STAY AT WWU AND ASSISTANCE
Under which conditions is the stay of international researchers (doctoral students, postdocs, scholarship holders, professors etc.) at the University of Münster possible?
Even if the Corona pandemic has made it challenging to welcome incomings in the last two years and still causes various problems, the recruitment of staff from all over the world and the continuation of the research cooperation with international scholarship holders is of great importance to the WWU. Therefore, since August 2020, we have expanded and newly developed structures to accompany arrivals and to make them as safe as possible. This also includes the preparation of the following information.
In Germany, research stays fall under the category of essentially necessary reasons to travel and are therefore normally allowed, even during the pandemic, with the required precautions. Special rules apply to persons from "variant of concern areas", which are normally affected by an almost total ban on entry and transport (see the questions on the topic of ENTRY REGULATIONS).
Nonetheless, host institutes and visiting researchers should carefully consider whether a stay is appropriate and necessary at present. The global pandemic situation is extremely dynamic and local lockdowns, airline cancellations and the more difficult working conditions in the German diplomatic missions lead to a very complex overall situation. Especially the employment of Non-EU nationals has to be planned with a considerable time-buffer. In addition, the various safety regulations on the international and national level are constantly changing. The currently valid official rules on departure, arrival and visits of incoming academics provide the framework for the provisions of the WWU.
How does WWU support international researchers after arrival?
The responsibility for international academics lies with the inviting department. The central administration will provide as much support as possible through guidelines and general advice, but cannot include specific assistance with quarantine cases etc.
In this context, everyone should bear in mind that the journey itself is a risk factor of infection, especially if it involves passing through different airports and train stations. Therefore, regardless if incoming researchers live in the WWU guesthouses or privately, if they are arriving from risk areas (check for updates on the website of the Robert Koch Institute: https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Risikogebiete_neu.html), a domestic quarantine is obligatory or at least recommended. This might also apply to vaccinated persons, for example from variant of concern of concern areas or if a negative Covid-19 test-result is presented upon entry. For more information, please see the section OBLIGATIONS BEFORE AND AFTER ARRIVAL.
Also, note that only certain vaccines are approved and accepted in the EU and moreover, in Germany only high-quality rapid antigen tests from the list of the Paul Ehrlich Institute are recognised https://www.pei.de/DE/newsroom/dossier/coronavirus/coronavirus-inhalt.html;jsessionid=73A237FACE683B6F46839B14F76668AF.intranet232?nn=169730&cms_pos=8
In case of quarantine, it is the responsibility of the hosting institute to assist the affected international academics initially with the necessary arrangements (shopping, SIM card and/or internet access, etc.). An exchange of cell phone numbers between the researcher and the supervisor is also strongly recommended. Especially if the newcomer presents symptoms of illness, this can ensure contact with a doctor or the emergency services. All of this should be considered especially for scientists from high-incidence and virus-variant of concern areas, where a 10- to 14-day isolation may be necessary.
Who provides information to international researchers apart from the departments?
For further information, contact the specific persons in charge, as follows:
- PhD students = Graduate Centre, Sabina Schneider, email@example.com
- Postdocs, scholarship Holders, professors, administrative staff = Welcome Centre of the International Office, Audrey Busch firstname.lastname@example.org and Maria Homeyer email@example.com
- Employment contracts = HR department, Stefan Schurmann firstname.lastname@example.org
- Issues concerning researchers from Brazil = Brazil Centre, Anja Grecko and Katy dos Santos email@example.com
Which entry regulations currently apply to international researchers?
A detailed overview of the EU entry regulations, as applied by the German government, is accessible on the webpage of the Foreign Ministry https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/visa-service/EinreiseUndAufenthalt. There you find up-to-date information on all important topics such as entry restrictions, entry registration, obligatory testing and quarantine.
The official rules at present differentiate between:
1) Arrival from countries with unrestricted entry, i.e. EU-member states, countries from the Schengen-associated area (for example Norway, Switzerland and Island) and some Non-EU countries, as indicated on the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior: https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/faqs/EN/topics/civil-protection/coronavirus/coronavirus-faqs.html;jsessionid=D61CCB4FA84650BDD2999DCD5B1AFD23.2_cid295 Please check for latest updates.
2) Countries with restricted entry, from where the arrival in Germany is only possible for urgent reasons: all others.
