Foreign ministry updates travel guidelines for returning to Estonia

Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tallinn. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Th Ministry of Foreign Affairs has ministry updated its list of options for returning to Estonia, with other specific consular information, in conjunction with other states and the private sector, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Estonia has also started issuing passports to Estonian nationals abroad by mail.

The foreign ministry says those Estonian nationals stranded abroad unable to find options for returning home should call it on +372 5301 9999, a line open 24/7.

"Due to the possible introduction of new travel restrictions or the interruption of transport connections, we ask all Estonians who are traveling to return home as soon as possible or to be prepared to stay longer in their country of location," the ministry said, BNS reports.

A non-exhaustive list of known travel connections by air and sea follows.

Existing links

  • Latvian carrier Air Baltic is laying on several special flights March 21-25 (excepting March 23) from London Gatwick to Riga. Information is here.
  • Air Baltic is also laying on flights from Abu Dhabi, Tblisi, Georgia, and Amsterdam, all going to Riga, in the coming days. Call +371 6720 7771 or visit the Air Baltic website here.
  • A flight from Boryspil International Airport in Kyiv, Ukraine, leaves for Tallinn 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 22. It is carrying both Estonian nationals returning to Estonia from Ukraine, and Ukrainians making the return journey, and is operated by Skyup.
  • A German-organized charter flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Frankfurt, Germany will take place on Monday, March 23. Contact +372 5301 9999.
  • Estonian shipping line Tallink has put back its final Megastar ferry journey from Helsinki to Tallinn to Sunday, March 22, at 11 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the port up until 10.50 p.m.
  • Finnish line Eckerö is halting its regular service on Sunday, March 22, but will continue its cargo line, which has limited spaces for passengers with vehicles, from Muuga, east of Tallinn, to Vuosaari, near Helsinki. Viking Line's English-language site is here.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it must be taken into consideration that the cost of flights varies and depends on passenger uptake.

Transit via Finland and Latvia to Estonia

Transit is still permitted at international airports and ports in Finland, which requires no extra documentation though does require proof of outgoing travel ticket and destination, according to BNS.

Transit from Riga is best conducted, according to the foreign ministry, by train at 10:34 a.m. or 6:15 p.m.from Riga to Lugazi, near Valka, on the Latvian-Estonian border. Trains are running from Valga, on the Estonian side of the border, to Tallinn.

Larger parties should contact bus line Lux Express and notify the company in advance of landing at Riga about numbers etc., with a view to traveling on the same bus.

A more expensive option would be to take a rental car from Riga from a company which has an office in Tallinn and depositing it there.

An even more expensive option would be to take a taxi from Riga to the border at Ikla and arrange for someone to collect you from there.

Other regular available flights at the time of writing and which come to the Baltic states are:

  • Ryanair from Edinburgh, Scotland - March 23.
  • Ryanair from London, March 23.
  • Ryanair flight from Dusseldorf-Weeze, Gerrmany, March 23.
  • Lufthansa from Frankfurt until March 23, additionally on March 25 and 27.
  • Turkish Airlines flights from Istanbul on March 21 and March 24-26 flights.
  • Easyjet is starting some departures from March 29 according to BNS.
  • LOT from Stockholm from March 29 (Nordica's special Norwich (England) – Stockholm – Tallinn flight has been sold out.
  • Several regular flights will take place from the U.S. to Europe, including a daily Delta flight from New York to London, BNS reports.

The ministry is asking that people turn to the travel companies or airlines for bookings, and the Estonian Travel and Tourism Association (ETFL) has reported from several members that Estonian citizens and permanent residents can turn to for potential help in transport from their current location to Estonia. However, they highlight that it may not be possible to help everyone as everything depends on the person's location as well as on whether and which air carriers are still operating.

These agencies are Estravel, Baltic Tours, CWT Estonia, Go Travel, WRIS and Atlas.

Estonia issuing passports to citizens overseas by mail

Estonian passports to citizens overseas continues via regular mail using delivery firms authorized by the foreign ministry, BNS reports. The application needs to be submitted online via the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) portal or as a digitally signed version via email. Alternatively, the application can be made at an Estonian foreign representation.

The method is supposed to ensure the continued provision of passport services while minimizing the risk of person-to-person contact in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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