Police control at Storskog checkpoint on the road from Norway towards Murmansk. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Border sees steep decline in traffic

Amid war, visa restrictions, banking sanctions and more expensive vehicle insurance, travel across Russia’s northernmost border with Schengen-Europe saw a 22 percent fall from May to June.
July 04, 2023


Norway is the only Schengen country with a direct land border with Russia that still allows travelers with tourist visas to enter. Finland, the Baltic states and Poland all closed entry for Russian citizens holding tourist visas after the outbreak of the full-scale war on Ukraine last year.

Latvia imposes from July 4 even stricter regulations aimed at “preventing security risks.” The country now only issues visas for Russian citizens with Latvian relatives in Latvia or other EU countries, as well as persons whose entry is related to humanitarian considerations.

People entering Norway at Storskog are free to travel all over the Schengen area and a trend in recent times is more inbound Russian travelers than Russians leaving Norway at the same checkpoint.

5,603 crossings were counted by Norwegian police in charge of immigration control at Storskog in June. That is down 22 percent from May when 7,207 crossings took place.

Very few Norwegians are going to Russia in the north, although people with dual citizenship easily can use their Norwegian passport at Storskog and their Russian passport when passing FSB’s border checks.

Figures from June are not yet made available by Finnish Border Guards, but traffic in May clearly tells the difference with Norway: Only 251 border crossings were counted at Raja-Joosepi, the northernmost checkpoint between Lapland and the Kola Peninsula. At Salla, further south, 1,087 crossings took place in May. Before the pandemic, and before Russia’s war on Ukraine that started in 2014, traffic at the Russian-Finnish border in the north was higher than across the Russian-Norwegian border.

The police at Storskog say to the Barents Observer that a total of 38,971 crossings were counted over the first six months of 2023. 




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