Estonian foreign ministry: travel options are extremely limited

The Estonian foreign ministry said in its travel update on 31 March that due to the global coronavirus crisis, travel options are extremely limited; however, most Estonians who were abroad and wished to return home have been able to do so by now.

The ministry said about 200 Estonian citizens and residents are currently about to travel home and more than 2,600 have already returned safely.

“Travel options are extremely limited. Most regular flights have been suspended, only a few special flights organised by European Union member states remain. It is required to book and buy a ticket for these special flights as well,” the ministry said.

People who are in trouble abroad due to the restrictions introduced in your current location, they’re advised to contact the nearest Estonian embassy or call the foreign ministry number +372 5301 9999.

“If you are currently abroad and you are able to safely remain in another country for the duration of the crisis, there is no obligation for you to return to Estonia. However, you must make sure that during the emergency, you do not breach the terms of your visa or any other conditions for being in the country in question.”

Flight options for getting to Europe and returning to Estonia according to information available to the foreign ministry:

  • Finnair is flying from London to Helsinki twice a day at 10:20 AM and at 6:20 PM. The passenger must present a ferry ticket proving they will then proceed to Tallinn from Helsinki.
  • Lufthansa is offering flights on the London-Frankfurt-Tallinn route twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Qatar Airways flies from Australia (Sydney, Perth, Melbourne etc.) via Doha to Helsinki.
  • There are flights from Mexico to London and Paris, and Finnair is flying from Paris to Helsinki.
  • KLM and Qatar Airways continue flights at reduced volumes from more distant locations; however, you should check their websites and book tickets at the earliest opportunity.
    • Namibia (Windhoek)-Munich/Frankfurt 1 April
    • Cameroon (Yaounde/Douala)-Zürich 1 April
    • Cambodia (Phnom Penh)-Zürich 2 April
    • Myanmar (Yangon)-Zürich 2 April
    • Thailand (Phuket/Bangkok)-Frankfurt 2 and 3 April
    • Peru (Lima)-Frankfurt flights are on 1 April and 2 April
  • Special flights organised by Germany from Thailand – 2 and 4 April from Phuket and on 3 and 5 April from Bangkok. The price of the ticket is specified after the flight and will fall in the price range of the equivalent average ticket price (initial estimate: €600-€800). The flight has a stopover in Frankfurt, where passengers must organise their return transport to Estonia themselves. To register, send no later than two days before the flight the name, gender, age, passport number, the expiration date of the passport and date of birth to Laura-Liisa Laving, who will then forward the information to the European External Action Service. You are not guaranteed to get a seat. In terms of regular flights, the foreign ministry recommends Finnair (until 1 April) and Qatar (the date for suspension of flights is unknown).

Important consular information about transit options, new restrictions and other relevant issues:

  • Yesterday, on 30 March, Russia closed its borders to anyone wishing to enter or leave the country, except for the staff of diplomatic and consular missions residing in Russia; drivers employed in international freight; the crew of airplanes and boats (both sea as well as river boats); the crew of trains involved in international transport; members of official delegations; individuals with a diplomatic, service or regular visa due to the death of a close family member; permanent residents of Russia. Citizens of the Russian Federation are allowed into the country but will not be permitted to leave. The same applies to individuals with a double citizenship. European Union citizens are permitted to leave Russia. Anyone entering Russia must remain in isolation for 14 days.
  • Finland is suspending ferry traffic in the coming days to passengers from Tallinn, Stockholm, Kapelleskär and Umeå. Until the suspension of ferry traffic takes effect, previous rules for border crossing apply: if an Estonian citizen or resident or a third country national with a valid residence permit has no other option for returning to Estonia than transiting via Helsinki, the Finnish Border Guard will not restrict their transit. Airlines have been informed of this. Airlines have the right to deny boarding for individuals who may present a threat to their health and safety or that of other passengers. Additional screening measures have been introduced at Helsinki Airport: anyone arriving in Finland from abroad are asked to fill out a form before crossing the border and this will then be checked by the Border Guard official. Restrictions on crossing the borders of Finland’s Uusimaa County are in force until 19 April. It is still possible to enter the Uusimaa County for transit purposes (for example, from the Turku Port to go to Helsinki); however, we ask you to present a ferry ticket as proof that Estonia is your final destination.
  • Transit via Lithuania has been extended until 13 April at 12:01 AM, but is allowed with a police escort only. Since all cases of transit need to be agreed upon in advance with the Lithuanian authorities, Estonian citizens are asked to contact the foreign ministry by calling +372 5301 9999 (please provide your name, contact telephone number / email address and travel document number). National restrictions were extended until 13 April.
  • France extended its state of emergency until 15 April and there are stricter checks on the implementation of lockdown rules. Options for returning via France are further reduced: the Paris Orly Airport will close on 31 March at 11:59 PM due to a sharp drop in air traffic. The Charles de Gaulle’ Airport will remain open.
  • A large number of flights from the United Kingdom (London airports, Edinburgh) to Estonia have been cancelled. Please contact Finnair or Lufthansa to find alternative flight options.
  • If you are in the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme, you must keep in mind that you cannot stay in the United States beyond the initial 90 days. Therefore, the foreign ministry recommends returning to Europe at the earliest opportunity. In special cases (for example, if you are hospitalised or your flight is cancelled due to weather conditions) you can submit an application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services to grant of satisfactory departure and extend your stay by 30 days. You can find the contacts for your nearest office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services online.

For the latest developments in Estonia, follow our special blog on coronavirus.

Cover: Finnair is still flying from London and Paris to Helsinki. Pictured: Finnair’s Airbus A350. Photo: Airbus.

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