Quicker passage at Estonian-Latvian border

  • 1998-08-06
  • Kairi Kurm
TALLINN - The first joint customs and passport checkpoints opening on Baltic borders in September are expected to speed up border crossing within the Baltic countries.

Border guard and customs officials at the Ikla-Ainazi checkpoint on the Estonian-Latvian border on the Tallinn-Riga road will start with joint checks from Sept. 5. A similar system will be introduced at the Murati-Veclaicene checkpoint beginning Sept. 19.

"Border crossing at those checkpoints will speed up by one third, as those leaving the country will only be checked in the country of arrival," said Customs Department General Director Rein Talvik.

This means that double control of all vehicles on Estonian and Latvian borders will stop. The contract on the common control was signed in 1994 but did not go into service.

The third Estonian-Latvian joint checkpoint will be opened in Valga- Valka at the end of next year. The government delegations of Estonia and Latvia have also agreed on simplified border crossing for people living in areas close to their mutual border. The agreement may be signed within a few months, said regional minister Peep Aru who led the Estonian delegation.

These three Estonian border checkpoints will speed up the whole border crossing process since they are the only checkpoints on the Latvian-Estonia border. The same will apply to railway in the future.

The three Baltic Prime ministers further simplified border crossings when they signed an agreement on common transit procedures at a meeting in Latvia July 10. According to the agreement, products do not need additional guarantees when crossing the border.

Previously, customs documents needed to be reconfirmed each time on mutual Baltic borders but from now on they are valid for all the Baltic States. According to the deputy manager Rein Velling from the Customs Department, the Estonian vehicles in Latvia had to be escorted by Latvians previously.

In Estonia and Lithuania, the international system on guarantees has operated for three years now. Latvia just launched this system this summer. As Latvia has finally joined the Green Card convention and signed an agreement with Estonian Traffic Insurance Fund, Estonian drivers no longer have to buy a separate traffic insurance certificate.

"This guarantee system will minimize the time spent on formalities in checkpoints," said Velling.

The Estonian border guards are also co-operating with the Russian border guards. The issue of a trilateral Estonian-Russian-Finnish working group has been raised at the meetings as both Russia and Estonia has good co-operation with Finland.