Q&A about travelling and coronavirus

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

Updated Q&A, 15.9.2020

Continue to avoid non-essential travel. The above does not apply to the countries for which the Government has decided to lift the restrictions on entry to the country. All persons returning from abroad must take note of the quarantine instructions provided by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.

 

The Finnish Border Guard answers to questions relating to border crossings

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare answers to questions related to quarantine

The article gives answers to the following questions:

Travelling abroad from Finland

Travelling to Finland from abroad

Repatriation flights, compensation matters, quarantine

Questions about the travel notification (matkustusilmoitus.fi)

Travelling abroad from Finland

Can I travel abroad during my 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 border restrictions has been lifted. These countries are:

As of 19 September: Australia, Canada, Cypros, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Japan,  Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, New Zeeland, Norway, Poland, Rwanda Slovakia, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and Vatican.

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. For example, the Ministry may recommend that people avoid all travel to a country because a state of 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.

When you return to Finland, take note of the quarantine instructions provided by the Finnish 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 restrictions at Finland’s borders for those countries where the incidence of coronavirus infections is at a sufficiently low level.    

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.

It is good to notice, however, that the Government's decision applies to 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:

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.

When you return to Finland, take note of the quarantine instructions provided by the Finnish 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:

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 for 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 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.

 When you return to Finland, take note of the quarantine instructions provided by the Finnish 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 another 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:

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

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.

The Government still recommends avoiding non-essential travel to other than those countries for which the restrictions on entry have been lifted. 

Travelling to Finland from abroad

I am a Finnish citizen and aim to travel with a foreign family member to spend our 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.

When you return to Finland, take note of the quarantine instructions provided by the Finnish 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 for 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.

Repatriation flights, compensation matters, quarantine

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.

Travellers are responsible for their own travel expenses. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs does not pay the costs arising from travellers’ return to Finland even in the case of repatriation. 

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.

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 local 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.

Questions about the travel notification (matkustusilmoitus.fi)

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.

A list of the countries for which the Government has decided to lift border restrictions

As of 19 September: Australia, Canada, Cypros, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Japan,  Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, New Zeeland, Norway, Poland, Rwanda Slovakia, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and Vatican.