Booking, ID, vaccination, compulsory test and documents – what you need to know

Germans like to travel a lot. Almost 55 million people took a trip in the pre-Corona year 2019. Bookings fell sharply last year. This was due to the corona pandemic, the many restrictions and the current quarantine regulations. All aircraft had to stay on the ground, the railway changed its entire timetable.

All of this seems to have been forgotten now. Lufthansa, Tui, Condor and Co. report that bookings for the year 2021 are picking up again. Travel agencies even expect the summer to have a positive impact on their balance sheets.

What should I know about booking?

From July 1st, the travel regulations for many countries will change. The classic quarantine requirement no longer applies within the EU. In addition, the Federal Foreign Office is suspending all travel warnings for risk areas. So far, countries with an incidence of 50 or more have been evaluated as risk areas. This should no longer be the case from July 1st.

Only travel warnings remain for high-risk areas – that is, for countries and places where the incidence is over 200. For virus mutation areas, there is a strict quarantine obligation for all travelers – regardless of whether they have been vaccinated, recovered or tested. We are generally “discouraged” from “tourist trips” to high-risk areas and virus mutation areas.

Because the infection situation within the EU has remained stable at a low level and for most of the member states from July 1, travel warnings will no longer apply, so traveling in the summer months is unrestricted and stress-free in many countries.

When booking, you should pay attention to the price-performance ratio. Tourist destinations near the beach are in great demand due to the elimination of the travel warning from July 1st. “The focus is on inspiration and well-known classics. Many are looking for holiday destinations where they can get sun, sea and culture at a reasonable price, ”says Luise Barth, travel agent saleswoman from Stuttgart. “The package tour is experiencing a particular boom,” says the expert. Many would plan a trip of one to a maximum of three weeks.

Can I cancel for free?

If there is no travel warning for their holiday destination, consumers can only cancel free of charge in exceptional cases. If you are unsure whether you can travel at all, you should opt for flex or rebooking tariffs. They make it possible to postpone the trip into the future at short notice.

Such offers are usually twice as expensive as the cheaper entry-level tariffs. However, the following applies: Rebooking to a later date is possible at any time. Consumers then only pay the resulting difference if the travel price is later higher.

FOCUS Online advises: Check from when and until when you can rebook the trip. As a rule, Flex tariffs are limited in time to one week before departure. You can then postpone the trip by one year at the latest.

What to do if the organizer changes the service?

The corona situation remains dynamic. Therefore, organizers can make changes at short notice. In such a case, the organizer first sets a deadline and writes the customer something like: “If you do not respond within eight days, we will assume that you agree to this change.”

“There’s the catch,” says travel law expert Prof. Ernst Führich from Kempten. “If I don’t get in touch, this counts as a tacit consent. Then I can no longer withdraw from the contract without cancellation costs. It is therefore very important that this deadline is not missed.” A period of less than a week, on the other hand, is inappropriate and does not have to be accepted.

Can I claim money back because I have to wear a mask on vacation?

Tour operators and holidaymakers often argue in court over the question of whether there are cancellation fees or whether you can reduce your travel price because they were surprised by restrictions at the holiday destination. The courts must clarify whether a price reduction is actually appropriate because there is a lack of travel and what counts as a lack of travel.

There are now judges’ decisions in which cases from the second or third corona wave were heard. This is often about on-site restrictions.

The question is: can the price be reduced afterwards? “I tend to say that the courts are becoming more generous when it comes to the question of what can be accepted as a general life risk and inconvenience without replacement,” observes legal expert Führich. Protective regulations in the vacation spots would have to be checked on a case-by-case basis.

Do I need a valid ID when traveling?

Basically, travelers should know: In order to travel they need an identity card or passport. Those affected should pay attention to the expiration date. This deadline should be in the future. Ideally, even beyond the return date. Although some countries also accept expired documents, German citizens should renew their passport or identity card in good time and at least within the specified period.

Within the EU, it is not necessary to show your passport or ID at border controls, but at the shipping port, train station or airport these documents are primarily used as proof of identity. Therefore, travelers should always carry a valid ID with them. Because a vaccination, test or recovery certificate is also required when traveling from July 1st. The holders of such certificates must also be able to identify themselves with an identity card or passport.

Even after the corona pandemic, driving licenses, bank and credit cards or income tax cards are not recognized as valid travel documents or as proof of identity.

Do I need a vaccination to travel?

The corona vaccination is not absolutely necessary to travel within the EU. Those who are not vaccinated can have a rapid antigen test carried out from July 1st. The test must be performed by a medical professional. In addition to the name and address, the test date (including time) should also be on the document.

For trips outside the EU – and when returning from these regions, an antigen PCR test is usually still required.

The following applies to vaccination: The last vaccination required must be at least 14 days before the trip. Only in this way are those affected deemed to be “fully vaccinated”. Usually up to two vaccinations are necessary to maintain protection. With the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, those affected only need one dose of vaccine. Genesis also only need a vaccination.

If the last vaccination appointment was less than two weeks ago, a rapid antigen test is required from July 1st within the EU. Outside the EU, travelers need a PCR test. Those who have recovered must submit their positive PCR test report (name and test date is important).

Regardless of whether they have been tested, recovered or vaccinated: those affected should carry their paper-based documents with them and also have the digital certificates required by the EU ready on their mobile phones. German citizens can currently digitize their vaccination certificate via the CovPass app. In a few days, those who have recovered and those who have been tested should also follow. The displayed QR code enables entry and exit.

What kind of insurance do I need?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, legal and travel experts have been recommending classic travel cancellation insurance, which also includes travel cancellation insurance, as a supplement to Covid travel protection, and anyone traveling outside the European Union needs private international health insurance. With these three basic travel insurance, vacationers are on the safe side in Corona times.

Lawyer and consumer expert Roosbeh Karimi from GetRight advises in an interview with FOCUS Online to conclude a Travel cancellation insurance.

Karimi explains that providers differentiate between an annual policy that covers a certain amount per year and individual policies that are booked for a specific trip. Ideally, travelers should check whether the insurance is “suitable for pandemics” when booking and before taking out the policy. Anyone who has taken out outdated travel cancellation insurance should “update” the annual tariffs accordingly in order to be able to make use of pandemic protection.

The Covid travel protection is particularly helpful when, for example, an airline refuses to board a passenger who has a fever and a hotelier or vacation rental owner denies entry to a guest with symptoms. Incidentally, this can also affect fully vaccinated and recovered people, not just corona infected people.

Also one private foreign health insurance is worth it on vacation, recommends Sandra Klug from the Hamburg consumer center, for example. According to her, such a policy costs around ten euros a year.

The advantage of foreign health insurance: With it, vacationers do not have to pay the treatment costs themselves in the event of an emergency. In addition, the provider usually pays for a medically necessary return transport to Germany – which the statutory health insurance companies usually do not do.

Good to know: Some countries – including Thailand – require private international insurance that covers at least 100,000 US dollars in the event of damage. The policy must cover all medically necessary costs in the event of a Covid 19 infection. Insurance must also step in in the event of death. If this foreign protection is not in place, the Thai authorities do not allow holidaymakers into the country.

Do you want an even deeper understanding?

Well informed through the crisis with our Corona guide: Experts explain what you now need to know about Covid-19.