If you've ever dreamed about visiting a reindeer farm, sweating it out in a sauna while it snows outside, or seeing the Northern Lights in person, then Finland is just the trip for you. Tourists visiting from a visa-exempt country—including the U.S., U.K., Mexico, the EU, Japan, and 58 others —are able to visit this Nordic country without applying for a visa beforehand, as long as the trip is 90 days or less and you have a valid passport that is good for at least three months after you plan to return to home.
In fact, visa-exempt travelers can visit any one of the 26 European countries that make up the Schengen Area without a visa. Once you're in the Schengen Area, you can cross borders between countries without going through any type of passport control. Because it's considered one entity, the 90-day travel limit applies to your time in the entire area, not each individual country. The nations that are a part of this agreement are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Travelers coming from a non-exempt country must apply for a Schengen Tourist Visa in their home country before arriving in Finland. Once granted the visa, it allows the holder to travel freely around the Schengen Area for up to 90 days.
Anyone who wishes to stay in Finland for longer than 90 days—besides EU nationals—must apply for a long term visa in their country of residence. These are grouped into work visas, student visas, or family visas.
|Visa Requirements for Finland|
|Visa Type||How Long Is It Valid?||Required Documents||Application Fees|
|Schengen Tourist Visa||90 days in any 180-day period||Bank statements, proof of medical insurance, hotel reservations, roundtrip plane tickets||Up to 80 euros|
|Work Visa||Up to 1 year||Proof of financial means, tax documents from employer||Up to 490 euros|
|Student Visa||Up to 1 year||Acceptance letter into Finnish education program, proof of financial means, proof of medical insurance, receipt of paid tuition fees||350 euros|
|Family Visa||1–4 years||Proof of financial means, certificate proving family relation||Up to 470 euros|
Schengen Tourist Visa
Many travelers can visit Finland without applying for a tourist visa, but if you are traveling with a passport from a non-exempt country, you'll need to apply for a Schengen Tourist Visa. The visa allows the traveler to visit Finland and any other Schengen country as long as the trip is under 90 days. Some tourist visas allow the traveler to leave the Schengen Area and enter again while others only permit a single entry, so confirm what your visa says before planning your trip.
Visa Fees and Application
You need to make sure you apply for your Schengen Tourist Visa through the correct consulate. If you're only visiting Finland or Finland is the primary destination of your trip through Europe, then you'll apply through the Finnish consulate in your home country. If Finland is on your itinerary but you'll be spending more time in another Schengen Area country, you'll need to apply through the corresponding consulate.
In most cases, Finnish consulates outsource their visa processing to VFS Global. You'll need to make an appointment and physically go to an office to present your documents.
- You'll need to submit a completed application form, your original passport with a photocopy, proof of travel health insurance, roundtrip flight reservations, booked accommodations, and proof of sufficient funds.
- Pay the 80 euro visa fee at the processing center when you turn in your application by credit or debit card.
- You'll also pay a processing fee in the local currency to VFS Global, which varies based on the country you're applying from (at U.S. VFS Global offices, the fee is $34).
- At your appointment, the office will take biometric data such as your fingerprints and a digital photo.
- The processing time takes about 15 calendar days unless further documentation is needed.
Anyone who plans to go to Finland with the purpose to work and earn money must apply for a work visa, regardless of the duration of the stay. Work visas generally let the holder stay in Finland for up to one year initially and then can be extended from within Finland, assuming you're still working. Typical employment visas only let a resident work in a particular field, meaning you can change jobs once you're in Finland as long as you're doing the same type of work.
Work visas are further broken down into several different types of permits, including for employees who have been hired by a Finnish company, self-employed individuals, researchers, interns, au pairs, and many more.
Visa Fees and Application
The application process for a work visa is completed in two steps. First, you must create an Enter Finland account and submit your application through them. Once your application is sent, you'll need to make an appointment to physically turn in hard copies of all your documents and give fingerprints, which is usually done through a VFS Global office although in some instances it can be done directly through the nearest Finnish consulate.
