World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Finland

Finland travel guide

About Finland

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.

Key facts


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


5,532,365 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

16.2 per sq km.





Head of state:

President Cai-Göran Alexander Stubb since 2024.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Sanna Marin since 2019.

Travel Advice

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:

Travel insurance

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.

About FCDO travel advice

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.

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

This information is for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK. It is based on the UK government’s understanding of the current rules 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 Finnish Embassy in the UK.

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Finland.

Passport validity requirements

Finland follows Schengen area rules. Your passport must:

  • have a ‘date of issue’ less than 10 years before the date you arrive – if you renewed your passport before 1 October 2018, it may have a date of issue that is more than 10 years ago
  • have an ‘expiry date’ at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave the Schengen area

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.

Visa requirements

You can travel without a visa to the Schengen area, which includes 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

The requirements for working in Finland are different. 

If you’re travelling to other Schengen countries as well, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day visa-free limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.

Make sure you get your passport stamped on entry and exit. 

If you’re a visitor, border guards will look at your entry and exit stamps to check you have not overstayed the 90-day visa-free limit for the Schengen area.

If your passport is missing a stamp, 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.

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

Staying longer than 90 days in a 180-day period

To stay longer, you must meet the Finnish government’s entry requirements. Check which type of visa or permit you need with the Finnish Embassy in the UK.

If you’re in Finland with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit. 

Read about passport stamping if you live in Finland.

Travelling with children

To enter Finland with an adult who is not a parent or legal guardian, minor children must carry a letter of consent from a parent or legal guardian.  

Travelling from Russia

All border crossing points on the land border between Finland and Russia will remain closed until further notice. Monitor the Finnish Border Guard website for details of border closures with Russia.

The border crossing points for maritime traffic at Haapasaari, the port of Nuijamaa and Santio will be closed to leisure boating until further notice.

For more information on leaving Russia, see Russia travel advice.

Vaccine requirements

For details about medical entry requirements and recommended vaccinations, see TravelHealthPro’s Finland guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into and out of Finland. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Taking food and drink into Finland

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions such as powdered baby milk, baby food and special foods or pet feed required for medical reasons.  

Restrictions on Russian vehicles in Finland

There are restrictions on vehicles with Russian licence plates in Finland. See Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more information.

Taking money into Finland

Declare cash or travellers cheques if the value is 10,000 euros or more. You will get a certified declaration to show you brought it in with you. If you do not, your money could be seized when you leave.

See guidance on declaring cash from Finnish Customs.


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. Stay aware of your surroundings 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 foreign nationals.

Protecting your belongings

Pickpockets may target tourists in the tourist season in crowded areas. Take precautions and keep your personal belongings, passports and money safe.

Laws and cultural differences

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Do not use, buy or carry illegal drugs. Possession of even the smallest quantities can lead to up to 10 years imprisonment.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Finland, see information on driving abroad and check the rules of the road in the RAC’s Finland guide. The guide lists driving regulations and other legal requirements you need to be aware of.

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.

Check if you need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK

Drink-driving laws

Drink-driving is a serious offence in Finland, and you could get a prison sentence if found guilty. The drink-drive limit in Finland is significantly lower than the limit in England.

Arctic travel

Parts of Finland are in the Arctic Circle, including some very remote areas of land. Emergency medical assistance and search and rescue are limited in these areas. See Arctic travel safety advice.

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 quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccine recommendations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip check:

See what health risks you’ll face in Finland, including insect bites and ticks.


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

Healthcare in Finland

FCDO has a list of medical providers in Finland where some staff will speak English.

Health insurance cards

To get medically necessary state healthcare in Finland, you need a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). 

The NHS’s getting healthcare abroad webpage has details about:

  • how to apply for a GHIC
  • how to get temporary cover if you lose your card or it does not arrive in time
  • who qualifies for a new EHIC instead of a GHIC
  • what treatment counts as medically necessary

A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. You may have costs your GHIC or EHIC does not cover, including:

  • changes to travel and accommodation bookings
  • additional standard costs for treatment
  • medical repatriation to the UK
  • treatment that is ruled non-urgent
  • private healthcare
  • private clinics

There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Finland.

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.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

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 (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:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are in Finland and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact British Embassy in Helsinki.

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)

Find out about call charges

Risk information for British companies

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating in Finland on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

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