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Latest Travel Alert
Following a terror-related incident on 18 August 2017, in which several people were stabbed in the western city of Turku, Irish citizens in Finland are advised to exercise caution and follow the advice of the police and local authorities.
On 18 August 2017, a terror-related incident took place Puutori and Kauppatori in the centre of Turku which resulted in a number of fatalities and injuries. Irish citizens travelling to or resident in Finland are advised to exercise caution and follow the advice of the police and local authorities. The Finnish Police have increased security readiness across Finland, particularly at airports and railway stations. The Department is monitoring developments closely, however our security status rating for Finland has not changed and we advise you to take normal precautions when travelling to Finland.
There is a general threat of terrorism in Europe and Finland's terrorist threat assessement level is elevated (number two on a scale of one to four; one being low and four being severe). Finland's threat asessment level was increased from low to elevated by the Finnish Security Intelligence Service in June 2017; this has not changed following the terror-related incident on 18 August 2017. Irish citizens are advised to follow the advice of police and local authorities and to exercise increased vigilance, especially if attending large public gatherings or other crowded locations. Attacks could occur at any time and could target tourist attractions, restaurants, transport hubs or other public areas.
The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
You can contact the emergency services in Finland by dialling 112.
Our tips for Safe Travels:
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
- Get a European Health Insurance Card
- Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
- Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.
Safety and security
Safety and security
The threat from terrorism in Finland has recently been raised from low to elevated. There is a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates.
Crime remains relatively low in Finland but you should take sensible precautions:
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
If you’re a victim of a crime while in Finland, report it to the local police immediately. You can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Helsinki if you need help.
If you’re planning to drive in Finland, you should take care, particularly during the winter months, when the roads can be hazardous and icy conditions are common. If you want to drive:
- Bring your full Irish driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance.
- Drive with dimmed headlights at all times.
- Make sure your car has winter/snow tyres (either studded or non-studded) from 1 December to 31 March – this is a legal requirement.
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Local laws and customs
Local laws and customs
Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it’s your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal.
Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.
Drinking in public places in built-up areas and on public transport is forbidden in Finland. The police have the right to confiscate any object or substance that may be dangerous. Anyone who violates this law may be taken to a detoxification centre and/or fined.
Crossing the border of Finland into Russia is allowed only at official checkpoints where most travellers must present at least one visa. Multilingual yellow warning signs at all other points along the 1,340 km border caution travellers not to cross inside the border zone. Anyone who attempts to enter the border zone or to cross the border into Russia illegally may be charged with border offences, which can carry a fine or a prison sentence.
You may be charged a standard fee at public health centres depending on the treatment you receive and where you receive it.
There’s a fixed daily charge for both in-patient treatment and outpatient visits at public hospitals, which are non-refundable. However, you may be able to claim a partial refund on private treatment from either a doctor or a hospital if you submit a receipt to the local KELA (the Social Insurance Institute of Finland) office. You must claim refunds for medical expenses within six months of the original payment.
You can get prescription drugs from any pharmacy. You'll be charged the full cost but you may be able to claim a refund from the local KELA office. See details at the following link http://www.kela.fi/web/en/medicine-expenses?inheritRedirect=true
For most prescribed medicines, you can be reimbursed for the medicines you purchase after you have met the initial deductible which is 50 euros per calendar year.
We can’t pay for emergency medical repatriation, repatriation of remains, or for expenses as a result of a personal emergency while you are abroad. If you buy an appropriate travel insurance policy, these costs will be covered, provided you haven’t broken the terms and conditions.
Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more.
Not all policies are the same, and the cheapest one might be cheap for a reason. Make sure your policy covers all the activities you plan to do on your trip. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.
Your policy should cover:
- All medical care abroad, including evacuation by air ambulance, or other emergency procedures, and any other costs associated with an unexpected longer stay.
- Your entire trip, from departure to return. Consider an annual multi-trip policy if you’re making more than one trip in the year.
- 24-hour emergency service and assistance.
- Personal liability cover (in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property).
- Lost and stolen possessions.
- Cancellation and curtailment.
- Any extra activities you intend to do that are excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing or other extreme sports).
Exclusions: You should know most insurance policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.
European Health Insurance Card
As an Irish resident you are entitled to get healthcare through the public system in countries of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland if you become ill or injured while on a temporary stay there. Ensure that you get or renew your EHIC (the new name for the E111) before you go, and remember, you need one for every person travelling in your group.
You can apply for your EHIC and find out more information here.
The EHIC is not a substitute for proper travel insurance provided by a reputable insurer. It doesn’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. Also, some private hospitals may not accept the EHIC, so you should check with the hospital administrator beforehand.
Entry requirements (visa/passport)
You need a valid passport to visit Finland and we advise you to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.
Irish citizens do not require a visa for Finland. However if you are staying for longer than three months, you are advised to register your details with the Local Register Office.
The currency of Finland is the Euro.
Summer is generally warm with relatively mild weather in spring and autumn. Mosquitoes can be prevalent during warm weather, particularly in the north of the country, so you’ll need a supply of insect repellent.
Winter temperatures can be very cold and warm clothing and footwear is essential.
Air quality in Helsinki at certain times of the year (late spring/early summer) can be poor and, if you suffer from allergies, you may find your condition is worse at these times.