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Helsinki harbour, Finland
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Helsinki harbour, Finland

© 123rf.com / Andrei Nekrassov

Finland Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

338,145 sq km (130,558 sq miles).

Population

5,532,365 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density

16.2 per sq km.

Capital

Helsinki.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Sauli Niinistö since 2012.

Head of government

Prime Minister Sanna Marin since 2019.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. European plugs with two round pins are standard.

Finland is the big surprise of the Nordic countries, a natural wonderland with over 179,000 islands and more trees than people. With miles of empty wilderness, the Finns are uniquely in tune with their natural surroundings. This is a nation where people can flip from office work to foraging for wild mushrooms in a heartbeat.

The culture of the Finns has been shaped by the historic tug-of-war between Sweden and Russia, leaving dotted enclaves such as Russian-tinted Karelia, and the Swedish-speaking regions of Åland and Ostrobothnia. Even the Finnish language is an anomaly, curiously related to Hungarian.

For most, the gateway to Finland is Helsinki. A friendly and surprisingly small capital city, here historic churches rise above tidy public squares and stone wharfs are crowded with market traders and ferryboats. It’s probably the best place to encounter Finland’s famous party spirit, especially during the light nights of midsummer.

Vast areas are protected by Finland's 40 national parks, providing fantastic opportunities to spot birds, reindeer, elks and bears. Around 10% of Finland is covered by water and 75% of the country is covered by forests, providing a natural adventure playground for trekkers, mountain-bikers, cross-country skiers, dog-sledders, as well as fishing and watersports enthusiasts. No wonder sisu (meaning ‘hardiness’) is seen as integral to the Finnish character.

The cosmopolitan south, with its bustling cities and sleek, modern design sensibilities (this is, after all, the home of Alvar Aalto and Marimekko) seems a long way from rugged Lapland, where the Sámi people have been herding reindeer for millennia. For tourism purposes, Lapland is also the home of Father Christmas, ensuring a busy Christmas season at the Santa theme park near Rovaniemi.

Perhaps Finland's most famous contribution to world culture is the sauna – with an estimated 2 million of them, there are more saunas than cars in Finland. Enjoying a visit to the sauna, ideally after a bracing dip in a wilderness lake, is practically mandatory for all visitors.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Finland on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Finland.

Returning to the UK

Travelling from and returning to the UK

If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting. If you will pass through a red list country, book your hotel quarantine package before travelling to the UK.

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19 in Finland, you will receive instructions from the Finnish authorities and will be asked to self-isolate. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Public spaces and services

The Finnish authorities introduced a number of measures to limit the spread of the virus. These measures include some controls on people arriving from abroad. See the Finnish Border Guard website for more details. This includes the right to order a compulsory health examination, which could include a COVID-19 test, on arrival.

Travel around Finland is still permitted, with some restrictions on the opening hours of restaurants, cafes and bars in some regions. Visit the THL website for details of regional restrictions. The Finnish authorities recommend the use of face masks when travelling on public transport and in other situations where maintaining safe distances is not possible. For further details visit the THL website. Check details before travelling. There are also restrictions on public premises and events.

Until 16 January 2022, all individuals over the age of 12 in the Helsinki Metropolitan area are advised to wear a facemask in all indoor public spaces and on public transport where other people are present.

Check the Helsinki City website for more details and guidance on restrictions. The coronavirus situation around Finland can vary widely, so local advice should be followed.

Finland will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 vaccination record. If you are travelling with a printed PDF proof of vaccination status, it must date from 1 November to ensure that the certificate can be scanned successfully, if domestic certification is required. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

Healthcare in Finland

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.

View Health for further details on healthcare in Finland.

COVID-19 Vaccines if you live in Finland

Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country/territory where they live. We will update this page when the Finnish authorities announce new information on their vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Finnish national vaccination programme started in December 2020 and uses the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. The programme is open to all residents, including British nationals, aged 12 years or older. The vaccine is voluntary and free of charge. The Finnish authorities have issued guidance on how to access COVID-19 vaccines in Finland.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad page.

