30. March 2020
The residents of the UK please follow the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice.
The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs urges anyone who is abroad temporarily and needs to come home to use the few available options to return to Estonia this next week.
You must bear in mind that from this week, the number of regular flights will decrease and there will be even fewer options for returning home. Only a few special flights organised by European Union member states remain, however, demand is high among European Union citizens and you must purchase a ticket.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Estonian foreign representations continue to work with travel agents and transport companies to find and mediate options for Estonians to return home with these last available flights. However, you must be aware that options are very limited and diminishing in real time and none of these flights are free. If you need to return to Estonia, we recommend immediately contacting a travel agency or transport company to check the availability of regular flights or flights organised by travel agencies. If these options are not available and you are in trouble abroad, please contact the nearest Estonian embassy or call the Foreign Ministry number +372 5301 9999.
If you are currently abroad and you are able to safely remain in another country for the duration of the crisis, there is no need for you to return to Estonia. We advise those who choose to remain abroad to be aware that their stay will last for at least 6 weeks. You should follow the instructions of local authorities and make sure you do not breach the terms of your visa or any other conditions for being in the country in question. Unfortunately, it is very difficult at present to predict when the crisis will pass and what restrictions may (still) be in place in a few months’ time.
As of today, out of all the people who contacted the Foreign Ministry for help, more than 2000 people have had their issue resolved and they have returned to Estonia safely. A total of 2842 Estonian citizens or permanent residents have notified the Foreign Ministry of problems returning and we have information about a further 257 people who need transport to return to Estonia. For the time being, the largest groups of Estonians still in need of transport are concentrated in more distant locations, above all Australia, the United States and India.
Flight options for getting to Europe and returning to Estonia according to information available to the Foreign Ministry:
1. Qatar Airways flies from Australia (Sydney, Perth, Melbourne etc.) via Doha to Helsinki
2. There are flights from Mexico to London and Paris, and Finnair is flying from Paris to Helsinki
3. KLM and Qatar Airways continue flights at reduced volumes from more distant location; however, you should check their websites and book tickets at the earliest opportunity. Finnair is organising a 31 March flight from Havana to Helsinki, ticket information is available on Finnair’s website. We also recommend consulting a travel agent.
4. Namibia (Windhoek)-Munich/Frankfurt 31 March-1 April
5. Bali (Denpasar)-Lisbon 31 March
6. Laos (Vientiane)-Frankfurt 31 March
7. Cameroon (Yaounde/Douala)-Zürich 1 April
8. Cambodia (Phnom Penh)-Zürich 2 April
9. Myanmar (Yangon)-Zürich 2 April
10. Thailand (Phuket/Bangkok)-Frankfurt 2/3 April
11. Vietnam, Hồ Chí Minh (SGN)-Thailand, Bangkok (BKK)-Kaunas, 31 March. Booking: https://www.vietnamballoons.com/book-online
12. Argentina (Buenos Aires)-Frankfurt 31 March
13. Peru (Lima)-Frankfurt flights are on 1 April and 2 April
14. Special flights organised by Germany from Thailand – 2 and 4 April from Phuket and on 3 and 5 April from Bangkok. The price of the ticket is specified after the flight, and will fall in the price range of the equivalent average ticket price (initial estimate: €600-800). The flight has a stopover in Frankfurt, where passengers must organise their return transport to Estonia themselves. To register, we ask you to send no later than 2 days before the flight the passenger’s name, gender, age, passport number, the expiration date of the passport and date of birth to Laura-Liisa Laving (Laura-Liisa.Laving@mfa.ee), who will then forward the information to the EEAS. You are not guaranteed to get a seat. In terms of regular flights, we can recommend Finnair (until 1 April) and Qatar (the date for suspension of flights is unknown).
