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Sweden extends entry ban for non-EU/EEA travellers until spring

Sweden has extended its border restrictions until the end of March for non-EU arrivals, and removed visitors from Argentina, Australia and Canada from the list of exemptions.

Sweden extends entry ban for non-EU/EEA travellers until spring
File photo of border police checking passports at Arlanda Airport. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

The government on Thursday extended Sweden’s current entry rules for EU/EEA arrivals until February 28th, and March 31st for people travelling from other countries.

This means that people travelling to Sweden from non-EU/EEA countries cannot enter the country unless they are covered by one of a series of exemptions from the entry ban. Such an exemption could be living in a so-called “exempt country”, having a valid Covid vaccine pass issued by an “approved country”, or being a resident of Sweden.

Some of the people covered by an exemption will still have to show a negative Covid test to enter Sweden, unless they are exempt from this too (for example if they have a vaccine pass from an approved country or are long-term residents of Sweden).

You can read more about the difference between exempt and approved countries in The Local’s guide, but in brief:

“Approved countries” are countries where vaccine certificates have been approved as being equal to an EU-issued certificate, and fully vaccinated travellers with certificates issued by these countries can travel freely to Sweden for any reason, including tourism or to visit friends and family even if the visit is not classified as urgent.

“Exempt countries” are countries whose residents are no longer subject to the travel ban but whose vaccine certificates have not been approved, so they need a negative test.

Sweden on Thursday removed Argentina, Australia and Canada from the list of exempt countries, which means people from these countries are no longer exempt from the entry ban just because they live there, but need to be covered by another exemption as well.

“The amendments are the result of an update of the EU recommendations regarding travel into the EU from third countries, based on information from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control,” said the Swedish government in a statement.

For people travelling to Sweden from EU/EEA countries, the extension of the entry ban only means that they will continue to have to show an EU Covid certificate (with proof of vaccination, negative test or recovery – unless they’re exempt) or an equivalent.

When you travel from another country to Sweden, it is always the entry regulations of the country that you enter from that apply. Therefore, make sure to check the rules for entering Sweden from the last country you will enter on your way to Sweden, if you will be transiting.

The decision to extend the border restrictions comes a day after Sweden announced plans to start easing domestic Covid restrictions from February 9th, if the ongoing Omicron outbreak has peaked by then.

The above information was correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. Please be aware that we are not a government authority and cannot issue any guarantees about whether or not you will be able to travel to Sweden. We always advise readers to also consult the official information on the Swedish border police’s website HERE and HERE before travelling.

If you have any questions, you are always welcome to contact our editorial team at [email protected]. We may not be able to reply to every email, and we cannot always advise on individual cases, but we read all emails and use them to inform our future coverage.

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TRAVEL NEWS

EXPLAINED: What’s behind the queues at Stockholm Arlanda airport?

Travellers are reporting queues over an hour long at Stockholm's Arlanda airport. What's going on and how long is it expected to last?

EXPLAINED: What's behind the queues at Stockholm Arlanda airport?

What’s the situation at Stockholm Arlanda airport? 

On Friday morning, there were queues lasting over an hour at Arlanda’s security controls. By 10am, they had been reduced to below half an hour, according to the live update the airport operator, Swedavia, maintains on its website here

Swedavia first began warning of long queue times on Monday, saying the queues were the result of a resurgence in travel combined with staffing shortages at Avarn, the contractor responsible for managing the security checks. 

“The wait times are due to a staff shortage with our security services contractor – which is caused by ongoing recruitment and absences due to illness,” the airport said on its website

What are travellers saying? 

Twitter is predictably awash with angry comments from travellers, including some well-known commentators. 

The terrorism researcher Magnus Ranstorp resorted to capital letters to bemoan the “CATASTROPHE” at the airport. 

The Financial Times’ Nordic Correspondent also compared the situation at Arlanda unfavourably with the smooth controls at Helsinki Airport

“Never seen anything like it and sounds like might be worse today. In Terminal 5 both queues, SAS and Norwegian, were well over 100 metres long,” he told The Local. “It took me 50 minutes to get through security. Don’t think it’s ever taken more than 10 in the Nordics before.” 

What should you do if you are travelling through Stockholm Arlanda at the moment? 

Swedavia recommends that you arrive “well in advance” when taking a flight. You can contact your airline here to find out when their check-ins and baggage drops open.  

Swedavia also recommends that you do everything possible to speed up the check-in process, such as:

  • checking in from home
  • packing hand baggage to make screening faster
  • checking the need for a face covering in advance
  • checking that you have the right travel documents ready 

If you can’t check in from home, Swedavia recommends seeing if you can check in using an automated machine at the airport.

What is the airport doing to to improve the situation? 

On June 15th, the airport is reopening Terminal 4, which might help somewhat, although the airport warns that as staffing is the major problem, having more space will not fully solve the problem over the summer. 

In a press release issued on Friday, Svedavia’s chief operations officer, Peder Grunditz, said opening a new terminal was “an important measure”. 

“We are now going to have the three biggest terminals back in operation for the first time since the pandemic,” he said. 

The company and Avarn are also making “big recruitment efforts” and taking “operational measures” to improve the queue situation, although the “challenging labour market” made that difficult. 

When will waiting times return to normal? 

In his press release, Grunditz conceded that waiting times were not likely to return to normal during the summer, due to the rapid growth in the number of people taking flights. 

“Even though we expect gradual improvements, the queuing situation is going to continue to be challenging during periods over the summer,” he said. 

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