is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Finland. For
more in-depth information, review OSAC’s country-specific page
for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some
of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
The current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Finland
at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precaution. Review
OSAC’s report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Helsinki as being a LOW-threat location for crime directed
at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Finland is one of the safest countries in the world, and has one of the world’s
most effective and trusted police forces. However, petty crimes such
pickpocketing do occur in crowded areas and during the summer tourist season. Review
OSAC’s report, All That You Should
theft is the most common type of theft. However, after a long period of increase,
the number of bicycle thefts has started to decline. The number of car
burglaries has trended downwards since the early 2000s, and there has been a
significant decrease in business burglaries. Theft offenses are more common in
urban environments. In Uusimaa, the prevalence of theft offenses is many times
higher than in the rest of Finland.
2018, Finland reported 95 homicides, and increase of 28% from the previous
year, but still well below the national average of the 1990s and the early
2000s. However, an almost continuous decline in the number of homicides over
the last 20 years has ended. Homicides in Finland most likely to occur during
disputes between socially excluded males, and usually involve alcohol use. The
homicide rate is lower in Finland than in Russia or the Baltic States, but
higher than that its western neighbors.
number of organized crime groups in Finland has increased over the last ten
years. The National Bureau of Investigation estimates that there are 90
organized crime groups in Finland, with 900-1,000 members. In Finland, these
groups are mainly of domestic origin, although most organized crime groups
collaborate with groups based in Russia and the Baltic states. Russian
organized crime is also a topic of concern for authorities.
motorcycle clubs first entered Finland more than 20 years ago, as cross-border
mobility increased. These gangs have continuously strengthened their position, spreading
their activities throughout Finland, and opening chapters or becoming active in
all major cities. At least eight motorcycle gangs are active in Finland,
although overall membership levels remain low and expatriates are unlikely to
remains a concern. Authorities continue to express concern over the threat
posed by economic espionage facilitated by cyberattack. In 2017, Helsinki
opened The European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE)
to coordinate a response against political, diplomatic, economic, cyber, and
also operates a National Cyber Security Center (NCSC-FI),
which operates under the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency.
and EU privacy laws are strict, although a great deal of personal information
remains available via government sources, including address, telephone, and
vehicle information. In 2018, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
went into effect. An updated Finnish Data Protection Act went into effect in
Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics,
Best Practices for
Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile
Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite Phones:
Critical or Contraband?
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Finnish road network is safe, comprehensive, and well maintained, despite
severe winters. Winter driving in Finland can be hazardous. Daylight hours are
very short and drivers should be comfortable driving in darkness. Icy road
conditions are common. Your vehicle must have snow tires (or M/S rated) from
December through February. Engine heaters are strongly recommended.
driving at night, drivers must be alert to moose wandering onto major roadways.
Striking a moose can severely damage a vehicle and even fatally injure its
you are in a car accident, you must have your insurance paperwork with you.
in Finland is on the right side. A valid U.S. driver’s license is legal for
driving in Finland, but drivers must be at least 18 years of age. Traffic
approaching from the right has priority, even if entering a primary roadway
from a secondary one. Stop signs are rare. It is common practice in Finland,
including in large cities, to turn off traffic lights at certain intersections
in the early morning hours. Road signs use standard international symbols and
Finnish text. Many urban streets have traffic lanes reserved for public
transportation only. Vehicles must use headlights at all times.
laws governing driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) are extremely
strict; driving with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) level at or above 0.05% is illegal.
than half of all offenses reported in 2018 were traffic offenses. Three
quarters of traffic offenses are speed limit violations. Drivers committed about
510,000 traffic offenses in 2018 (does not include offences involving driving
under the influence). In 2018, 226 people died in traffic accidents, the lowest
figure for Finland in more than 70 years. Approximately 13% of traffic
fatalities involved alcohol.
Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad,
Driving Overseas: Best
Practices, and Evasive Driving
Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
Public transportation in Finland is of good quality and is the
recommended method of travel. Passenger trains, intercity buses, and air
flights provide regular service over longer distances. Public transportation in
urban centers includes buses, subways, trams, suburban trains, and taxis. Taxis
are more expensive than in major U.S. cities. Rates vary widely depending on
the company providing the transportation service. Most local residents use
public transport in Helsinki, as parking is expensive and can be hard to find.
