PCR tests are becoming scarce in Germany: what does this mean for travel in 2022?

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The laboratories in Germany can hardly keep up because of the increasing number of infections. That means PCR tests could be prioritized in the future for at-risk groups.

PCR tests: PCR tests could primarily be available to certain groups: for the elderly, those with previous illnesses, and healthcare workers. Everyone else should use a quick test to check whether they have been infected with Corona. The federal and state governments are yet to adapt a national test strategy accordingly.

Such a new regulation could be disadvantageous for travelers if they need a negative PCR test to enter their holiday destination. This is currently the case in Austria, for example, if no booster can be detected. What if vacationers don’t get the PCR test at all or don’t get it in time due to high capacity?

PCR tests

What Would the Corona Testing Strategy Plans Mean for Travelers?

If the plans are approved, travelers may not be entitled to a PCR test for their trip in a normal test center. In most European countries entry is possible with a rapid antigen test. But numerous holiday countries, especially in Africa or the Caribbean, require a PCR test for entry, which usually only remains valid for 48 or 72 hours after the swab.

Obligation lies with the traveler: The obligation to obtain the corona test in good time always lies with the traveler. If a PCR test is necessary at the destination for entry, travelers have to take care of the organization. This means that the risk of presenting a test in good time will have to be considered when booking tours.

So if PCR tests are primarily available to a certain population group, travelers have to make an appointment early and weigh up the evaluation time correctly or spend more money for an express test.

Clarification needed: What happens if a person cannot submit a PCR test because the tests are only available to a certain group? Will the tour operator then have to bear the risk and does not share it with the travelers? Will a free cancellation with a refund because of a missing PCR test be possible?

The German Health ministry is aware of the impending shortage of PCR tests

The omicron wave is rolling, driving up the number of coronavirus infections. That means Germany is threatened with a shortage of PCR tests. However, there is an alternative to “test yourself free”.

“We will not have enough PCR tests,”

PCR tests
Karl Lauterbach, German Federal Health Minister

This is how travelers get a PCR test

If travelers are traveling individually or have not had a test organized by their tour operator, they can use test centers at numerous airports. They offer corona tests outside of the general infection process, so that corona patients do not have access there to have their infection confirmed.

For example, the Medicare Covid-19 test center at Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) offers express PCR tests in addition to normal PCR tests for travel. With a simple PCR test, it is currently pointed out that due to the increased number of tests, the evaluation times for normal PCR tests in the laboratory can be longer. As a rule, however, an evaluation is possible within 48 hours at the latest. Accelerating the evaluation is not possible. A test costs 75 euros.

But if you want to be on the safe side, you can use the express version. The RT-PCR express test, on the other hand, can be picked up after 60 to 120 minutes. However, the costs for this are up to 177.74 euros per PCR test.

PCR tests

What travelers should consider when entering or returning to Germany

Some countries or regions around the world are considered high-risk areas due to increased Covid-19 numbers. Special rules apply to travelers returning. What to consider when entering Germany and when a test or quarantine is necessary.

  • Update 1: Johnson & Johnson vaccinates require two vaccinations
  • Update 2: You are only considered recovered up to three months after infection
  • All travelers over the age of 6 need a test, vaccination or proof of recovery
  • Particularities when returning from high-risk areas
  • Overview: Incidence values ​​in Europe and corona risk areas worldwide

Important note for those who have recovered: Since January 15, one has only been considered “recovered” for up to three months after an infection instead of the previous six months. 

▶ For those returning from high-risk areas who were infected four to six months ago, this means that they have to go into quarantine after entering Germany

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), anyone who has recovered can be vaccinated at the earliest four weeks after the symptoms have subsided. There is no grandfathering for older proof of convalescence that was available before the most recent reduction in the period of validity.


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Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany

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