The Megastar, Tallink's shuttle ship that cruises between Tallinn and Helsinki. Photo: the Tallink Facebook page.

Finland reverses its earlier decision – shuttle migration to stop from Sunday (UPDATED)

Even though Finland earlier said it’s going to allow shuttle migration from Estonia – people who live in Estonia and work in Finland – to continue cross-border commuting, it has now reversed this decision and banned it from midnight Sunday, 22 March.

Late last night, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Finnish government decided to stop cross-border commuting for Estonians working in Finland but permanently residing in Estonia. The ban will take effect at 12:00 AM on Sunday.

Late last night, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Finnish government decided to stop cross-border commuting for Estonians working in Finland but permanently residing in Estonia. The ban will take effect at 12:00 AM on Sunday.

The new restriction on travel by the Finnish authorities affects approximately 20,000 permanent residents of Estonia working in Finland.  

Only Finnish residents are allowed to enter

The Estonian foreign ministry and the Estonian embassy in Helsinki have received from the Finnish authorities specific and updated information regarding the new border crossing regulations.

From Sunday, 22 March (inclusive), only people with a registered place of residence in Finland are allowed entry to Finland. As a general requirement, all people returning to Finland from other countries are subjected to a mandatory 14-day period of self-isolation.

An EU citizen residing in Finland is a person who has registered his or her right to residence in the Finnish Immigration Service and has been issued a registered EU residence permit. In case anyone has questions regarding the validity of the permit in question, they should contact the Finnish Immigration Service.

Until 11:55 PM Saturday, 21 March, cross-border workers can also enter Finland. Cross-border workers are considered those workers whose permanent country of residence is Estonia but who travel to work in Finland. Such workers must present proof at the border crossing that they have a valid employment contract for working in Finland. Cross-border workers will not currently be subjected to a 14-day self-from requirement upon entry to Finland. From Sunday, 22 March, cross-border workers form Estonia are no longer allowed entry to Finland.

From 12:00 AM on Sunday, 22 March, only people with a valid registered permanent place of residence in Finland are allowed entry to Finland. 

Exceptions include:

Necessary cross-border work traffic and other necessary traffic for:

–        Healthcare and rescue service professionals/personnel, health researchers and elderly care professionals
–        Transport personnel and other transport staff to the extent necessary
–        People who have to travel due to urgent family matters
–        Other necessary and justified traffic. For example, other necessary traffic would be maintenance work, that requires maintenance team or a person arriving from another country and this work cannot be postponed

For more info, please visit the Finnish Border Guard website.

The burden of proof at the border crossing lies entirely upon each individual. The final decision regarding right of entry will be made by the Finnish Border Guard.  

Trade in goods will continue

Trucks are allowed – as usual, there is a special separate border crossing corridor set aside for them.

Vans are reverted to the same border crossing corridor with passenger cars and they are, as a rule, considered as regular border-crossers. If a van is carrying goods, it must be able to prove to the Finnish border guard that it is trade of goods. It is recommended to have a waybill of goods or other documents from a Finnish cooperation partner, in principle, also an e-mail from a Finnish cooperation partner will suffice (for example, Nokia is ordering spare parts) – the final decision regarding entry to Finland is made by the Finnish Border Guard. 

Transit

Transit via Finland is allowed as usual. For example, transit to Norway from Estonia via Finland is allowed, provided the person has a residence permit in Norway. Each person must weigh the need to travel, and the final decision to allow entry to Finland is made by the Finnish Border Guard.

In addition, Estonian nationals and permanent residents returning to Estonia from other more distant countries should be able to return to Estonia via Finland also after Sunday. Travelling in transit from international airports and ports via Finland is allowed. For example, a person travelling via Vantaa Airport or the Port of Turku can freely and independently travel to the port of Helsinki to catch a ship to Tallinn. However, a person should be prepared to show the airline representative at their country of departure a document (for example, a ferry ticket) to prove that their end destination is Estonia.

The Estonian government, the Estonian foreign ministry and the Estonian embassy in Helsinki are in constant communication with their Finnish colleagues and as soon as there are any new details, they will make it available. At present, the shipping company, Tallink, continues to operate between Estonia and Finland according to a changed schedule. Until this weekend, Tallink’s shuttle vessel, the Megastar, will make an extra trip per day and the last departure from Helsinki is at 11:00 PM.

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

Cover: The Megastar, Tallink’s shuttle ship that cruises between Tallinn and Helsinki. Photo: the Tallink Facebook page.

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