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Current

COVID-19

The spread of COVID-19 continues to lead to restrictions in international air and travel traffic and impairment of public life.

Before unnecessary tourist trips to the USA (including Puerto Rico and other U.S. suburbs) is currently being warned.

Epidemiological situation

The US has been hard hit by COVID-19, but the number of infections is falling. Nationwide, the incidence is more than 50 cases per 100,000 population over seven days, which is why the United States is classified as a risk area.
The US American health authority Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) provide current and detailed figures.

entry

The US government has renewed the current entry ban for people who have been in Germany or another country in the Schengen area within a period of 14 days prior to entry with a Presidential Proclamation until further notice. There are also entry restrictions for prior stays in the UK, Ireland, Brazil and South Africa. US citizens, persons with permanent legal residence in the USA (“green card” holders), close relatives of US citizens, diplomats or employees of international organizations are exempt from the ban on entry. The US representations in Germany will publish further details on further exceptions and on the issuing of National Interest Exceptions (NIE).

Before entering the USA, travelers must present a negative corona test (PCR test or antigen test) (electronically or in paper form) to the airline, which must not be older than three days. People who were infected with COVID-19 within three months of departure must provide the airline with appropriate evidence. Masks are required during the flight and at the airports.

Another corona test within three to five days of entry is recommended. The quarantine recommendations of the "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention" (CDC), as well as the quarantine regulations at the federal and local levels, must be observed.

Transit and onward travel

The entry ban also severely restricts the possibility of airport transit. Airport transit is currently not possible for people who have been in Germany or other Schengen area countries in the 14 days prior to their journey.

The land borders with Mexico and Canada are closed to passenger traffic until further notice. The Department of Homeland Security publishes information on exceptions.

Travel connections

There are regular, direct travel connections to Germany and other European countries.

Restrictions in the country

There are still restrictions on public life in several states.

Hygiene rules

Many states require that mouth and nose protection be worn in public.

  • Before you leave, inquire about entry requirements with the relevant US representative in Germany and observe the respective quarantine regulations of the USA at the state and local level.
  • When traveling within the country, observe the locally different hygiene and distance regulations, in particular the information from the local authorities and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Stays in foreign countries can currently affect the possibility of entering other countries. Therefore, find out about the current regulations on entry, transit and quarantine in the respective travel countries via the travel and safety information before starting any trip.
  • When you return to Germany, note the valid entry restrictions such as registration, test and quarantine regulations, inquire about the current conditions of carriage at the responsible company or your tour operator, if necessary, and contact the health department at your place of residence or residence if you are entering from a risk area . Further information is available in our continuously updated info box on COVID-19 / Coronavirus.

security

terrorism

There have been repeated terrorist attacks in the United States in recent years. The U.S. government indicates the possibility of further attacks and calls for particular caution.

Domestic situation

In the wake of the clashes over racism and police violence in recent months and the transition to a new administration after the elections, there is still an increased risk of politically motivated violence. Please take note of the following guidelines:

  • Find out about the local media.
  • Avoid large gatherings of people in the vicinity of which violence could possibly occur.
  • Follow the instructions of local security guards.

crime

Pickpockets, robberies and car break-ins occur in many metropolitan areas in the USA, but the risk varies greatly depending on the location and also within a large city depending on the district. In poorer neighborhoods, risks for travelers increase, especially after dark, as well as in tourist areas and on public transport. Shop robberies have increased noticeably in some cities in recent months.
In the USA it is easy to get hold of guns, so that there is more frequent use of firearms and occasional rampages of gunfire. The number of arms and ammunition purchases increased significantly during the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Inquire at your respective place of residence about the local conditions and which areas should be avoided if you are not familiar with the area.
  • In the event of an armed robbery, do not resist.
  • Keep money, ID, driver's license, flight tickets, other important documents and valuables safe, e.g. in the safe.
  • Do not leave anything behind in parked (rental) cars, not even in apparently secure, guarded parking lots in front of shopping centers.
  • Prefer cashless payments and only take the cash you need for the day and no unnecessary valuables with you when you visit poorer areas.
  • Be particularly vigilant in large crowds such as at airports, train stations, in the subway and on the bus, and watch out for your valuables.
  • Make copies of all important documents (e.g. passport, flight tickets) and keep them separate from the original documents.

