Foreign Ministry suspends reception of berry pickers’ visa applications in Thailand

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has decided to suspend the reception of wild-berry pickers’ visa applications in Thailand. The suspension applies to all applicants in countries within the consular district of the Embassy of Finland in Bangkok: Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar. This means that Schengen visas will not be issued to wild-berry pickers from these countries for the summer 2024 harvest season.

In February 2023, the Foreign Ministry significantly tightened the guidelines for processing wild-berry pickers’ visa applications. After the 2023 harvest season, the Ministry carried out a thorough assessment of the conditions for issuing Schengen visas. The assessment was carried out against the backdrop of the allegations made in autumn 2023 about serious crimes relating to the 2023 harvest season.

Visas for wild-berry picking have been issued on the assumption that pickers enter the country for a purpose comparable to tourism, collect wild berries freely under the right of public access (‘Everyman’s Right’) and sell the natural products that they have harvested to the party of their choice. However, it is evident that the current practice in the sector contradicts this assumption. It has come to the Foreign Ministry’s attention that wild-berry pickers have generally entered into employment contracts. 

The charges and suspicions related to aggravated trafficking in human beings involve hundreds of victims. The clear and serious risk of exploitation and trafficking of human beings must be taken into account when visa applications are considered. As the visa authority and the authority guiding the issuing of visas by the missions, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs takes the exploitation of Thai wild-berry pickers very seriously. 

The Government’s aim is to find a comprehensive long-term solution to the entry of wild-berry pickers into Finland from the 2025 harvest season onwards. To this end, a working group appointed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and Pellervo Economic Research PTT will conduct impact assessments of different regulatory options in spring 2024.

Visa applications of applicants other than berry pickers will continue to be received and processed as usual at the Embassy of Finland in Bangkok, and the applications will be individually processed in accordance with the Visa Code.






Jussi Tanner, Director General, Consular services, +358 295 350 246
Anna Esko, Team Leader, Visa Unit, +358 295 350 723