Coronavirus in Europe: What are my travel rights while travelling?

The coronavirus spread all over the world in a very short time. France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom have been affected severely.

Considering the coronavirus crisis, many people ask themselves whether they should book, undertake or cancel their holidays. But in case of cancellations: Will the money be reimbursed or not? 

This depends on the fact whether you have booked a package holiday or an individual trip. 

But not only package holidays, cruises and flights are cancelled or postponed.

Many events (concerts, festivals, fairs, etc.) are also affected. Please find the answers to your frequently asked questions on our website: Coronavirus & Cancelled Events.

Moreover, protect yourself against fraudsters. The European Commission provides the corresponding information on their website: scams and unfair commercial practices.

Coronavirus / Covid-19: The current situation

Travelling to Germany

There are travel restrictions for many countries. These travel restrictions are issued by the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

Before travelling to Germany, please have a look on the website of the BMI to find out which regulations apply for your country.

Entry to Germany is possible from: EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Entering from other countries is only possible in case of a valid reason.


Corona tests

Since 8 November 2020, people returning from a Corona risk country have to spend 10 days in quarantine.

They can have a test on the fifth day at the earliest. If the test is negative, the quarantine will be lifted. 

Important: The individual federal states can issue their regulations. 

So, those entering to Germany should observe the regulations of the federal state responsible for them.

In addition, people returning to Germany who are subject to quarantine must report their travel and contact details to the public health department. This can be done online.

Since 15th September on, corona tests for people returning from a non-risk-area are no longer free of charge. 


Travel warnings from the German Federal Foreign Office

There are currently travel warnings for Germans concerning the following EU-countries: 

Austria: All Austria, except the municipality of Jungholz (Tyrol) and Kleinwalsertal/the municipality of Mittelberg (Vorarlberg)

Belgium: All of Belgium

Bulgaria: All of Bulgaria

Croatia: All of Croatia

Cyprus: The whole of Cyprus

Czech Republic: The whole Czech Republic

Denmark: All of Denmark except the Faroe Islands and Greenland

Estonia: Ida-Viru, Harju, Hiiu, Rapla, Põlva, Viljandi, Võru, Tartu, Jõgeva, Lääne und Lääne-Viru

Finland: Uusimaa (with Helsinki metropolitan area), Päijät-Häme and North Ostrobothnia regions

France: All of France. Overseas territories: French Guiana, St. Martin, and the Overseas Territory of French Polynesia

Greece: Regions of Attica, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Aegean, Thessaly, Western Macedonia, Western Greece and Central Macedonia.

Hungary: The whole of Hungary

Ireland: Border, Dublin, Mid-East and Mid-West regions

Italy: The whole of Italy

Latvia: All of Latvia

Lithuania: All of Lithuania

Luxembourg: All of Luxembourg

Malta: All of Malta 

Netherlands: The whole of the Netherlands including its autonomous countries and the special municipalities of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba

Norway: Oslo and Viken Province

Poland: All of Poland 

Romania: All of Romania

Portugal: All Portugal, except the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira

Slovakia: All of Slovakia

Slovenia: All of Slovenia

Spain: All of Spain (mainland, Balearic Islands). Since 24 October there is no longer a travel warning for the Canary Islands. 
 
Sweden: All of Sweden

Switzerland:  The whole of Switzerland.

United Kingdom: The whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Gibraltar and the Channel Island of Jersey (Crown Property). Excludes the other overseas territories, the Crown Holdings of the Isle of Man and the Channel Island of Guernsey.

Due to entry restrictions, quarantine measures or high infection rates, the Federal Foreign Office advises against travelling to Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Norway.

Please find further information on the website of the German Federal Foreign Office (in German language) and on the website of The Federal Government.


Nationwide lockdown from December 16, 2020

According to a decision by the federal and state governments, a nationwide lockdown will take place on December 16, 2020.

This applies until at least January 10, 2021 and includes the following regulations:

  • Contact restrictions: A maximum of 5 people from your household and from another household may meet. This applies to private and public spaces. This does not include children up to 14 years of age.

  • Special regulations for Christmas. From December 23 to 26, 2020, a household may come together with four other people over the age of 14. These four people must come from the “closest family circle”.

    Children up to the age of 14 are not included. There may be curfews at night (e.g. in Bavaria from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.). Church services are permitted if the minimum distance of 1.50 meters is observed. Singing is prohibited.

  • Normal contact restrictions apply on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Public meetings are prohibited. The sale of fireworks is prohibited.

    Fireworks may not be set off in highly frequented areas (as determined by the local authorities). In general, the setting off fireworks is strongly discouraged. Nighttime curfews could apply (e.g. 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. in Bavaria).

  • Retail stores will be closed from Dec. 16, 2020, to at least Jan. 10, 2021. Grocery stores and stores selling urgently needed daily goods will remain open.

  • Schools and kindergartens are to be closed from Dec. 16, 2020, to Jan. 10, 2021.

  • Bars and restaurants will remain closed. However, food delivery and pickup will continue to be allowed. Consumption of alcoholic beverages on public areas will be prohibited from Dec. 16 to Jan. 10. Violators will be subject to fines.

  • Non-essential business and private travel should continue to be avoided - especially tourist trips abroad.


The following still applies:

  • Distance regulations: 1,5 m
  • Regarding the contact restrictions, there are different regulations in the Federal states.
  • Masks are mandatory in all federal states when shopping or using public transport. This can also be a self-made mask, a cloth or a scarf.
  • Children under the age of 6 generally do not have to wear a mask.