- In addition to the electronic application through Enter Finland, you'll submit copies of your passport and a photo of yourself.
- Depending on your employment situation, your Finnish employer will also need to submit documents on your behalf to the Enter Finland website that show you have been hired and will be earning a living wage.
- The next step is to make an appointment at your corresponding Finnish consulate or VFS Global office in order to turn in hard copies of your documents and get your fingerprints taken.
- You can pay the visa fee when you complete the initial online application or when you arrive for your visa appointment. For workers employed by a Finnish company or self-employed individuals, the fee is 490 euros to be paid in local currency. For all other types of work visas, the fee is 410 euros.
- If you make your appointment at a VFS Global office, you'll also need to pay an additional processing fee (at the U.S. offices, the fee is $88).
- The processing time generally takes one to four months, but applications for self-employed workers may take longer.
If you're moving to Finland in order to study, whether you've been accepted into a higher education program or you're going to study abroad for a term, you must apply for a student visa before entering Finland. The initial visa is usually good for one year and if the program is longer than that, you can apply for an extension once you're in Finland.
The application process is very similar to the work visa process. It all begins on the Enter Finland website, but you'll choose a "Studies" application instead of work. In addition to your passport and photos of yourself, you'll also need documentation showing your acceptance into a program, valid medical insurance, enough funds to support yourself, and receipt of tuition that's been paid (or a scholarship).
Student visa applicants only need to pay 350 euros, however, in addition to the processing fee of the visa center. Most student visas are processed within 90 days, so you should submit your paperwork at least three months before your studies begin.
If you have a family member who is a Finnish citizen or legal resident, that person may be able to sponsor your visa. However, the applicant must be an immediate family member who can be an opposite or same-sex spouse, domestic partner, or cohabiting partner for two years; a child under 18; or a parent or legal guardian of a child living in Finland. If you are given a visa based on a family tie, you're allowed to study or find a job and work in Finland with that visa, as well.
Just as with the other Finnish visas, you'll begin your application on the Enter Finland website. If your sponsor is also in the process of moving to Finland and applying for a work or student visa, you can apply at the same time, but you'll still need to create your own Enter Finland account and submit your own application.
The sponsor is responsible for showing that they can financially support the family members who are applying, but the applicant needs to submit documentation that shows their relation to the sponsor, such as a marriage certificate, birth certificate, adoption papers, etc. If the documents aren't from a Nordic country, they also need to be legalized in the country that issued them.
Pay the visa fee either when you submit the online application or at the appointment, which is 470 euros for an adult or 240 euros for a child, plus the processing fee. The processing time varies based on the family relation, the citizenship status of the sponsor, and whether further documentation is needed, but per Finnish law, it should be completed within nine months. Applications for children or adoptions are typically expedited.
If you are a tourist from a visa-exempt country or if you have been granted a Schengen Tourist Visa, you are allowed to be in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. To find out if you're under the limit, open up a calendar and go to the date you expect to leave the Schengen Area. From there, count back 180 days—about six months—and add up every day you were in a Schengen country. If that total comes out to 90 or less, you're fine.
If it's over 90 days, you're overstaying your visa and the consequences can be severe. The exact punishment depends on the country you're caught in and the particular circumstances, but expect a fine at the minimum and potentially being detained, deported, or banned from entering the Schengen Area again.
Extending Your Visa
If you are visiting as a tourist and need to stay longer than 90 days, your safest option is to ask for an extension. In Finland, this can be done at any police station. However, you'll need to justify staying longer with a legitimate reason, which is notoriously hard to do. Example reasons include force majeure such as a natural disaster, medical emergency, or humanitarian crisis in your home country. It could also be due to an event such as a wedding or a funeral that wasn't anticipated.
Regardless of the reason, the decision is completely at the discretion of the officer who assists you and there is no guaranteed way to get an extension. The most important part to remember is that you must request the extension before your initial 90 days are up. If you wait until after, you've already overstayed your visa and you may be deported immediately.