Thou Shall Not Pass
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King Radovid has ordered that all the gates into Novigrad be locked and only those with a pass may enter. Both the bridge leading to the Border Post and the Western Gate outside of Oxenfurt will be heavily guarded by Redanian troops.
If you have a Pass they will let you through the gates. Otherwise you can find a non-conventional way to enter Novigrad, such as swimming across the river at a safe distance from the guards.
You can find an official Pass by completing enough of the Family Matters main quest. At some point when you are looking for the Baron’s family he will give you a Pass to get into Oxenfurt. You can also get one by completing the Woodland Beast contract.
On the southern side of the Border Post you’ll meet a Shady Merchant. He’ll agree to give you a Fake Pass for a small sum of Crowns if you help out his brother-in-la in the quest Bitter Harvest. The Fake Pass will allow you to get past both gates but one of the guards outside of Oxenfurt will notice that a seal is missing.