New platform for travel information

What applies in the 27 EU member states and what travel recommendations are made can be read on Re-open-EU.

There you can find information on border procedures, means of transport, quarantine regulations, distance rules and the obligation to wear a mask.

Travel information regarding other countries

Anyone entering from Germany to Austria must be in quarantine for 10 days.

In addition, an entry registration must be filled in.

The accommodation of tourists is currently prohibited.

It is mandatory to wear masks in the following places:

  • Excursion boat (indoor area),
  • Bank and post office,
  • Health sector (pharmacy, doctor's office, hospital),
  • Grocery store / supermarket,
  • public transportation,
  • Cable cars and cog railways, taxis.

Events in closed rooms without an assigned seat and when the minimum distance of one meter cannot be maintained or no other protective measures exist.

Further information:

Travelers to Belgium must fill out an electronic Passenger Locator Form and send it electronically within 48 hours prior to entry.

The Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs classifies some countries and regions as “red” (areas with a high risk of infection) and “orange zones” (areas with a moderately high risk of infection).

Germany, for example, is part of the “red zone”. People traveling to Belgium for a visit must have a negative PCR test with them upon entry, which must not be older than 72 hours (sampling). Exception: children under the age of 12 and people who stay in Belgium for less than 48 hours and do not enter by plane or ship.

Further information is available from the Federal Public Service (FPS).

In France, there is a curfew from 6 pm to 6 am.

Shops are open. But restaurants, museums, concert halls, sport halls, discos are closed.

Entry for people coming from Germany and EU member states, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, and the Vatican is possible.

A negative PCR test (not older than 72 hours) is required to enter into France since January 24th. At the beginning, this regulation only applied to entries by plane or ship.

Since January 31st, this regulation also applies to people entering by land route (e.g. by car or train).

Commuters, border residents and truck drivers in freight transport are exempt from the testing requirement. 

Further information:

Entry into Greece (by sea, air, land route) is only permitted with a negative PCR test issued from a recognized test laboratory from the country of departure. The test must not be older than 72 hours. All persons arriving by January 21, 2021 must stay in quarantine at home for 7 days.

Anyone arriving by sea, air or land route must fill out an online form at least 24 hours before departure. Travelers will then receive a QR code which must be presented upon entry.

This applies in Greece:

  • Supermarkets and shops for basic supplies, pharmacies, bakeries, butchers, weekly markets and petrol stations will remain open.
  • The apartment may only be left with a special permit to travel to work with an employer certificate or stating special reasons:
    • Pharmacy or doctor's visit,
    • Shopping in a store that doesn't deliver the goods,
    • Bank and authority visits (written confirmation of appointment required),
    • Helping people or accompanying underage pupils to and from school,
    • Participation in funerals, weddings, baptisms,
    • Visits to exercise custody,
    • Exercises in the open air near the home or going out with the domestic animal, individually or up to three people.
  • From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., leaving the apartment is only permitted for trips to and from work, for health reasons or to take pets out.
  • Tourist accommodation (campsites, youth hostels and apartments) and hotels are still open. However, the operators can also close these on their own.
  • It is mandatory to wear masks for all people from 4 years age on in all public, closed rooms, in supermarkets, shops, public transport, taxis, elevators, doctor's offices, hospitals, bank branches and generally in offices with customer traffic and at weekly markets. Furthermore, masks must be worn everywhere outside.

Further information is available on the website of the German representations in Greece (in German) and on the website of the Greek Government.

Last update: 14.12.2020, 3 pm

Entry from Germany and most EU Member States as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is permitted without special reasons. 

Since 10 December 2020, entry from all EU countries as well as third countries requires the presentation of an entry declaration (it is also available in German as a filling-in aid) and a negative COVID-19 test.

The test must not be older than 48 hours. Without a negative test, self-isolation must be observed.

The entry must be reported to the competent Italian health authority at the place of stay in Italy (Dipartimento di prevenzione del'azienda sanitaria locale). 

From 21 December 2020 to 6 January 2021, even stricter rules will apply: Anyone who enters the EU during this period without a valid reason (or returns to Italy after a stay in other EU countries without a valid reason) is subject to quarantine.

It is not possible to lift quarantine with a negative PCR test.

In case of COVID-19 symptoms or contact with infected persons, a 14-day quarantine can be prescribed by the Italian health authorities, which is shortened to 10 days if a negative test is available.

Further information is available in English from the Italian Ministry of Health.

There are still restrictions when travelling by air, bus, ferry and train.

There are also restrictions for travelling by car to Italy.

This applies in Italy:

Travel and movement restrictions are in effect throughout Italy. There is a daily curfew from 10pm to 5am. On 1 January 2021, this will apply until 7 am.

From 21 December 2020 to 6 January 2021, people are not allowed to leave their region. On 25 and 26 December 2020 and on 1 January 2021, it is not permitted to leave one's own municipality.

Only essential reasons allow an exit (work, illness, etc.). A self-declaration must be carried.

Hotels and shops may remain open subject to strict infection control and hygiene requirements, but shortened opening hours must be expected.

Bars and restaurants must close at 6 pm.

No alcohol may be consumed outside the home after 6 pm. Cinemas and theatres are closed. Cultural and social events will not take place.

Ski resorts will remain closed to amateur sports until at least 6 January 2021. 

These measures will initially apply until 15 January 2021.

Masks are compulsory in public areas. A safety distance of 1 to 2 metres applies.

Further information on the coronavirus in Italy is available from the Federal Foreign Office (in German). 

