Restrictions on entry into Finland to be tightened on 27 January
On 22 January, the Government decided to tighten the restrictions on entry into Finland. The new restrictions will enter into force on 27 January and will remain in force until 25 February. The new restrictions aim to reduce cross-border traffic in order to prevent the spread of the new COVID-19 variants. The epidemiological situation in Finland differs considerably from that in other Schengen countries. For this reason, the risk that travellers might spread the virus variants is significant in Finland.
New restrictions on commuting across internal borders
Internal border traffic refers to traffic between Finland and other Schengen countries. As of 27 January, Finland will restrict entry from all Schengen countries.
Only essential travel for work will be permitted across internal borders. People themselves cannot determine whether their commuting is deemed essential. Essential travel constitutes work that is important for the functioning of society or for security of supply, that must be performed by a person or persons arriving from another country and that must be carried out without delay.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment maintains a list of the work that is considered important for the functioning of society or for security of supply. However, any critical task included in the list does not automatically mean that entry into the country is warranted. Employers must use a separate form to justify why the job of a worker seeking entry into Finland is essential and why the work must be performed without delay. The worker seeking to enter Finland presents this form in the border check in addition to other documents required for crossing the border.
The changes would not affect those working abroad from Finland. The quarantine and testing recommendations also apply to Finnish citizens working abroad.
Entry into the country permitted for essential reasons
Entry is still permitted for healthcare and rescue service personnel (including emergency medical care) and for professionals who take care of the elderly in their duties; freight transport and logistics personnel in their duties, as well as for authorities in essential duties, diplomats, staff of international organisations, military personnel and personnel of aid organisations in their duties, as well as for representatives of states participating in international negotiations, and for persons participating in the work of international organisations.
The entry of foreign nationals is also permitted for essential and justified reasons. These include the entry of foreign media representatives; transit of regular, scheduled flights at an airport, travel to a property, private residence or holiday residence in Finland, asset arrangements in Finland, and the entry into the country of a family member of a Finnish citizen residing abroad.
The entry of foreign nationals from Schengen countries subject to restrictions and certain other countries (restriction category 1) is permitted for family reasons. In restriction category 1, spouses (including cohabitant and close personal relationship), children and parents are considered relatives. This also includes parents-in-law and grandparents. This means that it is no longer possible to visit, for example siblings or cousins on the basis of a family relationship.
Entry from other third countries subject to the restrictions (restriction category 2) is only possible for imperative family reasons (e.g. the birth of one's own child, a serious illness of an immediate family member, one’s own wedding, a close personal relationship).
Studying in Finland is a permitted reason for entry from the Schengen countries subject to the restrictions and certain other countries (restriction category 1).
People travelling with a Finnish residence permit, those in need of international protection or those travelling for other humanitarian reasons, and for compelling personal reasons are still permitted to enter the country.
Certain special groups are permitted to enter the country. Special groups cover those involved in culture, sports and business life, for example. All special group applications should be sent directly to the Border Guard by email (rajava[email protected]). The inviting party submits the application.
Belonging to a border community is no longer a valid reason for entry
The previous decision will also be amended so that belonging to a border community at Finland's land border with Sweden or Norway is no longer a valid reason for entry. In practice, this applies only to non-Finnish citizens. Finnish citizens and those living in Finland can continue to cross the border under the Constitution.
Furthermore, residents of border communities no longer have the right to cross the border other than through border crossing points. This also applies to Finnish citizens, who will have to cross the border through the border crossing points set out in the decision. This would provide health authorities with the widest possible scope for targeting the necessary health measures at those crossing the border. The restrictions do not apply to the constitutional right of the Saami to practise their livelihoods and culture.
Restrictions on external border traffic to remain in force
External border traffic refers to traffic between Finland and non-Schengen third countries. The validity of the decision made on 7 January will be extended until 25 February. The decision will be amended as of 27 January so that restrictions on external border traffic will be lifted for traffic arriving in Finland from South Korea for residents of South Korea.
In addition, the Imatra border crossing point will be closed to passenger traffic. Goods traffic will continue as usual. In terms of passenger traffic, there may be changes to the opening hours of border crossing points at the western and northern borders in Lapland.
Restrictions have already been lifted for traffic arriving in Finland from the Vatican, and for traffic between Finland and Australia, Rwanda, Singapore, Thailand and New Zealand for residents of these countries.
Government still recommends avoiding unnecessary travel abroad
Under the Constitution of Finland, Finnish citizens and residents of Finland always have the right to return to Finland, and everyone has the right to leave Finland if they so wish, provided that there is no legal impediment to this. However, the Government still recommends avoiding unnecessary travel to other countries, except for countries for which the restrictions on entry have been lifted. Travellers must be aware of the current entry and quarantine regulations of their country of destination.
Travellers should check quarantine and testing recommendations before travel
Travellers arriving in Finland must take into account Finland's quarantine and testing recommendations. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare will provide guidance on these health security measures. Information is also available on the FINENTRY service.
Finnish Border Guard gives advice on cross-border traffic
The Finnish Border Guard gives people advice on cross-border traffic by phone and email. The service will be available in Finnish, Swedish and English between 8.00 and 16.00 at +358 295 420 100. The service will also be available over the weekend of 23–24 January 2021 at 8.00–16.00.
Questions can also be sent by email to [email protected].
The instructions and guidelines will be updated on the authorities' websites by 27 January.