Due to Covid-19 it is more difficult than ever to travel around the world, even for business. Many countries including Germany have new restrictions in place, and they are only allowing people to enter under certain circumstances. In addition, America has restrictions for US citizens who are returning home from international travel. These restrictions are inconvenient because they are making trips longer than usual and they are costing more money, but they are necessary for everyone’s safety. This means if you are going to have a successful trip to Berlin there will need to be special planning and careful consideration.
To begin, Germany has several new travel restrictions and requirements. Currently travel is limited to an urgent need only. This applies if you are a skilled worker whose work is essential to Germany such as healthcare, transportation, or IT. Urgent travel also applies to students who need to study in Germany, people returning to their families, and people who need medical care. If you fit one of these criteria, you will have to fill out an online registration form at einreiseanmeldung.de before traveling to Berlin. The form helps in keeping track of who is entering Germany and where they have traveled previously. You must also have a negative Covid-19 test result before you arrive in Germany. You can find your free local Covid-19 testing site at hhs.gov. Usually, you will receive your test results one to three days later. Then when you arrive in Berlin you will have to show proof of the negative test result to border officials. If you came from a high-risk country, such as the United States you will also be required to quarantine for ten days. It is mandatory that everyone in Germany wear a medical grade mask while in public. Medical grade masks are classified as surgical masks or they can be the KN95, N95, or FFP-2 masks.
Next are America’s travel requirements that you need to be aware of. For US citizens who are returning to America, you must have a negative Covid-19 test result before you re-enter. You will need to get your Covid-19 test in Berlin no more than 3 days before your flight. There is a testing center that is run by the Centogene company in the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport, and you can get your test results within 24 hours. The test costs €69 or $82 and you will have to make an appointment online at corona.centogene.com. Be prepared with extra money if your result is positive and you are unable to return home. Other than a plane ticket, the only other requirement you will need for travel is a passport book. If you happen to be staying in Berlin for more than 90 days, a visa will also be required. To apply for a new passport book, you will need to find an acceptance facility and you can search for one at iafdb.travel.state.gov. For standard passport processing and delivery, it will cost $145 and it takes 10-12 weeks or you can pay up to $222 for expedited processing and delivery, which takes 4-6 weeks.
You must also take into account the rules that the TSA are enforcing for air travel. The first one pertains to liquids, gels, creams, pastes, and aerosols in your carry-on luggage, and it is known as the 311 rule. You must have less than 3.4 ounces of product in each container and all the containers must fit into a quart size bag with a zip top closure. Only one bag of these containers is allowed per person. Additionally, there are restrictions on a variety of items that you are allowed to bring, and you can view them here at tsa.gov. There is one exception to these rules due to Covid-19 that allows you bring a single bottle of hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces in your carry-on luggage. While traveling by plane expect to wear a mask at all times except when eating. Most airlines have increased the distance between passengers for safety and have relaxed their cancelation and flight change policies due to Covid-19.
Finally, you need to consider your stay in Berlin. Most people in Berlin can understand and speak English in addition to German. You should still make an effort to learn basic German to be polite, but more importantly because all of the signs in Berlin will be written in German. You will also need to carry cash because Germany is a cash-based society and many shops do not accept credit cards. The best way to get your Euros is through an ATM. Keep in mind that all the shops in Germany will be closed every Sunday. Restaurants, museums, and transportation services will still be operating though, so plan ahead. During your stay it is also polite and important to recycle. There are usually recycling machines outside of grocery stores that will pay you for specially marked “Pfandfrei” bottles, or your hotel may have a designated recycling bins. For getting around town, consider getting the Berlin Welcome Card. It will provide you with free local transportation within the city and discounts on restaurants. Plus, it comes with a Berlin city guide and map. The card can be valid for 48 hours or up to six days and costs €23-€49 or $27-$58. You can purchase the card before your trip at berlin-welcomecard.de/en and choose what day the card becomes active. If you need help planning your route around Berlin, I recommend using the website fahrinfo.bvg.de or Google Maps. Lastly, there are essential items that you will need for Berlin. The most important things to bring are your medical grade masks. For electronics, bring an electrical outlet adapter that converts US plugs A and B to German plugs F and C. You may also need a power converter if your electronics cannot support dual voltage or if they don’t specify 230 volts. Be sure to bring a battery bank and a travel USB charger and don’t forget to bring a German to English dictionary.
In summary, if your trip to Berlin fits the urgent travel criteria, you might be allowed into Germany. Travel between countries will be difficult though. Both America and Germany have travel restrictions in place that will require more time and money. In addition, by traveling you are also at an increased risk of catching Covid-19 and you could wind up stuck in Berlin because of it. In the end, if you can accept these circumstances and you choose to go ahead with your business trip, be safe and prepare for the unexpected.