FAQ: Visas and residence permits
Information and guidance on visas and residence permits.
Applying for a visa
Do I need a visa to enter Finland?
Finland does not decide alone which non-Schengen countries’ citizens (third-country nationals) need a visa to enter Finland. Instead, the Schengen countries have together agreed on the rules concerning the movement of third-country nationals in the territory of the Schengen area and on the list of countries whose citizens are required to present a visa to enter the area. Check whether you need a visa to enter Finland.
What rules apply to issuing visas?
Schengen visas are issued based on the EU Visa Code(Link to another website.), detailing the procedures and conditions for issuing visas for transit through or intended stays in the territory of the Schengen countries. The maximum duration of a visit is 90 days.
When should I apply for a visa?
You may apply for a visa no more than six (6) months before the start of the intended visit. An exception to this rule is seafarers who are travelling for work. They may apply for a visa no more than nine (9) months before the intended visit.
Allow at least 15 days for the visa application process. Please be aware that backlogs in the process are possible. We advise you to book an appointment for submitting your visa application as soon as you know when you are travelling.
Where and how can I apply for a visa?
If your country of destination is Finland, you should apply for a visa at the Visa Application Centre indicated by the nearest Finnish mission. If your host country does not have a Visa Application Centre for Finland, you may apply for a visa at the nearest Finnish mission or at a Schengen country mission representing Finland in the country of your nationality or permanent residence.
I want to seek asylum in Finland. Can I get a visa to apply for asylum?
You need to be in Finland or at the Finnish border to apply for asylum in Finland. As a rule, it is not possible to grant a visa for humanitarian reasons to someone who wishes to travel to Finland for the purpose of applying for asylum. If you need help in your country of residence, please contact the local office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) or the local Red Cross or Red Crescent society.
I want to come to work in Finland. Can the Ministry of Foreign Affairs help me find employment?
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs cannot help you find employment in Finland. You must find employment yourself by contacting a prospective employer.
I have a stopover in Helsinki. Do I need a visa if I do not leave the international area of the airport?
You need an airport transit visa only if you are a citizen of any of the following countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia and Sri Lanka. If you are a citizen of some other country, you do not need an airport transit visa if you do not leave the international area of the airport. If your country of destination is not Finland and you have a stopover in Helsinki on your way to another country in the Schengen area, you will need a visa issued by that Schengen country. In that case, you must go through passport control in Helsinki.
What is VFS? Why do I have to apply for a visa through VFS?
VFS Global(Link to another website.) (Visa Facilitation Services Global) is an external service provider commissioned by Finland to receive visa applications on Finland’s behalf in a number of countries. VFS Global does not make decisions on visa applications; all decision on visa applications are made by the relevant Finnish mission. Finland uses an external service provider in accordance with the EU Visa Code(Link to another website.) and the Finnish Aliens Act(Link to another website.). The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the missions supervise the activities of the external service provider.
Will I need a single-entry visa or a multiple-entry visa?
With a single-entry visa, you can enter the Schengen area only once. You can travel freely between the Schengen countries as long as your visa is valid and you do not leave the Schengen area during your trip. If you do leave the Schengen area during your trip and want to re-enter the Schengen area, you will need a multiple-entry visa.
Can I apply for a visa at the mission of another Schengen country? Can I apply for a visa from Finland even if my destination is another Schengen country?
If your primary destination is Finland, you should apply for a visa at the nearest Finnish mission or at the mission of a country that represents Finland in the country where you apply for a visa. If you apply for a visa at a Finnish mission when your primary destination is not Finland but another Schengen country, your application for a visa will be rejected. If you are travelling to more than one Schengen country, you should apply for a visa at the mission of the country where you intend to stay the longest or the country associated with the main purpose of stay.
I was issued a visa, but my friend’s application was rejected. Why is that?
Each application is processed based on the known facts of each individual. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs cannot comment on individual applications. If your application for a visa is refused, you will receive a standard form stating the grounds for the refusal. An application for a visa may be refused on the grounds of insufficient means of subsistence, unclear purpose of travel, inadequate travel insurance or insufficient proof of the applicant’s intention to leave the Schengen area before the expiry of the visa.