In addition, incoming travel from some countries designated by the RKI as "variant of concern areas" (https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Risikogebiete_neu.html;jsessionid=6429D8EF72634C4408A99E7F621632F5.internet062?nn=2444038) is completely interrupted with a few exceptions. Please refer to the websites of the Federal Foreign Office (mentioned above) and the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) for more information:
Please note: for countries of the first category “unrestricted entry”, pandemic protection requirements such as mandatory testing and quarantine still apply (see the FAQs on “Rules of conduct before and after arrival”).
Due to the enactment of the Federal Coronavirus Entry Regulations as of 12 May 2021, uniform regulations concerning protection measures against the Corona Virus apply in all federal states. The relevant information is published on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health under https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/en/coronavirus/infos-reisende/faq-tests-einreisende.html?fbclid=IwAR2WVGg-6KLO_V-cgGJGIp_TSQplLRZn1reYJB47pFtWaAjmrapcKOF8ArY . The provisions of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (https://www.land.nrw/corona) are also based on these federal regulations.
Before planning your stay, you should check whether entry from your country of origin is currently possible from a legal point of view. Normally an entry visa is required for researchers from non-EU countries (check https://www.uni-muenster.de/forschung/en/wissenschaftler/formales/Visum.html). However, many German embassies and consulates operate on a reduced schedule at present. In certain countries, the visa application process has been outsourced to private enterprises, which don´t manage all visa categories and often lack specific expertise on researcher visas. Especially traveling with family members proves difficult at times.
Additionally, in the case of restricted entry, a proof must be provided that the stay in Germany has an important reason, e.g. a job offer with an employment contract where the "work cannot be postponed or carried out abroad". For more information on this condition, check the following link: https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/faqs/EN/topics/civil-protection/coronavirus/travel-restrictions-border-control/IV-restrictions-applying-to-air-and-sea-travel-outside-of-europe/which-skilled-and-highly-qualified-foreign-workersare-permitted-to-enter-Germany.html
When applying for a researcher visa based on §18d, a signed hosting agreement https://www.bamf.de/SharedDocs/Anlagen/EN/Forschung/Forschungseinrichtungen/08muster-aufnahmevereinbarung-deutsch-englisch.pdf;jsessionid=F42351EFFC32CBD1AB6AE42C69144D6C.internet571?__blob=publicationFile&v=6 , funding proof and/or an employment contract are necessary. For the Blue Card, on the other hand, a “declaration on the employment relationship” (= Erklärung zum Beschäftigungsverhältnis) PDF file is usually required along with the contract and a minimum salary proof. There are other specific conditions for visas of PhD students. The “declaration of urgency” issued by the DAAD/HRK and required in the past is currently no longer necessary, but can still be helpful.
You can obtain indications on the preparation of these documents and the different visa categories applicable for researchers from the supporting units at WWU mentioned under point 1. In any case, international researchers should request information from the closest German diplomatic mission in their home country, to find out whether a visa application can be submitted at present and which procedures must be observed, before planning their journey.
OBLIGATIONS BEFORE AND AFTER ARRIVAL
Which obligations do international researchers have before and immediately after their arrival?
Different categories of risk areas
For entry requirements, at present only two categories of risk areas are defined by the German Robert Koch-Institute https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Risikogebiete_neu.html:
1) "high-risk area"
2) "variant of concern area"
Digital entry registration
Persons from the age of 6 years from high-risk (1) and variant of concern areas (2) must fill out a digital entry application before entering Germany (www.einreiseanmeldung.de) and carry the registration certificate with them upon entry. If, in exceptional cases, it is not possible to carry out a digital entry notification, travellers must instead complete the following substitutive notification on paper https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/fileadmin/Dateien/3_Downloads/C/Coronavirus/Infoblatt/2021/Englisch.pdf. Please note that fraudulent entry registration websites are currently in circulation. The operators of these websites pretend to carry out the digital entry registration for travellers and to transmit the data to the authorities; a fee is charged for the services. Therefore, only use the website www.einreiseanmeldung.de for the digital entry application, which is always free of charge. Only the proofs of the digital entry declaration generated by this website are accepted during controls.
Vaccinated persons and those recovered from a Covid-19 infection in the past 3 months do not have to present a negative test result upon entry, unless they come from a variant of concern area (https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/themen/coronavirus/faq-reisen-1735032). In any case, they have to present their proof of vaccination or recovery. For non-vaccinated travellers, a general obligation to present a negative antigen or PCR-test result upon entry applies, regardless whether they come from a risk area or not. Please note that antigen tests are no longer accepted, if you are coming from a variant of concern area. The test may not be older than 48 hours before entry for an antigen test and 72 hours for a PCR-test. In countries where there are few opportunities for testing, airlines may offer the tests or have them carried out by third parties.
