Q&A about travelling and coronavirus

We have put together frequently asked questions with answers about travel and coronavirus.

Updated Q&A, 10.7.2020

Continue to avoid non-essential travel. However, the Government has decided to lift internal border controls between Finland and certain European countries. 

 

Can I travel abroad during my summer holiday?

Coronavirus continues to pose a major global risk. Because of the pandemic, rapid and unpredictable changes are still possible.
The restrictive measures imposed by different countries, including local quarantine regulations, restrictions on movement, restrictions on leaving the country and closures of services, including limited availability of food services, as well as disruption of traffic and deteriorating availability of healthcare services, concern everyone and may come as a surprise to a traveller.  

Quarantine regulations are still in force in several countries and they must be observed. Countries use quarantine on different grounds and the threshold for placing people in quarantine may be lower than in Finland.

There is also the risk that reserved flights and other connections may suddenly be cancelled and travel to or return from a travel destination may be prevented. Travel in itself increases the risk of infection.

The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs has only limited capabilities to assist Finnish citizens in difficulty abroad during the pandemic. Furthermore, travel insurance does not necessarily cover situations brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Due to the pandemic, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs continues to recommend that non-essential travel should be avoided except to countries for which internal border control and the quarantine recommendation has been lifted. These countries are Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and from 13 July onward also Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Malta, the Netherlands, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the Vatican. 

Additionally, as of 13 July, Finland will allow work-related travel and other essential traffic from the following non-EU countries: Algeria, Australia, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and China.  However, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs maintains its general advice against non-essential travel to these countries.

Non-essential travel means, for example, recreational travel. The country-specific travel advice issued by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs may include even more stringent recommendations due to, for example, a war.

If you decide to travel, always remember to submit a travel notification at matkustusilmoitus.fi. This means that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is aware of your whereabouts in the country of destination and can contact you in case of an emergency or crisis.

Self-isolation is recommended for all those arriving in Finland who come from countries that are still subject to internal or external border control. People arriving from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Denmark or Iceland and, from 13 July onward, from Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Malta, the Netherlands, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland or the Vatican do not need to self-isolate. 

For more information, please visit the website of the National Institute for Health and Welfare.

What does the Government’s decision mean, can I now travel for example to Germany on my holiday?

The Government has decided to lift control at Finland’s internal borders as of 13 July for those countries where the incidence of coronavirus infections is at a sufficiently low level. These countries are Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Malta, the Netherlands, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the Vatican. Finland abolished internal border control for traffic between Finland and Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania earlier in the summer, on 15 June.   

People may travel to Finland from the above-mentioned countries without any specific reason. For travellers the Government’s decision means that, correspondingly, people are allowed to travel to these countries and they do not need to self-isolate after returning to Finland.

It is good to notice, however, that the Government's decision applies to internal border controls in Finland and does not state anything about what kind of entry restrictions, for example on recreational travel, are in force in other countries.  The Foreign Ministry does decide such matters, but each country makes independent decisions on who are allowed to enter the country and under what conditions.  If you are planning to travel, always check if the authorities of the country of destination allow foreign travel to the country. 

It is always up to you to decide whether to travel or not. If you decide to travel, always remember to submit a travel notification at matkustusilmoitus.fi. This means that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is aware of your whereabouts in the country of destination and can contact you in case of an emergency or crisis.

Coronavirus and its spread continue to pose a major global risk, and abrupt and unpredictable changes are possible. You are always recommended to take out a comprehensive travel insurance. It is particularly important now that you make sure your insurance policy provides sufficient coverage.

I need to travel abroad, what should I take into account?

If your trip abroad is essential, bear in mind that the restrictive measures imposed by different countries may change rapidly. If you travel abroad, take into account at least the following:

Travel notification

We urge anyone travelling abroad to submit a travel notification to enable the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to know your whereabouts and contact you. You can visit matkustusilmoitus.fi also while abroad and submit your travel details there.

Travel insurance

You are always recommended to take out a comprehensive travel insurance. It is particularly important now that you make sure your insurance policy provides sufficient coverage.

