Passport, Visa & Permits to Helsinki


To enter Finland, foreign nationals must show a valid ID.  Depending on the country of origin, that ID can be a valid identity card, passport, visa or refugee travel documents.  In most instances individuals must demonstrate that they have enough money to sustain their needs during their stay in Finland or are able to earn wages legally.  You must apply for a visa while you are still in your country of origin!

The Schengen countries are (in 2008): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus (the southern Greek controlled portion), the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Countries whose citizens do not require a visa for entry into Finland

Citizens of the Nordic countries ( Denmark , Iceland , Sweden and Norway ) do not need a passport for entering Finland . EU-nationals, citizens of Monaco , San Marino , and Schengen Agreement countries can enter Finland with a valid passport or a valid identity card. All other nationalities require a valid passport.

Nationals of the following countries may visit Finland or other Schengen countries for up to three months without a visa but will need to be granted a work permit if they wish to work.  Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brunei Darussalam , Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras. Israel, Japan, Republic Of Korea,  Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, San Marino, Singapore,  United States, Uruguay, Vatican,  Venezuela

Holders of refugee travel documents (agreements 1946 or 1951) from Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom do not need visas if their stay is three months or less. Holders of a Laissez Passer of the United Nations and the EC also require no visa.

Citizens and nationals of countries not mentioned above will need a visa to enter Finland .  With a Schengen visa, you may enter one country and travel freely throughout the Schengen zone. If you intend to visit several Schengen countries but do not have a main destination, you should apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country which is your first point of entry. . To apply for visas please contact your nearest Embassy or Consulate of Finland. Travelers planning a trip across the border to Russia must have a visa. It is advisable to get it at the Embassy of Russia in the traveler's country of origin, because it takes at least eight weekdays to obtain a visa in Helsinki.

Do not confuse the terms consulate and embassy.

The embassy is the representation of the State in a foreign country and is in charge of all the relations with the government of the country where located.

The consul protects and administrates the community coming from his country. However, you must usually live for 6 months in the country before you have to register.  You will find necessary information by asking the Consulate.

Foreign Nationals requiring a Visa

If you are not from any of the countries stated in the sections listed above, a visa is required to enter Finland.  If you are a foreign national requiring a visa, you must always have one when entering the Schengen area. If you would ordinarily need a visa but have a residence permit valid in one of Schengen countries, you do not need a visa to enter another Schengen country if the intended duration of your stay is less than three months.

Applying for a Visa

A Schengen visa is applied for from the embassy or consulate of the destination country. If the country from where you are applying for a visa does not have a Finnish embassy or consulate, you must apply for it from a Finnish mission in the nearest country to your own. For example, if the country of destination is Finland , you must apply for a visa from a Finnish mission. In certain cases Finland may be represented by another Schengen country, from which a Finnish visa may be applied.

Documentation for a Visa

You need the following documents when applying for a visa:

1. A completed and signed visa application form and a photograph of yourself. One passport sized photograph in color. Please note the new requirements: the photograph must be less than 6 months old, 47mm in height (height of the head 32-36mm), 36mm in width, taken with a plain light-colored background, in sharp focus and clear. The photo must show the person looking directly at the camera (not profile) with neutral expression (no smiling) and eyes open and visible.

2. A passport valid for at least three (3) months following your journey. See list of passports and travel documents recognized by Finnish authorities.

3. Travel insurance covering the duration of the visa and the Schengen area. The insurance indemnity should be at least EUR 30,000 and should insure you in case of sudden illness or accident (including travel home) and include transportation home in the event of your death.

4. The application form should be accompanied by other documents indicating the purpose, conditions and duration of your visit. These can include tickets, confirmed hotel reservations and a private or official letter of invitation. The invitation may be written in free-form but must include details of the host organization or individual, and your date of birth, address, passport number, and purpose and length of visit. If the visit is a private one, it is worth mentioning the relationship between the host and the guest, for example whether she/he is a friend, spouse or relative. Please note that an invitation is not a guarantee that a visa will be issued.

5. Underage children require parental consent if they intend to travel unaccompanied by a parent or guardian.

6. The embassy or consulate may also want to interview you to ask about the purpose of your visit.

7. By signing the application you are responsible for the accuracy of the information you have given. You must sign the form personally. If the form is unsigned or someone else has signed it for you, the application will be denied.

You may need to supply further details in addition to those mentioned above, such as the route of your journey, means of transport, details of your return journey, income, property and details of your employment. You must have sufficient funds to cover your stay - at least EUR 30 a day.

Types of Visas : Single entry visas, double entry visas, multiple entry visas, transit visas, airport transit visas.

1. A single-entry visa is issued for one journey during which you can stay in the Schengen area for 90 days within a six (6) month period.

2. A double-entry visa allows a person to enter the Schengen area twice for 90 days within a six (6) month period.

3. Multiple-entry visa is granted for several visits to the Schengen area. The total duration of the stay is the number of days stated on the visa, at most 90 days within a six (6) month period. The period of six months starts on the day of entry into Schengen area. The visa is valid for a maximum of one year.

4. A transit visa is only granted when a citizen of a country requiring visas travels through the Schengen area to a country that is not party to the Schengen agreement. To receive a transit visa you should have a visa to the country of final destination or should otherwise be able to enter that country. A transit visa allows you the right to transit entry on one or more occasions through the Schengen area. The duration of transit duration is no more than five days on one occasion.

5. Airport transit visas are needed by citizens of the following countries: Afghanistan , Bangladesh , Ethiopia , Eritrea , Ghana , Iraq , Iran , Nigeria , Pakistan , Somalia , Sri Lanka and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire ). If you require an airport transit visa, you are permitted to use the international part of the airport during intermediate landing or during a change between two journeys, and without entering the country in question.

