Q&A about travelling and coronavirus

Q&A about travelling and coronavirus

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

Updated Q&A, 15.5.2020

Do not travel abroad!

Call the Foreign Ministry’s 24/7 Service Centre only in an emergency.

 

Can I travel abroad during my summer holiday?

Coronavirus and its spread are still 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.

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.

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. Globally, almost all countries have declared a state of emergency and fundamental rights are being or can be restricted. Furthermore, travel insurance does not necessarily cover situations brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs recommends: “avoid all non-essential travel”.

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.

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

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs recommends avoiding all non-essential travel abroad until further notice. If you need to travel abroad despite the risks, 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:

Transport measures 
Travel advice and border measures 
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 

Country-specific restrictions

Quarantine regulations are still in force in several countries and they must be complied with. 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.

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.

Persons arriving in Finland from abroad must restrict non-essential close contacts and self-isolate for 14 days. 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.

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

Transport measures (in English) 
Travel advice and border measures 
The International Air Transport Association (IATA)

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

Border Guard guidelines for border traffic during emergency conditions from 14 May 2020

A person arriving in the country must restrict non-essential close contacts and self-isolate for 14 days. For more information, please visit the website of the National Institute for Health and Welfare.

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 konsulipalvel[email protected] 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 [email protected]  Please note that the processing may take time because of a backlog of requests to edit or remove travel notifications.

We are planning that we would drive back to Finland through Europe by car. Is this possible?

Travelling back home through Europe is permitted, but those travelling by private car should be prepared to encounter restrictions on movement imposed by different countries and to comply with these restrictions. You must be prepared to prove to the local authorities that the purpose of the trip is to get home.

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

Transport measures (in English) 
Travel advice and border measures 
The International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Persons arriving in Finland from abroad must restrict non-essential close contacts and self-isolate for 14 days. For more information, please visit the website of the National Institute for Health and Welfare.

Can the Finnish State fly people home from abroad?

Chartered repatriation flights that were organised by many countries may not be available any more, which is why travellers should primarily sort out their possibilities to return to Finland through commercial flight connections. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is not planning to organise new repatriation flights. 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.

Travellers are now required to be resilient and able to deal with uncertainty. It is good to be prepared for situations in which all travellers are not able to return to Finland immediately due to the lack of transport connections.

Can the Ministry for Foreign Affairs forbid me from travelling abroad or order me to cut my trip short?

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 many other countries have restricted inbound passenger traffic and many countries have imposed significant restrictions on internal movement. Travellers arriving in a foreign country may also be placed under quarantine.

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

Because of this very exceptional situation, non-essential travel abroad should be avoided until further notice. 

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 and the Finnish missions abroad have only limited capabilities to assist Finnish citizens in difficulty abroad during the pandemic.

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