If you’re a British national living in Finland, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

The Finnish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs has opened a Coronavirus hotline (open Monday to Friday, 8am to 9pm and Saturday, 09am to 3pm) on +358 (0)2 95 535 535. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare has up to date information on coronavirus in Finland.

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Crime

Crime levels are low. The tourist season attracts pickpockets in crowded areas. Take sensible precautions and keep your personal belongings, including passports and money, secure.

Road travel

In 2019 there were 209 road deaths in Finland (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 3.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.

If you are planning to drive in Finland, see information on Driving Abroad.

Licences and documents

You can drive in Finland with a UK driving licence.

If you’re living in Finland, check the Living in Guide for information on requirements for residents.

Driving a British car abroad

You may need a GB sticker or a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. From 28 September UK stickers will replace GB stickers. Check the GOV.UK Displaying number plates website for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK before, on or after 28 September 2021.

Driving conditions

Driving in Finland during the winter months can be hazardous. Icy road conditions are common. Winter/snow tyres (either studded or non-studded) are a legal requirement from 1 December to 28 February. It’s usually necessary to use winter tyres beyond these dates as roads remain icy well into April. 

Driving standards

In 2018 there were 225 road deaths in Finland (source: Department for Transport) equating to 4.1 road deaths per 100,000 of population. This compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2018.

Driving regulations

Drinking and driving is a serious offence and you can expect a lengthy prison sentence. The drink drive limit in Finland is 50 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

See the European Commission, AA and RAC guides on driving in Finland.

Terrorist attacks in Finland can’t be ruled out.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. In August 2017, two people were killed and several stabbed in an incident in Turku.

There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

As in the UK, Finns take drug offences seriously and you can expect a prison sentence.

Taking food and drink into the EU

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Finland set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact their embassy, high commission or consulate. You may also check with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and travel documents meet their requirements.

If you are travelling to Finland for work, read the guidance on visas and permits as the rules have changed since 1 January 2021.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to Finland - fully vaccinated and over 18

If you are travelling to Finland from the UK, you will need:

Entry to Finland – not fully vaccinated

If you are travelling to Finland from the UK, you will need:

  • Evidence of an essential or compassionate reason for entry to Finland. Visit the Finnish Border Guard website (Section 3.2 – Entry into Finland from countries and regions for which restrictions are still enforced) for full details
  • If you have received a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to arrival and/or a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine received at least 2 weeks prior to arrival, you will need to take a COVID-19 test between days 3-5 in Finland. You should avoid contact with others and remain at home or in your accommodation, until you receive a negative test result
  • If you have no proof of a vaccination dose or negative COVID-19 test taken prior to arrival, you will need to take a COVID-19 test no later than 24 hours after arrival. You will also need to take a COVID-19 test between days 3-5 in Finland and should voluntarily avoid contact with people outside your household until you receive a negative test result

Entry to Finland – travelling with under 18 year olds

  • Young people born in 2006 or later are exempt from Finland’s COVID-19 entry requirements and they do not need to provide proof of vaccination or take a COVID test.
  • Young people aged 16 and 17 years old who have received one vaccination shot will need to take a COVID-19 test (either PCR or lateral flow test) between days 3 to 5 in Finland. They should voluntarily avoid contact with people outside their household whilst waiting for the test result.

You can use the FINENTRY service to check entry requirements and book COVID-19 tests on arrival, if applicable.

Demonstrating your COVID-19 status

Finland will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 vaccination record. If you are travelling with a printed PDF proof of vaccination status, it must date from 1 November to ensure that the certificate can be scanned successfully. Proof of recovery from COVID-19 will not be accepted for travellers from the UK demonstrating their COVID-19 status.

Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

Transiting Finland

There are no Finnish restrictions on cross-border traffic with other states in the Schengen area for commuter and other essential traffic. Restrictions for other travellers remain in place. See the Finnish Border Guard website for more information.

