Finland Builds Facilities to Ease Border Crossing
Published: March 27, 2014 (Issue # 1803)
Despite a recent drop in the number of Russian tourists visiting Finland following the abrupt rise in the euro exchange rate, Finland continues to make its border more accessible and the crossing more convenient for its closest neighbors.
As a result of new initiatives, the three main Finnish border crossings with Russia are increasing the number of passenger checkpoint booths as well as the number of border guards to make the immigration process “smoother and faster from a passenger point of view,” Major Ville Joskitt, Chief of the Border Checks Sector and Border Operations Office of the Southeast Finland Border Guard District, said last week.
“In general, since 2009 the traffic of individual tourists from Russia has gradually increased. Accordingly we need to adapt our border and customs facilities to accommodate such an increase,” Joskitt said.
The number of people crossing checkpoints into Southeast Finland increased by 48 percent from 2009 to 2012, according to data from the Finnish Border Guard office. The majority of visitors traditionally come from Russia.
The developments are being introduced at the three largest Finnish checkpoints on the border with Russia: Nuijamaa, Imatra and Vaalimaa. Finland plans to add 100 more border guards at all three checkpoints.
Currently, the number of automobile transport crossings over the Russian-Finish border at the Nuijamaa checkpoint is 3.7 million a year, while the real capacity at the checkpoint is only 2.5 million. Once the expansion of the border facilities is completed, Nuijamaa will be able to handle up to six million vehicle crossings a year.
The capacity of the Imatra checkpoint will rise from one million to four million, while the capacity of Vaalimaa checkpoint will increase from 2.6 million to six million, the Finnish Border Guard office said.
At Nuijamaa the new facilities for vehicles entering Russia are scheduled for completion by this summer and ready for the increased influx of visitors by fall 2014.
At Imatra the facilities for both directions will be ready this year and they’ll be finished in 2014/2015 at Vaalimaa.
At all the mentioned checkpoints the service of passenger and cargo transport will be done separately to ease the border crossing process.
The new border infrastructure at the Finnish checkpoints will allow passengers to complete the border crossing without ever leaving their car to save time.
During periods of peak traffic, the Finnish Border Guard will open more cabins to speed up the border process.
Finnish border guards will also be able to perform some of the duties of customs as well as customs officers performing border guard duties, the Finnish Border Guard office said.