In addition, for those arriving from variant of concern or high-risk areas, the proof of vaccination, recovery from Covid-19 or the negative test result has to be presented to the competent health authorities after arrival. Incoming travellers living in Münster need to send the relevant certification to the mail address firstname.lastname@example.org within 48 hours from their arrival.
The test certificate must be submitted on paper or in electronic form in German, English or French. Please note that only high-quality rapid antigen tests from the list of the Paul Ehrlich Institute are recognised (https://www.pei.de/DE/newsroom/dossier/coronavirus/coronavirus-inhalt.html;jsessionid=73A237FACE683B6F46839B14F76668AF.intranet232?nn=169730&cms_pos=8. The test result must be kept for at least ten days after entry and presented to the authorities upon request.
Important: To be considered fully vaccinated, the vaccine used has to be approved in Germany. At present, the five vaccines produced by BioNTech Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax (https://www.pei.de/DE/arzneimittel/impfstoffe/covid-19/covid-19-node.html;jsessionid=B7F0A7A9E1D2FAEE6AEDBF8A960CCD5A.intranet241) are included. In Non-EU countries, vaccination may also have been carried out with equivalent vaccines. An overview of the vaccines and their approval in the EU and Germany can be found here: https://reopen.europa.eu/static/COVID-19_VACCINES_3rd_countries_v2_05012022.xlsx
Until September 30, 2022 two single vaccinations are recognized as full vaccination protection (https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/ifsg/__22a.html). However, it should be remembered that there may be difficulties with the digital vaccination certificates as soon as the last vaccination was more than 9 months ago.
The vaccination certificate must contain the following information:
- The personal data of the person vaccinated (surname, first name and date of birth or passport/ID card number)
- Date of vaccination, number of vaccinations
- Name of the vaccine
- Name of the disease against which the vaccination was provided
- Characteristics indicating the person or institution responsible for carrying out the vaccination or issuing the certificate, for example an official symbol, stamp or the name of the issuer
The proof of recovery of a previous infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, must be issued in written or digital form in German, English, French, Italian or Spanish. It has to be based on laboratory diagnostics as a positive nucleic acid test (PCR, PoC-PCR or other nucleic acid amplification test methods), performed no less than 28 days and no more than 90 days previously.
A rapid antigen test does not count as proof of recovery in Germany.
Regardless of the test result, in certain cases there is a quarantine obligation, which the state of NRW applies as follows:
- Persons entering from "variant of concern areas" (2) must immediately reach their residence or other possible accommodation and completely isolate themselves there for a period of 14 days (calculated from the day of their arrival). This also applies to persons who have initially entered another state of the Federal Republic of Germany. Besides the quarantine, these persons are obliged to present a negative test result upon arrival and send it by email to the address email@example.com of the Public Health Department of Münster within 48 hours. Moreover, if typical symptoms of an infection with the coronavirus such as cough, fever, cold or loss of smell and taste occur during the time in quarantine, they have to inform this department immediately. A negative test result does not shorten the period of segregation.
- Persons entering the country from "high-risk areas" (2) must only quarantine for a period of 10 days, if they have not been vaccinated or have recovered or if they have been in a "variant of concern area" in the last 10 days. There is also the option to present a negative test certificate, which has been carried out no earlier than 48 hours before departure. They must provide the test, vaccination or proof of recovery in the digital entry application.
Children under 12 years of age are exempt from the proof requirement. The quarantine obligation does not apply to children under 6 years of age. For children between six and twelve years of age who have not submitted proof of convalescence or vaccination, quarantine ends five days after entry or upon submission of proof of testing before the expiry of five days.
The current entry quarantine obligation applies up to and including 31 May 2022. Therefore, inform yourself about eventual updates. In general, only a few categories of persons are exempt from the quarantine or testing obligation. Further information on arrival in and returning to Münster can be found here: https://www.muenster.de/corona_faq.html (in German only).
Even for those entering Germany from a normal risk area with a negative test result, WWU strongly recommends a domestic quarantine of at least 5 days in order to avoid endangering new colleagues and other people, if they are not vaccinated or recently recovered. During this time, no visitors from outside the household are allowed. After that, we advise you to take another test to determine whether you are infected with the coronavirus (see questions on "Testing and medical assistance").
