Questions and answers – temporary entry ban to the EU via Sweden
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In response to the European Council’s and the European Commission’s call for travel restrictions, the Government decided on 17 March to temporarily stop non-essential travel to Sweden so as to mitigate the effects of the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and reduce the spread of the disease.
What does this decision mean?
It means that the Government, fully in accordance with what the Member States agreed at EU level, is temporarily banning non-essential travel to Sweden from all countries except those in the EEA and Switzerland. The purpose is to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The entry ban does not apply to Swedish citizens. There are also exemptions for EEA citizens and their family members among others, if the purpose of entry is to return to their homes. People with an essential function or need will also still be able to enter Sweden. This is an exceptional measure and the entry ban is temporary.
Why was this decision taken now?
The EU Member States have given their support to a call from the European Commission to take measures to temporarily restrict non-essential travel to the EU. The purpose is to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The COVID-19 virus is a matter of international concern that requires coordinated measures. The Government has therefore decided to accept the call and issue a temporary travel restriction in line with the recommendations of the Commission.
Who is affected by the entry ban?
The entry ban applies primarily to foreign citizens attempting to enter Sweden from all countries except those in the EEA and Switzerland. Travel to Sweden from the following countries is therefore allowed: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Accordingly, the entry ban does not apply to Swedish citizens. Moreover, there are a number of important exemptions to the ban (see next question).
Does the entry ban affect travel within the EU?
The entry ban does not affect travel from another EU country to Sweden.
Who is exempt from the entry ban?
The entry ban does not apply to people whose reason for travelling is to return to their homes, if they:
- are an EEA or Swiss citizen, or are a family member of such a citizen;
- have long-term resident status in Sweden or another EU Member State;
- have a temporary or permanent residence permit in Sweden or another EEA State or Switzerland; or
- have a national visa for Sweden.
In addition, the entry ban does not apply to people who have particularly urgent needs or who are to carry out essential functions in Sweden. For example, this may be the case for:
- healthcare professionals;
- frontier workers;
- personnel transporting goods and other staff in the transport sector;
- diplomatic officials and certain paid consular officials and their families and employees;
- couriers of foreign states;
- people working in international organisations, military personnel and aid workers;
- passengers in transit;
- people with imperative family reasons; and
- people in need of international protection or who have other humanitarian reasons.
The list of people who have particularly urgent needs or who are to carry out essential functions is for illustration only and there may therefore be other categories of people who will be allowed to enter. It will be a matter for the Swedish border control authorities to determine how the exemptions are to be interpreted and which decisions are to be made. The purpose of the measures is to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 virus. This is a temporary measure.
Why has Sweden chosen to exempt certain travellers from the travel ban but not others?
The list of exemptions from the travel ban is in accordance with the exemptions stated by the European Commission in its communication of 16 March. The Government has chosen to follow what was agreed at EU level regarding the groups that should not be affected by the entry ban. This is an exceptional measure and it is important that it does not affect individuals more severely than necessary. However, the Government is closely monitoring developments concerning the COVID-19 virus and has continuous contact with the responsible public authorities and other countries.
How long will the entry ban apply?
The entry ban is in force from 19 March and will continue for 30 days to begin with. This is fully in line with the European Commission’s recommendations in its communication of 16 March.
What applies regarding travel from the United Kingdom to Sweden, and what applies for UK nationals?
The withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU makes clear that EU law also applies in relation to the UK during the transition period, which runs until 31 December 2020. This means that UK nationals are still to be regarded as EEA citizens and that travel from the UK is not affected by the ban. It also means that UK nationals and their family members who travel to Sweden from a country outside the EEA (except Switzerland, see above) may enter if the purpose is to return to their home.
What applies for people who live in Denmark or another Nordic country and work in Sweden?
Travel from Denmark, Norway and Finland is not affected by the entry ban since these countries are in the EEA. The decision only applies to people who travel to Sweden from a country outside the EEA (except Switzerland, see above).
Will people who live abroad be able to visit relatives in Sweden?
It depends on the country they are travelling from. The general rule is that people travelling to Sweden from a country that is not part of the EEA (except Switzerland, see above) will be denied entry. However, exemptions may be made for matters such as imperative family reasons, but how these are assessed is a matter for the Swedish Police Authority. Swedish citizens residing abroad are not affected by this decision.
Will the transport of goods, such as food and pharmaceuticals, be affected by the decision?
There is an explicit exemption from the entry ban for people who transport goods.
What does this mean for Swedes who are abroad?
The entry ban does not apply to Swedish citizens. Swedish citizens who return home will thus be able to enter Sweden despite the temporary entry ban.
Will asylum seekers be affected by the temporary entry ban?
The right to asylum will not be affected by the decision.
What applies for people who hold a Swedish residence permit?
People who hold a Swedish residence permit are exempt from the entry ban if the purpose of entry is to return home.
What does the decision mean for exchange students who are studying in Sweden but are currently abroad – can they return to Sweden?
As a rule, a third-country national who is to study in Sweden for more than three months requires a residence permit. People who hold a residence permit for Sweden will be allowed to enter Sweden if the purpose is to return home.