Approximately 50,000 Estonians with a permanent right of residence and 20,000 Estonians with a temporary right of residence can continue to enter Finland after border restrictions come into force on March 19. A valid employment contract is needed to enter the country for cross-border workers but quarantine rules have been relaxed.
On Wednesday afternoon, Finland announced that, in line with the introduction of border checks from March 19 to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the conditions for entering the country have changed but all persons with a right of residence in Finland would continue to be allowed entry.
This means that 50,000 Estonians with a permanent right of residence and 20,000 Estonians with a temporary right of residence can continue to enter Finland.
Entry is also allowed for workers who have a valid contract of employment for working in Finland but move between the two countries.
These cross-border workers are not subject to Finland's quarantine rules and Estonia's 14-day quarantine rule has also been relaxed for them.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) signed an order allowing Estonians who live permanently in Estonia, but work in Finland, to commute between the countries while the emergency situation is in place without having to complete the 14-day quarantine requirement if they show no signs of illness.
However, the order also includes a restriction which only allows travel between Estonia and Finland once every seven days without completing quarantine, which means returning to Estonia cannot take place more often than once a week.
Finland has the biggest community of Estonians outside of Estonia and it is thought that at least 50,000 live and work in the country.
The Finnish Foreign Ministry and Border Guard specified the rules for entering Finland after March 19 as follows:
Workers – All persons with a right of residence in Finland can enter Finland. Finland does not differentiate between people with a permanent and temporary right of residence. Everyone who have registered the right of residence in Finland can enter Finland.
Entry is also granted to those workers who have not registered for a right of residence but can show a contract of employment in Finland – they will be considered cross-border workers under European Union law (EU cross-border workers).
Quarantine – A general rule applies that when entering Finland, you must remain in isolation for 14 days. However, Finland will not apply the isolation rule to EU cross-border workers. The only condition for a cross-border worker to enter the country is the existence of contract of employment. Cross-border workers are workers who are permanent residents of one European Union country (such as Estonia) and work in another (such as Finland).
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises travelers to consider their health and that of others and remember the self-isolation rule in force in Estonia.
Transit – transit through international airports and ports through Finland is allowed. For example, from the Vantaa Airport or the Port of Turku, people are free to proceed to the Port of Helsinki to board a ferry to Tallinn. They will not be asked to present additional documents (such as a ferry ticket).
Additional information is available on the website of the Finnish Border Guard.
Editor: Helen Wright