Travelling to Finland

Travelling to Finland
Updated 2017-10-12 09:19

A member of the EU since 1995 but also one of the Schengen group of countries, Finland makes travelling a breeze for most nationals, though some may need a visa for Finland. Although situated at the northeastern corner of Europe, or maybe because of that, Finland is easily accessible by plane, boat, bus, train, car -- even by reindeer, if you're so inclined.

Do you need a visa to travel to Finland?

If you're a citizen of the EU, you can enter Finland with just a valid passport and/or identity card (as long as your identity card contains Latin characters).

If you're a Western national, most likely you won't be needing a tourist visa if you intend to stay less than three months. But if you're of South African, Indian or Chinese nationality, you're going to need a Schengen visa. If you have a Schengen visa, it will be valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty.

Also, if you're Australian or from New Zealand and are currently between 18 and 30 years old, you can apply for a 12-month working holiday visa under a reciprocal agreement. It's best to contact your nearest Finnish embassy or consulate for more information.

Finland is a member of the Schengen Agreement, which means that you don't have to worry about border controls if you come from one of the countries that have signed and implemented this treaty (aka the EU -- besides Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom -- Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland).

Good to know:

There is no restriction on the value of gifts or purchases you can bring with you (as long as it's for personal use). If you're travelling from outside the EU (by air or by sea), then you can bring duty-free goods with you that add up to a value of â¬430 without declaring them (this lowers to â¬300 if you're arriving by car, train or bus). You're allowed up to 4L of wine, 16L of beer, and 2L of liquor that does not exceed a 22% vol or 1L of spirits. You can also carry up to 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco.

How to get to and around Finland

Once you've completed the appropriate paperwork for your particular case, the rest is even easier. Finland has 27 airports and five of them provide regular international flight services.

Although the majority of travellers and visitors use the Helsinki-Vantaa international airport (which makes sense, as most of the local population is situated in the southern part of the country), you actually have a couple of options if you plan on exploring Finland's northern regions.

If you prefer taking your time while travelling, then Finland's stress-free driving culture, along with the fact that it has right-handed traffic and an extended network of petrol stations, might be perfect for you. The country boasts one of the most comprehensive coach route networks in the whole of Europe, with more than 90 per cent of public roads being covered. Apart from driving, you can also take the train: the train network is extensive too, stretching all the way from Helsinki to Lapland. Trains are a spacious and clean solution, and many of them even have special 'play' carriages designated to the little ones.

Finally, don't forget that this is 'The Land of a Thousand Lakes' (although in reality, that number is 188,000) and surrounded by the sea, so boat services tend to be very comprehensive as well. Anything from a retro steam boat to a modern sea cruiser will help you explore this magnificent, wild country, one wave at a time.

Good to know:

There's an airport in Ivalo, Lapland, approximately 250 kilometres above the Arctic Circle.

Useful link:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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