Estonia's Russian tourist visa ban enters into force on August 18

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People at the Narva-1 border crossing checkpoint.
People at the Narva-1 border crossing checkpoint. Source: ERR

From today (August 18), Russian citizens holding a Schengen visa issued by Estonia for tourism, business, sports or culture will not be allowed to cross the border.

Travelers who arrive at the Narva, Luhamaa or Koidula checkpoints will no longer be allowed to enter Estonia. 

Russian nationals who have a visa issued by another member of the Schengen area or who are already in the Schengen area will still be able to enter Estonia.

Checks will be carried out by the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA).

A number of exceptions are in place: 

  • To visit a close relative who lives in Estonia and is an Estonian citizen or has a long-term residence permit;
  • Russian diplomats working in Estonia and their family members;
  • Staff working in the international transport of goods and passengers;
  • Individuals who are allowed entry based on European Union law;
  • People who Estonia considers eligible for a visa on humanitarian grounds.

2,500 Russian citizens enter Estonia every day

Lauri Läänemets. Autor/allikas: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Minister of Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) said on Thursday the sanction is needed because, by attacking Ukraine, Russia is attacking European values and freedoms.

"Therefore, Russian citizens cannot have the self-evident freedom to enjoy the opportunities offered by the same European values and freedoms that the European Union offers – be it vacation, education or business activities," he said in a statement.

Approximately 53,000 have been issued by Estonia to Russian citizens for tourism and business purposes.

"On average, about 2,500 Russian citizens enter Estonia per day, of which nearly 1,250 come with short-term visas, half of which are issued by Estonia, and the rest are issued by other Schengen countries. Therefore, this measure has some limited effect, but in order to achieve a real sanction effect, visa restrictions should be applied by all EU member states," Läänemets specified.

The minister emphasized nothing has changed for the approximately 1,659 Russian citizens with valid residence permits issued for work today.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu commented on the ban on Thursday, saying: "Where there's a will, there's a way."

"We will not tolerate Russian tourists in Europe enjoying their time while people in Ukraine are being massacred on a daily basis," he added.

Student sanctions updated

The government also updated the sanction imposed on Russian students last month.

As an exception, students from Russia who did not graduate in the normal period can apply for an extension of their residence permit for one year to allow them to complete their studies here.

An application must be submitted to the Police and Border Guard Board.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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