Procedure for crossing the Estonian-Russian border

In 2011, changes were introduced to the procedure for crossing the Estonian-Russian border. Under the new rules, a unified border crossing queue information system was established, and it is used in three Estonian road border crossing points (in the outbound direction): Narva-Ivangorod, Koidula-Kunitsina Gora and Luhamaa-Shumilkina. There is a waiting area by each road border crossing point, where drivers can wait until their turn to cross their border.

What are the objectives of the border crossing procedure?

The border crossing queue system makes it possible to plan your border crossing time. If a person crossing the border must wait before crossing the border, the waiting conditions are now much better.

Knowing the border crossing time, those crossing the border in vehicles can arrive at the border by the appointed time. No longer is the border crossing on the first come, first served principle. This means more civilized conditions for waiting in the border queue. Now people can make holiday plans knowing what time they will return and truck drivers will also be able to plan their time of arrival at the border in advance.

Ensuring traffic safety and smooth border crossing (use of the system helps to disperse arrivals of travellers on the border)

What is the unified border crossing queue system?

The unified border crossing queue system is an electronic database for reserving a border crossing time. The unified system serving three border crossing points is used by all border crossers regardless of what country the live in or what vehicle they use. The service is provided in Estonian, English and Russian.

The name of the unified border crossing queue system is GoSwift. The border crossing system was established by Girf OÜ in the framework of an administrative task assigned by the Ministry of the Interior.

How to reserve a border crossing time?

Advance reservations for border crossing can be made in GoSwift in Estonian, English and Russian, forwarding information about vehicles and persons who plan to cross the border. This can be done:

  • at the web addresses www.eestipiir.ee or www.estonianborder.eu
  • calling the reservation centre on phone number +372 6 989 192
  • a vehicle that arrives at the border without advance reservation can also register for the general queue in the official waiting area near the border crossing point, either in a self-service kiosk or with the assistance the waiting area service person. It is not possible to register for the wait queue once at the border crossing point.
  • a time for border crossing can be reserved up to 90 days in advance.

When reserving a place in the border queue, a reservation fee of 1.50 euros must be paid and in additional waiting queue fee pursuant to vehicle category.

Information on the waiting area fees can be found at www.eestipiir.ee.

Starting on 1 November 2016, if there is no queue, there is no fee for passenger cars and motorcycles for taking a place in the queue or use of waiting area services if the vehicle is registered on a first come, first served basis using the self-service kiosk in the waiting area and the vehicle is directed to the border crossing point within 15 minutes. If a place in the waiting area is reserved for the vehicle by the service person online or by telephone, the service must be paid for according to the established price list.

What data must be sent?

Upon making a reservation, data must be submitted regarding the persons and vehicles planning a border crossing.

Trucks must forward a customs document with MRN number or declare that they are waiting IN the queue without a load.

What are the options for paying for the reservation?

Estonian banks’ customers can pay for the reservation online with a transfer or credit card. If making a reservation by phone, it is possible to pay by mobile payment or credit card.

Other travellers can pay only with a credit card, making a reservation either online or by telephone. Everyone who has set up a user account in the information system can pay for the booking from a prepaid account.

In the waiting area, one can pay by debit card, credit card and in cash. The reservation will take effect after the payment has been made.

What is the waiting area?

The waiting area is an official parking area near the state border. Here the vehicles on the reservations are checked in advance, and vehicles without an advance registration are registered for the queue and the vehicles are directed to the border crossing point. In the waiting area, drivers can wait for their border crossing time in better conditions than in the past. Vehicles that reach the waiting area are registered and when the border crossing time is at hand, directed to the border. This can be seen on the electronic displays in the waiting area.

All vehicles must pass through the waiting area.

Waiting areas by Estonian road border crossing points:

  • There are two waiting areas by the Narva-Ivangorod border crossing point:
  • The Narva waiting area for vehicles, buses and local trucks (Transservis-N)
  • Sillamäe waiting area for trucks (Sillamäe Sadama AS)
  • Koidula border crossing point waiting area for all vehicles (Paldiski Sadamate AS)
  • Luhamaa border crossing point waiting area for all vehicles (Collade OÜ)

The waiting area has lighting and security, including video surveillance as well as ordinary waste receptacles and rest rooms. The provider of border crossing waiting area service may offer other services in the waiting area (such as a cafe).

The provider of border crossing waiting area service charges a fee for use of the border crossing waiting area. The fee varies from one waiting area to the next. For the exact prices, visit the GoSwift website.

