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Travel Security Advice for Finland

Finnish_National_Flag

finland_mapFinland_Overview


COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Finland is a highly developed democracy with a modern economy.  It is a member of the European Union.  Tourist facilities are widely available.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on Finland for additional information.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION:

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Finland are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate at the Department of State travel registration page, so that they can obtain updated information on local travel and security.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency.

Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State list of embassies and consulates.

U.S. Embassy Helsinki


Itainen Puistotie 14B
Telephone:  358-9-616-25-701, 0830 to 1700 Monday to Friday
Emergency after-hours telephone:  358-9-616-25-0
Fax:  358-9-616-25-800

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

Finland is a party to the Schengen agreement.  As such, U.S. citizens may enter Finland for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa.  The passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay.  For further details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.

Travelers can contact the Embassy of Finland at 3301 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20008, tel: (202) 298-5800, or the Finnish Consulates General in Los Angeles or New York for the most current visa information.  The U.S. Embassy in Helsinki is not able to assist private U.S. citizens in obtaining any necessary visas for neighboring countries, including Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Finland.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY:

Finland remains largely free of terrorist incidents.  However, like other countries in the Schengen area, Finland’s open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups entering/exiting the country with anonymity.  Elements of organized crime groups operating in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe are present in Finland, but these do not represent a specific danger to U.S. citizen residents or tourists.  Americans are reminded to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and to exercise caution.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.

CRIME:

Although the crime rate in Finland is low compared to the U.S. and most European countries, it has increased in recent years; however, Finland remains a relatively safe environment.  Americans visiting Finland are seldom victims of crime, but visitors should not be complacent regarding personal safety or the protection of valuables.  The same precautions employed in the U.S. should be followed in Finland.  Finnish police services are excellent.  Travelers should be aware that some police officers speak little English.  Due to the low crime rate, Finland has one of the lowest numbers of police officers of any European nation.  Outside of key sites in major urban centers, they rarely project a visible presence; consequently, response times to crisis situations may be unpredictable.  All forms of public transportation are considered safe.  Street crimes, such as muggings and pick-pocketing, remain uncommon, but do occur.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.  Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law.  In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

VICTIMS OF CRIME :

If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see end of this sheet or see the Department of State list of embassies and consulates).  This includes the loss or theft of a U.S. passport.  The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds may be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Finland has a program to provide financial compensation to victims who suffer serious criminal injuries.  According to existing regulations, the victim must report the incident to the police and file an application for compensation within 10 years of the date of the crime.  Finnish police routinely inform victims of serious crime of their right to seek compensation.  The relevant forms and further information can be obtained from the State Treasury of Finland website.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Finland is 112.

Please see our additional information for Victims of Crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Persons violating Finland’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Finland are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.  Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Commercial and financial transactions in Finland are increasingly automated and on-line.  Cash is almost always acceptable (the currency is the euro), but most major credit cards are widely accepted.  Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are very common and many U.S.-issued bankcards are compatible with them.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

In Finland, medical facilities and their staffs are generally excellent and are widely available for emergency services.  English is commonly spoken by Finnish medical personnel.  Helsinki is a frequent medical evacuation point for emergency cases from the countries of the former Soviet Union.  The public hospital system and many private hospitals honor foreign credit cards.   Most pharmacies (“apteekki” in Finnish) are open during normal shopping hours and major cities have at least one 24-hour service pharmacy.

If you are a tourist or temporary visitor to Finland and you require immediate emergency medical assistance, you may visit a local medical center or clinic, called “ensiapuasema” (first-aid station) in Finnish.  Usually these stations are located at hospitals and provide a full range of services.  The emergency telephone number, 112, can be used throughout Finland to contact emergency medical services.

Travelers with special medical needs should consult with their personal physicians and take appropriate precautions, including bringing adequate supplies of necessary medication.  Medicines may be brought into the country as long as they are intended for the traveler’s personal use, however, there are special requirements concerning the quantity.  Medications categorized as narcotics may only be brought into the country to cover the traveler’s personal use for a maximum of 14 days and must be accompanied by a medical certificate stating why the traveler needs them.

In addition, stringent Finnish customs regulations prohibit travelers from receiving drugs from abroad after having arrived in the country.  Travelers may also find local physicians reluctant to prescribe equivalent quantities of dosages.   For more detailed information on medicines and medical issues, please visit the Finnish Embassy website in Washington, DC.

For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization’s The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad.  Important questions are whether their policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.   Please see our medical insurance overseas page.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.  Finnish roads are comparable to those in the U.S., though secondary roads may be less heavily traveled due to Finland’s sparse population outside the major urban areas.  These secondary routes often narrow to two lanes with a wider shoulder. 

Finland has an extensive network of highways throughout the country, as well as excellent public transportation services.  A valid U.S. driver’s license may be used while visiting Finland, but drivers must be at least 18 years of age.  Driving in Finland is on the right.  Traffic approaching from the right has priority, even if entering a primary roadway from a secondary one.  As such, stop signs are rarely used in Finland.  Road signs use standard international symbols and Finnish text.  Many urban streets have traffic lanes reserved for public transportation only.  Unless otherwise noted on traffic signs, the speed limit varies from 30km/h to 40 km/h in urban areas, 80 km/h on open roads, and 120 km/h on expressways during summer (reduced to 100 km/h during winter).  Vehicles must use headlights at all times.   Use of seatbelts is mandatory for drivers and all passengers.  Minor children must be seated in approved child or booster seats.

Public transport in Finland is of good quality and is the recommended method of travel.  Passenger trains, intercity buses, and air flights provide regular service over longer distances.  Public transportation in urban centers includes buses, subways, trams, suburban trains, and taxis.  Taxis are more expensive than in major U.S. cities.  Most local residents use public transport in Helsinki as parking can be hard to find and expensive.  The bus, train, and subway systems are relatively safe.

Travelers should be aware that drunk-driving laws are strict and acceptable blood alcohol levels are much lower in Finland than in the U.S.  Police strictly enforce all traffic laws and institute random roadside breath analyzer tests.  Drivers who register a .05 or above alcohol content are subject to immediate arrest.  Drivers should be aware that regulations and traffic signs differ significantly from those in the U.S.  Visitors should be familiar with both prior to operating a vehicle in Finland.  Driving in Finland during the winter months can be hazardous.  Daylight hours are very short and one should be comfortable with driving in darkness.  Icy road conditions are common.  Your vehicle must be winterized with snow tires and engine heaters are strongly recommended.  When driving at night, drivers must be alert to moose wandering onto major roadways.  There have been incidents of moose being struck by vehicles, causing severe damage to the vehicle and injuring, sometimes fatally, the vehicle's occupants.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  Also, visit the website of the country’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Finland’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Finland’s air carrier operations.  Further information may be found on the FAA safety assessment page.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

Please see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.


This replaces the Country Specific Information for Finland dated January 13, 2009 to update the section on Traffic and Road Safety.


 

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding Travel to Finland HERE....

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassy Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens)......

Regards

The SW Team.......

 

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