Finland is a modern, commercially mature country that enjoys close relations with its Nordic neighbors. Social and business protocol is like that in the United States. It is worth noting that relationships are important within the social and business world, as Finns prefer to deal with people they know and trust. It is important first to develop this relationship, before doing business.
Finns place great value on words, which is reflected in the tendency to say little and avoid ‘unnecessary’ small talk. However, the concept that Finns are reserved and taciturn is outdated. Finns consider verbal agreements and promises to be binding.
Businesspeople and public officials are expected to distribute business cards with no special rituals as a means of ensuring their name and title are remembered. There is a high degree of gender equality in Finland, as can be seen in the relatively high number of women holding advanced positions in politics and other areas of society.
Please see U.S. Department of State Consular Information Sheet – Finland
Finland is a part of the Schengen agreement. U.S. citizens may enter Finland for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. The passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay.
A foreigner needs a residence permit to stay in Finland for a longer period. However, residence permits are also needed for short stays of less than three months if the purpose of the stay is to work in Finland. Residence permits require either a valid passport or a travel document. Foreigners must have work permits if they intend to work in Finland. Exceptions are citizens of the Nordic countries or citizens of EU/EEA countries. EU-citizens outside the Nordic countries need to apply for an EEA-card from the local police for stays exceeding 90 days. An EEA-card is a combined work and residence permit.
U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should visit the following website:
State Department Visa Website
Embassy of Finland in Washington D.C., Visa Section
U.S. Embassy in Finland, Visas
Finland uses the Euro as its official currency. The most common credit cards used in Finland are Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Since May 2019, Diner’s Club Card has not been a valid card for payments in Finland. Almost all payment cards in Finland have embedded chips and PIN codes to improve security. However, contactless card payments can be done up to 50 Euro without the need of PIN code and contactless payment using AppleWallet or some other form of phone-based mobile payment is quite common. Finns don’t use checks and it is very difficult to find a bank accepting one. A good network of ATMs exists in all inhabited areas throughout Finland.
Finland’s telecommunications environment is one of the most advanced in Europe. In 2021, 94 percent of Finnish households used broadband, and 93 percent had a mobile broadband connection. Reasonably priced and faultlessly functional broadband access is guaranteed by law to every person in the country, no matter in how secluded an area one lives. High-speed Internet connections are available at all business hotels and wireless broadband is offered for free in many places like shopping malls, airports, hotels, and libraries. The normal voltage in Finland is 220-240 volts. An adapter is needed because electric plugs differ from the ones used in the United States. Finland’s telephone country code is +358.
Voice communication services have largely moved to mobile networks in Finland. Today, broadband connections for data and mobile services have widely replaced fixed telephone and network connections.
Finland has 24 airports. Finnair, the national airline, offers seasonal direct flights in conjunction with OneWorld partner American Airlines from Helsinki-Vantaa airport to Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and around-the-year flights to New York City (JFK). In Finland public transportation is generally efficient, reliable, safe, and on time. All major cities have a network of buses. Helsinki has a comprehensive network of trains, buses, trams, and underground rail. Taxis are regulated by the government in terms of metered fares. Car share rides, like Uber, are used in bigger cities like Helsinki, Turku, and Tampere. Long distance public transport, operated by bus and train, is modern, safe, comfortable, and punctual, with routes all over the country. Road transport in Finland is the most popular method of transportation particularly in the rural parts of the country.
The two official languages in Finland are Finnish and Swedish. About 86.5 percent of the population speaks Finnish and 5.2 percent Swedish as their native language. Both languages are compulsory at school. Overall English is widely spoken in Finland, especially among younger people and in major cities. The third most common language is Russian, which is spoken by 1,5 percent of the population as their first language.
In Finland, medical facilities and their staff are as a rule excellent and are widely available for emergency services. If you are temporarily visiting Finland and you require immediate emergency assistance, you may visit the local medical centers’ first-aid station (“Ensiapuasema” in Finnish). Usually the first-aid station is located at the district hospital, where it is possible to provide a full range of services, as needed. Patients should be prepared to present their passports and English is commonly spoken by Finnish medical personnel. In case of a medical emergency, use the emergency telephone number 112 (equivalent to “911” in the United States) to contact the appropriate emergency service and ambulance. Needed prescriptions are dispensed at the hospital or given as an electronic note to the nearest pharmacy (“Apteekki” in Finnish.) Most pharmacies are open during normal shopping hours, but major cities have 24-hour pharmacies.
Travelers with special medical needs should consult with their personal physician and take appropriate precautions, including bringing adequate supplies of necessary medication. Medicines may be brought into the country if they are intended for the traveler’s personal use.
For more detailed information, please contact the Finnish Embassy in Washington D.C. email@example.com
Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays
The standard time zone in Finland is EET (Eastern European Time), which is UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) + 2 hours. During summer months Finland uses daylight savings time also known as EEST (Eastern European Summer Time) UTC +3, which means advancing the clock by one hour.
Business hours in Finland are generally between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The average Finnish workweek is 36-40 hours per week, with usual 8-hour workdays. Terms and conditions such as overtime, working hours, vacation, sick-leave, and minimum wage are in accordance with the applicable collective agreement.
The national holidays in 2023 are:
January 1 New Year’s Day
January 6 Epiphany
April 7 Good Friday
April 9 Easter
April 10 Easter Monday
May 1 May Day
May 18 Ascension Day
May 28 Pentecost
June 23 Midsummer Eve
June 24 Midsummer
November 4 All Saint’s Day
December 6 Independence Day (of Finland)
December 24 Christmas Eve
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 Saint Stephen’s Day
Temporary Entry of Material and Personal Belongings
Temporary exemption from duty can be granted for goods intended for public displays at exhibitions and fairs, commercial samples, and professional tools and equipment. If the goods are put to unauthorized use or are not exported within the prescribed time they must go through normal customs clearance and become liable for relevant duties and taxes. In Finland, the ATA-Carnet, the international customs documentation for temporary duty-free admission, is issued by the Central Chamber of Commerce. ATA-Carnets are frequently used for temporary imports, e.g., samples, exhibition materials, and professional equipment (laptop computers, software), and are valid for one year.