Border crossings

When travelling between Finland and another Schengen country, routine immigration and customs checks do not take place - see the Schengen Agreement section below for more information. There may be occasional specifically targetted checks as a result of intelligence sharing.

However, when travelling between Finland and non-Schengen countries (including Bulgaria/Cyprus/Ireland/Romania/United Kingdom), there are routine immigration checks and selective customs checks.

You can enter Finland either by air, sea or land:

By air: Helsinki International airport is growing fast and developing to an important hub between Europe and Far East, as this is the fastest route to take for example to China and Japan. The size is still very comfortable, which means that for example baggage does not usually take long to arrive and the walking distances are manageable. There are regular buses going several times per hour from the airport to the city center (about 20 km), and the taxis work well. The price scale to center is between 20€ and 30 €, depending on the traffic and the time of day. There is no train or metro to the center, although a railway link is planned. There are also other international airports but the traffic is not even close to Helsinki, except maybe for the airports in Lapland during high season in winter. Ryanair has several flights to and from Tampere Airport.

By sea: If you are coming from Sweden or Estonia, or why not from St Petersburg in Russia, one alternative is to take the boat. The ferries from Stockholm to Turku and Helsinki are fabulous, especially if this is your first time on a big cruiser. It takes around 15 hours (evening-morning) to Helsinki, and around 11 hrs to Turku. You'll find numerous restaurants, cafes and nightclubs, as well as spa, hairdresser, playground etc on the ship. The two biggest companies are Silja Line and Viking Line, Silja having a newer fleet. The boats between Finland and Estonia are not as luxurious, but you can choose between 15-20 daily routes between Helsinki and Tallinn.

By train from Russia: There is a direct train service from Moscow and St Petersburg to Helsinki: http://www.vr.fi/eng/ulkomaat/venaja/...

As the Finnish railroads were built during the era of the Russian Empire, the rail width is the same as in Russia (i.e. it is wider than in the rest of Western Europe). The night trains are rather cosy and the border crossing goes ok, although though there may be problems with the Russian customs if they are bored or are having a bad day. The Finnish and Russian Railways will (in 2011) introduce a new, fast train service between Helsinki and St Petersburg called "Allegro".

By road from Sweden or Norway: Come by car from Sweden or Norway up in Lapland! The roads are in good shape; there is normally no border formalities (the border will be marked by a sign - but that's it). Beware of the numerous reindeer on the paved roads, they like to gather on the roads and it may take several hours until they decide to move somewhere else.

Russian border - use official crossings only: Do not try to cross the border between Finland and Russia except at official border crossings. Within Finland, the area within about 2 or 3 kilometres of the border is a closed zone (marked by yellow warning signs) and an official permit needs to be obtained to enter this area. On the Finnish side, the border is patrolled by the armed Finnish Border Guard (Rajavartiolaitos).

 

Travel documents

EU, EEAand Swiss citizens need only present a passport or national identity card that is valid on the day you enter and leave Finland. There is no minimum validity required.

All other citizens need to present a passport or other accepted travel document that is valid for the total duration of their planned stay in Finland. Some will require a visa - see the Visa section below for more information.

 

Visas

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens do not require a visa.

Citizens of the following countries do not need a visa if staying in the Schengen Area as a whole for less than 90 days in a 180 day period: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Hong Kong SAR (also British Nationals (Overseas)), Japan, Macao SAR, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, St Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela. Citizens of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro must have biometric passports to enter without a visa. Citizens of Serbia must have a biometric passport not issued by the Co-ordination Directorate to be able to enter without a visa.

New Zealand citizens do not require a visa if staying in Finland for up to 90 days, regardless of the time spent in other Schengen countries. For more information, visit the European Union website.

If you do not qualify for any of the visa exemptions listed above, you will need to apply for a visa before arriving in Finland/the Schengen Area. Detailed information is available from the website of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

If your total stay in the Schengen Area is less than 90 days, you should apply for a visa at the Embassy, High Commission or Consulate of the country which is your main destination or, if spending an equal length of time in each country, the first point of entry.

If your total stay in the Schengen Area is more than 90 days, you will need to apply for a national visa at the Embassy, High Commission or Consulate of the country which is your main destination, which will permit you to stay in the main country for the validity of the visa and in each other Schengen country for up to 90 days during the validity of the visa.

 

Schengen Agreement

Finland is part of the Schengen Agreement, which means that there are no routine immigration checks when travelling to/from another Schengen country. The terms 'Schengen Area' and 'Schengen zone' refer to all Schengen countries as a whole.

In addition, a visa issued by one Schengen country is valid for all member countries, unless otherwise specified on the visa. With a Schengen visa, you may enter one country and travel freely throughout the Schengen zone according to the validity and conditions of the visa. If you plan to visit several Schengen countries, you should apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country which is your main destination or, if spending an equal length of time in each country, the first point of entry.

At present, there are 26 Schengen countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. All these countries except Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are European Union members.

 

Customs

There are no restrictions on goods brought into Finland for personal use from other European Union countries.

Note that the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla, Channel Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are not part of the European Union customs territory.

The following limits apply on goods brought into Finland from countries and territories that are outside the European Union customs territory:

  • 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos (max. 3g each) or 50 cigars or 250g of smoking tobacco per person (aged 17 or over)
  • 1 litre of spirits over 22%, or non-denatured ethyl alcohol with more than 80% volume or 2 litres of spirits or aperitifs made of wine or similar beverages less than 22% volume, or sparkling wines or liquer wines or a proportional mix of these products; plus 4 litres of wine and 16 litres of beer per person (aged 17 or over)
  • other goods (for air travellers) up to a total value of EUR 430 or EUR 150 if aged under 15 years old