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

Last updated: 26.11.2020 / 16 pm

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

In view of 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 (BMI). Prior to travelling to Germany, please have a look on the website of the BMI in order 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. Other countries in which the epidemiological situation makes entry to Germany possible can be found in this corresponding list. 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 own 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 at www.einreiseanmeldung.de 

Since 15th September on, corona tests for people returning from a non-risk-area are no more 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: Regions Ida-Viru, Harju, Hiiu and Rapla

Finland: Uusimaa region (including Helsinki metropolitan area)

France: All of France. Overseas territories: French Guyana, Saint Martin, Guadeloupe, La Réunion, Martinique and French Polynesia 

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

Hungary: The whole of Hungary

Ireland: All of Ireland 

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: Province of Oslo, Vestland and Viken

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, 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.


Restriction in Germany decided by the federal and state goverments
 

The following additional measures will apply nationwide from December 2020.

  • The partial shutdown is extended until at least 20 December 2020. Bars, restaurants, cultural and leisure facilities will remain closed.
     
  • Shops will remain open under the following conditions. In sales areas of up to 800 square metres, no more than one person per 10 square metres is allowed, in sales areas of 800 square metres and above, no more than one person per 20 square metres.
     
  • Contact restrictions: A maximum of 5 persons from your own and another household may meet. This applies to both private and public spaces. Children under 14 years of age are excluded.
     
  • Masks must also be worn in front of shops and on car parks. The same applies to all places with public traffic in city centres. A mouth and nose protector must also be worn from the 7th grade upwards (applies to regions with a 7-day incidence of more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants).
     
  • Separate regulations for Christmas. From 23 December 2020 to 1 January 2021, meetings with people from several households are allowed, but not more than 10 people.
     
  • On New Year's Eve, fireworks are prohibited in busy squares and streets. It is generally recommended to avoid fireworks on New Year's Eve.
     
  • Non-essential business and private trips should be avoided. In particular, tourist trips abroad - also in view of the skiing season - should be avoided.

Further informations on the website of the Federal Government (in German).


The following still applies:

  • Distance regulations: 1,5 m 
     
  • Regarding the contact restrictions, there are different regulations in the individual 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. In more and more cities, masks are becoming mandatory in public spaces as well. Further information can be found on the websites of the respective state governments. 

New platform for travel information

What applies in the 27 EU member states and what travel recommendations are made can be read on the European Commission's "Re-open-EU" website. There you can find information on border procedures, means of transport, quarantine regulations, distance rules and the obligation to wear a mask.

Travel information for other countries

Last  update: 20.11.2020, 12 p.m. 

Entry is again permitted from most EU countries, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and the Vatican City State if the people have their residence or their habitual residence is in Austria or in one of the above-mentioned countries. Persons coming from Bulgaria, Croatia, Portugal, Romania., Spain (not applicable for people entering from Canary Islands) and Sweden may not enter. 

Entry from all other countries is only permitted if there is a valid reason. A health certificate must be carried with that proves a negative COVID19 test. Since July 24, 2020, the test must be done by a certified laboratory and must not be older than 72 hours. The Austrian Federal Ministry of Social Affairs provides further information.

The government has also issued travel warnings for many countries, including some from the EU. All travel warnings can be found on the website of the Austrian Foreign Ministry.

From 17 Nov. until 6 Dec. 2020 a strict lockdown will apply in Austria. Shops that are not necessary for daily needs have to close, leaving one's own home is only allowed for good reason.

Accommodation: Since 3 November 2020 and for the time being until the end of November 2020 it is prohibited in Austria to rent accommodation to tourists.

Masks are mandatory in supermarkets, bank and post offices, in public transport, taxis, cable cars and rack railways, coaches and in the interior of excursion boats, in pharmacies and at events in closed rooms without assigned seats and if the minimum distance of 1 metre cannot be observed or if there are no other protective measures (e. g. protective screens). In Upper Austria (Oberösterreich) wearing masks is mandatory while entering public places in inner spaces, e. g. shopping centres, market halls and restaurants. 

Detailed information is available in the FAQ of the Austrian Government.

Further information on travel and cancellation possibilities is available on the website of the European Consumer Centre Austria.

Further information on the safety instructions can be found on the website of the Federal Foreign Office (in German).

Last update: 09.11. 2020, 1 pm

The Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs classifies a certain number of countries / regions worldwide as red (high risk of infection) and orange (moderate risk of infection) countries. In Germany there are currently some red areas. Everyone entering Belgium from one of these red zones is subject to a 10-day quarantine period and a further four days of increased vigilance. If corona symptoms occur, a PCR test must be carried out.

