Estonia Imposes New Restrictions on Narva-Russia Border Crossing

Estonia Imposes New Restrictions on Narva-Russia Border Crossing

In light of increasing tensions between Estonia and Russia, the Estonian government has introduced new restrictions on the Narva-Russia border crossing.

The move comes in response to Russia’s recent closure of the border to vehicle traffic, citing ongoing construction at the Ivangorod border crossing point.

Narva crossing hours adjusted

Since May 1, 2024, pedestrians can only cross the Narva border during the day, between 7:00 am and 11:00 pm.

This change follows Russia’s decision in February 2024 to close the border crossing to vehicle traffic, citing the need for construction works at the Ivangorod border crossing point.

The Estonian Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) has stated that the decision to restrict night-time pedestrian crossings at Narva is indefinite, as Russia has not provided a timeline for the completion of the construction works.

Impact on local residents and international travelers

While locals in Narva might not feel a big change from the new rules, travelers coming into or out of the European Union (EU) via Estonia might face more challenges.

Especially before holidays, there is usually heavy traffic at the border, and with Narva closing overnight, there could be longer lines and waits during busy travel times.

Some Narva residents expressed concern about the impact of the new restrictions. 

They noted that before the 11:00 pm shutdown, there could be big lines forming, possibly leaving travelers stranded on the bridge between Estonia and Russia until morning.

However, the PPA has assured everyone that nobody will be left on the bridge after closing time. They will make sure everyone still in line gets through and into Estonia.

Estonia discourages travel to Russia

Amid the ongoing tensions, the Estonian authorities have repeatedly advised against traveling to Russia.

Marek Liiva, head of the Narva border crossing, reiterated this advice, mentioning that the PPA does not recommend traveling to Russia at this time.

This advisory comes in the wake of Russia’s actions, such as closing the border to vehicle traffic and restricting pedestrian crossings, which have added uncertainty and inconvenience for those seeking to cross the border.

Last December, the PPA started building barriers and setting up systems along the border to discourage travel to Russia.

Alternative border crossing options

Since the Narva-Ivangorod border crossing is shut down for vehicles, travelers can use the Koidula and Luhamaa border crossing points to drive between Estonia and Russia.

But Estonian authorities are worried that Russia might suddenly limit crossings at these other points too, making travel between the two countries even more complicated.

Balancing security and mobility

The Estonian government’s decision to limit border crossings with Russia shows that they are trying to balance national security with allowing people to move across borders.

If tensions with Russia continue, Estonia might rethink its immigration rules, possibly making it tougher for people from Russia and other countries to stay long-term.

The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), designed to enhance security within the Schengen area, could play a pivotal role in shaping Estonia's approach to immigration from neighboring countries.

No end in sight

The new restrictions on the Narva-Russia border crossing highlight the ongoing tensions between Estonia and Russia, with both sides taking measures that impact cross-border travel.

While the Estonian authorities have sought to minimize disruptions for local residents and travelers, the situation remains fluid, and further changes cannot be ruled out as the diplomatic standoff continues.