OSAC’s report, Security In Transit:
Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of
Finland’s Civil Aviation Authority as compliant with International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of
Finland’s air carrier operations.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Helsinki as being a LOW-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting official
U.S. government interests. Finland experienced its
first terrorist attack in 2017; the attack left two people dead and eight
injured. The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (SUPO)
rates the terrorist threat as “elevated,” the second lowest of four levels.
to SUPO, “the growth of radical Islamist networks in Finland is conforming to
international trends. In the same way as the individuals who departed for the
conflict zone, radical Islamist networks in Finland are multi-ethnic and
intergenerational. Marriages occur within networks, potentially hampering
disengagement from radical ideology and reinforcing the radicalization of
future generations. The groups and networks in Finland that promote terrorist
operations have contacts abroad in both Muslim-majority and Western countries.
remains a threat despite territorial losses in Syria and Iraq, with functional
networks that it can call upon in external operations, disseminating
propaganda, recruiting, and fundraising.
Finland is a member of the anti-ISIS coalition, ISIS regards Finland as a
legitimate target for terrorist operations. As the threat of extreme right-wing
terrorism has grown in Western countries, the inspirational impact of recent
attacks, social confrontation and especially online radicalization encourage
similar individual acts of violence in Finland.
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has cross-border support operations in Finland
that involve extreme left-wing anti-fascists. Approximately 100 Finns may have
traveled to fight in foreign conflicts. Additionally, approximately 390
individuals are under police surveillance for suspected ties to terrorism.
harbors significant terrorist support activities and international networks,
with known resident and visiting individuals and groups possessing the
motivation and ability to carry out terrorist attacks. The threat of a
religiously motivated terrorist attack on Finland comes primarily from lone
operators or groups pursuing radical Islamist ideology and objectives.
operators the greatest threat of terrorist attack, irrespective of ideology.
While a straightforward attack using readily available instruments is the most
likely action and methodology, use of firearms and explosives is also a
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Helsinki as being a LOW-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting
official U.S. government interests. Tensions between far-left
and far-right groups continue against the backdrop of a migration crisis that
has not yet fully abated. Protestors in Finland must notify the police at least
six hours ahead of any planned demonstration. There are approximately 300
protests a year in Helsinki; most protests are small, peaceful, and unrelated
to U.S. interests. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
far-right groups incite violence against minorities; authorities maintain
effective control of the situation via hate-speech legislation and strong
social disapproval of far-right views.
Finnish Immigration Service continues to process migrant and asylum claims,
though accepted numbers in 2019 fell below 1,000 for the first time since the
Syrian crisis began.
sentiment remains very low. Certain small segments of the population tend to
hold marginally less favorable views of the United States.
experiences extreme cold. Travelers should prepare for the cold with
specialized clothing and transportation protocols during appropriate seasons.
experiences limited air pollution in urban centers, with some water pollution
from industrial wastes and agricultural chemicals. Habitat loss threatens wildlife
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
has one of the highest broadband and mobile penetrations rates in the region.
and black-market activities are relatively rare, although authorities regularly
deal with illicit economic activities connected to Russian organized crime.
Personal Identity Concerns
is traditionally an egalitarian country with high levels of social acceptance.
Over the past two decades, the greater Helsinki area has become an increasingly
cosmopolitan and multicultural environment. However, some far-right groups
still espouse racist ideologies. According to the results of the European Union
Minorities and Discrimination Survey published in November 2018, 14% of persons
of African descent in the country stated they had been subject to racist
harassment in the previous five years. The most frequent complaints of
discrimination or harassment concerned employment and online communication.
2018, the police recorded 910 reports of suspected hate crimes. Most crimes
involved racist elements, with the most common offence being assault. Hate
crimes reported to the police decreased by 22% compared to 2017.
against women, including spousal abuse, continues to be a problem. The Council
of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and
Domestic Violence (GREVIO) reported that key professionals in the criminal
justice system, such as prosecutors and law enforcement officers, were not
systematically trained before taking up their duties on how to intervene in
cases of violence against women, including domestic violence. The law defines
sexual harassment as a specific, punishable offense with penalties ranging from
fines to up to six months’ imprisonment. Employers who fail to protect
employees from workplace harassment are subject to the same penalties. Review
the State Department’s webpage on security for female
law prohibits discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression, or sexual
orientation in housing, employment, nationality laws, and access to government
services, and the government enforced the law. The law requires that a
transgender person present a medical statement affirming their gender identity
and a certificate of infertility before the government will legally recognize
their gender identity. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+
of the Jewish community reported feeling under threat and specifically targeted
due to their beliefs, reporting multiple anti-Semitic incidents including
harassment (in person and online) and vandalism. Police continued to implement
the 2018 court ban on the neo-Nazi group NRM. The Finnish-language website of
the organization was no longer online, and public displays of their symbol
decreased in frequency, although members continued to spray graffiti. Review
OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice,
and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
generally enforce laws mandating access to buildings for persons with
disabilities, but many older buildings remain inaccessible. Some public
transportation systems are less adapted to individuals with disabilities. Check
ahead with your hotel/destination to learn more about options to accommodate
disabled traveler needs before visiting. Most forms of public transportation
are accessible, but geographically-isolated areas can be especially problematic
for travelers with disabilities. Train travelers must request assistance in
advance at most stations. For more information, visit the Finnish National
Tourist Board’s website.
Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addition (EMCDDA),
use of all major illicit substances has increased over the last decade among Finnish
adults. Cannabis, mainly in herbal form, remains the most common illicit drug, with
its use is concentrated among Finns aged 15-34 years. Amphetamines and
MDMA/ecstasy are the most common illicit stimulants used by the general
population, with use also concentrated among those aged 15-34. In general,
illicit drug use is more common among males than females. Finnish Customs
reported its first seizure of carfentanil in 2017.
of kidnapping in Finland are extremely rare. Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics
OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and
Don’ts for Photography.
the State Department’s webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you
cannot take into or out of other countries.
emergency line in Finland is 112. Finland has one of the most
professional police forces in the world. Most Finnish police speak English. Due
to the high effectiveness level of individual officers, Finland maintains the
lowest police-per-capita ratio in the industrialized world. Finnish law allows
the police to demand identification on the spot.
impersonation has increased in recent years, with police warning of several
cases of police impersonation via phone in an attempt to steal banking
information. All police officers should have an official police identity card
that is in the process of updating; two versions of this card will be in use
during the next several years as the update progresses. U.S. officials should
cooperate fully with police and request consular assistance as appropriate.
victim-assistance resources are available via police and social services
agencies. Download the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
For local first responders, refer to the Embassy’s Emergency
has ten regional police forces and one metropolitan police force (Helsinki)
under the command of the National Police Board; together, they maintain
internal security. Finnish Customs and the Border Guard have law enforcement
responsibilities related to their fields of responsibility. The Border Guard
has additional law enforcement powers to maintain public order when it operates
in joint patrols and under police command. The defense forces are responsible
for safeguarding the country’s territorial integrity and providing military
training. The defense forces also have some domestic security responsibilities,
such as assisting the national police in maintaining law and order in crises.
The national police and Border Guard report to the Interior Ministry, which is
responsible for police oversight, law enforcement, and maintenance of order;
the Defense Ministry oversees the defense forces.
National Bureau of Investigation serves as Finland’s sole investigative agency
for major crimes and organized crime. SUPO and its police officer staff serves as
Finland’s sole civilian intelligence and national security agency.
medical emergency line in Finland is 112. Finland’s medical system is one of
the best in the world. A combination of public and private providers offers comprehensive,
state-of-the-art treatment in all areas of medicine.
has a well-developed air ambulance system for acute trauma cases and
inter-hospital transfers throughout the country. Regardless, outside of a major
metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical
professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. Find
contact information for available medical services and available air ambulance
services on the Embassy’s Medical
medical centers, clinics, or first-aid stations are located at hospitals and
will provide a full range of services to tourist and temporary visitors. For
anyone who does not pay Finnish income tax, however, the public and private
medical systems alike require payment at the time of service. The
U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health
insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Department’s
webpage on insurance
may bring a 90-day supply of most personal prescription drugs with a formal
doctor’s note. Prescribed narcotics may only be brought into Finland for your
personal use for a maximum of 14 days and must be accompanied by a medical
certificate stating why you need them. Finnish customs regulations prohibit you
from receiving medication shipments from abroad. Local physicians may be reluctant to
prescribe equivalent quantities or dosages. Review OSAC’s report, Traveling with
CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Finland.
OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way,
I’m Drinking What in My
Water?, Shaken: The Don’ts of
Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and
Fire Safety Abroad.
OSAC Country Council Information
is no active Country Council in Finland. Interested private-sector security
managers should contact OSAC’s Europe
team with any questions.
U.S. Embassy Contact Information
Itäinen Puistotie 14, 00104 Helsinki
Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday, 0830 - 1700.
you travel, consider the following resources:
OSAC Risk Matrix
Department Traveler’s Checklist
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
Country Information Sheet