Article from Ministry of Justice

Questions and answers – temporary entry ban to the European Union via Sweden

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On 17 March, the Government decided to temporarily ban non-essential travel to Sweden from all countries except European Union Member States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The entry ban was introduced following a call by the European Council and European Commission with the aim of mitigating the effects of the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and reducing the outbreak of COVID-19. The ban has been in effect since 19 March and, following a recommendation by the Commission, has been extended until 15 June. Following a review, the Government has now adopted certain clarifications, including about the exemptions from the entry ban for people with certain family ties to Swedish and foreign citizens and for certain seasonal workers. The clarifications apply as of 8 June.

Basic information

What does the Government’s decision to implement an entry ban mean?

It means that the Government has decided to temporarily ban non-essential travel to Sweden from all countries except European Union Member States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The entry ban does not apply to Swedish citizens. Exemptions from the entry ban are made for, among others, European Union citizens and their family members if the purpose of entry is to return to their homes. Also exempted from the entry ban are foreign citizens who have particularly urgent needs or who are to carry out essential functions in Sweden. Following a review, on 4 June the Government adopted certain clarifications concerning the exemptions from the entry ban. See below for more information on which exemptions apply.

Why has an entry ban been issued?

The European Union Member States have given their support to a call from the European Commission to take measures to temporarily restrict non-essential travel to the European Union. The purpose is to mitigate the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a matter of international concern that requires coordinated measures. The Government has therefore decided to accept the call and issue a temporary entry ban in line with the European Commission’s recommendations.

How long will the entry ban apply?

The entry ban came into effect on 19 March and initially applied for 30 days. The entry ban has been extended up to and including 15 June.

Application

What travel is affected by the entry ban?

The entry ban applies essentially to foreign citizens attempting to enter Sweden from all countries except European Union Member States, members of the European Economic Area and Switzerland. The European Economic Area includes all European Union Member States, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The United Kingdom is still regarded as part of the European Economic Area according to the withdrawal agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union. This means entry to Sweden is still allowed from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

There are exemptions to the entry ban, see “Exemptions” below.

Does the entry ban also apply to Swedish citizens?

No, the entry ban only applies to foreign citizens. Swedish citizens can therefore enter the country despite the entry ban.

Does the entry ban affect travel within the European Union?

No, the entry ban does not affect travel from another European Union Member State to Sweden.

What applies regarding travel from the United Kingdom (i.e. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) to Sweden, and what applies for United Kingdom nationals?

The Withdrawal Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union makes clear that European Union law applies in relation to the United Kingdom during the transition period, which runs until 31 December 2020. This means that United Kingdom nationals are still to be regarded as European Economic Area citizens and that travel from the United Kingdom is not affected by the ban.

What applies for people who live in Denmark or another Nordic country and work in Sweden?

Travel from Denmark, Finland and Norway is not affected by the entry ban. 

Exemptions

Who is exempt from the entry ban?

The entry ban does not apply to people whose reason for travelling is to return to their home if they:

  • are an EEA citizen or a citizen of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Switzerland or the Vatican City, or have certain family ties to an EEA citizen or to a citizen of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Switzerland, Sweden or the Vatican City;
  • have long-term resident status in Sweden or another European Union Member State;
  • have a temporary or permanent residence permit in Sweden or another EEA state, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Switzerland or the Vatican City; 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;
  • seasonal workers in the agricultural, forestry and horticulture sectors;
  • 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 above is not exhaustive and there may therefore also be other categories of people who may be exempted.

It is a matter for the enforcing authorities (primarily the Swedish Police Authority) to determine in each individual case how the exemptions are to be interpreted and which decisions are to be made. The purpose of the measure is to mitigate the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 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 largely corresponds to the exemptions recommended by the European Commission in its communication of 16 March. The Government has chosen to follow what was agreed on at European Union level regarding the groups that should not be affected by the entry ban. Following a review, on 4 June the Government adopted certain clarifications concerning people with certain family ties to Swedish and foreign citizens and certain seasonal workers. The entry ban is an exceptional measure and it is important that it does not affect individuals more severely than necessary. The Government is closely monitoring developments concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and has continuous contact with the responsible public authorities and other countries.

What applies for people who hold a Swedish residence permit?

People who hold a temporary or permanent Swedish residence permit are exempt from the entry ban if the purpose of entry is to return home. It is a matter for the enforcing authorities to determine in each individual case how the exemptions are to be interpreted and which decisions are to be made.

Through its decision of 4 June, the Government has clarified that in cases where a person with a residence permit in Sweden has certain family ties to a person who, upon entry, has their home in Sweden, the purpose of entry into Sweden is to be regarded as a return home. In such cases, there is no requirement that the person entering Sweden has their home in Sweden at the time of entry. Family ties could be to a spouse, cohabiting partner or child.

What applies for family members of Swedish citizens?

People with certain family ties to Swedish citizens are exempt from the entry ban if the purpose of entry is to return home. Family ties could be to a spouse, cohabiting partner or child.

Through its decision of 4 June, the Government has clarified that in cases where a person with family ties to a Swedish citizen travels to Sweden, the purpose of entry into Sweden is to be regarded as a return home. In such cases, there is no requirement that the person entering Sweden has their home in Sweden at the time of entry.

What applies for EEA citizens, citizens of Switzerland and their family members when travelling to or via Sweden?

The same applies for EEA citizens, citizens of Switzerland and their family members as applies for family members of Swedish citizens. This means that they are exempt from the entry ban if the purpose of entry is to return home. The same also applies for citizens of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City.

The purpose of the entry must be regarded as a return home, including in cases when the person is travelling to Sweden in order to get to the state of which the citizen of an EEA state, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Switzerland or the Vatican City or the family member is a citizen, or, regarding family members, where the person to whom there are family ties has their home, if that state is Sweden, another EEA state or Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Switzerland or the Vatican City. In these cases, there is no requirement that the person entering Sweden has their home in Sweden at the time of entry.

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.

Will people who live abroad be able to visit relatives in Sweden?

It depends on the country they are travelling from. As a general rule, people travelling to Sweden from all countries – except European Union Member States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland – will be denied entry. However, exemptions may be made for people who have particularly pressing needs, 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 entry ban?

People with an essential function in Sweden, such as people transporting goods and other staff in the transport sector, are exempt from the entry ban.

Will asylum seekers be affected by the temporary entry ban?

The right to seek asylum will not be affected by the decision.

Do you have questions?

Questions from the public about the practical application of the ban on travel to Sweden are answered by the Police. Go to www.polisen.se or call 114 14.