Finland, just like everywhere else in Europe, hasn’t yet deployed the ETIAS pre-travel system. The ETIAS is technically not a visa, like the current Schengen visa, but more of a visa waiver for Europe and will be a part of a system that will make it compulsory for some non E.U. passport holders to apply in advance for permission to travel to Europe, including Finland. Up to now, the citizens of about 60 odd countries have not had to get a visa in advance before they travel to Europe. As long as they have a valid passport they are given 90 days stay. That’s what is going to change.
The reason the E.U. is tightening up its entry procedures is a response to an unprecedented number of terrorist attacks on some of the member countries as well as the fact that the large numbers of refugees and other migrants has made many E.U. governments think that the system in place at the moment is too lax. It is hoped that the new ETIAS will address some of the problems with present border arrangements and provide an improved level of security across Europe.
Is Finland also part of the Schengen Zone?
Finland is part of the Schengen Agreement, as are the other Scandinavian countries, although not all of them are in the E.U. Nearly all of the Schengen member states are also members of the E.U. Because Finland is a member of Schengen, any other Schengen citizen has free movement in and out of the country. Also, if in the future you need a Finland ETIAS, this can be used to visit any other Schengen country, including Norway which is not in the E.U. The Schengen Agreement was introduced to bring uniformity about entry arrangements across most of Europe, but it is not exactly the same as the E.U. which is about much more than just entry and travel regulations.
Why does anyone visit Finland?
Finland is a destination at all times of the year. It has thousands of lakes and a lot of forest. In the winter, visitors head to the Northern part of the country to view the Northern lights or Aurora Borealis. In summer, the whole country opens up for travel to the islands and lakes. Finns are avid travellers within their own country. Many people are not aware that Finnish is nothing like any other Scandinavian language and in fact has more in common with Turkish, despite being separated so far geographically. Finland also has a significant minority of Swedish speaking people who live close to the Swedish border.
Will I need a Finland ETIAS visa waiver?
You may, but not yet. ETIAS is expected to be introduced in early 2020. The process involves making an online application at least 72 hours before travel and you will also need to pay a €5 fee. The authorisation, once granted, will last 5 years. If you are concerned that you need some sort of visa, check the Schengen regulations for your country or ask a travel agent. The ETIAS system may apply to you if you are not an E.U. passport holder and have not needed a visa to enter Europe up to now. If you have been to Europe before and had to get a visa in advance, the new ETIAS system is unlikely to change your visa requirements.