Important information for refugees from Ukraine
This article contains all of the important information on contact points and the current coronavirus rules in Germany.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany’s infection prevention and control institute, still assesses the public health threat from COVID-19 as very high overall. To protect yourself and others, it is important to know and follow the coronavirus rules in place. In addition, a triple coronavirus vaccination lowers the risk of infecting others and the risk of developing severe or fatal COVID-19. Good to know: Refugees from Ukraine are entitled to coronavirus vaccination and to be issued with a digital EU COVID vaccination certificate.
Entry into Germany
In Germany, a general obligation to furnish proof (3G - vaccinated, recovered, tested, see info box) before entering the country currently applies. Coronavirus tests are provided at the border. Ukrainian-language information on entry into and stay in Germany is available on the website of the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration. Further information can be found on the Help portal germany4ukraine of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.
Current coronavirus rules in Germany
As soon as critical trends emerge in infection numbers or the healthcare systems in the Federal Länder threaten to be strained, the Land governments and parliaments can at any time bring in measures such as the so-called 2G or 3G rules. Therefore, we suggest that you regularly inform yourself about the measures that apply in your region, since the rules may change at short notice in response to infection rates. Important: Basic protective measures such as the mask mandate, social distancing and hygiene rules as well as obligations relating to testing and proof can apply irrespective of other regulations.
This is what the 2G and 3G rules mean
Depending on the context, the G stands for geimpft (vaccinated), genesen (recovered) or getestet (tested). 3G, for instance, means that only persons who are fully vaccinated, who recently recovered from coronavirus or currently test negative for coronavirus are given admission. If 2G applies, only vaccinated or recovered persons are admitted, a negative test result is not sufficient. To be able to prove you are vaccinated, recovered or tested, you need valid documentation. If you are vaccinated or recovered, you can get proof thereof at the pharmacy. Proof of testing is issued at the testing station.
Contact persons and response to the coronavirus pandemic
All of the Federal Länder in Germany have set up contact points for refugees that you can turn to if you have any questions. Check the map below for your local contact point.
The most important information on medical care can be found here. In urgent cases, please visit a hospital’s emergency department or call the emergency medical services by dialling 112. In Germany, refugees in need of assistance are entitled to medical services. For instance, medical and dental services are provided in case of acute illness or pain. As long as refugees in Germany do not work, for the first 18 months of their stay in the federal territory they receive healthcare services under the German Asylum Seekers Benefits Act (Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz - AsylbLG). The supply with medicines, bandages and dressings is also ensured and psychological treatment can be covered, too. For advice, you can turn to the local welfare office. Information on the healthcare of refugees can be found on the website of the German Medical Association. Even as a non-EU national, you can turn to the Office for the Equal Treatment of EU workers to get health insurance advice in several languages.
If you have questions to do with accommodation or financial assistance, you can turn to the local welfare office (in German). Alternatively, you can contact specialised migration counselling providers for advice (in English). You can find your competent foreigners authority by searching for your postcode here (in English).
Shopping and errands
Due to the high infection risk, a medical face mask or FFP2 mask must be worn indoors in many places. Please note: Should you be in quarantine or isolation - for instance because you or a contact person tested positive for coronavirus - you may not leave your accommodation. Instead, please ask your neighbours or hosts to shop for food or other items on your behalf.
Depending on the situation in your region, the 3G rule may apply on buses, trams or trains. If checked, you must be able to prove that you are vaccinated, recovered or tested. Moreover, a mask mandate (FFP2 or medical face mask) may apply. Please check what rules apply in the region in which you are staying.
Events and public life
Please note: Distancing and hygiene rules should be followed and face masks worn wherever people come together. In hospitals and nursing homes, moreover, testing is mandatory to protect vulnerable people.
Distancing, Hygiene, Masking up: This is how you cut the risk of infection
We all can help to protect ourselves and others by following distancing and hygiene practices, wearing a medical face mask or FFP2 mask in everyday life and airing enclosed spaces as often as possible.
- Distancing: We keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people on our way to work, when shopping or strolling in the park.