I would like to invite my friends/relatives/partner to Finland. What kind of an invitation letter should I write? Is there a ready-made form available?
The invitation letter has no specific form. You just need to include in the letter all the required information, such as the contact details of the inviting company or person and the information concerning the person invited (applicant), such as name, date of birth, address, passport number, purpose of stay and duration of stay. There is no ready-made form available, and you can write the invitation letter yourself.
If the invitation letter is of a private nature, you should mention what kind of a relationship you (the inviting person) have with the applicant (e.g. friend, spouse, relative). Please note that an invitation does not guarantee that a visa will be issued. As a rule, the inviter’s funds are not considered when assessing the applicant’s financial situation in their country of origin, except for when applicants are travelling for work and do not cover the costs of travel themselves.
Do I have to have funds of my own if I am invited by someone who has promised to pay all my travel expenses?
You must have sufficient funds of your own to cover the costs of your stay, taking into account the duration of the intended stay and the return to your country of origin or country of residence or transit to a third country where you are certain to be granted entry.
I am a Finnish citizen. A member of my family is applying for a visa to Finland. Why is the application not processed as an application of a family member of an EU citizen?
The EU Free Movement Directive 2004/38/EC applies when
- EU citizens travel to a Member State other than their country of nationality together with a family member or
- EU citizens, after having exercised their right to free movement by settling in another EU Member State, intend to visit their country of nationality together with a family member who is a third-country national. In other words, the Free Movement Directive applies if you live in another EU Member State and your family member applies for a visa to Finland so that they can travel to Finland with you.
- The Directive does not apply to Finnish citizens who reside in Finland if they have not lived in another EU Member State together with the family member applying for a visa.
I am a Finnish citizen and about to travel abroad. Do I need a visa? Where can I apply for a visa to another country?
When you are planning to travel abroad, check the visa regulations for the country of destination with the mission of that country and follow their instructions in applying for a visa. Not all countries have a mission in Helsinki. Instead, they may be based in Stockholm, Oslo or Berlin, or some other nearby capital. Check the contact details of foreign missions in Finland or in Finland’s neighbouring countries.
The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish missions abroad only grant visas to people travelling to Finland; they do not handle visa applications of Finnish citizens travelling abroad.
I am displeased with the service I received at a Finnish mission. Can I file a complaint?
You can file a complaint with the Chancellor of Justice, if you suspect that an authority, a public official or some other person or body performing a public duty has acted in an unlawful manner or has neglected their obligations. Read more about how to file a complaint.(Link to another website.)
I am a Russian citizen. What restrictions are there on my entry to Finland?
Finland has imposed restrictions on entry to Finland by Russian holders of a Schengen visa when they are travelling for non-essential purposes and for purposes of transit to another Schengen country. The restrictions, which originally entered into force on 30 September 2022, were extended by a Government decision on 6 July 2023. The restrictions will remain in force until further notice.
As a Russian citizen, you may enter Finland from Russia despite the current travel restrictions if any of the following categories apply to you:
- Family members of Finnish citizens and family members of foreign nationals who have a permanent residence in Finland;
- Family members of citizens of a Member State of the European Union, of a Member State of the European Economic Area or of Switzerland;
- Holders of a work visa;
- Transport and logistics personnel exercising their duties;
- Business travellers;
- Persons arriving in Finland for treatment;
- Owners of a residence or real estate;
- Members of the staff of diplomatic and consular missions;
- Persons travelling for other special reasons (essential purposes).
For more information about the restrictions, visit the website of the Finnish Border Guard(Link to another website.)
Requesting an administrative review of a negative visa decision
How can I request an administrative review of a negative decision on my visa application?
If a Finnish mission refuses your visa application, you have 30 days from the day you received the decision to file a request for an administrative review in Finnish or in Swedish. You can send the request electronically to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs at email@example.com or on paper to the Finnish mission that made the decision on your visa application in accordance with the instructions for requesting an administrative review enclosed with the refusal decision. Please remember that you must enclose the following documents with your request for an administrative review: the decision subject to review; a receipt of payment of the fee for the consideration of the request for an administrative review (EUR 255); and where necessary a power of attorney, signed and dated by you personally, if you want someone else to handle the request on your behalf. Before filing a request for an administrative review, please read carefully the instructions enclosed with the refusal decision and act accordingly.