Detailed information on the Corona regulations in Italy can be found on thewebsite of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Last update: 14.12.2020, 4 pm

The Netherlands has designated Germany as a risk area.

This has applied since 3 November 2020 at 15h00. Travellers from Germany will have to stay in house quarantine (including holiday accommodation) in the Netherlands for 10 days.

All passengers entering by plane must fill in a form before departure to prove that they do not have Covid-19 symptoms.

The Dutch government strongly recommends that, if possible, unnecessary travel should be avoided until mid-January 2021. Holidays and family visits are not necessary travel. 

Since 14 October 2020, the Netherlands has had significant restrictions. Restaurants, bars and cafés, among others, are closed.

Hotels remain open and are allowed to serve hotel guests in their restaurants.

In indoor and outdoor areas outside your household, groups of a max. 2 people from different households may meet. Children under 12 years of age are not affected. 

Retail shops close at 20:00 at the latest. Grocery shops may remain open longer.

No alcohol is sold between 20.00 and 7.00. No alcohol may be consumed on public places during this period either.

In the Netherlands a safety distance of 1.5 metres applies.

Masks must be worn by all persons aged 13 and over on public transport, ferries, KLM flights and Schiphol Airport. Wearing a mask is strongly recommended in indoor public areas (e.g. museums, shops).

Further information is available on the website of the Dutch government and the Federal Foreign Office.

Last updated: 09.12.2020, 4 pm

Entry from all neighbouring EU countries is possible without restrictions.

Citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland as well as their spouses and children do not have to go to quarantine after entry.

A negative Covid-19-testing is also not required. 

Border controls are carried out at the borders of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.

The following applies within the country

Poland is divided into yellow and red zones. Since 24 October 2020 the whole of Poland has been in the red zone.

This means the following restrictions, among others: Restaurants are closed, but take-away and delivery services are allowed.

From Monday to Friday between 10 a.m. and noon, shopping in grocery shops, drug stores and pharmacies is reserved for senior citizens.

Seniors over 70 may only leave their homes for official or professional activities, for the unconditional needs of daily life and for participation in religious events.

On public transport, the upper limit is 30% of all seats and standing room or 50% of all seats.

At public and private meetings only 5 persons are allowed to attend, at religious events 1 person per 7 m² is allowed.

From Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., children under 16 years of age may not leave the living area without an adult.

Overnight stays in hotels are now only allowed for business travellers.

Restaurants in hotels can open for hotel guests who book at least one day's stay; the same applies to the use of swimming pools and fitness rooms in hotels. 

Since 10 October 2020, masks are also compulsory outdoors.

A map showing the division of zones can be found on the website of the Polish Ministry of Health.

Further information on the measures taken can be found on the website of the Polish Government, the German Foreign Office and the German Embassy in Poland.

Last updated:  14.12.2020, 4 pm

There are currently no entry restrictions for Germans arriving by plane or overland to Portugal (mainland).

When entering the country, the destination, the reason for the trip and the contact details must be indicated.

Body temperature is measured for incoming travellers. If the temperature exceeds 38 °C, further physical examinations the health authorities, e.g. a Quarantine, is possible.

Since 24 November 2020, the country has been divided into 4 risk classifications with different measures. Irrespective of this, national rules apply. 

There is an obligation to stay at home as a matter of principle. Private gatherings and parties on public and private spaces are limited to six people from different households.

Alcohol may not be consumed on public spaces. Alcoholic beverages may also not be sold at petrol stations and after 8 p.m. in restaurants (except with meals). 

Restrictions are still to be expected for hotel establishments and campsites. 

More information on the arrangements in Portugal can be found on the website of the Portuguese Government and on the website of the German Foreign Office.

Entry from all EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland is possible.

Travellers being 6 years and older who want to enter into Spain by air or sea coming from a risk area must have a negative corona test (PCR test or TMA test). Not older than 72 hours before the entry. This regulation is not applicable for people entering by land route. Transit travellers who do not leave the transit area are exempt from this obligation.

Air travellers must fill in a form of the Spain Travel Health-Portal.

Then a QR code is generated, which must be presented while entering. The form can be filled in 48 hours before entry.

Spanish ports are closed for international cruise ships.

This applies in Spain:

In Spain, the state of alarm was declared by the Real Decreto 926/2020 which should be applicable until May 9th. The state of alarm gives the autonomous communities the opportunity to impose curfews during nights.

The mask requirement applies nationwide in all public places, inside and outside closed rooms, and in public transport. Exception: children under six years of age and people who cannot wear a mask for health reasons.

In the Balearic Islands, the compulsory test for entry from a risk area from abroad also applies to entries from mainland Spain.

Detailed information is available on the regional government website. In the Balearic Islands, there is a night curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Visitors travelling to the Canary Islands from a risk area must present a negative PCR or TMA test upon entry.

Further information is available from the Foreign Office or on the website of the Spanish Ministry of Health.

Further information is available on the website of the Spanish Ministry of Health, the respective Autonomous Community or at the German Embassy in Spain as well as at the Federal Foreign Office.

Last updated: 14.12. 2020, 4:30 pm

German nationals are generally allowed to enter Switzerland, but are subject to quarantine if they come from high-risk countries.

For nationals of certain countries, entry restrictions continue to apply. Further information is available on the website of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

In general, a 10-day quarantine applies to entries from risk countries.

Anyone entering Switzerland from these countries must report to the Swiss authorities within 2 days and remain in quarantine for 10 days.

The list of risk countries is available from the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health.

