What do the travel restrictions mean?

In many EU countries, COVID-19 cases have been on the rise again since July 2020. So far, this has not led to border closures within the EU. As long as you are not infected, you can still travel to another EU country for work or study. However, you will have to comply with the COVID-19 restrictions in the country where you live and where you work or study.

NB: In many countries, new rules are announced with little warning. We do our utmost to keep the information on our website as up-to-date as possible.  

Residents of Belgium

Read the rules that apply if you enter the Netherlands from one of the following areas in the EU:

  • a risk area
  • a high-risk area 
  • an area with a coronavirus variant

Negative test

If you travel to the Netherlands from a risk area, a high-risk area or an area with a coronavirus variant, you are required to show a negative test before you depart. The negative test requirement does not extend to those travelling from an EU country rated as green or yellow. 

The following persons are not required to show a negative test: 

  • travellers under the age of 13
  • cross-border workers
  • cross-border students and schoolchildren 
  • persons working in goods transport and other transport workers, such as lorry drivers

Quarantine

You are advised to quarantine for 10 days. A COVID-19 test is only necessary if you have symptoms.

The advice to quarantine does not apply to employees, students or schoolchildren who have to commute across the border every day to reach their place of work or educational institution. 

You are regarded as a cross-border student or schoolchild if: 

  • you are registered at a Dutch school but your home address is outside the Netherlands, or 
  • you are registered at a school outside the Netherlands but your home address is in the Netherlands

You are regarded as a cross-border worker if: 

  • you work in the Netherlands, but you live in another EU country and you go back to your home outside the Netherlands at least once a week, or 
  • you live in the Netherlands, but you work in another EU country and you return to the Netherlands at least once a week

If you are a seasonal worker or a migrant worker, however, you will have to quarantine. 

If you return to Belgium from a high-risk area in the Netherlands

Negative test

Cross-border workers do not have to show a negative test. 

Negative travel advice for non-essential travel to and from a red zone.

Since Monday 19 April 2021, non-essential travel is no longer banned. However, the federal government still advises against non-essential travel to and from high-risk areas (red zones). Non-essential travel includes holiday trips, for example. Your trip is regarded as essential if you travel for your work or studies. 

Quarantine

You have to quarantine for 7 days and take a COVID-19 test on day 5. If the test is positive, you must stay in quarantine for a further 7 days. There are 2 exceptions to this rule: 

  1. If you are a cross-border worker or student with a daily commute across the border and you stay in the Netherlands for less than 48 hours at a time, you are not required to quarantine or get tested.
  2. If you stay in the high-risk area for more than 48 hours but your risk of catching the virus is low, you should fill in the online form Passagier Lokalisatie Formulier (PLF) before you return to Belgium. On the form, you can give a self-evaluation of your risk of catching the virus. If you do not receive an SMS after you have submitted the PLF form, you are not required to quarantine or get tested.

If you have any questions about the PLF form or the rules for quarantine or testing in Belgium, you can send an email to the Federal Government Department (FOD) of Health at info.coronavirus@health.fgov.be.

Assembly ban

An assembly ban was introduced on 8 May 2021. Between 12 midnight and 5 a.m., people are only allowed to move around together in public spaces in groups of no more than 3. Children under 12 do not count. The assembly ban does not apply to people from the same household. Failing to observe the ban may result in a fine of €250.

Residents of Germany

Read the rules that apply if you enter the Netherlands from one of the following areas in the EU:

  • a risk area
  • a high-risk area 
  • an area with a coronavirus variant

Negative test

If you travel to the Netherlands from a risk area, a high-risk area or an area with a coronavirus variant, you are required to show a negative test before you depart. The negative test requirement does not extend to those travelling from an EU country rated as green or yellow.

The following persons are not required to show a negative test: 

  • travellers under the age of 13 cross-border workers 
  • cross-border students and schoolchildren 
  • persons working in goods transport and other transport workers, such as lorry drivers

Quarantine

You are advised to quarantine for 10 days. A COVID-19 test is only necessary if you have symptoms.

The advice to quarantine does not apply to employees, students or schoolchildren who have to commute across the border every day to reach their place of work or educational institution. 

You are regarded as a cross-border student or schoolchild if: 

  • you are registered at a Dutch school but your home address is outside the Netherlands, or 
  • you are registered at a school outside the Netherlands but your home address is in the Netherlands

You are regarded as a cross-border worker if: 

  • you work in the Netherlands, but you live in another EU country and you go back to your home outside the Netherlands at least once a week, or 
  • you live in the Netherlands, but you work in another EU country and you return to the Netherlands at least once a week

If you are a seasonal worker or a migrant worker, however, you will have to quarantine. 

If you have been in a risk area, a high-risk area or an area with a coronavirus variant in the past 10 days, you will have to quarantine for 10 or 14 days after entering Germany. You will also have to report to the relevant German health service (Gesundheitsamt).

Mandatory registration

If you want to enter Germany from a risk area, you must complete a digital registration before travelling to Germany. Check whether an exception applies for you, for example because you will be travelling through Germany or a risk area without a stopover.

Testing requirement

Everyone aged 7 or older must be able to show a negative test upon arrival. The test must not be more than 48 hours old.

Where can you get tested?

Cross-border commuters can register online for a free test at grenstesten.nl. The test can be taken at different places on the Dutch-German border. Or you can go to a commercial test centre. The Dutch health authorities (GGD) do not issue a test certificate.

If you are a Dutch resident who commutes to Germany, you can ask your employer about the possibility of taking a test in Germany. You are allowed to travel across the border to be tested as long as you can prove that you work, go to school or study in Germany.

