Finland travel guide
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.
338,145 sq km (130,558 sq miles).
5,532,365 (UN estimate 2016).
16.2 per sq km.
President Sauli Niinistö since 2012.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin since 2019.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Finland set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Embassy of Finland in London.
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Finland.
Passport validity requirements
To travel to Finland, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.
To enter Finland (and all Schengen countries) your passport must:
- have a ‘date of issue’ less than 10 years before the date you arrive. Passports issued after 1 October 2018 are now valid for only 10 years, but for passports issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added if you renewed a passport early
- have an ‘expiry date’ at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave
Contact the Embassy of Finland in London if your passport does not meet both these requirements.
Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.
You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.
Make sure you get your passport stamped
If you’re a visitor, your passport must be stamped when you enter or leave the Schengen area (which includes Finland).
Border guards will use passport stamps to check you haven’t overstayed the 90-day visa-free limit for stays in the Schengen area. If your passport was not stamped, border guards will presume you have overstayed the visa-free limit.
If your passport was not stamped, show evidence of when and where you entered or left the Schengen area (for example, boarding passes or tickets) and ask the border guards to add the date and location in your passport.
Read about passport stamping if you live in Finland for passport stamping information.
At Finnish border control, you may also need to:
- show proof of your accommodation, for example, a hotel booking confirmation or proof of address for a second home
- show a return or onward ticket
- prove that you have enough money for your stay – the amount varies depending on your accommodation
You can travel to countries in the Schengen area (including Finland) 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
- for short-term studies or training
If you’re 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 (for example, to work, study or for business), you must meet the Finnish government’s entry requirements. Check which type of visa or work permit you need with the Embassy of Finland in London.
Travelling with children
Minors can enter Finland with an adult who is not their legal guardian (such as a grandparent). You should carry a letter of consent from their parents or legal guardians.
Travelling from Russia
British nationals travelling from Russia to Finland can only enter the country by road (this includes public buses, taxis and private vehicles). See a list of crossing points and current waiting times from the Finnish Border Guard.
For more information, please see our Russia Travel Advice.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Finland guide.
There are strict rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of Finland. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.
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. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.
Taking money into Finland
If you have over 10,000 euros or the same amount in other currencies, you must declare this to Finnish Customs. See guidance on declaring cash from the Finnish government.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.
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 how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
Terrorism in Finland
Terrorist attacks in Finland cannot be ruled out.
Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. In 2017, two people were killed and several were stabbed in an incident in Turku.
Protecting your belongings
Tourists may be targeted by pickpockets in the tourist season in crowded areas. Take precautions and keep your personal belongings, including passports and money, safe.
Laws and cultural differences
Illegal drugs and prison sentences
Do not use, buy or carry illegal drugs. Possessing even the smallest quantities can lead to up to 10 years imprisonment.
You need a UK driving licence to drive in Finland.
Hire car companies often have stricter requirements for their customers, such as a year of driving experience, minimum age and holding an International Driving Permit.
You may need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. Since 2021, UK stickers have replaced GB stickers. Check the government guidance on displaying stickers outside the UK for more information.
Drink-driving is a serious offence in Finland, and you could be imprisoned if found guilty. The drink-drive limit in Finland is significantly lower than the limit in England.
Most visiting British nationals travel safely around the Arctic each year. However, consular assistance and support to British nationals is limited by the capacity of national and local authorities. Make sure you have appropriate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment or potential repatriation.
Before you visit:
- consider the remote nature of certain destinations and access to medical facilities, search and rescue and evacuation options
- have emergency plans in place, particularly if you are an independent traveller.
Before you travel check that:
- your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
- you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Dial 112 and ask for an ambulance.
Contact your insurance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
For more information read guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
- the latest information on vaccinations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Finland guide
- where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
Organ donation laws
In Finland, doctors may remove organs, tissues and cells to treat another person if there is no evidence the deceased would have objected. Read more information on Finland’s Ministry of Justice Finlex website.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
Healthcare facilities in Finland
FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Finland
There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Finland.
Health insurance cards
The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state-provided medical treatment necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Finnish nationals. If you do not have your card with you or you’ve lost it, contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team.
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. A GHIC or EHIC 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.
GHIC and EHIC cover state healthcare only, not private treatment. You will be responsible for the cost of any treatment provided by a private doctor or private clinic.
Travel and mental health
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services in Finland
Telephone: 112 (for ambulance, fire, police)
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:
- where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
- how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- finding English-speaking lawyers, funeral directors and translators and interpreters in Finland
- dealing with a death in Finland
- being arrested in Finland
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you’re affected by a crisis, such as a terrorist attack
Help abroad in an emergency
If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact British embassy in Helsinki.
You can also contact FCDO online.
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)
Risk information for British companies
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.