In Switzerland, a safety distance of 1.5 metres applies. There is also a general obligation to wear a mask in publicly accessible indoor areas.

The obligation to wear a mask also applies on public transport including bus stops, railway stations and platforms as well as at airports, in shops and shopping centres.

Further information can be found on the websites of the Swiss Authorities and the Swiss Government.

Due to the current Corona development in the United Kingdom, the flight connections and partly the rail traffic from several European countries have been temporarily suspended.

Air traffic to the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy from the UK was also temporarily suspended from 20th December 2020 on.

The suspension of further flight connections and the closure of the Euro tunnel must be expected.

For travellers from Germany, a 10-day quarantine obligation is mandatory.

For entries to England (except Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), it will be possible from 15 Dec. 2020 to be exempt from quarantine after five days.

This requires a negative PCR test. This is subject to a fee and must be carried out at a laboratory licensed by the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 

Those wishing to enter the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must register themselves electronically in advance. 

The registration must be done online and at least 48 hours before entry.

You have to show the proof of registration while entering the UK or Northern Ireland.

Quarantine may also be necessary in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland when entering from a country that is not classified as a risk area if you are in transit through a risk area and have had contact with people there.

The safety distance is 1 to 2 meters - depending on the country.

The following regulations apply within the country:

England reverted to its 3-level system of pandemic containment measures on 2 December 2020. Almost all of England is in Level 2 "High" (currently including London) or Level 3 "Very High".

For more details on the arrangements, contact the German Foreign Office.

In Scotland, a five-step package of measures has been in force since 2 Nov. 2020.

For more details see the Scottish Executive website.

A postcode checker helps to find out the Covid-19 restrictions in a particular area. Classifications are reviewed and adjusted weekly on Fridays.

Travel within Wales is possible. However, there are still restrictions on public life. Shops, restaurants and pubs are open.

In Northern Ireland, more stringent measures will apply for a fortnight from 27 November 2020.

More information about the regulations within the country can be found on the website of the British Government and on the websites of the governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Coronavirus: Your rights for package holidays

You have booked a package holiday if you have booked and paid for at least two main travel services, for example flight and hotel, as one package.

Package holidays also include cruises and day trips that cost more than 500 euros.

Corona crisis: Can I cancel my package holiday free of charge?

Many courts accept travel warnings by the German Federal Foreign Office as an exceptional circumstance. How it will be with the coronavirus is still unclear.

You should negotiate with your tour operator and argue with "unavoidable extraordinary circumstances" or "force of circumstances", i.e. events that were not foreseeable during booking.

With this argument, it should normally be possible to cancel the trip free of charge.

However, it is essential that this is the case during travel. If your trip is only planned in a few weeks or months, you cannot rely on a free cancellation.

Current judgment of the Frankfurt District Court (Amtsgericht) dated 11th August 2020 regarding package travels 

Consumers having cancelled their holidays due to the risk of Covid-19 infection can, under certain circumstances, claim for a full reimbursement of the travel price when there is no travel warning.

In the current case (file number: 32 C 2136/20) the consumer cancelled his trip to Ischia which was planned for 14th April on 7th March indicating exceptional circumstances in Italy and illness.

The consumer asked the tour operator to return the 25% of cancellation fees.

The tour operator rejected and told the consumer there was no travel warning at this time. The court judged as follows: The decisive factor is not the travel warning itself.

But the date of cancellation and the fact whether there have been extraordinary circumstances at this time. A certain probability of a spread of the virus is sufficient to for this assumption.

This was the case in Italy at the date of the travel cancellation.

Advice: If you have had to pay cancellation fees in a similar case because you cancelled the journey by yourself, you should contact your package tour operator again and ask for the reimbursement of the cancellation fees.

Important: 

If you are only afraid of getting sick, it will not be enough to cancel a trip for free.

Should I cancel my package holidays that take place at a later date? Or should I better wait?

If you cancel early, the cancellation costs are usually lower. If you wait, the following cases are possible:

  • The trip is taking place. This means that the situation has calmed down so that you can start the travel. In this case, everything remains the same.
  • The journey takes place, but you no longer want to travel. Then you must expect high cancellation costs.

The trip will be cancelled by the tour operator. In this case, you will get your money back.

You must weigh up the risks and then decide for yourself what you want to do.

If you have cancelled the trip early, and it later turns out that there was a travel warning during the trip, you may be able to claim back the cancellation fee back.

This is because you would not have had to pay the trip price if you had waited and cancelled later.

Legally, this case is not yet clearly clarified.

In any case, you should cancel the trip in writing. This will give you proof of the cancellation.

Indicate the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for cancellation. You should also point out that you would like to have the full travel price back if an ongoing travel warning.

If there is no more travel warning, it is the goodwill decision of the tour operator whether you can cancel free of charge or rebook the trip.

If you are unable to visit tourist attractions that form an essential part of the package tour, or if there are major changes to the itinerary, this may also be a reason for a free cancellation.

This can be the case, for example, if the route changes in case of a cruise trip.

Ask your tour operator. A major change would also be made if you had to undergo a 14-day quarantine on arrival.

In any case, if the tour operator cancels the package tour on his initiative, he must refund the price of the tour.

I have to extend my stay because of the coronavirus. Who'll pay for it?

If you cannot travel back at the scheduled time, for example because the flight is cancelled due to the coronavirus, the tour operator must pay the cost of the extended stay for up to three days.

Everything else you have to pay for yourself. Unless the costs are covered by another institution (e.g. public authorities).

