. The requirement to use an FFP2 approved mask when using public trasport is already in effect in Bavaria and unless you are making a substantial detour, all trains from Austria to Frankfurt pass through Bavaria. Jan 18 at 21:54
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo as of now (Jan 19 2021 at 14:40), the Bavarian FFP2 requirement applies to "Einzelhandel und Nahverkehr", i.e., shops and short-distance public transport. Long-distance trains (Fernzüge) are exempt. This is even explicitly stated in the FAQs of the Ministry (search "Fernzug").
    – wimi
    Jan 19 at 13:42
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Entry regulations in Germany are listed on the website of the Auswärtiges Amt. There, it says:

No exceptions can be made for entry from virus variant areas. Those in transit from high-incidence areas and other risk areas are exempt from registration, testing and quarantine requirements under certain circumstances. This includes transit through a risk area without a stopover prior to entering Germany as well as transit through Germany via the fastest route, e.g. with a confirmed onward flight to a third country.

As Austria is not a "virus variant area", you do not need to fill in the digital entry registration, to provide a test result, or to quarantine if you are in transit via the fastest route. (If you have been in a virus variant area in the last 10 days, no exceptions apply to you and you have to provide a test result and quarantine and fill in the form. The list of virus variant areas is here. You can click on the English PDF link at the top and then, on the PDF, search the heading 1.The following states are currently considered as areas of variant of concern).

Quarantine regulations vary by state (Bundesland), so you would have to check every state that you cross. I expect that no state will make you quarantine if you are in transit: for example, in Bayern you do not need to quarantine as you can see in the FAQs here (search "Durchreise").

The government has decided on January 19th that soon medical masks will be required in trains, stations, and indoor places in general. This means that "community masks" made of cloth are no longer valid: only surgical masks or FFP2 masks are allowed. In Bayern, only FFP2 masks are allowed, though long-distance trains are exempt.

TL; DR

You will have to wear a surgical mask on the trains and in shops. For transit through Germany from a non-virus-variant area, leaving Germany via the fastest route, you will not need to quarantine, register, or even a negative test. However, some rules can change at any point and any federal state. Check the website of the Auswärtiges Amt. Bringing your negative test won't hurt, and having a couple of FFP2 masks just in case won't either. Regarding FFP2 or not, "doing as the Romans do" will probably help if you miss some new regulation.

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  • Just a note that the RKI page of risk areas that you link has an English translation available as a PDF for anyone who doesn't read German.
    – mlc
    Jan 19 at 20:58
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    @mlc Updated, I missed that. Unfortunately, for the Bayern-specific FAQs there does not seem to be an English version...
    – wimi
    Jan 19 at 21:42
  • Thanks for a comprehensive answer @wimi. We are indeed carrying negative test results and a couple of FFP masks. We have a layover at Frankfurt(Main)Hbf which lies in Hesse. Where could I find the requirements specific to Hesse (similar to the sources that you have mentioned for Bayern)?
    – Kom kom
    Jan 20 at 15:24
  • @Komkom there is a similar FAQ for Hessen here.There is also some information in English, but I am not sure how often it is updated.
    – wimi
    Jan 20 at 15:48
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For the Netherlands:

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  • (+1) What about tests before entering the country by train? Is it still current?
    – Relaxed
    Jan 18 at 14:56
  • @Relaxed good point – you're not tested before entering the country, but you do have to present a negative test result.
    – Glorfindel
    Jan 18 at 15:30
  • Thanks @Glorfindel. Are there any additional requirements from Germany if we only have a stopover in Frankfurt and we have the negative test results and the onward train tickets to the Netherlands? Do we still have to fill the digital entry registration?
    – Kom kom
    Jan 18 at 16:57
  • @Komkom I'm Dutch; I don't know much about German regulations.
    – Glorfindel
    Jan 18 at 20:56
  • @Komkom PLEASE NOTE: there's a loophole to avoid the COVID test: cross the German-Dutch border by regional train (RE19) Düsseldorf-Arnhem. Tests are NOT required for that, only for ICE/IC trains. And no, you do not need to fill in the German entry registration - in fact it asks for an address and so isn't designed for transit.
    – Crazydre
    Jan 21 at 1:36
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For Germany, no formalities are required as you're only in transit.

For the Netherlands, you usually need a negative PCR test (max 72 hours before entry) However, there's a loophole: travel to Düsseldorf or Duisburg and then cross the border by the RE19 train to Arnhem (so NOT an ICE or IC train), and you'll NOT need the test (SOURCE). From Arnhem, hop on any connecting train you like.

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  • It may not be checked, you still travel from outside the country and there is still the requirement to have those tests. The exception is for local people who cross the border regularly.
    – Willeke
    Jan 21 at 5:13
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    @Willeke Wrong, I emailed the KMar and asked if using this loophole, and so entering without a test, would constitute an illegal entry. They said it wouldn't, as only transporters, not themselves, are responsible for it at the land border. So it's all fine
    – Crazydre
    Jan 21 at 9:37
  • No, it is not 'fine'. You may not get get a fine for it, you would still break the rules. Through people using loopholes COVID 19 keeps spreading.
    – Willeke
    Jan 21 at 11:08
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    @Willeke What rule? It clearly says that, when travelling overland, there are only specific routes for which you must "be able to show" a test. Note, "be able". So the requirement to have one at all only applies if travelling by air, ship or long-distance train/bus. At the external Schengen border it's checked by the KMar, for Schengen flights it's the veiligheidsregio, and overland it's transporters. And really, I don't see how mere ethics (as opposed to law) is on-topic.
    – Crazydre
    Jan 21 at 11:54
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    @Relaxed Right you are, it's only if arriving from Ireland, the UK or South Africa. Editing
    – Crazydre
    Jan 21 at 16:58

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