Passengers are allowed to transit through Helsinki Airport as long as they can verify acceptance at their final destination. Finavia strongly recommend that passengers use facemasks as they travel round airports in Finland, and Finnair have made the wearing of facemasks mandatory for passengers aged seven or over on their flights. Please check your carrier’s requirements before travelling.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

The rules for travelling or working in European countries changed on 1 January 2021:

  • you can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training
  • if you are travelling to Finland and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days
  • to stay longer, to work or study, for business or for other reasons, you will need to meet the Finnish government’s entry requirements. Check with the Finnish Embassy what type of visa and/or work permit you may need
  • if you stay in Finland with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit

Any time you spent in Finland or other Schengen countries before 1 January 2021 does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

At Finnish border control, you may need to queue in separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens.

Check your passport is stamped if you enter or exit the Schengen area through Finland as a visitor. Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area. If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.

You can show evidence of when and where you entered or exited the Schengen area, and ask the border guards to add this date and location in your passport. Examples of acceptable evidence include boarding passes and tickets.

You may also need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket
  • show you have enough money for your stay

If you are resident in Finland your passport should not be stamped. You should proactively show your proof of residence as well as your valid passport at Finnish border control. For further information, see our Living in Finland guide.

Passport validity

Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip, and renew your passport if you do not have enough time left on it.

Make sure your passport is:

  • valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave Finland, or any other Schengen country
  • less than 10 years old

The 3 months you need when leaving a country must be within 10 years of the passport issue date.

If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the minimum 3 months needed.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Finland.

Entering Finland with children

Minors are permitted to enter Finland with an adult who is not their legal guardian (such as grandparents) but you are advised to carry a free-form letter of consent from the legal guardian(s) including their contact details.

If you have further queries about entry to Finland you can contact the Finnish Border Guard directly on their helpline (+358 295 420 100), open Monday to Friday between 8am and 4pm Finnish local time (GMT +2).

Coronavirus

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Finland on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Finland.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate
of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Healthcare

You should get a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.

The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Finnish nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999 to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.

It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. It does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment.

Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.

If you’re living in Finland, you can also find more information on healthcare for residents in our Living In Finland guide.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.

Organ donation laws

As a rule, organs, tissues and cells may be removed in Finland for the treatment of another person if it can be assumed that the deceased wouldn’t have objected to the measure when alive.

The currency of Finland is the Euro.

Large numbers of British nationals travel successfully and safely in and around the Arctic each year. The Arctic is, however, a vast region, comprising the northerly areas of Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Alaska (United States). In addition to reading the specific travel advice for each of these countries, prospective visitors to the Arctic should also consider carefully the potential remoteness of certain destinations from search and rescue, evacuation and medical facilities. Independent travellers are particularly advised to develop contingency arrangements for emergency back-up.

The most popular way of visiting the Arctic is by ship. As some areas of the Arctic -specifically the more northerly and remote regions - can be uncharted and ice-covered, you should check the previous operational experience of cruise and other operators offering travel in the region. You should also consider the on-board medical facilities of cruise ships and talk to cruise operators as appropriate, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

The eight Arctic States take their international search and rescue obligations very seriously, and have recently signed a binding agreement on search and rescue co-operation in the Arctic. However, in the highest latitude regions of the Arctic, cruise ships may be operating in relative isolation from other vessels and/or inhabited areas. You should be aware that in these regions, search and rescue response will often need to be dispatched from many hundreds of miles away, and assistance to stranded vessels may take several days to arrive, particularly in bad weather. Search and rescue assets are also likely to offer only basic transport and basic medical care, and are unlikely to be capable of advanced life-support. Responsible cruise operators should happily provide additional information relevant to the circumstances of the cruise they are offering, and address any concerns you may have.

Consular assistance and support to British nationals in the Arctic will be affected by the capacity of national and local authorities. You should make sure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment or potential repatriation.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.