Exceptions to the testing and registration requirements

Each Federal State has its own requirements and exemptions. Check the COVID-19 rules (‘Coronaschutzverordnungen’) for the Federal State you are travelling to. In general, the following applies:

  • Cross-border commuters
    If you travel to Germany at least once a week to work, go to school or study, or to look after a relative, you only need to complete a digital registration once a week. If you have a negative test, you can use it up to 72 hours (instead of 48 hours) after the test was done. This means that you will have to get tested twice a week. 
  • Parents taking their underage children to school
    If you take your child to school and pick them up again and you go straight from home to school and back, you do not need to show a negative test.
  • People working in transport
    If you work in transport (transporting goods or persons), you do not need to show a negative test, providing you follow the hygiene and protection measures.

In some Federal States, you do not need a test if you can prove that you have been fully vaccinated or you have recovered from COVID-19. This is the case in Niedersachen (Lower Saxony) and Nordrhein Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia)

Residents of the Netherlands

If you arrive in Belgium from a high-risk area in the Netherlands

Negative test

Cross-border workers do not have to show a negative test. 

Negative travel advice for non-essential travel to and from a red zone.

Since Monday 19 April 2021, non-essential travel is no longer banned. However, the federal government still advises against non-essential travel to and from high-risk areas (red zones). Non-essential travel includes holiday trips, for example. Your trip is regarded as essential if you travel for your work or studies. 

Quarantine

You have to quarantine for 7 days and take a COVID-19 test on day 5. If the test is positive, you must stay in quarantine for a further 7 days. There are 2 exceptions to this rule: 

  1. If you are a cross-border worker or student with a daily commute across the border and you stay in the Netherlands for less than 48 hours at a time, you are not required to quarantine or get tested.
  2. If you stay in the high-risk area for more than 48 hours but your risk of catching the virus is low, you should fill in the online form Passagier Lokalisatie Formulier (PLF) before you return to Belgium. On the form, you can give a self-evaluation of your risk of catching the virus. If you do not receive an SMS after you have submitted the PLF form, you are not required to quarantine or get tested.

If you have any questions about the PLF form or the rules for quarantine or testing in Belgium, you can send an email to the Federal Government Department (FOD) of Health at info.coronavirus@health.fgov.be.

Assembly ban

An assembly ban was introduced on 8 May 2021. Between 12 midnight and 5 a.m., people are only allowed to move around together in public spaces in groups of no more than 3. Children under 12 do not count. The assembly ban does not apply to people from the same household. Failing to observe the ban may result in a fine of €250.

If you have been in a risk area, a high-risk area or an area with a coronavirus variant in the past 10 days, you will have to quarantine for 10 or 14 days after entering Germany. You will also have to report to the relevant German health service (Gesundheitsamt).

Mandatory registration

If you want to enter Germany from a risk area, you must complete a digital registration before travelling to Germany. Check whether an exception applies for you, for example because you will be travelling through Germany or a risk area without a stopover.

Testing requirement

Everyone aged 7 or older must be able to show a negative test upon arrival. The test must not be more than 48 hours old.

Where can you get tested?

Cross-border commuters can register online for a free test at grenstesten.nl. The test can be taken at different places on the Dutch-German border. Or you can go to a commercial test centre. The Dutch health authorities (GGD) do not issue a test certificate.

If you are a Dutch resident who commutes to Germany, you can ask your employer about the possibility of taking a test in Germany. You are allowed to travel across the border to be tested as long as you can prove that you work, go to school or study in Germany.

Exceptions to the testing and registration requirements

Each Federal State has its own requirements and exemptions. Check the COVID-19 rules (‘Coronaschutzverordnungen’) for the Federal State you are travelling to. In general, the following applies:

  • Cross-border commuters
    If you travel to Germany at least once a week to work, go to school or study, or to look after a relative, you only need to complete a digital registration once a week. If you have a negative test, you can use it up to 72 hours (instead of 48 hours) after the test was done. This means that you will have to get tested twice a week. 
  • Parents taking their underage children to school
    If you take your child to school and pick them up again and you go straight from home to school and back, you do not need to show a negative test.
  • People working in transport
    If you work in transport (transporting goods or persons), you do not need to show a negative test, providing you follow the hygiene and protection measures.

In some Federal States, you do not need a test if you can prove that you have been fully vaccinated or you have recovered from COVID-19. This is the case in Niedersachen (Lower Saxony) and Nordrhein Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia)

Read the rules that apply if you enter the Netherlands from one of the following areas in the EU:

  • a risk area
  • a high-risk area 
  • an area with a coronavirus variant

Negative test

If you travel to the Netherlands from a risk area, a high-risk area or an area with a coronavirus variant, you are required to show a negative test before you depart. The negative test requirement does not extend to those travelling from an EU country rated as green or yellow.

The following persons are not required to show a negative test:

  • travellers under the age of 13 cross-border workers
  • cross-border students and schoolchildren 
  • persons working in goods transport and other transport workers, such as lorry drivers

Quarantine

You are advised to quarantine for 10 days. A COVID-19 test is only necessary if you have symptoms.

The advice to quarantine does not apply to employees, students or schoolchildren who have to commute across the border every day to reach their place of work or educational institution. 

You are regarded as a cross-border student or schoolchild if: 

  • you are registered at a Dutch school but your home address is outside the Netherlands, or 
  • you are registered at a school outside the Netherlands but your home address is in the Netherlands

You are regarded as a cross-border worker if: 

  • you work in the Netherlands, but you live in another EU country and you go back to your home outside the Netherlands at least once a week, or 
  • you live in the Netherlands, but you work in another EU country and you return to the Netherlands at least once a week

If you are a seasonal worker or a migrant worker, however, you will have to quarantine.