No quarantine or testing obligation applies to persons who have spent less than 48 hours in the relevant red zone and to persons entering from an orange zone.

Everyone wishing to enter Belgium must fill out the “Public Health Passenger Locator Form” 48 hours prior to entering and send it electronically or by e-mail. Also Belgian residents have to fill in the form if they have spent more than 48 hours abroad.  Travelers can also carry a paper version of the public health passenger locator form with them and hand it in to the airport police or post it to Saniport, Eurostation II, Place Victor Horta, 40 bte 10, 1060 Bruxelles.

Currently applies:

There are some restrictions in the country. For example, from 2 November 2020 to 13 December 2020, non-essential shops will be closed. This also applies to holiday parks, bungalows and camping sites.

In Flanders there is a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m., in Brussels and Wallonia from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., exceptions are allowed if there are important reasons. Restaurants, cafés and bars are closed. This also applies to hotel restaurants. Restaurants may, however, offer take-away food until 10 p.m., or deliver it by delivery services. No alcohol may be sold after 20.00 hrs. Discos and clubs are closed. Private outdoor meetings are limited to 4 persons.

In general, masks are compulsory on public transport, at bus stops, railway stations, platforms, airports, shops, shopping centres, and sometimes in shopping streets, places of worship, cultural institutions, markets and when entering restaurants and cafés. The municipalities independently define zones in public spaces where masks are compulsory. The number of customers in shops is limited, depending on the size of the shop. 

A safety distance of 1.50 m applies.

Further information on the exit restriction in Belgium can be found on the website of the Federal Public Service (FPS).

Last updated: 26.11.2020, 4 pm

A curfew has been in force throughout France since 30 October 2020. On 24 November 2020, the French government announced a relaxation of the curfew, which will be implemented in three stages. However, freedom of movement remains restricted and a completed certificate must be carried, otherwise a fine (135 euros) will be imposed. Travel to France that is not absolutely necessary should therefore continue to be avoided. 

Entry is possible from Germany as well as from all EU countries, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, the Vatican City State and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. However, France will continue to control its internal EU borders until the end of April 2021 and entry is also possible without restrictions from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea and Thailand. 

There are rules for entry from all other countries. Depending on the country, a negative COVID 19 test is required, which must not be older than 72 hours. Explanations of the reason for entry and the absence of COVID-19 symptoms may also be required. It may be necessary to go into quarantine. 

Further information:

  • The Zentrum für Europäischen Verbraucherschutz informs commuters regarding the current Corona-Situation in France (in German and French).

Last updated: 20.11.2020, 10 am

From 11 November 2020, entry into Greece will only be possible with a negative PCR test from the country of departure, plus an accompanying diagnosis in English. The test must not be older than 72 hours.

There is a compulsory registration for travellers entering by sea, air or land. Registration must be made at least 24 hours before departure using an online form. After that, travellers will receive a QR code which they must show on entry. From 10 November, the online form for Greek nationals will also be required for departures from Greece. 

Ferry traffic is taking place between Greece and Italy, while ferry traffic with Albania and Turkey remains suspended. Cruise ships and recreational craft will not be allowed to call at Greece for the time being.

Since 7 November 2020, a nationwide lockdown has been in force for three weeks for the time being. The flat may only be left with a special permit, stating special reasons. Supermarkets and shops necessary for basic services (e.g. pharmacies, bakeries, butchers, weekly markets and petrol stations) remain open. The wearing of a mask is compulsory everywhere, including outdoors. Public gatherings are prohibited. 

Tourist accommodation (campsites, youth hostels and holiday homes) and hotels may continue to open in the foreseeable future.

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: 09.11.2020, 1 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. In case of COVID-19 symptoms or contact with infected persons, the Italian health authority may impose a 14-day quarantine, which is reduced to 10 days if the test is negative. 

Travellers from Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Czech Republic and Spain are required to present a negative COVID-19 test, which must not be older than 72 hours, or a test on entry. Entry from Romania is subject to a 14-day self-isolation period.

Anyone entering from a third country needs an entry declaration. After entry, this must be registered with the local Italian health authority (Dipartimento di prevenzione dell'azienda sanitaria locale) and placed in quarantine for 14 days. 

