Narva border crossings unchanged in week following tourist visa ban

People at the Estonian border checkpoint in Narva. July 2022.
People at the Estonian border checkpoint in Narva. July 2022. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

The number of border crossings between the Russian Federation and Estonia has not been radically impacted upon by a ban imposed last week on entrants holding an Estonian-issued Schengen tourist visa, at least at the Narva checkpoint, with around 5,000 individuals crossing the border in either direction, per day, though the vast majority of these people are not travelling on tourist visas in any case.

Of these 5,000 people, most Russian citizens who have a residence permit either in Estonia or another EU member state.

The ban has, however, been followed by a fall in the number of Russian Federation citizens arriving in Estonia on a tourist visa, though not to zero; whereas 300-400 individuals on average crossed the border into Estonia on this basis, per day, the figure now is around 100 – likely to comprise those issued with a Schengen Area visa by a member state other than Estonia, and those visiting for family reasons.

Jaanika Karp, field manager at the Narva border crossing, told ERR that since the ban was put in place, on August 18, on average 10 people per day are turned away at the border, a higher figure than before.

Karp said: "I would say that the number of people we have to send back due to the sanctions imposed on August 18 has slowly increased over the days. In general, people are taking things quite calmly; we issue them an entry ban and then send them back to Russia."

Karp added that: "Actually, more people with Schengen visas issued by other member states pass through the Narva highway border crossing. For example, visas issued by Italy, Germany, Spain."

Estonia also issues visas to Russian citizens if they have unavoidable family or health reasons to come here, or to visit close family members such as parents, children or a spouse, if they live in Estonia, though this does not apply to siblings, Karp said – adding that the number of people attempting to cross the border on the pretext of visiting a sister or brother had risen since the ban took effect.

Finnish public broadcaster Yle reported Tuesday that long lines of vehicles are being seen at border crossings into that country, from Russia, mainly due to relaxed Covid restrictions, with the drivers and passengers primarily heading to Europe to shop.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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