If you are quarantined at your holiday location, in some countries the authorities will pay the additional costs.

However, this depends on the laws in the respective countries.

For more information, contact your tour operator or local authorities.

I have to leave early. Do I get my money back?

In our opinion, if you have to return earlier than planned, you can get back part of the travel price. The amount depends on the number of days you leave earlier.

But it remains to be seen how the courts will ultimately judge this case. Therefore, first try to find an amicable solution with the tour operator.

What rights do I have if I have booked an individual trip?

In contrast to package holidays, different rules apply to self-organised trips. For example, if you have booked and paid for the flight and the hotel with different providers.

It is worth taking a look at the provider's website. Due to the Corona crisis, many travel companies are currently offering special cancellation conditions and rebooking regulations.

Important: Guidelines on EU Passenger rights

Considering the travel restrictions and border controls in the respective EU Member States, the European Commission provides guidance on EU passenger rights.

The guidelines are intended to ensure that travellers' rights are applied uniformly throughout Europe.

Air travel: What rights do independent travellers have?

When travelling by air, in many EU countries it depends on the general terms and conditions and the goodwill of the airline whether the flight can be cancelled free of charge.

Negotiate with the airline. Many are accommodating in the current situation and offer free rebooking or cancellation.

When changing your booking, make sure that you know exactly what the offer contains.

Normally, you do not have to pay any rebooking fees. However, if the alternative flight costs more, you will have to pay the difference yourself.

If your contract is based on Italian or Spanish law, flights can even be cancelled free of charge in the event of an unexpected event that prevents fulfilment of a contract.

This is the case if Spanish or Italian law should apply according to the terms and conditions.

If there is no applicable law in the terms and conditions, the law of the country in which you live applies if the flight either starts or lands there.

Otherwise, the law of the country in which the airline is based applies.

If this does not apply to your destination country, you will be refunded the taxes and fees of the ticket in any case.

If you booked your flight via a booking portal, the airline is your first point of contact in case of problems, even if you paid the ticket price directly to the booking portal.

Nevertheless, we recommend that you contact both the airline and the booking portal in writing if the airline does not respond or does not respond within a reasonable period of time.

Flight Cancellation: Do I get a refund?

If your flight is cancelled, you must be reimbursed for the ticket price or offered alternative transportation to your destination, such as rail travel or rebooking the flight to a later date.

So far, it has not been clarified whether you can cancel free of charge if you have to go into quarantine for several days at your destination.

In this case, please contact the airline and ask for a free rebooking or cancellation option.

Important: appropriate accommodation

In the European Commission's guidelines on passenger rights, the following has been pointed out: If you are stranded for days at your holiday or transfer destination, the airline must assist you.

This means that the airline must provide you with suitable hotel accommodation and pay for it until you can travel back home.

Although these guidelines for interpretation are not binding for courts, judges usually take them into account in their decisions.

Coronavirus: Is this an exceptional circumstance?

This must be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Exceptional circumstances are circumstances that could not have been avoided even if the airline had nevertheless taken all reasonable measures to carry out the flight.

If the conditions at the destination make it difficult or impossible to carry out the flight, the airline can rely on exceptional circumstances. You are then no longer entitled to compensation.

When an area or region is completely closed, it is usually an exceptional circumstance.

Voucher instead of a refund: Do I have to accept it?

In some cases, tour operators, airlines or hotels offer vouchers instead of a refund in case of cancellation.

According to German law, you do not have to accept the voucher if you had the right to cancel free of charge.

If the tour operator offers the voucher as a gesture of goodwill, a voucher can be a solution.

Please note that with a voucher you are not necessarily protected against the insolvency of the tour operator.

Furthermore, vouchers now have to be accepted in some countries, even if you would normally be entitled to a refund.

Vouchers and special rules for refunds: This applies in the individual EU countries

This applies to package holiday cancellations in Belgium

If a package tour  is cancelled between 20 March and 20 June 2020, the tour operator may issue you with a voucher. You must accept the voucher.

There will be no refund of the tour price. It is irrelevant whether you yourself or the tour operator cancelled the trip.

The voucher must be valid for at least 1 year and must cover the full price of the trip.

No additional costs may be charged. Furthermore, the voucher must state that it was issued due to the Corona pandemic.

If you accept the voucher, you are protected in case of insolvency of the tour operator. You will then receive a full refund of the travel price.

This is regulated by the Ministerial Decree on the reimbursement of cancelled package tours of 19 March 2020.

This is regulated by the Ministerial Decree on the reimbursement of cancelled package tours of 19 March 2020.

A package tour operator may offer a voucher instead of a refund if the trip was cancelled due to the declared state of emergency in Bulgaria.

If the traveller does not accept the voucher and without any other substitution agreement between the tour operator and the traveller, the tour operator shall reimburse within 12 months from the date of the abolition of the emergency all payments received by or for the traveller.

If the package travel should have taken place after 1st March 2020, the consumer has the possibility to cancel the trip within 180 days after the end of the exceptional circumstances.

The tour operator is allowed to offer a voucher. The voucher must be issued for at least the price paid and be valid for at least 12 months. If a partial amount is left over when the voucher is redeemed, the package tour operator must pay this amount.

The voucher must be issued within 14 days of the consumer's request for reimbursement or at least 90 days before the scheduled departure.

The voucher is transferable. If the consumer chooses a replacement trip that differs from the original one, it must be made by the end of the year after the exceptional circumstances of COVID-19 have ended.

The consumer is not forced to accept the voucher. If he rejects it the tour operator has to reimburse the money within 14 days after the end of the exceptional circumstances.

