Last updated: 20 Sep 2021

Finland

About

Finland is the gem of the Nordic countries, a natural wonderland with more trees than people and more islands than any other nation in the world.

During the icy Finnish winters, cross-country skiing is often the only way to get around. There are marked tracks all over the country, including in many national parks. Fans of downhill skiing and snowboarding should head to the hills of Lapland.

Take a trip across the snow on a traditional Arctic dog sled. There are numerous dog-sled centres in Lapland, including Harriniva.

In summer, the sun never truly sets and Finns take full advantage of the 24-hour daylight to party through the night. Midsummer is also the time when thousands of locals retreat to their mökkit (summer cottages) in the countryside to enjoy the great Finnish outdoors. There are numerous classic trekking routes.
Capital:  Helsinki (HEL)
Currency:  Euro (EUR). 1 and 2 cent coins are not used in Finland. 
Language:  Finnish and Swedish. In Lapland, Sami is spoken. English is spoken and understood. 
Dialling code from SA:  + 358
Time Zones: UTC / GMT +2 (same time as South Africa)
Daylight Savings Time: From last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October: ITC / GMT +3 (1 hour ahead of South Africa)
Public Holidays 2021: 

Jan 1, 6; Apr 2, 5; May 1, 13; Jun 25, 26; Nov 6; Dec 6, 24-26

Side of the Road: Right. During winter, snow tyres must be fitted
Best Time to Go: May – June. December is a popular time for winter activities, but rates are expensive. September and October have off-season rates. 
Best for: Arctic Circle, the real Santa Claus, Sauna’s, Skiing, Northern Lights, Midnight Sun
Plugs: 230 volts AC, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs are standard.
Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink. 
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended.
Customs: Normal social courtesies. Finns are liberal, but may be reserved with strangers. The younger generations may dress in “gothic” clothing. People are held to what they say, so do not make offers that you do not mean. Saunas are an important part of Finnish culture. Remove shoes when entering someone’s home.
Local Offences / Laws: Drug offences and drunk driving carry harsh prison sentences.
Duty Free: Finland is within the European Union. If you are travelling from the UK, you are entitled to buy fragrance, skincare, cosmetics, Champagne, wine, selected spirits, fashion accessories, gifts and souvenirs - all at tax-free equivalent prices.

If you are travelling from within the EU, there is no limit on the amount or value of goods you may import, providing your goods are for personal consumption.

If you are arriving from a non-EU country, the following goods may be imported into Finland without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.
• 4L of wine and 16L of beer and 1L of spirits over 22% volume or 2L of alcoholic beverages less than 22% volume.
• Other goods up to the value of €430 for air and sea travellers and €300 for other travellers.
Alcohol limits apply to travellers aged 20 and over for spirits and aged 18 and over for other alcoholic drinks. Tobacco allowances apply to travellers aged 18 and over. Passengers importing tobacco products from inside or outside the EU must ensure each unit has a health warning printed on it in Finnish and in Swedish as well as the tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide quantities; passengers may only import 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars and 250g of tobacco not labelled in this way.
Prohibited Imports: Electric-shock batons, radar detectors, knuckle dusters, stiletto blades, endangered plant species (unless licensed in certain cases), pirated goods and certain plants from Russia (eg apple and pear trees). Restricted imports include narcotics, firearms and ammunition, pets, pot plants and nursery plants, and endangered animal species.
Prohibited Exports: Endangered plant species. 

Travel Alerts

Last updated: 17/09/2021

Entry is permitted for passengers from European Economic Area and certain low-risk countries. Family members and unmarried partners of Finnish nationals and residents are also allowed entry.

