Travel to and from Sweden affected until 17 April 2020

The Swedish Police is examining how the government's decision to temporarily restrict non-essential travel to Sweden across an external border, meaning from other countries than the EU/EEA, except the UK or Switzerland, will affect border controls.

The rapid spread of the Corona virus within the EU is a matter of international concern that requires coordinated action. Member States have responded to the call to restrict non-essential travel to the EU. On March 17, the government decided to temporarily restrict non-essential travel to Sweden from countries outside EU/EEA, except the UK or Switzerland.

A new regulation, under the Act on the Protection of International Threats to Human Health, was decided on March 17 to mitigate the effects of the Corona virus outbreak and reduce its spread. The decision came into effect on March 19 and will initially be in effect for 30 days. It might, however, be further prolonged.

Travel from another EU country such as Denmark or Finland, a country that is part of the EEA such as Norway, from the UK, or from Switzerland, hereafter referred to as EEA*, will not be affected. The standard procedure is that foreigners traveling from a non-EEA*country will be denied entry. This will mainly affect arrivals to Swedish airports and sea ports, since Sweden has no external land border.

Swedish citizens will always be allowed to return to Sweden. Likewise will EEA* citizens always be allowed to return to the country in which they are citizens, including if the return is done via Sweden. EEA* citizens will also be allowed to enter Sweden if they reside or travel via Sweden if they reside in another EEA* country. Exceptions to the entry ban may be made for foreigners who have particularly important reasons for traveling to Sweden. The Swedish Police Authority is responsible for applying the legislation and is currently developing procedures for how to do so. The exact delimitations will be made in exceptional cases and will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

The following categories are exempt from the entry ban:

  • Swedish citizens
  • family members of Swedish citizens working for a Swedish company, a Swedish government agency or an international organization abroad, if the employer is taking the employee and/or his or her family members home
  • citizens of another EEA state, the UK or Switzerland, or family members of an EEA national, citizen of the UK or citizen of Switzerland, if they are returning home
  • individuals with a residence permit in Sweden or another EU state, who are returning home
  • holders of a national visa for Sweden, if returning home.

Exceptions can be made for foreigners with particularly urgent personal needs or who are to perform essential functions in Sweden, such as

  • health care professionals
  • individuals working with the transportation of goods, e.g. food and medicines
  • embarking or disembarking merchant seamen, as well as commercial drivers whose vehicle and cargo is already in Sweden
  • people travelling for urgent family reasons.

Swedish border control officials determine how the exemptions are to be interpreted and which decisions are to be made.

The right to asylum is not affected by the decision. If a person wishes to seek asylum at the border then they will be allowed to do so.

The same legislation as previously, i.e. the Schengen Borders Code, will first and foremost apply for the crossing of borders. This means that valid travel documents must be carried in the form of a passport or national ID card. It is primarily the traveller’s responsibility to prove their right to enter, based on citizenship or on the current exemptions.

For questions regarding the legal framework and regulations, please refer to the Regulation on temporary entry bans to Sweden (Swedish), the Swedish government’s press release, or the Swedish government's FAQ page in English, as well as the Schengen Borders Code.

The Swedish Police Authority will continuously update the communication about how this affects travel to and from Sweden.

* including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain, as well as Switzerland and the UK.

Frequently asked questions about the temporary entry ban to the EU via Sweden

Q: What does the entry ban mean?

A: The decision means that the government, in accordance with an EU-level agreement, temporarily suspends non-essential travel to Sweden from all countries except members of the EU/EEA, the UK or Switzerland until 17 April. The purpose is to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

It is permitted to travel to Sweden from the following countries, which are part of the EU/EEA: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain, as well as Switzerland and the UK. These countries and their citizens will hereafter referred to as EEA*:

The entry ban does not apply to Swedish citizens. There are also exemptions for e.g. EEA citizens and Swiss citizens, and their family members, if the purpose of travelling to Sweden is to return home. UK citizens will continue to be regarded as EEA citizens throughout 2020, as part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Citizens of other countries who have particularly urgent needs or who are to carry out essential functions in Sweden can also still be allowed entry. This is an exceptional measure and the entry ban is temporary.

Q: Who is affected by the entry ban?

A: The entry ban primarily applies to foreign citizens who attempt to enter Sweden from a country that is not an EEA* member.

The entry ban does not apply to Swedish citizens. There are also several important exemptions to the ban.