Further questions and answers for people entering the country from risk areas can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health: https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/en/coronavirus/infos-reisende/faq-tests-einreisende.html?fbclid=IwAR2WVGg-6KLO_V-cgGJGIp_TSQplLRZn1reYJB47pFtWaAjmrapcKOF8ArY . In addition, compare this information with the most recent ordinance of the Corona Protection Ordinance applicable in NRW: https://www.mags.nrw/coronavirus-rechtlicheregelungen-nrw. Please also note that violations of the Corona Protection Ordinance applicable in NRW are punishable as administrative offences on the part of the competent authorities.
Which testing facilities are available upon arrival?
Testing centres requiring payment are available at all airports with flights from risk areas and free testing facilities are accessible in all bigger towns for persons residing in Germany. For more detailed information on testing options after arrival check topic 4 COVID-19 TESTING, VACCINATION AND MEDICAL ASSISTANCE.
All incoming researchers are strongly recommended to install the Corona Warning App developed by the German government on their smartphone. The app is also available in English https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/themen/corona-warn-app/corona-warn-app-englisch and other languages.
POSSIBILITIES FOR TESTING, VACCINATION AND MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IN MÜNSTER
Where can international researchers from risk areas carry out a Covid-19 test once they are in Münster?
Once you arrived in Münster, there are various testing opportunities for free. However, these presuppose that you have a residence in Germany, i.e. that you have carried out the so-called “Anmeldung”, even if this requirement usually is not checked. You can find information on the test centres on this website of the city of Münster: https://www.muenster.de/corona_testungen.html. You can also get self-tests in all pharmacies and many supermarkets or simply have them delivered online.
Which vaccinations are recognised in Germany?
Only persons vaccinated with one of the five products accepted in Germany are considered fully vaccinated. These are the following: BioNTech Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax (https://www.pei.de/DE/arzneimittel/impfstoffe/covid-19/covid-19-node.html;jsessionid=B7F0A7A9E1D2FAEE6AEDBF8A960CCD5A.intranet241). Please take note that a vaccination with Johnson & Johnson alone is not considered a full protection, but needs to be complemented with a further dose of BioNTech Pfizer or Moderna to be recognised as fully vaccinated. The second or final dose must have been received at least 2 weeks prior to departure.
International researchers, who have received a vaccination with a product not accepted in Germany (at present for example Sputnik of Sinovac), unfortunately are considered not vaccinated and therefore subject to all the existing limitations. To check the acceptance of your vaccine use this link to the Paul-Ehrlich-Institute
Which options do international scientists have for vaccinating against the Corona virus?
At present, every person with a stable residence in Germany has the right to be vaccinated in a doctor’s study. Therefore, also international researchers from WWU can access vaccination, independently whether they are employed or holding a scholarship. For the initial and booster vaccination, you can contact the local vaccination centre at the "Jovel". Information on location and opening hours is published on the dedicated web pages of the city of Münster https://www.muenster.de/corona_impfung.html (in German only).
Moreover, selected general practitioners can vaccinate their patients. International researchers should therefore – and in order to have treatment at hand in case of illness – choose a GP as soon as possible after their arrival. Persons with statutory health insurance can proceed as follows:
- Go to this link on the website of the Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Westfalen-Lippe https://www.kvwl.de/earzt/.
- In the section “Arzt- Psychotherapeutensuche”, enter your address in the left field at the top.
- In the right field at the top, select “Allgemeinmedizin”.
- For a doctor who speaks English, now select “English” or another language in the next fields under the keyword "Besonderheiten (beruhen auf Selbstauskünften)”. The system then filters only English-speaking doctors in their area.
If you have a private health insurance, you can also access doctors, who are not in the KVWL’s list.
Once you chose a doctor, contact her or him and make an appointment for vaccination. This might be possible also via the website. For the appointment bring your passport, the registration of your address (the so-called „Anmeldung“) and, if available, the vaccination booklet for the appointment. Without the latter, you will receive a substitute certificate from the MD.
How to proceed in case of Covid-typical symptoms?
In case you show symptoms, always retreat to voluntary quarantine and get in contact with a medical study or the local Corona hotline (Tel. 0251/492-1077) for a consultation. In severe cases (i.e. if you have high fever for more than one day or encounter respiratory problems) and cannot reach a GP, call the medical emergency number (Tel. 116 117). If you need to obtain a test with symptoms, contact your general practitioner.
If you feel ill with Covid-19 symptoms during the weekend or a holiday, you have the possibility to carry out a PCR-test in of the two following hospitals:
Tel.: 02 51/500 70
Weekends and holidays from 8 am until 10 pm
St. Franziskus-Hospital Münster
Tel.: 02 51/93 50
Weekends and holidays from 9 am until 9 pm
Important: Both facilities don´t carry out testing to release persons from quarantine.