Passengers travelling to Sardinia by plane or by ship must register 48 hours prior to entry. For this purpose, the Regione Autònoma de Sardegna provides information in Italian and the online form in German. Registration is also required for Calabriaand Puglia. For Sicily you have to register using the online form, or you can use the “SiciliaSiCura” app.

There are still restrictions on air, train, bus and ferry traffic. There are also restrictions for travelling by car to Italy. You will find further information on the website of the Italien Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Restrictions on travel and movement can be expected throughout Italy (individual regions may adopt individual rules). There is a national curfew from 22:00 to 5:00. Only essential reasons allow an exit (work, illness etc.). A self-declaration must be carried along. 

Hotels and shops may remain open subject to strict infection control and hygiene regulations, but shorter opening hours must be expected. Bars and restaurants must close at 6 pm. No alcohol may be consumed outside the home after 18.00 hrs. Cinemas and theatres are closed. Cultural and social events do not take place. Ski areas remain closed for amateur sports. The measures initially apply until 3 Dec. 2020.

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: 09.11.2020, 1:45 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 prior to departure to prove that they do not have Covid-19 symptoms. More information about travelling to the Netherlands by air can be found on the website of the Dutch government.

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 own restaurants. In indoor and outdoor areas outside your own household, groups of 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 in 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: 09.11.2020, 2 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 to 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 12 noon, shopping in grocery shops, drugstores 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. In public transport, the upper limit is 30 % of all seats and standing room or 50 % of all seats. At public and private meetigs 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 website of the German Embassy in Poland.

Last updated: 26.11.2020, 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 travelers. If the temperature exceesd 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.

Independently of this, national rules apply. For example, it is not allowed to leave the county of usual residence at the following times: 27 Nov. 2020 from 11 p.m. until 2 Dec. 2020 5 a.m. and between 4 Dec. 2020 from 11 p.m. until 9 Dec. 2020 5 a.m.

Stricter rules and curfews will also apply in the areas most severely affected by the pandemic. On weekdays between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. exits are only allowed with a valid reason. On weekends, the curfew will apply from 1 p.m. Shops have to close at 10 p.m, restaurants and cultural sites at 10.30 p.m.

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.

Last updated: 26.11.2020, 4:30 pm

Entry from all EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland is possible without any restrictions.

Since 1st July 2020, air travelers have to fill in a form on the Spain Travel Health portal. They will then receive a QR code which must be presented upon entry.

This can be done by using the Spanish app "SpTH". Registration can be carried out at the earliest 48 hours prior to entry.

From 23 November 2020, all travellers entering Spain by air or sea from a risk area (including Germany) must also have a negative COVID 19 test with them. The test must be carried out within 72 hours before entry. Tests in English and Spanish are accepted.  In the Canary Islands, a negative COVID-19 test must be presented since 14 November 2020. Transit passengers who do not leave the transit area are exempt from the obligation to carry a negative test result.

The borders at Ceuta and Melilla are closed. 

The current situation in Spain:

Nationwide, masks are compulsory in all public places, inside and outside enclosed spaces and on public transport. Anyone who does not comply with this is liable to a fine (approx. 100 euros). Children under 6 years of age and persons who cannot wear a mask for health reasons are exempt from the obligation to wear a mask. 

Across the country, the following measures, among others, have been adopted and are being implemented by the Autonomous Communities in response to rising infection rates: Closure of discos and night bars. Outdoor smoking is banned unless a minimum distance of 2 metres can be maintained. Stricter control of the ban on outdoor parties. In some Autonomous Communities, gatherings of more than 6 people are prohibited.

A state ofalert was declared for the whole of Spain on 25 October 2020, which was extended until 9 May 2021. This includes a night-time curfew (usually between 23:00 and 6:00) for all Autonomous Communities except the Canary Islands. Meetings of more than 6 people are not allowed. Autonomous Communities are authorised to impose further restrictions on movement for particularly affected areas.

In the Autonomous Community of Madrid there is a night-time curfew from 0 to 6 o'clock. For more details, see a map of Comunidad Madrid. 

Stricter measures are also in force in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia. These are to be gradually abolished from 23 Nov. 2020, depending on the incidence of infection.

The Balearic Islands have a night-time curfew from 0 to 6 am. In Ibiza, the curfew starts at 10 pm

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.

German nationals are allowed to enter Switzerland without any restrictions. However, the federal states of Berlin and Hamburg were classified as risk areas from 12th October 2020 on.

For travelers who have stayed there within the last 10 days, a 10-day's quarantine obligation applies when entering Switzerland, which cannot be shortened by a negative COVID-19 test result.