In the Czech Republic there is a so-called protection period for package holidays from 20 February 2020 to 31 August 2020. This means that the tour operator can issue a voucher.

The voucher must be issued in writing and may only be valid until 31 August 2021. The vouchers are secured against insolvency.

There are certain groups of people who are allowed to refuse the voucher: People with disabilities, people who are older than 65 years, job seekers, people on parental leave and single parents caring for children.

If the voucher was not used within the protection period, the tour operator must reimburse the amount within 14 days.

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Due to a new law, Czech traders can apply for a three-month payment deferral until 31st August 2020. Czech Airlines, Smartwings and the travel agency Firo Tour asked for this delay at the end of August.

According to Czech law, these dealers do not have to pay any refunds within 3 months.

All cancelled package tours until 31 October 2020 are covered by a guarantee fund. This means that tour operators can offset losses from the fund.

For consumers this means that they get their money back. This also applies if a voucher has already been accepted: It can be converted back into a refund.

For cancellations after 16 September 2020, the regulations from the EU Package Travel Directive apply. This means: if the supplier cancels the travel service, the consumer must be reimbursed.

A voucher may only be issued if the traveller agrees.

France previously allowed vouchers to be issued for all cancellations notified between 12 March and 15 September 2020.

The right of cancellation only applies in the event of exceptional and unavoidable circumstances or in an unexpected event that prevents the fulfilment of a contract. 

The voucher solution concerns the following tourist offers:

  • Package Holiday
  • Hotel Booking
  • Car Rental
  • Bicycle Rental
  • SPA treatments
  • Ski rental, ski lift passes

In our opinion, holiday flats from professional providers also fall under the concept of tourist services (accommodation). Accordingly, they can also issue a voucher.

In our opinion, private providers who regularly rent their holiday flats are also allowed to issue a voucher.

This regulation does not apply to:

The company must inform you within 30 days that a voucher will be issued. The vouchers are valid for 18 months from the date of issue.

If the voucher has not been used after the expiry date, you can request a full refund of the voucher.

If only a partial amount has been redeemed, you will get back the remaining voucher amount.

Furthermore, the company must make you an alternative offer within 3 months.

For cultural events which have been cancelled between 12th March and 15th September the voucher is valid 12th months.

You can refer to your contractual partner on "Ordonnance Voucher" No. 2020-315 dated March 25, 2020.

Further information (in French):

The French "Ordonnance Voucher" regulation dated 25th March 2020 and the corresponding right to cancel the contract have been set due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Corona situation is regularly reassessed by the French government. The next evaluation is expected by the beginning of June.

If the government release the lockdown, it is possible that the regulation will be revoked and the right of cancellation does no longer exist.

Update 08.10.2020: 

In mid-September, a special commission was set up in France (including the European Consumer Centre France) to check whether consumers are not entitled to an early refund of vouchers in certain situations.

If the following criteria are met, the end of the voucher period of 18 months does not apply. 

The following criteria that must be met:

  • The consumer has booked a package tour or another touristical service, but not just one flight.
  • The ticket was purchased at a travel agency in France (on site or online) registered at Atout France.
  • A voucher has already been issued to the consumer.
  • The voucher has not yet been partially used by the consumer.
  • The consumer can demonstrate a particularly difficult situation that does not allow him to wait 18 months for the refund. Documents must be submitted as proof. 

Voluntary voucher solution for package tours

For cancelled package tours booked before 8 March 2020, tour operators may offer vouchers to their customers. On 3 July 2020, the German Bundestag approved the corresponding bill of the Federal Government.

The law came into force on 17 July 2020.

The following regulations apply:

  • Tour operators may offer a voucher instead of a refund for travel booked before 8 March 2020 and cancelled due to the Corona pandemic.
  • The traveller still has the choice between voucher and refund.
  • The customer must not incur any costs for the issue, transmission or redemption of the voucher.
  • The value of the voucher is protected against insolvency of the provider. If, for example, the tour operator only pays back part of the voucher value to the consumer during insolvency proceedings, the Federal Government will reimburse the rest.
  • If the voucher is not redeemed by 31st December 2021 at the latest, the amount paid must be refunded.

Notes: Anyone who has already received a voucher for a cancelled trip should ask the travel provider to adjust or exchange the voucher in accordance with the new law. The voucher must state that it was issued due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

Important: The voucher regulation does not apply to individual travellers, i.e. holidaymakers who have only booked a flight or a hotel / holiday home.    

Further information on the voucher scheme for package tours in Germany can be found on the website of the German government (in German).

Airlines may issue a voucher instead of a refund for the ticket price for flights cancelled between 25.02. and 30.09.2020.

The voucher is valid for at least 18 months from the date of issue and can be redeemed for all destinations of the airline.

You may only request a refund if the 18 months have expired without having used the voucher.

The same applies to sea voyages, e.g. ferries, except that the regulation here applies to cancellations between 25.02. and 31.10.2020.

For package holidays between 25th February and 30th September tour operators may issue vouchers within 30 days of the cancellation.

If they do not do so within this period, you have the right to demand an immediate refund of the tour price.

The voucher must be valid for at least 18 months from the date of issue and must be valid for travel services similar to those originally agreed.

After the 18 months have expired, you may request a refund.

The voucher regulation does also apply for hotels which have been booked individually. And you have a further right of cancellation: Article 388 of the Greek Civil Code states that hotel bookings may be cancelled due to force of circumstances.