Validity of a Visa

A visa granting multiple entries may be valid for one year at a time so that the number of days spent in the country of residence does not exceed more than 90 days within six months. The number of days will be counted based on the stamps in your passport. A multiple-entry visa may be valid for a year, a single-entry visa for six (6) months and a transit visa for three (3) months.

Issuing and Processing of a Visa

A visa is issued by a diplomat or consul representative of a Schengen country.  You should leave your application at least seven days before starting on your journey, but it is advisable to do so earlier. If the visa application for Finland is delivered in your country to a representation of a mission of another Schengen country, the process will usually take much longer. Applications should be delivered well in advance so that there will be proper time to process them.

The processing charge must be paid in cash when you leave your application, except in the case of bank transfers at Finland 's missions abroad. More information from the Finnish missions abroad.

Refusal of a Visa

If the conditions for granting a visa are not fulfilled, your application will be refused. Should this happen you will receive a written notification of refusal. A refusal cannot be appealed.

A visa may be refused if an applicant does not possess a valid travel document, does not have documents to prove the purpose and the conditions of his or her stay, does not have sufficient funds to cover his or her stay, or does not have the right of return to the country of departure or to continue to a third country. An applicant might also be prohibited from entering Finland or another Schengen country if he or she might be considered a threat to the public order, national security or international relations of the country of destination.

Entry to Finland

Even with a visa, the conditions of entry to Finland are re-evaluated on arriving in the country. If you require a visa you may also be expected to show, in addition to your visa, a valid travel document, proof of insurance for the duration of your stay and other documents related to your visa application. You must prove that you have sufficient funds (EUR 30 per day) for your stay and for your return journey or further travel. If you have a valid return ticket the amount of funds you are required to have with you will be less. You must not be under prohibition from entry to the country.

Other obstacles to entry would be if you were to constitute a threat to public order and security, public health, or Finland 's relations with other countries. You can be refused entry if there is good reason to suspect that you intend to earn money dishonestly or to sell sexual services. These are the same conditions that apply concerning the approval or denial of a visa.

Extending a visa when in Finland
Local police authorities can extend the residence time defined in a visa. The extended period of the residence permit must not exceed its final date and the total duration may not exceed three months within a half year.   The applicant's travel insurance must be sufficient to cover the extended time.

Cost of Visas

  • Transit visa EUR 35
  • Airport transit visa - EUR 35
  • Short stay (less than 30 days) - EUR 35
  • Short stay (less than 90 days) - EUR 35
  • Short stay with two entries (less than 90 days) - EUR 35
  • Multiple entries, valid for a year - EUR 35
  • Residence permit - EUR 175
  • Residence permit for employed persons - EUR 175
  • Residence permit for self-employed persons - EUR 175
  • Residence permit for students - EUR 50
  • Residence permit for minors - EUR 50
  • Transfer of residence permit to new passport - EUR 20

More Information:

Schengen Visa Information:

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Unit for Passports and Visas,
P.O.BOX 176, 00161 HELSINKI, tel: +358-(0)9-1 60 05.

Work and Residence Permits for foreign nationals

Citizens of the Nordic countries ( Sweden , Norway , Denmark and Iceland ) may freely enter Finland and reside in the country without a residence permit. They can also take up paid employment without a residence permit for an employed person. EU citizens and citizens of Iceland , Liechtenstein , Norway and Switzerland have the right to enter, reside, study, seek work, or practice a profession in Finland for three months without a residence permit.  For longer stays, they must register their right to reside in Finland at a police department but they do not need a special residence permit. Citizens of the EU and EEA Member States may work in Finland without a work permit, as well as citizens of countries which are parties to the EFTA (European Free Trade Agreement).

EU and EEA: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
EFTA: Switzerland , Iceland , Norway & Liechtenstein

The embassy provides application forms and further information on the application process. In some cases the application for a residence permit can be submitted on the grounds of family ties by the applicant's relatives residing in Finland . The application can be submitted to the local police. Decisions regarding residence permit applications are made by the Finnish Immigration Service. Holders of residence permits may travel in Finland for as long as the permit is valid, and the residence permit as may be used as a visa for visiting other Schengen countries within six months for 90 days maximum, provided that the holder is not subject to any prohibition from entering any of the countries.

The first residence permit is applied for from a Finnish embassy within the applicant's native countrt,  The first residence permit is always issued for a fixed period. Permits are issued for a maximum of one year or for the duration of employment or studies. A permanent residence permit can be acquired when the individual has resided in Finland for a continuous period of four years. Unless it is withdrawn, registration by a person with the right to reside in Finland is valid until further notice. Foreign students who are non-EU citizens or of a comparable status must acquire a residence permit if their studies in Finland last longer than three months. EU citizens and citizens of Iceland , Liechtenstein , Norway and Switzerland must register their right to reside in Finland at a police department, if their stay lasts for longer than three months. Private entrepreneurship or the exercise of a profession in Finland requires a separate residence permit intended for entrepreneurs. Information for registration with an employment office may be supplied by either the employer or the foreign worker concerned. Notification must be sent no later than 14 days after the start of employment. Notification is not required if the employment is for less than 14 days, or if the police have already registered the worker's residence permit.

Useful Addresses:

Residence permits for non EU Citizens (website of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs)

Residence permit for studies - Non-EU citizens (website of the Finnish Immigration Service)

EU citizens' right to reside in Finland as a student (website of the Finnish Immigration Service)

Information and employment registration forms

Update 20/05/2008


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