In general, there is a 10-day's quarantine while entering from risk countries. Anyone entering from these countries must report to the Swiss authorities within 2 days and enter into quarantine.

Further information is available on the website of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health

In Switzerland, a safe distance of 1,5 m must be maintained. In addition, mask wearing is compulsory on public transport.

Further information can be found on the websites of the Swiss authorities and the government.

Last updated: 26.11.2020, 4 am

The German Federal Foreign Office warns against unnecessary tourist trips to Turkey

Those who want to return from Turkey to Germany must do a Covid-19 testing 48 hours prior to leaving for Germany. Anyone who is tested positive must got to quarantine or take part in a medical treatment in Turkey. The testing is at traverler's expense.

This applies in the country:

Masks must be worn in all public places, in supermarkets and on public transport. Furthermore, a safety distance of 3 steps must be maintained. 

There is a curfew throughout the country on Saturdays from 8 p.m. to Sunday at 10 a.m. and on Sundays from 8 p.m. to Monday at 5 a.m.

In addition, there are temporary curfews throughout the country for people over 65 (daily from 1 p.m. to 10 a.m. the following day) and people under 20 (daily from 4 p.m. to 1 p.m. the following day).

Further information can be found on the website of the German representations in Turkey.

Last updated: 26. 11. 2020, 4 pm

Since 7 November 2020, a 14-day quarantine obligation has been mandatory for travellers from Germany.

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

There is no quarantine obligation for persons who, 14 days prior to their entry, have stayed in countries only isted in the so-called Travel Corridor.  This regulation also applies to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales

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

The following regulations apply within the country:

In England a lockdown with the following measures has been in force since 5 Nov. 2020 until 2 Dec. 2020: Gastronomy except take-away, cultural sites, sports centres, leisure facilities will remain closed. Schools and universities are open. Retail outlets must also close, with the exception of supermarkets and other shops deemed necessary. You may only leave your home for a valid reason, e.g. to go to work, school, the doctor, sports and to care for relatives. Meetings outside your own household are only allowed outside and only with one person.

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 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.

Entry ban to the USA

The USA has imposed an entry ban. The corresponding presidential decree has been in force since 13 March 2020.

Persons who have stayed in Germany or in another part of the Schengen area for 14 days before entering the United States are not allowed to enter the USA.

Entry is now only possible for

  • US citizens
  • persons who have a permanent legal residence in the USA (Green Card)
  • Family members of a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident of the U.S., e.g. spouse, parents, children or siblings under the age of 21.
  • diplomats or employees of an international organization

Further information for travelers to the USA can be found on the Federal Foreign Office (in German)

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 majeure", i.e. events that were not foreseeable at the time of 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 at the time of 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 canceled 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 comsumer canceled 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 that 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 due to the fact that 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 canceled the trip early and it later turns out that there was a travel warning at the time of 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 at a later date. 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 in the event of 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 the 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 own 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 canceled due to the corona virus, 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

In view of 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 canceled free of charge in the event of force majeure. 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 2020 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 in the absence of 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 on behalf of the traveler.

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 ertain 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 the event of force majeure. 

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 apartments 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 apartments 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 wich 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) - see below

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 will release the lockdown, it is possible that the regulation will be revoked and the right of cancellation does no more 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 an other 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 in the course of insolvency proceedings, the Federal Government will reimburse the rest.
  • If the voucher is not redeemed by 31 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.

In the case of 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 majeure. 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 issues 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. In the case of 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 emergency situation in Latvia or force majeure. 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 situation 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 issues 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 by clicking on the following link: https://apps.isc.klm.com/refundvoucher/

Those who prefer to have 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 apartments

You do not have to accept a voucher for holiday homes or apartments 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. This 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 have been booked between 13th March and 30th September 2020 which have been canceled due to corona measures, consumvers 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 cancelation of the booking.

Since 4th September 2020 package tour operators are no more 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 canceled 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 organiser. 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 organiser 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 Organisation. 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 in order 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 judical 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 at the same time.

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. Condition: You must be resident in Germany and your complaint must be against a company from another EU country, Norway, Iceland or UK.

Information on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Bodies (e.g. for air travel, holiday homes, package holidays, etc.) can be found here.

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.

And perhaps a European judicial procedure is also possible (no lawyer necessary). You can find further information here.

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

In the case of 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, travelers 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 corverage usually applies to 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 the event of a pandemic regarding the respective disease. 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 own 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 very expensive, it can sometimes be worthwhile to add a cancellation option for a few euros.