Nature and climate

The climate zones range from polar in Alaska to cool or warm temperate to oceanic in the Pacific coastal area and subtropical in southern Florida.

Cyclones and tornadoes

Strong cyclones are common in certain regions of the United States. In the meantime, apart from short-term hurricane-like winds, the amounts of rain and the associated flooding pose great dangers.

In the Caribbean, the southern states of the USA and Hawaii, the hurricane season is from May to November.

Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are also repeatedly hit by hurricanes.

The U.S. outer areas in the Pacific Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are frequently affected by typhoons.

In the American Midwest in particular, there is an increased risk of tornado from March to July.

Especially numerous in Alaska, Hawaii and the Northern Marians, but also e.g. St. Helens in Washington State and Mount Hood in Oregon, there are volcanoes that have been active in the United States in modern times.
In the period from May and September 2018, earthquakes and eruptions of the Kilauea volcano occurred in Hawaii in the southeast of the Big Island.
After or during volcanic eruptions, roads are repeatedly closed due to escaping lava.

  • Be especially careful on trips to volcanoes and do not go on trips without a local guide.
  • Do not enter restricted areas. Up-to-date information on warning levels is available from U.S. Volcanoes and Current Activity Alerts.
  • Familiarize yourself with behavioral guidelines for earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis. These are provided by the fact sheets of the German Research Center for Geosciences and the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program.
  • Inquire about current impairments at FEMA or use the FEMA app, which not only shows current alarm messages but also the nearest emergency accommodation.

Bush and forest fires

In the states of California, Oregon and Washington in particular, bush and forest fires occur again and again, especially from June to December. These are often difficult to control.
There is also an increased risk of bush and forest fires in other states, especially in the southern and southwestern United States.

  • Pay attention to media reports and advice from local authorities regarding bush and forest fires.
  • Find out about current situations at the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and about air quality in affected areas via AirNow.
  • Inquire about current impairments at FEMA or use the FEMA app, which not only shows current alarm messages but also the nearest emergency accommodation.

Cold and blizzards

Extreme cold can occur during the winter months, especially in the Midwest and Northern United States. Snow storms often occur on the east coast, which severely affect public life.

  • Be prepared for significant traffic obstructions, including restrictions in air traffic, and find out more from the Federal Aviation Administration, for example.
  • Pay attention to reports in the media and information from local authorities, e.g. the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) or use the FEMA app, which not only shows current alarm messages but also the nearest emergency accommodation.

Earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis

Parts of the USA are located in seismically very active zones in which there is an increased risk of earthquakes and sometimes also tsunami, such as in Alaska, California, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the American Virgin Islands and the Northern Marians.
The last earthquake in California was 6.4 and 7.1 near Ridgecrest around 200 kilometers north of Los Angeles in early July 2019.

Several earthquakes up to magnitude 6.4 occurred in the southwest of Puerto Rico in late December 2019 and early January 2020. There were some fatalities and injuries. There was sometimes considerable damage to buildings and infrastructure. Further aftershocks must be expected in the region.

  • Find out more before traveling to the affected areas.
  • Be extra careful there.
  • Avoid damaged buildings, bridges, and roads.

Especially numerous in Alaska, Hawaii and the Northern Marians, but also e.g. St. Helens in Washington State and Mount Hood in Oregon, there are volcanoes that have been active in the United States in modern times.
In the period from May and September 2018, earthquakes and eruptions of the Kilauea volcano occurred in Hawaii in the southeast of the Big Island.
After or during volcanic eruptions, roads are repeatedly closed due to escaping lava.

