Daily Helsingin Sanomat reported Monday that the Interior Ministry will propose re-introducing passport checks for passengers from within the Schengen free movement area during proposed visits by US and Russian presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are due to arrive in Finland on 15 July, while Putin is expected to arrive on 16 July for bilateral talks with his US counterpart.
Lieutenant Colonel Kimmo Elomaa, a deputy project manager with the Finnish Border Guard confirmed to Yle that the ministry will propose reintroducing the inspections.
According to Elomaa, the checks would take place over a four-day period starting from noon on the Friday prior to the heads’ visits, 13 July and would end at noon the following Tuesday, 17 July.
The purpose of the identity and travel document checks would be to bar entry into Finland to persons who might pose a threat to security or public order, the official said. The prime minister’s cabinet is expected to decide on the proposal during a meeting on Friday.
The internal checks may target travellers arriving in Finland as well as persons leaving the country. In particular, the Border Guard will keep a close eye on key air and sea ports as well as the busiest border crossing points in the north.
“Naturally the emphasis will be on places where there is a concentration of travellers,” Elomaa added.
Validation of identity and right to travel
It would hardly be possible for border authorities to check all travellers. Airline passengers will not have to worry about finding border inspection points as officials will direct them to such areas if needed, Elomaa explained.
Elomaa noted that the inspections will be targeted based on analysis and intelligence provided to border authorities.
“It will involve activities such as reviewing passenger lists and creating different profiles,” he noted, adding that all passengers are being advised to prepare for possible identity checks.
The reinstatement of border inspections does not mean that travellers will have to acquire any new travel documents and current regulations on what constitutes valid travel documents will also remain in force over the proposed four-day inspection period.
“People will have to validate their identity and their right to travel just the same as they do now. Even if you take a trip to Tallinn, you should have a passport or an official identity document,” Elomaa pointed out.
The border official said that the enhanced checks are not likely to cause any inconvenience to travellers.
“We will try to handle the matter so that no delays arise,” he said.
Finland ceased conducting border inspections of passengers arriving from the Schengen free movement areawhen it joined the EU in 2001. However passport checks were restored on certain occasions, such as during the World Athletics Championship in 2005.