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Temporary entry ban to the European Union via Sweden

15 May 2020

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 now been extended again until 15 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. The Government's press release can be seen here. See below for more information on which exemptions that may 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 now 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.

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 European Economic Area or Swiss citizens, or are family members of such a citizen;
  • have long-term resident status in Sweden or another European Union Member State;
  • have a temporary or permanent residence permit in Sweden or another European Economic Area 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 above is not exhaustive and there may therefore also be other categories of people who may be exempted. It will be 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 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 on at European Union 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 SARS-CoV-2 virus 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. 

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 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 seek asylum will not be affected by the decision.

Last updated 19 May 2020, 10.27 AM