Entry regulations

It is good to note, that many countries continue to restrict inbound passenger travel, and that exceptional visa regulations, for example, may be in force. Check updated entry regulations from the authorities of the country of your travel destination.

You can read about the restrictions, for example on the website of the European Commission:

Reopen Europe
Transport measures (in English) 
Travel advice and border measures 

and on the website of the International Air Transport Association (IATA)

 Country-specific restrictions

Quarantine regulations are still in force in several countries and they must be observed. Countries have different grounds for the use of quarantine and the threshold for placing people in quarantine may be lower than in Finland. The restrictions may concern being outdoors, and respiratory protective equipment may be compulsory. Airlines and airports may also require that passengers use personal protective equipment. Some airport authorities and airlines screen passengers’ temperature before allowing entry in the area or the airplane.

Countries may impose internal regulations on air traffic and other public transport. Various conditions and documentary requirements may be in force at airports and for transit traffic.

The availability of many services may also be limited. Restaurants, hotels, museums, sights and other places for the general public, such as parks, may be closed.

Anyone violating the restrictions may be imposed considerable sanctions.

Information about the current health and security situation, services and travel regulations in different EU Member States is available at Reopen Europe website 

Healthcare and health-related regulations

If you fall ill while abroad, it may be difficult to obtain medical care because of the limited capacity of the local healthcare services.

Health checks and other exceptional arrangements may cause delays at airports, border stations and elsewhere. In some countries, the use of face masks and screening of temperature are compulsory. The rules applying to quarantine may differ markedly from the quarantine guidelines used in Finland.

Self-isolation is recommended for all those arriving in Finland who come from countries that are still subject to internal or external border control. People arriving from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Denmark or Iceland and, from 13 July onward, from Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Malta, the Netherlands, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland or the Vatican do not need to self-isolate. For more information, please visit the website of the National Institute for Health and Welfare.

I need to travel abroad for an essential reason, but the country in question does not allow entry in its territory. Can the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or the Finnish mission in the country write a permit to enter the country?

The authorities of each country determine themselves who are allowed to enter the country, and travellers must comply with these regulations. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Finnish missions cannot make decisions on entry in a foreign country or write permit letters.

Up-to-date entry regulations should be checked from the authorities of the country of destination, for example from the country’s nearest mission.

Information about the restrictions in force in different countries is available, for example on the website of the European Commission at:

Reopen Europe
Transport measures 
Travel advice and border measures 

and on the website of the International Air Transport Association (IATA)

I am travelling to a country where I need a visa. Can the Ministry of Foreign Affairs help me get a visa?

Countries make independent decisions on who are allowed to enter the country and under what conditions.  The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has no power or right to intervene in the matter but you must turn to the authorities of the country in question or, for example, their embassy

It is good to be aware that due to the coronavirus epidemic, different countries may have in place different entry restrictions or exceptional visa regulations. Always make sure you check the entry regulations from the authorities of the country of destination and observe their regulations.

I am a Finnish citizen and aim to travel with a foreign family member to spend our summer holiday in Finland. Can we come to Finland?

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is not in a position to decide on such matters. In questions relating to entry in Finland, you need to turn to the Finnish border authorities.

Q&A about the effects of COVID-19 on border traffic

Guidelines for internal border control starting on 15 June 2020

All people arriving in Finland from countries that are still subject to internal or external border control are recommended to self-isolate. Self-isolation  is not necessary for people arriving from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Denmark or Iceland and, from 13 July onward, from Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Malta, the Netherlands, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland or the Vatican. For more information, please visit the website of the National Institute for Health and Welfare.

I am returning to Finland from abroad, which involves transit through another country. Can I get a permit letter from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for the travel?

Each country decides under which conditions for example transit traffic through its territory is allowed, and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs cannot give a permit for transit via another country. 

More information on different countries’ regulations are available, for example, on the website of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), but travellers should always check the transit regulations also from the authorities of the country before travelling.

Under what conditions can a foreign citizen arrive in Finland? Can the Ministry of Foreign Affairs grant a permit to enter the country?

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is not a competent authority when it comes to border traffic and the Ministry cannot grant travel permits to Finland. The Finnish Border Guard handles questions relating to border traffic and, under the legislation currently in force and in accordance with government decisions, decides who are allowed to enter Finland. 

