South Africa classified as virus variant area

Current travel advice South Africa classified as virus variant area

Due to an emerging variant of the coronavirus, South Africa and other countries in the south of the continent have now been classified as virus variant areas. The reclassification came into force on the night of 28 November and involves significant restrictions on entry into Germany. Incoming travellers are required to go into quarantine for 14 days, regardless of their immunisation status.

Summary of the various testing and certification requirements. (More information available below the photo under ‚detailed description‘.)

Summary of the various testing and certification requirements.

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Photo: Federal Government

Germany has classified South Africa as a virus variant area. The reason for this is the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus in southern Africa with the designation B.1.1529. The classification came into effect at 00:00 a.m. on 28 November. Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe have also been classified as virus variant areas.

14-day quarantine requirement for incoming travellers  

As a result, airlines from these countries are only allowed to transport German citizens to Germany. In addition, a 14-day quarantine requirement applies to all travellers arriving in Germany from these countries, including vaccinated persons and children. 

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn said: “We continue to be very cautious about incoming travellers, as we have been in the past. This newly discovered variant is worrying, so we are taking action early on. The last thing we need now is a new variant to arrive and cause even more problems.”

Spahn also called on all those who had arrived in Germany from South Africa within the last few days to take a voluntary PCR test.

What do I need to know when travelling to Germany from a virus variant area?

The following applies to travellers who have been in a high-risk area within a period of ten days prior to travelling to Germany:

  • Before entering Germany, all travellers must register electronically using the  digital immigration registration system.
  • In addition, a recent negative test result (PCR – maximum 72 hours, or antigen test – maximum 24 hours) is always required upon entry; a certificate of vaccination or recovery is not sufficient in this case. The testing requirement on entry does not apply to those aged under 12.
  • Everyone – including those who have recovered or been vaccinated – must observe a strict 14-day quarantine; in view of the particular risk posed by virus variants, there is no option here to present a negative test in order to avoid the quarantine requirement. 

For details of the main rules contained in the immigration regulation in force since 1 August 2021, see our FAQ.

Classification of high-risk areas and virus variant areas is the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Health in agreement with the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community; the rules apply to areas outside the Federal Republic of Germany where a particularly increased risk of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has been identified.