  • Be especially careful on trips to volcanoes and do not go on trips without a local guide.
  • Do not enter restricted areas. Up-to-date information on warning levels is available from U.S. Volcanoes and Current Activity Alerts.
  • Familiarize yourself with behavioral guidelines for earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis. These are provided by the fact sheets of the German Research Center for Geosciences and the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program.
  • Inquire about current impairments at FEMA or use the FEMA app, which not only shows current alarm messages but also the nearest emergency accommodation.

Algae plagues

From August to November in particular, a plague of red algae ("red tide") can occur on the coasts of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.
Bathing is possible, but depending on the occurrence, it can be impaired by skin irritations, smells and coughing.

Travel info

Infrastructure / traffic

Traffic routes may be impaired due to measures related to COVID-19 containment, see Current.

Public transportation

There are numerous domestic flights, rail and bus routes. In the metropolises there are also underground trains and other local means of transport.

  • Depending on the location, it is advisable to avoid public transport at night.

Participation in road traffic

The legislative competence for road traffic lies with the federal states, so that there are partly different regulations in the individual states.

In many states, right turns at red lights are permitted provided the car has been stopped and no other person is in danger. However, it may be prohibited in individual cases and is then marked accordingly, e.g. "No turn on red“.
If at intersections "All wayStop signs ”, all vehicles must stop at the stop line and then enter the intersection in the order in which they stopped.
Unlike in Germany, overtaking on the right is allowed in most states in the USA.
You are not allowed to drive past school buses that have stopped with the hazard warning lights switched on. This also applies to vehicles coming from the opposite direction.

  • Before you travel, find out about the traffic rules that sometimes differ from German regulations.
  • Comply with the US speed limits. These are lower than in Germany. Exceeding the maximum speed limit or drunk driving can result in high fines or even imprisonment.
  • If you are stopped by the police, stay in the vehicle, open the window, keep your hands on the steering wheel and follow the instructions of the police officer. Do not get out of the car without being asked, as this will be perceived as a threat and could lead to countermeasures.
  • Do not use cell phones without a hands-free kit while driving. This behavior is illegal in many states and can be punished with heavy fines.

Traffic routes subject to charges

Important highways (e.g. operated by private companies turnpikes) as well as bridges or tunnels are often chargeable. The toll fee (so-called.Great) can be paid at toll stations in cash or, in some cases, with digital payment options.

  • You should find out about any applicable tolls and payment options in advance, e.g. from your rental car company.

Traffic ticket

Traffic ticket (so-calledticket) You must pay for incorrect parking, excessive speed, etc., if possible before you leave the country. Failure to pay may cause inconvenience in future entries and stays. The authority that issued the ticket is responsible for providing information even after leaving the USA. The German diplomatic missions in the USA have no way of solving problems with parking tickets issued in the USA.

  • Pay for your parking tickets before you leave the United States.

Rental vehicles and car insurance

Car rental companies often only rent to people who are at least 25 years old. When renting, it is advantageous to be able to present an international driver's license in addition to the national one.
The companies are obliged to inform tourists of possible dangers and, for example, to provide brochures on rules of conduct in road traffic. For rental cars there is usually liability insurance up to a certain amount of damage. Possible claims for punitive damages (so-calledpunitive damages). This involves very large amounts of money. Convictions for punitive damages are not enforced in Germany. In the USA, however, enforcement and coercive measures from such a judgment are always possible - even in the case of possible future visits to the USA.

Driving license

In some U.S. states, an international driver's license - in conjunction with the mandatory national driver's license - is compulsory. It is also advisable to have an international driver's license with you (e.g. in connection with renting a car). Information about the driver's license regulations of the individual U.S. states can be found on the websites of the respective Departments of Transportation.

  • As a driver, have both your national and international driver's license with you.

Travel to Cuba

Tourist travel directly between the United States and Cuba is prohibited under U.S. law. This also applies to German travelers. Direct travel from the USA to Cuba is only permitted if the trip falls into one of the categories set by the U.S. authorities.This includes private visiting trips, trips that serve the pursuit of economic, scientific and religious activities, but also those that aim to support the Cuban people. The category of "group people-to-people educational travel", Which also included group travel for cultural education, for example, was canceled by the U.S. government with effect from June 5, 2019. You can still take trips booked before June 5, 2019 that fall into this category.
So far, no empirical values ​​are available for checking the purpose of the trip indicated by the travelers. Changes can occur at short notice.