What are the time limits for the GoSwift system?

The reservation gives an hour-long interval during which a vehicle may cross the border. For example, from 13:00 to 14:00.

In the case of both a pre-reservation and the general queue, category A, B and D vehicles must arrive by the start of the reserved time. Category C vehicles 3 hours before the reserved time.

Upon registering for the general queue, it is important to remember that it is hard to forecast the precise border crossing time, as the queue moves at different speed at different times, depending on the number of border crossers, and how many vehicles have priority status for crossing the border. As it is hard to forecast the specific border crossing time, people will be kept notified of the number of vehicles that are ahead in the queue. It is recommended to wait for the border crossing in the waiting area but outside the waiting area, it is important to keep track of the queue movement and one’s place via www.eestipiir.ee. It is also possible to order a paid SMS service regarding the border queue.

On the spot, the waiting area administrator is responsible for organizing the queue.

Information on how many vehicles are waiting to cross the border changes constantly over time. Thus, in planning the border crossing, it is recommended to check the length of the queue at www.eestipiir.ee or www.estonianborder.eu.

On what conditions can I cross the border in the priority queue?

The following can be registered for priority queue:

  • vehicle that carries a member of an international delegation or an employee of a foreign diplomatic representation or consular post;
  • vehicle that carries goods that are included in the nomenclature of time-sensitive goods;
  • a vehicle that has the right to cross the border with priority arising from an international agreement or treaty;
  • a motorcycle in A or A1 category.

A place for these vehicles can be reserved online, by telephone and on the spot in the waiting area.

A place can be taken in the priority queue in the waiting area in the following cases:

  • if a vehicle is carrying tourists who are not knowledgeable of the queue information system and who have arrived in the waiting area and their waiting time for border crossing is unreasonably long;
  • if a vehicle is carrying a person who has a good reason for a priority border crossing and for whom waiting for the border crossing would clearly be a disproportionate burden;
  • if a vehicle is carrying a person who has some other good reason for an urgent border crossing and this is coordinated in advance by the waiting area service provider with the relevant border crossing point;

A good reason and urgent need for a priority border crossing can include the following:

  • the sudden illness or death of a close relative;
  • an imminent plane or train departure in the Russian Federation, if the person’s visa validity or permitted period of stay will expire before the border crossing time would allow the person to cross the state border;
  • transporting a sick child to receive medical care etc.
  • transporting delegations to international conferences or competitions.

An urgent need to cross the border must be substantiated in the waiting area.

If a vehicle entitled to take a place in the priority queue arrives in the waiting area, it shall be given the first free border crossing time. The priority queue is served with the first come, first served queue increasing being proportionally slower. If many vehicles that have priority border crossing rights arrive at the border, they will be assigned a place in the queue in the order of arrival.

What are legal grounds for the GoSwift system?

Legal acts that govern registration of electronic border crossing

For more information, visit: www.eestipiir.ee or www.estonianborder.eu

What to do if a person does not arrive in the waiting area by the appointed time?

The place in the border queue is reserved for 1 hour and one should arrive in the waiting area with ample time before the start of the time. If you are late to the waiting area, you may not be able to cross the border at the desired time.

If a person is more than one hour late with no good reason, the reservation is cancelled and they have to take a new place in the queue. This can be done online or by telephone or on the spot in the self-service kiosk or with the assistance of a waiting area staffer.

Extraordinary cases (such as a technical breakdown) will be resolved in the waiting area.

What if there is traffic congestion on the border?

If congestion occurs upon border crossing, where the border crossing point or neighbouring country is not accepting vehicles, it is not possible to cross the border at the reserved time. As soon as the vehicles again start to be accepted, the vehicles in the waiting queue will be directed to the border crossing point, starting from ones that were reserved for an earlier time.

If congestion occurs at the border crossing, the times reserved for that day may be shifted. At the same time, the system is structured so that border crossing should reach the timetable during the day.

What to do if it turns out that there is a need to change car or driver?

There may be one person and vehicle in the border queue at the same time. In the case of category A, B and D vehicles, only the reservation time can be changed - up to 3 times and up to 3 hours before the reservation time. If you desire to change the car, driver or border crossing point, this is a new reservation.

The car and driver cannot be changed but the system provides an option to register several drivers and later select which one will drive.

The car and person are associated in order to prevent selling of places in the border queues, blank reservations and booking of all places in the queue for the same persons or vehicles.

If something happens en route that causes a change of vehicle or driver, such situations will be resolved in cooperation with the border crossing point.