In this case, the services provided must be reimbursed. However, there is no right to a refund or to obtain a voucher if you as a consumer cancel less than 21 days before the planned arrival.

The following applies to package holidays as well as to individually booked air travel, travel with other transport companies and accommodation:

In Italy, there is now a law that allows the issue of a voucher. It is irrelevant whether you or the service provider cancel the service.

Vouchers may be issued for the entire duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

This means as long as the hotel has to stay closed and/or the guest cannot travel due to a travel restriction.

The provider has fulfilled his obligation when he issued the voucher. It does not matter whether you accept the voucher.

The vouchers have a validity of 18 months.

If the voucher is not used within this period, a refund can be requested. For transport contracts, payment is even possible after 12 months.

For more information, please visit the website of the European Consumer Centre Italy.

In Latvia, the tour operator may offer a voucher instead of a refund if the package was cancelled by the consumer or tour operator due to the COVID-19 emergency in Latvia or superior strength.

However, for this the tour operator needs a special permission and sufficient insurance. The voucher must be valid for 12 months.

The period runs from the day on which the emergency in Latvia has ended. The voucher is transferable if this has been agreed with the tour operator beforehand.

If a consumer does not want the voucher, the tour operator and the consumer can find another solution, e.g. repayment within a maximum of 12 months from the day the emergency ended.

If the full amount of the voucher is not used, the tour operator must refund the unused amount within 14 days of the end of the period of validity.

Vouchers with a validity of 12 months may be issued for package tours. However, the consumer has the right to request a refund within 14 days once the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 are lifted.

When the voucher is redeemed, the consumer must pay the difference if the new trip costs more. If the voucher is not redeemed, the consumer can reclaim the amount after the expiry of the 12 months.

Luxembourg announced the state of crisis on March 18, 2020. This status can usually be maintained for up to three months.

During this period, Luxembourg package tour operators do not have to reimburse travel prices.  It is irrelevant whether you yourself or the tour operator cancelled the trip.

This is regulated in the Grand-Ducal Regulation of March 27, 2020.

There are no voucher regulations as known from other EU countries.

So far, Malta does not have a voucher scheme for package travel. The tour operator has to refund the travel price within 6 months.

This applies to package holidays:

  • In the Netherlands, package tour operators may issue vouchers. However, you do not have to accept the voucher if you do not want to. But: If the tour operator becomes insolvent, your money is lost.
  • However, if you accept the voucher, it is valid for 1 year. You must then book the trip within one year. The actual date of travel can be later.
  • If you accept the voucher, and if the tour operator is member of the ANVR / SGR you are protected against the insolvency of the tour operator.
  • If you book a trip that is cheaper than the voucher amount, you will get the excess money back.
  • If you have accepted the voucher and you are unable to start your trip for personal reasons, you will receive your money back. This regulation applies after 6 months from the date of issue of the voucher.

This applies to individually booked flights

Airlines are allowed to issue vouchers. But the air passengers are not forced to accept them. They can reject them and claim for a refund.

Consumers whose flight has been cancelled by KLM and who have received a voucher can now apply for a refund in accordance with European regulations.

Those who prefer a voucher can also apply for a refund via this link. In both cases patience is required. It may take two months before you receive an answer.

This applies to holiday houses and flats

You do not have to accept a voucher for holiday homes or flats at the moment. Please note: If you accept the voucher, you are not protected against the company's bankruptcy.

Further information can be obtained from the European Consumer Centre in the Netherlands.

Package tour operators are allowed up to 3 months before they have to make refunds.

It applies to all cancellations between 1 March and 14 June 2020 and to all outstanding refunds. His applies to all cancellations between 1 March and 14 June 2020 and to all outstanding refunds.

Since 01.04.: If the package tour was cancelled due to COVID-19, the tour operator has 180 days to make the refund.

If the consumer does not want to wait that long, he can ask for a voucher, which must be valid for 12 months. The same applies to hotel reservations cancelled by the hotel provider.

For individually booked accommodations and package tours which have been booked between 13th March and 30th September 2020 which have been cancelled due to corona measures, consumers can request a voucher or a rebooking.

This regulation applies if a reimbursement would not be possible otherwise due to the contractual conditions. If you want to cancel such a booking and receive a voucher or a rebooking instead, a travel warning is not sufficient. 

Border closings or similar measures are considered to be a valid reason to justify the cancellation of the booking.

Since 4th September 2020 package tour operators are no longer allowed to issue a voucher if the consumer requests a reimbursement.

The tour operator must pay the amount if the package holidays have been cancelled due to exceptional circumstances.

On April 30th, a law came into force that allows package tour operators to offer vouchers if the trip was cancelled because of COVID-19.

These vouchers are valid for 24 months and must be insured against insolvency by the organizer.

After the 24 months have expired, the consumer may reclaim the unused amount. However, you do not have to accept such a voucher, but can still request reimbursement.

The travel organizer has 12 months from the notification of the end of the pandemic to do so.

If your package holiday is cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, you may continue to claim reimbursement of the travel price.

It is possible that the tour operator or travel agent does not or only partially receive money back from his own service providers (e.g. hotels, airlines).

If he can prove this, he may issue you a voucher instead of a refund.

The voucher must be valid for one year (after the end of the coronavirus alert) and cover the full amount of the refund.

After the end of the validity period, you can request a refund if you have not redeemed the voucher. The redemption of the voucher must be guaranteed.

The following applies to individually booked services such as flights, trains and other means of transport, holiday accommodation, event tickets:

If your contract cannot be fulfilled due to the Coronavirus measures, you can cancel the contract. This must be done within 14 days after the end of the Coronavirus alert.