Since June 5, 2019, U.S. cruise ships, U.S. private yachts and U.S. private and business aircraft are no longer allowed to dock or land in Cuba. Commercial airlines are still allowed to operate direct flights between the US and Cuba.

Those traveling to Cuba are obliged to keep accurate records of their trip, activities, contacts, etc. and to collect relevant documents, to keep them for five years and to present them to the U.S. authorities upon request.

Numerous Cuban state-owned companies, including those in the tourism sector, have been embargoed by the USA, making it illegal to do business with them.

LGBTIQ

Legal specifics

Law enforcement measures and penalties in the US legal systems are in some cases considerably tougher than in Germany.

Alcohol consumption

Not only the consumption of alcohol in public, but also the visible wearing of alcohol in public places can be locally punishable.
Alcohol must not be made accessible to persons under the age of 21 Proof of age (ID) is almost always required when purchasing alcoholic beverages.

  • Do not enjoy alcohol outside of your accommodation or the restaurant.
  • Do not bring alcoholic beverages visibly with you in public places.
  • Do not give alcohol to anyone under the age of 21.

Intoxicants

Even the possession of the smallest amounts of intoxicants can lead to long-term imprisonment and immigration bans. Strict controls are also possible in transit.

Smoking bans

Smoking bans are more widespread in the USA than in Germany. In some cases, violations can result in high administrative fines.

  • It is imperative that you comply with the smoking ban.

Nude bathing

Naked bathing is only permitted or tolerated on a few beaches. Otherwise, not only nude bathing, but also changing clothes on the beach can be perceived as an excitement of public nuisance and lead to inconvenience. The same goes for bathing without a top - not only for women, but also for little girls.

  • Do not bathe naked unless it is exceptionally permitted.
  • As a woman, do not bathe without a top.
  • Do not let the little girls you supervise bathe without their tops.

Violation of the duty of supervision

In some states it is illegal to leave children of certain ages unattended.

  • Don't leave your children alone in the hotel or in the car for a short time. Basically, you should never leave children under the age of eight unattended, and children under the age of 13 only for a very short time.

Public breastfeeding

Breastfeeding in public has been legal in all U.S. states since 2018.

  • However, you should refrain from breastfeeding in restaurants and bars or in less liberal areas.

Child pornography and abuse

Child pornography and child abuse are punishable by heavy penalties in the United States. Even slight suspicions can lead to reports.

  • Refrain from photographing children who are not fully dressed, including your own.

Sexual acts against minors

Sexual acts against minors are punishable and often punishable by long prison sentences. The minimum age for effective consent to sexual activity varies by state.

  • If in doubt, be sure to find out about the locally applicable regulations.

prostitution

Sexual intercourse with prostitutes is a criminal offense in many U.S. states. Sometimes even speaking to a prostitute is a criminal offense.

stalking

Repeatedly pursuing or harassing another person is a criminal offense.

Unauthorized extension of stay and work without a work permit

In the event that the permitted period of stay is exceeded (so-called.Overstay) U.S. authorities can reject later visa applications or impose entry bans.

  • Do not exceed the period of stay granted to you.
  • Do not take up work without a work permit - not even on a small scale.

Money / credit cards

The local currency is the U.S. dollar (USD). A credit card is almost indispensable. Almost all credit cards are accepted in the US. With a credit card and PIN, you can withdraw cash from ATMs.
Bank cards with the V-Pay logo cannot be read in the USA and therefore cannot be used.
The exchange of euro bills in US dollars is not possible at all banks, but mostly - for a fee - limited to exchange offices, which are not available in all areas.
Bank transfers from Germany to the USA can take several days and are associated with significant fees.

Entry and customs

Entry and transit regulations may currently differ due to measures to contain COVID-19, see Current.