Before going abroad
Before you go abroad
- make sure you have the right travel documents, such as a passport and visas
- check to see whether there are any export or import restrictions on anything you carry with you or bring back
- submit a travel notification to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs
- take out travel insurance
- find out if you need any vaccinations.
If you are a Finnish citizen, you can travel to all Nordic countries without a passport. However, if asked, you will always have to be able to prove your identity and nationality, even in the Nordic countries.
You can also travel to the following countries using an ID card issued by the police instead of a passport: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland.
Note that you cannot use your driving licence as an identity card when travelling to a foreign country.
For all the other countries in the world you will need a passport. Several countries outside Europe insist that your passport must still be valid for six months following your visit, though within Europe three months is enough. For many countries you will also need a visa or some other form of travel authorisation.
Check whether you need a visa in good time with the embassy or consulate of the country you are intending to visit. Use their website or ask at a travel agency. You will need a visa, for example, if you travel to Russia by land. Visas are applied for at embassies or travel agencies.
Some countries issue an entry visa on arrival. In such cases, be prepared to pay the cost of a visa at the border.
If you need a visa to visit a country, state the precise length of stay in the visa application. Some countries do not require a visa but specify how long a traveller can stay before having to leave the country.
If your stay in another country is for a lengthy period, you may need a residence permit. Residence permits can be applied for at the destination country’s embassy or consulate. Obtain the permit well before you are due to travel.
As an EU citizen, you can stay in another EU country for three months with no restrictions. If, however, you are, for example, working in another EU country, you can stay there longer. The EU country in which you are staying may ask you to register your residence there.
It is worth submitting a travel notification to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs if you are travelling or moving abroad. This is especially the case if you are travelling to a high-risk region. It is nevertheless optional to submit the notification.
When you have submitted a travel notification, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs may contact you and, for example, warn you about the risks that could arise during the trip. Travel notifications make it easier for the Ministry to contact Finns abroad if there is a crisis or emergency.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs publishes travel advices (matkustustiedote in Finnish), which provide information on safety and security in different countries. Before you travel, always read the travel advice for the country you are visiting on the Ministry website.
The travel advices are recommendations. They will vary according to the safety and security situation. If the situation is calm, the Ministry will urge travellers to take the normal precautions. The Ministry may also recommend you not to travel. In the most serious situations, the Ministry will urge you to leave the country immediately.
The travel advices are intended for help traveller's decision making. Travellers are responsible themselves for all the decisions they make.
Different countries have different restrictions on the import and export of goods. There may also be restrictions on the import of pets or plants, for example. Check any such restrictions with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting before the travel.
There may be restrictions on the export and import of medicines. Ask the consulate of your destination country about restrictions on medicines when you travel abroad. You can ask the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea for advice if you are wondering what medicines can be brought into Finland.
The export and import of endangered species are regulated internationally. If you are unsure if something is an endangered species or a product made from one, you can contact the Finnish Environment Institute.
Finnish Customs can provide you with information on restrictions on imports into Finland. Import restrictions apply mainly to alcohol, tobacco products, drugs, pharmaceutical substances, plants, food, firearms and dangerous articles. The import of goods and articles is freer from EU countries than it is from other countries.
You may usually bring in souvenirs from EU countries free of charge.
You may bring in items for personal use or presents, etc. you have purchased outside the EU without having to pay duty or tax up to a certain value. The limit is EUR 430 for those travelling by air or sea and EUR 300 for travellers using other means of transport. If you bring in goods whose value is any greater, you will have to declare them when you arrive in the country.
You generally have to pay customs duty or taxes on goods imported for commercial purposes.
Check with Finnish Customs whether you will have to pay taxes and customs duty on goods you will be bringing into Finland from abroad.
As an EU citizen, you have the right to use the European Health Insurance Card to receive any necessary medical treatment when you are travelling or staying temporarily in another EU or EEC country, or in Switzerland. With a European Health Insurance Card you should be able to receive care and treatment at the same cost as that which applies to those permanently resident in the country you are in.
Treatment is considered medically necessary if it cannot wait until the person concerned returns home. You are also entitled to treatment if you have an accident, are pregnant or give birth, or if you suddenly need treatment for a long-term illness.
The card is available from Kela free of charge.
It is always recommended to take out travel insurance, because medical treatment abroad is often very expensive. It is nevertheless generally optional to take out travel insurance. Some countries, however, only allow in travellers who have valid travel insurance.
There are big differences between travel insurance policies. The policy could, for example, only provide compensation for lost or damaged luggage up to a certain sum. Always check that the travel insurance policy covers you for material loss or damage as well as the costs of medical treatment up until the time you are sent home. If you intend to engage in a sport that is considered dangerous while you are away - diving or trekking, for example - make sure that your insurance policy also covers accidents that can result from these.
The travel policies of minors are generally linked to that of the parent accompanying them.
The services guaranteed by the European Health Insurance Card are no substitute for travel insurance. The card cannot be used for specialised medical treatment and does not cover, for example, additional costs incurred in a death or repatriation to Finland.