Entry restrictions

  • Passengers travelling from outside the Schengen Area or Vatican City must hold a Covid-19 vaccination certificate with a complete vaccination (one or two doses according to the vaccine) with at least 2 weeks have passed since the last dose of the vaccine prior to arrival.
  • This does not apply to: 
    • Nationals and residents of Finland;
    • Residents of Hong Kong, Macau, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, or Taiwan, provided arriving from their country of residence;
      • Valid from 20th September 2021: Singapore to be removed from this list.
    • Passengers with proof they are travelling for work;
    • Passengers moving to Finland for work, including their family members;
      Health care, emergency medical care and rescue service personnel, including professionals who take care of the elderly in their duties;
    • Freight transport and logistics personnel;
    • Diplomats, staff of international organisations, and representatives of states participating in international negotiations;
    • Military personnel and staff of humanitarian aid organisations in their duties;
    • Passengers travelling to study in Finland;
    • Passengers travelling to Finland for pressing family matters (the birth of one's own child, a serious illness of a close relative, one's own wedding or to visit a girlfriend/boyfriend) or to meet close relatives (including siblings or cousins).
  • Passengers are not permitted to enter Finland if they are travelling from within the Schengen Area or Vatican City.
  • This does not apply to:
    • Nationals of Finland and their family members;
    • Residents of Finland;
    • Passengers arriving from Austria, Czechia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Poland, Romania, San Marino or Slovakia;
    • Nationals of a European Union or Schengen Area member state, or the United Kingdom, including their family members, provided they are residing in Finland, or they are returning to or travelling through other EU or Schengen Area member states;
    • Residents of an EU or Schengen Area member state, provided they are returning to or travelling through other EU or Schengen Area member states;
    • Passengers holding a Covid-19 vaccination certificate with a complete vaccination (one or two doses according to the vaccine) and at least 2 weeks have passed since the last dose of the vaccine prior to arrival;
    • Passengers who have had Covid-19 and have received at least one vaccine dose and at least 1 week has passed since the vaccine dose prior to arrival;
    • Passengers holding a certificate stating they have recovered from Covid-19 within the past 6 months;
    • Passengers in transit;
    • Essential travel for work that is important for the functioning of society or for security of supply, that must be performed by persons arriving from another country and that must be carried out without delay, provided holding a form from their employee (the form can be found here);
    • Health care, emergency medical care and rescue service personnel, including professionals who take care of the elderly in their duties;
    • Freight transport and logistics personnel;
    • Diplomats, staff of international organisations, and representatives of states participating in international negotiations;
    • Military personnel and staff of humanitarian aid organisations in their duties;
    • Passengers travelling to study or undergo training related to their studies in Finland;
    • Passengers travelling to Finland for family matters (the birth of one's own child, a serious illness of a close relative, one's own wedding or to visit a girlfriend/boyfriend), or to meet relatives who are legally residing in Finland;
    • Passengers travelling for humanitarian reasons;
    • Passengers travelling for necessary and justified reasons, such as scheduled air services at airports, representatives of foreign media, property in Finland, property arrangement in Finland, and for the Sámi livelihood and culture;
    • Passengers travelling for volunteer purposes;
    • Special groups, such as representatives of culture, sports and business.

Test requirements

  • Passengers aged 16 years and older must hold one of the following:
    • A negative PCR test result obtained within 72 hours prior to arrival. These passengers must undergo a PCR test on arrival;
    • A certificate showing the passenger has received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine accepted by Finnish authorities (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen (Johnson/Johnson), BIBP/Sinopharm, Covishield, and CoronaVac) within 14 days prior to arrival. These passengers must undergo a PCR test on arrival;
    • A vaccination certificate showing the passenger is fully vaccinated within 14 days prior to arrival;
    • A certificate of recovery indicating the passenger tested positive with Covid-19 infection within 6 months prior to arrival; or
    • An EU Digital Covid Certificate.
  • Passengers not in possession of one of the above certificates must undergo a PCR test on arrival and a second test within 72 hours.
    • This does not apply to passengers travelling from Australia, China, Hungary, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea (South), Macau, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Taiwan, the Vatican, or the Norwegian municipalities of Storfjord, Kåfjord, Nordreisa, Kautokeino, Karasjok, Tana, Nesseby and Sør-Varange.

Transit restrictions

  • Passengers are not permitted to transit Finland except through Helsinki-Vantaa airport (HEL) and only when passengers have ensured they have a means to get to their final destination.
  • This does not apply to:
    • Nationals and residents of Finland and their families;
    • Passengers who are essential personnel;
    • Diplomats;
    • Staff of international organisations;
    • Passengers travelling for emergency family situations;
    • Passengers travelling for humanitarian reasons.

Form requirements

  • Passengers travelling to Finland are advised to complete the Personal Information form prior to arrival. The form can be accessed online here (in English) or here (in Finnish).

Test and quarantine requirements

  • Passengers are advised to hold a negative Covid-19 test certificate obtained within 72 hours prior to arrival in Finland. Passengers holding this test should self-quarantine for 72 hours on arrival in Finland, after which they may submit another Covid-19 test. If the result is negative, their quarantine may end.
  • Passengers not holding a negative Covid-19 test obtained within 72 hours prior to arrival should quarantine for 10 days, or obtain a negative test immediately on arrival and again after 72 hours.
    • The testing and quarantine requirements do not apply to passengers arriving from Australia, China, Hungary, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea (South), Macau, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Taiwan, the Vatican, or the Norwegian municipalities of Storfjord, Kåfjord, Nordreisa, Kautokeino, Karasjok, Tana, Nesseby and Sør-Varange.
  • The quarantine requirement does not apply to: 
    • Passengers holding a test obtained prior to arrival who will be in Finland for less than 72 hours;
    • Passengers holding a vaccination certificate showing they are fully vaccinated and at least 14 days have passed since the last dose;
    • Passengers who hold a medical certificate stating that they have had Covid-19 less than 6 months ago;
    • Passengers who regularly commute to Sweden or Norway, provided that the passenger holds a negative test certificate issued within 7 days prior to entry into Finland;
    • Freight transport and logistics personnel; or
    • Passengers with proof of their seafarer status.
  • Passengers may be subject to a health check on arrival.

This Information is intended as a Guideline.

Issuing Authorities

The Embassy of Finland, Pretoria
628 Leyds Street, Muckleneuk, PRETORIA 0002.
P O Box 443 Pretoria 0001
Tel: +27 (0)12 343 0275/6
Fax: +27 (0)12 343 3095
E-mail: visa.pre@formin.fi (Only for visa queries) or sanomat.pre@formin.fi 
Web: www.finland.org.za

Mon - Thurs from 08h00 to 16h15.
Fridays from 08h00 to 13h45

Consular services by appointment only. 