Companies may offer alternatives such as a voucher instead of a refund. If you have not agreed to a voucher within 60 days, the company must refund you the money. However, the company may retain the costs it has incurred.

Tip: Take a look at the company's general terms and conditions. Perhaps there is a more favourable cancellation or rebooking rule for you, which you can refer to. Also check whether, for example, a transport company offers special arrangements that are better for you.

Hotels & holiday homes: Can I cancel free of charge?

In many EU Member States, hotel operators themselves determine whether hotel accommodation may be cancelled free of charge, whether cancellation fees apply or whether the full amount must be paid.

However, it always depends on the legal situation in the respective country. If the hotel operator is allowed to continue to offer accommodation at the destination, you often bear the risk of travelling to and from the destination.

If you cancel your hotel room in such a case, it is quite possible that you will have to pay the cancellation costs despite an existing travel warning.

The same applies if you have booked a holiday home. Here, too, the tenancy law of the holiday country and the contractual conditions are important.

Attention: If the free cancellation is possible according to a law or the terms and conditions in case of unforeseeable circumstances, it is not possible to speak of an unforeseeable circumstance for bookings made after 11 March 2020 regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

On this date, the coronavirus was classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

Therefore, restrictions on travel were to be expected. So if you have booked accommodation after that date, you can no longer cancel free of charge due to the coronavirus pandemic as an unforeseeable circumstance.

How do I exercise my rights?

First try on your own to find a solution with the provider. Make sure you do this in writing to have the appropriate proof.

Give the provider a reasonable time to reply to you, as many consumers are currently making enquiries.

If no solution can be found, you have various options:

  • out-of-court settlement of disputes through us (Network of the European Consumer Centres)
  • use of an Alternative Dispute Resolution Body (ADR)
  • the judicial assertion of your claim.

Important: You have to decide on one thing, or you can only use the different options one after the other. It is not allowed to contact us and an alternative dispute resolution body and a lawyer meanwhile.

If you would like us to try to find a free, out-of-court dispute resolution or if you have general questions, please fill out our form.

Here you can find information on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Bodies (e.g. for air travel, holiday homes, package holidays, etc.).

Names and addresses of lawyers can be found, for example, in the nationwide official register of lawyers published by the Federal Bar Association.

Lawyers in other EU countries can be found at E-Justice.

What about futher payments?

You may have booked a trip but not yet paid for it in full. Basically, you have signed a contract and must fulfil it.

This means that you also have to pay outstanding invoices.

If you have agreed with your contractual partner to postpone the trip to a later date, clarify the exact payment modalities with him.

For example, negotiate the date by which outstanding payments must be settled. And have everything confirmed in writing.

It is quite possible that your contract partner may wish to receive the final payment this year for trips that will not take place until 2021.

If you do not want this, argue that the payment modalities that were originally agreed in the terms and conditions should continue to apply.

For example, if the GTC say "payment of balance 4 weeks before departure" and the departure date is 2021, then the payment of the balance is also due 4 weeks before the departure date 2021.

The situation is different if you have the right to cancel the contract free of charge.

Then you do not need to pay the open invoice amount. However, you must have informed your contractual partner that you are exercising your right to cancel free of charge.

Entry ban due to coronavirus

According to the German travel law expert Prof. Dr. Ernst Führich, an officially imposed entry ban is a case of force of circumstances.

As a result, package holidays and individually booked flights can be cancelled free of charge.

For individually booked services, you can also argue with the airline that the basis for the contract no longer applies. For example, because you had planned a longer stay in the destination country.

You can prove this, for example, by making hotel reservations.

Whether this can actually be argued in this way will ultimately have to be decided by the courts.

In such a case, travellers cannot claim compensation payments.

Coronavirus and Travel Insurance: Am I covered?

Whether the insurance cover of your cancellation insurance or your trip interruption coverage applies depends on the respective contractual conditions.

Epidemics, pandemics and terrorism are usually excluded from the insurance.

Normally, the travel cancellation insurance or the trip interruption coverage usually applies to accidents, serious injuries (broken bones) or unforeseeable illnesses of the insured person.

If you fall ill or injure yourself abroad, your travel health insurance usually covers the treatment costs. However, please take a look at the terms and conditions of your travel health insurance.

Some insurers exclude insurance cover in case of a pandemic.

Therefore, please take a look at the contract documents of your insurance company.

Some insurers exclude coverage for a pandemic-related disease.

Take a look at the contract documents of your insurance company.

Attention

Insurance companies require a medical certificate as proof. Pure fear of falling ill is not enough to claim insurance cover.

Tips for travel booking in times of Covid-19

When booking a trip, you should now pay attention to the following:

  • Think about whether a package tour is an option for you. Because with package holidays, you have a better chance of cancelling the trip free of charge if there is a second corona wave or a lockdown in the respective country.
     
  • If you book an individual trip, e.g. a hotel stay with your journey, you should only book travel services that can be cancelled at short notice free of charge or at low fees. Before booking, please read the cancellation rules and the general terms and conditions of the provider carefully.
     
  • Clarify before the booking whether there is a possibility for a free rebooking. This way you can postpone your holiday in case of a second wave or a lockdown.
     
  • Especially for holiday flats / holiday homes you should pay attention to the cancellation regulations or rebooking possibilities.
     
  • Ask if it is possible to book "cancellation packages". If the travel service is expensive, it can sometimes be worthwhile to add a cancellation option for a few euros.