- Good hygiene practices: Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. Sneeze or cough into a handkerchief - if none is within reach, cover your mouth and nose with the crook of your elbow, turning away from other people.
- Masking up: Face masks are urgently recommended to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. In many places, mask-wearing is mandatory, for instance in buses, trams and trains, in many shops and wherever people come together in close spaces.
- Airing regularly: Indoors, extensive airing lowers the risk of infection.
Best to always keep one handy: The FFP2 mask or medical face mask
You can buy FFP2 masks and medical face masks in shops or at pharmacies everywhere. Above all, they protect their wearer from aerosols and droplets that primarily transmit coronavirus. However, they do so only if the face mask covers the mouth, nose and cheeks and fits snugly to your face along the entire edge.
Vaccination helps: Free vaccination opportunities for refugees
Be it COVID-19, measles or polio: Vaccines protect the health of everyone – and they protect the community. Refugees should get all of the vaccinations the Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) recommends for people living in Germany (see the RKI’s chart on minimum immunisations) at an early date. The vaccination recommendations for the respective age groups should be taken into account.
An immunisation schedule that includes all of the vaccinations recommended by the Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) can be found here.
Please note: In Germany, measles vaccination is mandatory for children to be enrolled into day-care centres. This vaccination should not be given at the same time as the COVID-19 jab, but spaced two weeks apart. Measles vaccines are given by paediatricians and at doctors’ surgeries.
The coronavirus vaccination – safe, effective, free
Currently, there is no general COVID-19 vaccination mandate – however, full vaccination at the earliest possible date is urgently recommended, since it significantly lowers the risk of serious COVID-19 and helps to control the pandemic. Refugees from Ukraine, too, can get free and easy access to vaccinations in Germany, for instance at vaccination centres, doctors’ surgeries or even pharmacies. After your second jab, those sites also issue you with the proof of full vaccination, and after the third jab, proof of the booster. All the important information on booking a vaccination appointment, the vaccines and special information on vaccinations, for instance of children or women, can be found here.
EU-authorised COVID-19 vaccines
Currently, five COVID-19 vaccines have been authorised in the EU. In Germany, the mRNA vaccines Comirnaty® by BioNTech/Pfizer and Spikevax® by Moderna, the protein-based vaccine Nuvaxovid® by Novavax and the vector-based vaccine Janssen® by Johnson & Johnson are predominantly used. All of the authorised vaccines are safe and effective. They differ slightly in terms of their mode of action and the intervals between the first and second dose.
What are the recommendations if I have received a non-EU-authorised vaccine?
If you have received a non-EU-authorised vaccine, recommendations are that you get at least one more COVID-19 shot, to be optimally protected from infection with the coronavirus. Your personal recommendation depends on the vaccine you have been given and how often you have been vaccinated.
In Germany, the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) drafts vaccination recommendations for Germany. The STIKO has issued a special recommendation for persons pre-vaccinated with any of the following vaccines:
- CoronaVac by Sinovac
- Covilo by Sinopharm
- Covaxin by Bharat Biotech International
- Sputnik V by Gamaleya
If you have received at least two vaccine doses of any of the above vaccines (i.e. you have the basic immunisation or already received a booster), you should get another vaccination, specifically with an mRNA vaccine (Comirnaty® by BioNTech or Spikevax® by Moderna). This vaccine should be given at an interval of at least three months after the last vaccine dose.
If you have recovered from a laboratory-diagnosed SARS-CoV-2 infection after completing the basic immunisation (i.e. at least two doses) with any of the above non-EU-authorised vaccines, the mRNA booster should not be given sooner than three months after the infection.
If you have only received one dose of any of the above vaccines, you are recommended a new vaccine series with basic immunisation and booster in line with the STIKO’s COVID-19 vaccination recommendation. This time, an mRNA-based vaccine or the protein-based vaccine Nuvaxovid® (Novavax) should be used, observing an interval of no less than 28 days between the new series' first dose and the previous vaccination with one of the above vaccines.