VFS Global - Application Centre
Tel: +27 (0)12 425 3010
Mon-Fri  08:00 to 12:30 and 13:30 to 16:00
E-mail: info.flza@vfshelpline.com
Web: www.vfsglobal.com/finland/southafrica


PRETORIA: 1st Floor, Cherry Lane Office Park, 114 Fehrsen Street, Nieuw Muckleneuk Brooklyn, Pretoria
CAPE TOWN: Office 504, 5th Floor, 47 Strand Street, Cape Town 8001
DURBAN: Unit 409, 4th Floor 91 -123 Cowey Road (Problem Mkhize Road) Essenwood Durban 4000

Visa Requirements

  • Visas are required by South African passport holders.

NOTE: All applicants must appear in person at a visa application centre in order to submit their application and biometrics. 

 

Requirements: 

Please submit the documents in the following order. Originals must be brought to the Visa Application Centre, however only photocopies need to be submitted. The embassy does not return documents (apart from passports) to the applicants. 

1) Completed Visa Application Form
2) Recent Passport Photo
3) Passport or other travel document. The travel document must be valid for at least three months after the completion of the journey. The travel document must contain two blank pages. A copy of the personal details page of the passport.
4) Detailed travel itinerary to and from the Schengen Member State territory. If visiting several countries within one trip, a travel schedule including all the countries to be visited —i.e.,travelling by air, road, rail or sea – must clearly indicate the duration of stay in each Schengen Member State (the departure date, means of travel and destination). Please note that it is not recommended to purchase the tickets before receiving a visa decision
5) Letter of employment - The letter must state the employee's name, their position, their length of service and nature of service (permanent/contractual work). The letter must indicate that the employer is aware that the employee will be taking leave on the said dates and that the employee will resume his/her duties upon return. The letter must be written on a company letterhead and must have date of issue, address, telephone number and position of signatory. 
For Unemployed - Letter explaining the duration of unemployment and sources of income or any assets the applicant may have. If applicant receives social grants, a copy of the SASSA membership card.
Self-employed should present the following documents: 1) Registration document with CIPC, Health Professions Council of South Africa or other applicable authority. 2) Registration with the South African Revenue Service (SARS). 3) On top of three months' personal bank statements, three months' bank statements from a business account are always required (when there is a business account).
Proof of studies letter for students. Students must present a recent, official and signed letter from the school, college or university, stating the date of issue, the name of the applicant and the type of studies or the name of the courses the student is enrolled in according to the institute’s records.
6) Proof of accommodation reservations - Reservations must be presented for the entire duration of the trip within the Schengen Member State territory
7) Proof of funds - last three months bank statements of a South African bank account. Statements should be drawn from a current account that reflect the salary the applicant is getting. NB: A private person may not be sponsored by another private person. The applicant's financial statements are required in full. If the applicant is a minor, three months' current bank statements from a sponsoring parent/legal guardian are required together with a proof of employment letter for the sponsoring parent. If the legal guardian/parent is self-employed, please see above for the required documents.
8) Travel medical insurance must be valid for the duration of travel. The minimum amount of the insurance coverage is 30,000 (thirty thousand) Euros and it must be valid in the whole territory of the Schengen Member States or worldwide
9) A motivational letter explaining why the applicant has chosen Finland (and other countries within the Schengen Member State territory, if applicable) as the destination. The letter should explain what made the applicant become interested in the country/ies of destination(s), and what the applicant is hoping to see or do there
10) If the applicant is under 18: certified parental consent and an unabridged birth certificate are needed. If the child is travelling with only one parent, the other parent must produce a sworn affidavit signed in front of the South African Police Service or a Commissioner of Oaths. If only one parent has guardianship of the minor, the court documents stating so must be presented. A death certificate should accompany an application if one of the parents is deceased.

Visa Processing Time

Up to 15 days, but this may be extended to 30 or 60 days

Visa Cost

Visa: €80 (adults) and €40 (children 6-12 years)
VFS service fee: EUR 29

METHODS OF PAYMENT

If the applicant submits their visa application at the Finland Visa Application Centre:

A) Card payment at the Finland Visa Application Centre on the day of appointment
B) Advance payment to the given Finland Visa Application Centre bank account

FINLAND VISA APPLICATION CENTRE BANKING DETAILS
Name of beneficiary: VFS Visa Processing (SA) Pty Ltd
Bank: Nedbank
Account Number: 1138055859
Branch Code: 198765
Reference: Passport Number of the applicant to be used

 

NOTE: 

  • The applicable visa fees in ZAR depend on the current exchange rate, which can be changed without any notifications
  • The fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.
  • Original proof of payment must be received with the visa application.

SA Representative

South African Embassy
Pohjoinen Makasiinikatu 4, 00130, HELSINKI
Tel: 00358 9 6860 3100
E-mail: saeconsfin@dirco.gov.za
Web: www.dirco.gov.za/helsinki

Travel Health

Compulsory:  None
Recommended Travel Vaccines:  Hepatitis B, Tetanus, Polio