Important consular information about transit options, new restrictions and other relevant issues:
- Russia is closing its borders today 30 March. Conditions are currently being clarified. Moscow is subject to additional restrictions on movement from 30 March. It is not permitted to leave your home without urgent need. You are only allowed to leave to get essential medical assistance, go to work if it is inevitable, and to shop in the closest food shops and pharmacies to your home or place of residence.
- Cambodia introduced temporary restrictions on entry from 30 March. When crossing the state border, foreign nationals must present a visa issued by a foreign representation of Cambodia, a health certificate proving a negative test result for COVID-19, and a health insurance policy for the duration of their stay with a minimum medical coverage of $50 000.
- Myanmar has stopped issuing visas to any foreign national between 29 March and 30 April. The restriction does not apply to diplomats accredited to the country, UN officials, and ship and plane crews.
- In India, all regular international flights and domestic flights have been suspended, as well as passenger trains and land transport. States and union territories have closed their borders. Movement inside India is difficult. As an exception, Estonians wishing to leave the country can go to the airport with a letter issued by the Estonian Embassy. Please contact email@example.com and provide your name, date of birth, passport number, the car/bus number and, if possible, the name of the driver. There are a few special flights to Europe and information about these flights changes in real time. Therefore, it is crucial to stay in touch with the embassy.
- Italy and its airports are open to transit; restrictions on movement continue to exclude the transport of goods – drivers transporting goods do not have to remain in quarantine if they leave the country within 72 hours. Anyone entering Italy must provide written proof of the purpose of their visit and the address where they will self-isolate.
- The Finnish Border Guard reaffirmed that if an Estonian citizen or a third country national with an Estonian residence permit has to go through Helsinki as the only option to return to Estonia, they will not be subject to restrictions. The headquarters of the Finnish Border Guard has assured that airlines have received instructions and explanations. Airlines have the right to deny boarding for individuals who may present a threat to their health and safety or that of other passengers. Estonians returning through Finland must keep in mind that they must wait at the airport in case of a long stopover before the departure of the ferry. It is possible to stay at the airport hotel. Restrictions on crossing the border of the Uusimaa County in Finland came into force on 28 March and last until 19 April. However, it is still possible to enter the Uusimaa County for transit purposes (for example, from the Turku Port to go to Helsinki); we ask you to present a ferry ticket as proof that Estonia is your final destination.
- Thailand closed its border on 26 March to foreign nationals, except for those holding a work permit with a Fit to Fly certificate issued less than 72 hours ago. The authorities of Thailand have taken a strict approach to extending the visas and right to remain for persons who do not work or reside in the country permanently. Air traffic in Phuket will be closed on 10 April. Local authorities are advising anyone not wishing to remain in Phuket for an extended period to leave before the closure. Land and maritime border crossing points will be closed between midnight of 30 March until 30 April.
- Transit via Lithuania has been extended until 13 April at 00.01, but is allowed with a police escort only. Since all cases of transit need to be agreed upon in advance with the Lithuanian authorities, please contact the Foreign Ministry by calling +372 5301 9999 (please provide your name, contact telephone number / email address and travel document number). National restrictions were extended until 13 April.
- France extended its state of emergency until 15 April and there are stricter checks on the implementation of lockdown rules. Options for returning via France are further reduced: the Paris Orly Airport will close on 31 March at 23.59 due to a sharp drop in air traffic. The Charles de Gaulle Airport will remain open.
- A large number of London-Tallinn flights have been cancelled, which means Estonian citizens will have to remain in the United Kingdom for an extended period of time.
- If you are in the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme, you must keep in mind that you cannot stay in the United States beyond the initial 90 days. Therefore, we recommend returning to Europe at the earliest opportunity. In special cases (for example, if you are hospitalised or your flight is cancelled due to weather conditions) you can submit an application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services to grant of satisfactory departure and extend your stay by 30 days. . You can find the contacts for your nearest office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services here: https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/find-a-uscis-office
If you are stranded abroad, cannot safely remain in the country and cannot find any other options for returning, please get in touch by calling +372 5301 9999 (24h).