Q: I am Swedish but am currently abroad. Will I be allowed to return home?

A: Yes, Swedish citizens will always be allowed to enter Sweden.

Q: Which categories are exempted from the entry ban?

A: The entry ban does not apply to foreigners whose purpose of travelling to Sweden is to return to their homes, if they

  • are an EEA* citizen, or are a family member of such a citizen
  • have long-term resident status in Sweden or another EU country
  • are a UK citizen
  • hold a temporary or permanent residence permit in Sweden or another EEA* member state
  • hold a national visa for Sweden.

EES* citizens have an unconditional right to return to their state of citizenship. For others, the concept of returning home, involves the existence of an established home in Sweden or another EES* state, in which the foreigner has previously stayed.  There is no minimum length of stay in Sweden for it to be considered home.

Nor does the travel ban apply to individuals who have particularly urgent needs or who are to carry out essential functions in Sweden, such as:

  • healthcare professionals
  • frontier workers
  • personnel transporting goods and other staff in the transport sector, including embarking or disembarking merchant seamen, as well as commercial drivers whose vehicle and cargo is already in Sweden
  • diplomats 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 (the Swedish Police Authority understands this category to include passengers who are changing planes without passing through passport or customs control)
  • people with imperative family reasons
  • people in need of international protection or who have other humanitarian reasons (the ordinance does not affect the right to apply for asylum; foreigners stating that they need international protection or claim other humanitarian reasons are to be processed under existing legislation).

The assessment of whether a foreigner falls into any of the exempted categories is always made at the border control point.

Q: How is imperative family reasons defined?

A: The Swedish Police Authority interprets this as an urgent situation, sudden illness or accident in the family which requires the foreigner’s presence in Sweden. This could, for example, involve being present for a birth, a funeral, or palliative care. It is the foreigner’s responsibility to prove that he or she is exempted, and the assessment of whether or not the exemption criteria have been met is always made at the border control point.

The Swedish Police Authority assesses that this even includes family members of Swedish citizens working for a Swedish company, a Swedish government agency or an international organization abroad, if the employer is taking the employee and/or his or her family members home.  

Q: Will medical doctors and other healthcare professionals who reside in another country but are employed by a Swedish care facility need some kind of documentation, exemption etc. in order to cross the border and travel between their home and place of work?

A: The new travel ban only applies to travels to Sweden from countries other than EEA*. Healthcare professionals residing in another EEA* country who only travel between their home in another EEA* country and their place of work in Sweden are not affected by the travel ban.

Medical doctors and healthcare professionals who are not from an EEA*, will be assessed for potential exemption based on their individual circumstances. As a rule, some kind of written documentation will be required, e.g. a check in the databases that the Swedish Police Authority has access to, work contract, proof of employment, pay check, extract from the Swedish Population Register, or other forms of proof or documentation.

Q: Will people who live abroad be allowed to visit relatives in Sweden?

A: It depends on the country that they are travelling from. The general rule is that people travelling to Sweden from a country that is not an EEA* country will be denied entry. Exemptions may be made for imperative family reasons, but this assessment will be made at the border control point.

Swedish citizens residing abroad are not affected by this decision since Swedish citizens cannot be denied entry to Sweden.

Q: I am a Swedish citizen. My fiancée, who is from a non-EEA* country, holds a valid Schengen visa and we plan to get married in April. Will she be allowed to enter Sweden?

A: A non-EEA* citizen travelling to Sweden from a country that is not an EEA* country will be affected by the entry ban in the new temporary ordinance. In order to enter Sweden, she will need to qualify for one or more of the exemptions. A valid Schengen visa is not in itself an exemption. The Swedish Police Authority interprets the exemption based on imperative family reasons to involve the necessary presence for a birth, a funeral or palliative care. To get married is most likely not an imperative family reason. However, the assessment of whether or not she will qualify for any of the exemptions will be made at the border control point.

Q: Will Swedish citizens be allowed to return home via a transit country that is currently closed for non-citizens?

A: This is a question that needs to be addressed to the authorities in the transit country or to the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Q: Which documentation is required upon entry?

A. The same requirements as before apply for entering Sweden, e.g. the requirement to hold a valid travel document, visa etc. It is the assessment of the Swedish Police Authority that it is the foreigner’s responsibility to invoke and prove the circumstances that may make them qualify for exemption. If the foreigner is unable to do this, the individual assessment will be limited to establishing that the foreigner should be denied entry and will be refused entry under the general entry ban.