Can I entrust someone to request an administrative review on my behalf?
You can authorise someone else to act on your behalf in the matter of administrative review by giving them a power of attorney. You must sign and date the power of attorney personally. The power of attorney may be in Finnish, Swedish or English.
In which language should I write the request for an administrative review?
You must write the request for an administrative review either in Finnish or in Swedish.
How much does it cost to have a request for an administrative review considered?
A fee of EUR 255 is charged for the consideration of a request for an administrative review. A fee must be paid for each request for an administrative review. You will be refunded the fee charged for the consideration of your request for an administrative review if the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or an administrative court amend the decision subject to review in your favour in such a way that the visa must be issued.
Will I be refunded the fee charged for the consideration of the request for an administrative review if I withdraw my request?
The consideration of a request for an administrative review is subject to a fee. According to section 190b of the Aliens Act, you will be refunded the fee charged for the consideration of your request for an administrative review if the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or an administrative court amend the decision subject to review in your favour in such a way that the visa must be issued. For these reasons, you will not be refunded the fee if you withdraw your request for an administrative review on your own initiative.
Where should I pay the fee for the consideration of the request for an administrative review?
Bank account details for the fee:
Nordea IBAN: FI3616603000106974
Message field: RECT + XXXX + name of the visa applicant (Rect number of the mission)
You will find the Rect number of the mission in the instructions for requesting an administrative review enclosed with the mission’s decision.
In Finland a minimum of EUR 30 a day is required.
How long will it take to consider a request for an administrative review?
Requests for an administrative review are considered in the order of arrival. At the moment, there is a severe backlog of requests awaiting consideration and it will take approximately 11 months from the day of filing a request before it is considered.
I have invited someone to Finland. Am I allowed to receive information about the administrative review process on behalf of the visa applicant?
All documents concerning visa applicants are non-disclosable documents under section 24 of the Act on the Openness of Government Activities. For this reason, any information concerning an administrative review process may only be disclosed to the applicants themselves or to persons they have authorised to act on their behalf by a power of attorney.
Why was my visa application refused?
All decisions on Schengen visas by the Finnish missions are based on the EU Visa Code(Link to another website.). The Visa Code defines the grounds for refusing a visa application. Each application is assessed individually based on all available information.
The Finnish missions give their grounds for a refusal by ticking the appropriate box or boxes on the standard decision form. If your visa application is refused by a Finnish mission, you may request an administrative review of the decision from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in accordance with the instructions for requesting an administrative review.
Can I apply for another visa even if my request for an administrative review following a refusal decision is still pending?
Yes, you can apply for another visa.
What is the difference between a visa and a residence permit?
A visa is intended for short stays of less than 90 days. As a rule, visa holders may not work in Finland or in any other Schengen country. Your visa application may be refused, if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that you do not intend to leave the Schengen area before the expiry of the visa. If your intention is to settle in Finland, you should apply for a residence permit in accordance with the Finnish Immigration Service’s instructions(Link to another website.).
For more information about residence permits, please check the FAQ on the Finnish Immigration Service’s website(Link to another website.).
Where can I submit an application for a residence permit?
Check the Finland abroad website to see in which mission or VFS Global Visa Application Centre you can submit an application for a residence permit(Link to another website.). Enter your country of residence in the search field and check the country-specific instructions on how to book an appointment for biometric enrolment. First, fill in an application for a residence permit and then book an appointment for providing your biometric information (your signature, photograph and fingerprints). You will receive more detailed instructions when you book your appointment. Read more about applying for a residence permit.
I have a residence permit to Finland. I lost my residence permit card when abroad. Can I apply for a visa to return to Finland?
When you have a valid residence permit to Finland and you lose your Finnish residence permit card or it is stolen or it expires while you are abroad, you may apply for a D visa to return to Finland. To apply for a D visa you must visit a Finnish mission in person and present proof of your having reported the loss to the relevant authorities of the country where the card was lost or stolen.