Read more about the instructions for border traffic on the website of the Finnish Border Guard. 

As is stated on the above-mentioned website, the Finnish Border Guard does not grant advance permits for entry to Finland, but the decision to allow entry is always made during border check.

I have submitted a travel notification and returned to Finland, should I now inform the Ministry that I have come home?

If you have entered your return date on the travel notification form and have returned according to plan, the notification will be removed from the system automatically and there is no need to do anything.

If your date of return is not mentioned on the travel notification form or if you return earlier than planned, please, remove the notification from our system. This is to let us know that you are not abroad any longer and we will not send you any queries or information.

If you have registered at matkustusilmoitus.fi, you can edit your details yourself. If you have not registered, please send an email to KPA-10@formin.fi and ask them to remove your travel notification.  Please note that the processing may take time because of a backlog of requests to edit or remove travel notifications.

If I am not able to return to Finland as planned, how can I edit my travel notification?

If you have submitted a travel notification and your stay abroad lasts longer than planned, you should enter a new return date on the travel notification form. This way we get to know that you are still staying abroad and can send you both information and queries.

If you have registered at matkustusilmoitus.fi, you can edit your details yourself. If you have not registered to the system, submit a new travel notification at matkustusilmoitus.fi. If necessary, send email to KPA-10@formin.fi.  Please note that the processing may take time because of a backlog of requests to edit or remove travel notifications.

Can the Finnish State fly people home from abroad?

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs does not organise repatriation flights. Therefore, travellers should primarily sort out their possibilities to return to Finland through commercial flight connections.  Finnish missions abroad provide information about existing transport connections on their social media channels, Facebook and Twitter.

If you have not submitted a travel notification yet, please do it now. Through the matkustusilmoitus.fi service, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is able to contact travellers and send them information about possible flights, for example.

Can the Ministry for Foreign Affairs forbid me from travelling abroad?

Freedom of movement is a constitutional right of the Finns. It is not within the competence of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to restrict this freedom, nor can anyone be forbidden from travelling abroad or ordered to return to Finland. It is always up to you to decide whether you wish to travel abroad or return to Finland.

Finns cannot be prevented from leaving Finland, but you should be aware that coronavirus and its spread continue to pose a major global risk. Because of the pandemic, rapid and unpredictable changes are possible. The restrictive measures imposed by different countries may also come as a surprise to a traveller: local quarantine regulations, restrictions on movement, disruption of traffic, restrictions on leaving the country, closures of services, including the availability of food services, concern everyone.

It is recommended to avoid non-essential travel except to the countries on which internal border control and quarantine recommendations have changed. On 15 June, travel restrictions were lifted for Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and will be lifted for Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Malta, the Netherlands, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the Vatican from 13 July onward.

Will insurance cover my costs if I miss my trip?

In insurance claims matters, you must turn to your own insurance company. The terms and conditions of insurance vary, and it is particularly important now that you make sure your insurance policy provides sufficient coverage.

In the event that your trip is cancelled or interrupted, reimbursement is a matter to be solved between you and your insurance company. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is not in a position to comment on the matter nor to give any documents.

Although tour operators and travel insurance providers use the Foreign Ministry's travel advice in their own cancellation and refund policies, it is important to note that the Foreign Ministry does not issue travel advice for these purposes.

Basic information on travel insurance is available on the website of  the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau.
 

Can the Finnish authorities help if a Finnish traveller is placed under quarantine abroad?

The national authorities comply with their own legislation. Note that the quarantine regulations or the threshold for placing people under quarantine, for example, may vary from country to country. Travellers must always comply with the guidance and instructions issued by the authorities of the country of destination and stay in the country for the duration of the possible quarantine.

In an emergency, a traveller who has been placed under quarantine may contact the nearest Finnish Embassy or the 24/7 Service Centre of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. It should be noted, however, that the Foreign Ministry or the Finnish missions abroad cannot influence decisions made by the authorities of another state. The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs has only limited capabilities to assist Finnish citizens in difficulty abroad during the pandemic.