Good news for travelers planning to visit the world’s happiest country: Finland’s short-term visa requirements are easy to navigate.
Many Western holidaymakers can look forward to simply presenting their passport on arrival in Finland, while others should apply for a Schengen visa. Our easy guide to visa requirements in Finland will allow you to concentrate your research energies on choosing between Baltic archipelagos and Lappish lakes.
Who can visit Finland without a visa?
Finland is party to the Schengen Agreement, which means that nationals of its 26 member countries can cross Finnish borders without a visa. This also applies to travelers from several additional countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. However, these travelers do need to remember their passport, which must be valid for at least 90 days after their intended date of departure from the Schengen area. It should also have been issued no more than 10 years before your date of entry.
Visitors from visa-exempt countries outside the Schengen area are entitled to remain in the Schengen zone for 90 days within a 180-day period. In other words, once you have spent three months in one or more Schengen countries, you won’t be permitted to return to any Schengen nation until the end of the six-month period that dates back to your initial entry. Note that this rule applies whether you spend 90 days straight in the Schengen area or collectively across more than one visit within the 180-day period. The European Commission’s Schengen visa calculator helps with the last point.
The Schengen member states are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Note that normal rules may be altered during the ongoing global pandemic; visit the Finnish Border Guard for current entry requirements with regard to COVID-19.
How to apply for visas for Finland
Travelers from countries that do require a Schengen visa to enter Finland can apply at Finnish embassies and visa centers, such as those in London, Canberra and Washington, DC. In some countries, including Canada and New Zealand, Finland is represented by another Schengen nation and you should apply at that diplomatic mission.
You can apply for a single-, double- or multiple-entry visa, all permitting entrance for 90 days within a 180-day period. The application fee is typically €80 (or local equivalent), which is normally payable in cash, although some missions accept bank transfers. The fee drops to €40 for children aged six to 11; free for kids under six.
You will need a passport issued no more than 10 years ago that will be valid for at least three months after the end of your trip, as well as a completed and signed application form and a color passport photo. Another standard requirement is travel insurance for the duration of your stay. Applicants from some countries need additional documents, such as travel tickets or a confirmation of hotel reservation.
Submit your application in person at least 15 days before travel – longer if you’re applying through the mission of another Schengen country – and no more than six months before departure.
How to apply for longer visas for Finland
If you have a job lined up in Finland, a study place or a family member in the country, you can apply for a residence permit that will entitle you to stay for longer than 90 days. This should be done through EnterFinland or the Finnish Immigration Service, both of which are good sources for more information. There are various categories available – for example the residence permit for seasonal workers, which allows employment in Finnish tourism or agriculture for up to nine months.
The application is more complicated and lengthy than those for short-term visas, as it involves a trip to a Finnish mission or VFS Global center to submit your biometric identifiers (read: fingerprints). Applying for a residence permit allowing au pair work, for example, currently takes two to four months.
Visa extensions in Finland
Extending standard 90-day visitor visas is possible in Finland, but only in the case of a serious event, such as a last-minute flight cancellation or the acute illness of yourself or a family member. Applications should be made at a police station and may require a €30 processing fee. Note that this option is designed to address force majeure and humanitarian issues, and is not recommended as an alternative to applying for a standard residence permit.
You might also like:
Finnish-ing touches: all you need to know before your trip to Finland
Capital gains: Helsinki on a budget
Reindeer, bears and elusive seals: Finland’s finest wildlife experiences