Assessment of exemptions should always be made based on the circumstances of the individual case. Some kind of documentation is required under normal circumstances, e.g. a check in the databases that the Swedish Police Authority has access to, work contract, proof of employment, pay check, extract from the Swedish Population Register, or other forms of proof or documentation.

Q: I am Swedish but married to a foreign citizen, and we live abroad. Will it be possible for both of us to enter Sweden?

A: Your spouse needs to either hold a residence permit in Sweden or another EEA* country, and the purpose of travel must be to return home, or they must fall into the category for exemption based on imperative family reasons. This involves an urgent situation, illness or accident in the family which makes their presence in Sweden necessary, such as a birth, a funeral or palliative care.

If both of you live abroad, your spouse will most likely be denied entry if there is no urgent situation. The exemption for EEA* citizens and their family members does not include Swedish citizens and their spouses except in the case of family members of a Swedish citizen employed by a Swedish company, a Swedish government agency or an international organisation abroad, if the employer is taking home the employee and/or his or her family members.

Q: Should a visa be cancelled when a foreigner is denied entry?

A: There is a legal basis in the Visa Code for cancelling visas, but the Swedish Police Authority assesses that this would have unreasonable consequences, especially for individuals who are granted longer visas with multiple entries. For individuals who are granted shorter visas valid only for a single entry, and whose travel is cancelled as a result of the entry ban, the European Commission has issued a guideline allowing a new visa to be issued under a simplified procedure once the entry ban is lifted. The Swedish Police Authority therefore assesses that visas should not be cancelled.

Q: Will the entry ban affect travels inside the EU?

A: The new ordinance only applies to entry to Sweden from countries other than EEA*. Travels between two EEA* countries are therefore not covered by the entry ban, so entry to Sweden from another EU country is not affected. For entry to another EEA* country from Sweden, the question needs to be addressed to the authorities in the country in question.

Q: Will non-EEA citizens be allowed to enter Sweden from another EEA* country, e.g. Denmark or Norway, if they are to transit in a Swedish airport on their way home? What if they enter from a non-EEA* country?

A: Entry from an EEA* country is not affected by the entry ban, so non-EEA citizens who are currently in the EEA* will be allowed to travel home via Sweden, both as transit passengers in airports and in other ways. If non- EEA* citizens transit by plane from a country that is not an EEA* country, they will only be allowed to stay in the international transit area of the airport on the condition that they do not go through passport control.  

Q: Which conditions apply to a non-EEA* citizen with a 90-day visa who risks overstaying their legal time frame since there are no flights home, and as a result needs to prolong their visa?

A: A foreigner who is not able to return home as planned needs to legalise their stay, regardless of whether they hold a Schengen visa or enjoy visa waiver status. Anyone wishing to legalise their stay should contact the Swedish Migration Agency. The Swedish Police Authority does not process visas or residence permits.

Q: Which entry regulations apply if you need to enter a non-EEA* country when exiting Sweden?

A: When you travel from Sweden to a non-EEA* country, it is always the entry regulations of the country that you enter that apply. For information about the entry rules of another country, please contact the authorities of the country in question. Please note that the control done by the airline before departure is not considered border control. Border control is (typically) done upon arrival, unless the border control is handled pre-clearance at the departure airport.

Q: Will people still be expelled to other countries despite the closed borders?

A: Whether or not an expulsion is to be executed depends on the country in question. If the country in question accepts returnees and there are flights, the Swedish Police Authority will continue processing expulsion cases. Neither the legal basis on which residence permits are granted, nor the assignment of the Swedish Police Authority, have changed. In reality, however, it will not be possible to execute any large-scale expulsions due to the lack of flights and imposed entry bans in several countries.

For expulsions to Afghanistan, the Swedish Police Authority published a news alert on polisen.se (in Swedish) : Dialog med afghanska myndigheter gällande verkställighetsärenden

Q: Will commercial drivers be allowed to enter Sweden from another EU country or from a non-EU country?

A: Commercial drivers entering Sweden across an internal border, meaning from another EEA* country  are not affected by the entry ban and will be allowed to enter. Commercial drivers entering Sweden from a non-EEA* country will be affected by the entry ban, but might be exempted based on the merit of transporting merchandise.

* including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain, as well as Switzerland and the UK.

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