If you were vaccinated with another non-EU-authorised vaccine (not listed above), you should additionally receive a basic immunisation and a booster with an EU-authorised vaccine.
Please note that these are only scientific recommendations.
Information on who is considered fully vaccinated under prevailing German law for the purposes of entering the country or complying with admission restrictions can be found in the next chapter.
Which types of proof of vaccination are recognised in Germany under prevailing law for the purposes of entry into the country or complying with admission restrictions?
Only vaccinations with EU-approved vaccines or vaccines approved abroad whose formulation is identical to those approved in the EU have thus far been recognised as proof of vaccination for the purposes of entering Germany or for admission restrictions (see section 22a (1) of the Protection against Infection Act - IfSchG). This does not include CoronaVac (by Sinovac), Covilo (by Sinopharm), Covaxin (by Bharat Biotech International) or Sputnik V (by Gamaleya). People who have already been vaccinated abroad with a COVID-19 vaccine that is not approved in the EU require a further vaccination series with a vaccine that is approved by the European Commission in order to attain a “vaccinated” status in Germany.
Free coronavirus tests: Better day-to-day safety
Better safety and transparency through coronavirus testing: In Germany, regular coronavirus testing constitutes an important tool in the fight against the pandemic. This allows hitherto undetected coronavirus infections to be identified faster and infection chains to be interrupted earlier. Everyone in Germany is eligible for at least one free rapid antigen test a week – this also applies to refugees. To take advantage of the free coronavirus test, an official photo ID needs to be presented to confirm the person’s identity. Due to the current situation, requirements to provide proof are being handled pragmatically, however, and an unbureaucratic approach is recommended when verifying the identity of persons to be tested (e.g. by accepting a driver’s licence or document on a mobile phone).
In addition to identifying infections, testing fulfils an important function in establishing proof: Anyone who has a rapid antigen test done at a test centre or pharmacy, receives a certificate of the test result within a short period of time. With a negative test result, you are generally considered tested for 24 hours. A positive test result entitles you to a PCR test that, assuming it is also positive, will serve as a basis for proof of recovery later down the line. In this case, please also read the guidance provided under “You have tested positive: Your next steps”.
Find a test centre near you here (in German).
TIP: Use the Federal Government’s official Corona-Warn-App.
Millions of people in Germany have already used it to interrupt chains of infection, warn others and protect us all – simply by anonymously entering a positive test result. By the way: The app can also be used to show your vaccination, recovery or test status.
What do I do if I suspect I may have coronavirus?
You have tested positive? Or are experiencing symptoms typical of a coronavirus infection such as a dry cough, runny nose and fever, shortness of breath or loss of smell and taste? Or have had contact with an infected person? In these cases you must self-isolate from others as far as possible. Understand that you may be infectious and therefore pose a danger to others. Stay in your accommodation and avoid contact with others. If this is not possible on account of the special refugee circumstances, please wear a face mask and pay increased attention to distancing and hygiene. If you have not done so, please get tested.
Positive test result: What to do next
If you have tested positive for coronavirus, you must self-isolate immediately. After a confirmed infection you must generally self-isolate for 10 days. Please stay in your accommodation and avoid contact with others. After seven days and once you have been free of symptoms for 48 hours, you have the possibility to test to release – which means ending your isolation early – by taking another rapid test.
Important: In case of emergency, for instance in case of severe breathing difficulties, please dial 112! This is the number of the emergency hotline in Germany, which will provide you with assistance. If you are having difficulties with the language, please ask your local contact people, for instance the refugee assistance, your host or the contact point of the Federal Land in which your accommodation is located. If you prefer, you can also turn directly to a hospital’s emergency department.
Further information in Ukrainian
The Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) provides refugees from Ukraine with information materials on coronavirus vaccination and on the coronavirus pandemic in Ukrainian language: from general information via information about the vaccination procedure to information on children’s vaccination. Materials on coronavirus testing and hygiene measures are also available free of charge. Additional materials such as educational fliers on coronavirus vaccination or a list of useful initiatives can also be found on our website.
Important information for people from Ukraine on entering and staying in Germany is also available in the Handbook Germany: