The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Estonia’s foreign representations continue to work with travel and transport companies and other countries to find and inform Estonians of ways to return to the country. Due to the significant reduction in the number of flights being operated around the world and the demand for seats on the flights that are available, this is becoming increasingly complicated and time-consuming. Although the Estonian border will always remain open to Estonians, it may soon no longer be logistically possible to return to the country until the global crisis has ended.
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. Nevertheless, pay close attention to ensure that you do not breach the terms of your visa (if you have one) 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 or what restrictions may (still) be in place in a few months’ time. If you are unable to remain in another country, we recommend that you return to Estonia as soon as possible. If you encounter difficulties in another country, you can contact the nearest Estonian embassy or call the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on +372 5301 9999 in an emergency.
Important consular information, primarily regarding transit options and restrictions:
- Information applicable to all those returning to Estonia: Due to the strict transit rules that have been established by certain countries, airlines may require you to provide proof that Estonia is your final destination. Take any such documentary evidence with you (tickets et al.), preferably printed out. If you encounter any problems, let the Ministry of Foreign Affairs know by calling +372 5301 9999.
- If you are in Australia and you need to return to Estonia in the short term: A number of common transit countries have closed their airports, which means that returning to Estonia on regular flights has become practically impossible. We recommend contacting the Estonian Embassy in Canberra (https://canberra.mfa.ee/) should you definitely wish to return to Estonia in the short term.
- If you travel via Thailand: Please bear in mind that everyone entering Thailand, including transit passengers, is being asked to provide a medical certificate issued by a national hospital no more than 72 hours previously confirming that the bearer will not spread COVID-19 (i.e. that the bearer returned a negative result for coronavirus), plus evidence of at least $100 000 in medical insurance that will also cover any costs arising from contracting COVID-19. Without these documents you will not be permitted to board your flight. (View the Thai diplomatic note to this effect.) If you are unable to be tested in your country of departure (e.g. where this is only possible if you are exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus), you will need to find an alternative transit option. These documents are not required when departing from Thailand.
- If you are still in India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore or Sri Lanka and wish to return to Estonia: Please contact your travel agency or tour operator as soon as possible to find out what flights and options are available to return to Estonia. For further information see (in Estonian) https://newdelhi.mfa.ee/et/koroonaviirusega-seotud-reisisoovitus/.
- If you return via Lithuania: Lithuania has extended the transit window for Estonian citizens to 23.59 on Wednesday 25 March (i.e. transit will no longer be possible from 00.00 on 26 March), but personal means of transport (private cars and taxis) are no longer permitted to be used for transit. Since all cases of transit need to be agreed upon in advance with the Lithuanian authorities, please make yourself known to the Estonian Embassy in Vilnius immediately, emailing your name, contact telephone number/email address and travel document number to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you return via Latvia: To get from Latvia to Estonia we recommend the following options: a) take the train from Riga to Lugaži (close to Valka) departing at 10.34 or 18.15 (the former of which will allow you to get the Valga-Tallinn train the same day); b) take a taxi to the Estonian border at Ikla or Valka and call someone to come and collect you there (such as a friend or family member); c) rent a car in Riga and return it to the hire car company in Tallinn. Estonian citizens and residents arriving in Latvia and passing through the country in transit, including hauliers, are also required to complete a form and submit it to the Latvian border guards. (The form can also be obtained from the border guards if required.)
- If you return via Denmark: Copenhagen Kastrup and Billund airports remain open. Connections are available to Tallinn flying with Lufthansa via Frankfurt, but be sure to check the Lufthansa website for the latest information.
- According to the information we currently have, Turkish Airlines will be suspending all international flights from 27 March with the exception of five routes: Hong Kong, Moscow, Addis Ababa, New York and Washington. Anyone wishing to travel through Turkey at present should be aware that anyone who has been in the countries listed below in the previous 14 days is highly unlikely to be allowed into the transit zone of any Turkish airport or even to board a flight travelling to Turkey: Austria, Azerbaijan (Nakhchivan), Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kosovo, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine. For more information, see https://ankara.mfa.ee/et/oluline-info-reisimise-kohta.
Dutch airline KLM will be launching new regular flights to Amsterdam on 29 March from Abu Dhabi/Muscat, Atlanta, Bangkok, Chicago, Delhi*, Dubai*, Lima*, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York, Osaka, Seoul, Tokyo and other cities. (Those marked with a * will commence after 29 March.) More information can be found on the KLM website.
To discuss options for returning to Estonia, we recommend first speaking to your airline or travel agency / tour operator, as they will have the latest information to hand.
Additional flights of which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aware should regular flights be unavailable:
- Today, 24 March and on Friday 27 March airBaltic will be operating special flights from Frankfurt to Riga. For more information, see https://www.airbaltic.com/en/travel-updates.
- On Wednesday 25 March, there will be a special charter flight from Alicante to Vilnius. Tickets can be booked online at https://www.kidytour.lt/backhome, but due to the transit conditions that have been implemented in Lithuania, potential travellers must also make themselves known to the Estonian embassy in Vilnius, e-mailing their name, contact telephone number/e-mail address and travel document number to email@example.com.
- On Wednesday 25 March, airBaltic will be operating a special flight from Malaga to Riga. To book tickets, call +371 6720 7771. For more information, see https://www.airbaltic.com/et/teadaanded.
- Special airBaltic flights will also be operated on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 March from Amsterdam to Riga. To book tickets, call +371 6720 7771. For more information, see https://www.airbaltic.com/et/teadaanded.
- Registration for the previously announced special flight being organised by Lithuania from Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam) via Bangkok (Thailand) to Kaunas is open until Thursday 26 March. The flight will depart Ho Chi Minh at 10.00 on 27 March, making a stopover in Bangkok before continuing on to Kaunas. Citizens of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will be given preferential treatment in ticket sales. Go to https://www.vietnamballoons.com/book-online to register for the flight. We would also ask that you make yourself known to the Estonian Embassy in Vilnius by 26 March at the latest (especially those who will need assistance in getting from Kaunas to Estonia) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is maintaining constant communication with other countries in the European Union to ensure that Estonians who, to our knowledge, lack other options for returning from more distant destinations have the chance to catch potential evacuation flights. Bear in mind that none of these flights are free: ticket cost varies depending on how full each flight is.
We would also like to share information about new rules and restrictions that have been introduced in other countries in the last 24 hours:
- The government of the United Kingdom implemented new measures last night (23 March): restaurants and stores which do not sell vital goods must close; gatherings of more than two people are forbidden; parks will remain open, but gatherings are not permitted in them; churches, libraries and playgrounds will be closed; and weddings and baptisms are forbidden, but funerals are allowed. The British police have been authorised to enforce these restrictions.
- India is enabling foreigners in the country to apply for a visa extension until 15 April. For further information, see https://newdelhi.mfa.ee/et/koroonaviirusega-seotud-reisisoovitus/.
- Serbia, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia and Hong Kong have closed their borders. Poland has announced the indefinite closure of its borders.
- More stringent restrictions on movement within countries have been imposed by Spain (restrictions on driving) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (curfew).
- Iceland has warned that flight connections with the country may be suspended by the end of March.
- Mongolia has banned entry to all foreigners until 30 April.
If you find yourself stranded abroad, are unable to remain safely in the country and can find no way of returning to Estonia, please make yourself known by calling +372 5301 9999 (24 hours).
Ministry of Foreign Affairs