Updated 10 months ago

Driving in Finland is not without its challenges. Not so much because of the driving culture, which is mostly laid-back and friendly, or because of the roads, which are, for the most part, in perfect condition. The main problem is the weather and the lack of light -- which combined with the long distances of this sparsely populated country take some serious driving skills to navigate safely. The fact that people in Finland start doing so from a younger age (the age limit is 15 years old for mopeds and tractors) may seem disconcerting at first, but the thorough driving lessons and strict adherence to traffic regulations make sure that no unnecessary risks are being taken.

Converting your driver’s licence

If your driver’s licence was issued in an EU or Nordic country, then it’s valid in Finland. You’ll only need to exchange it for a Finnish one when it expires, or if you plan to stay in the country indefinitely. If you’re not an EU citizen but your licence was issued in a country that is party to the Geneva or Vienna Conventions on Road Traffic, you are eligible to exchange it for a Finnish one. You will be required to so after two years.

Once the time comes to convert your driver’s licence to a Finnish one, you should contact the Ajovarma office. You will need the following:

  • An application form
  • Two photographs
  • Your current, valid driving licence
  • A health certificate (that doesn’t date back more than six months), or a comprehensive medical report.
  • A document stating you are not banned from driving in another EU or EEA country.
  • Proof that you have been driving in Finland for a minimum of six months (for licences that were issued in a country that is party to the Geneva or Vienna Conventions on Road Traffic)
  • An authorised translation of your driving licence into Finnish or Swedish (if it’s not in a language that the police department can understand, like English).

If your driver’s licence was issued in a country that is not a party of the Geneva or Vienna Conventions on Road Traffic, then you’ll have to take the test again, as it is not valid in Finland. You can check with the police as to whether this applies to your situation.

Types of driver’s licence

There are different types of licences in Finland, based on the type of vehicle you wish to drive, and the age limit varies slightly for each:

  • Mopeds and tractors: 15 years
  • Μotorcycles with a cylinder capacity not exceeding 125cc: 16 years
  • Cars, motorcycles not exceeding 35 kW and trucks: 18 years
  • Motorcycles (A-class): 24 years

If you have a licence for cars and motorcycles not exceeding 35 kW, you can upgrade it to an A-class licence after two years.

Driving tests

In Finland, there are about 600 driving schools, registered with the Finnish Driving Schools Association (Autokoululiitto). Costs of classes for οbtaining the most common Class B licence range from 1,200 to 3,000 euros depending on the hours you need to spend on the road and studying theory (at least 19 hours of theory and 18 hours of practical driving). The good news is that technically you don’t have to go to a school: you can also get your lessons from a friend or a family member, as long as they have a driving instruction permit (that is common practice in Finland since so many people start driving at such a young age). Then, you can take the theory and driving tests at an Ajovarma office.

But even if you’ve completed your lessons and taken (and passed) your driver’s test, things don’t stop here: the “practice” phase follows right away, which consists of one hour of theory and two hours of practical driving. Three months after that, you need to go through the “advanced phase”: four more hours of theory and four hours of practical driving. Only after you’ve completed that as well will you receive a certificate of instruction, which you have to send to an Ajovarma office right away. If you don’t do that within two years’ time, then the police will impose a temporary driving ban on you (especially since you’ll get a written reminder about it within 18 months after you have passed your driving test).

Right after you pass your test, you will be given a temporary certificate that allows you to drive in mainland Finland for six months. Your driving licence, which will be valid for 15 years, will be sent by mail about three weeks after that. After 15 years, you’ll need to renew it, though no further lessons or examinations are needed to do so.

 Useful links:

Registering a vehicle online
Driving licences

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