Preparation for a crisis abroad

Before you decide to travel, consider the security of the place of destination.  You can get information to support your decision from the websites and travel advice of Finnish missions abroad. Crises may erupt unexpectedly. To make sure that the mission can help you in the event of a crisis abroad, submit a travel notification before you leave.

Finnish missions help Finnish citizens abroad in emergencies. A hut in Khao Lak, Thailand, a couple of months after the tsunami in 2004. Photo: Vesa Häkkinen

What is a crisis?

A crisis is a major imminent danger threatening the safety of Finnish citizens abroad.  Examples include: major disaster, natural disaster, environmental accident, political unrest, internal confrontations between population groups, or a state of war.

A crisis may develop slowly or erupt very suddenly. In crisis situations, Finland cooperates with the other Nordic countries and the member states of the European Union.

The responsibilities of the authorities of the country of destination in crisis situations

In accordance with the international law, the authorities of the country of destination are, as a rule, responsible for not only of the safety of their own citizens but also for the safety of foreigners staying in their territory. As a traveller, you must in the first place follow and observe the instructions provided by the authorities of the country of destination.

The capacity of the country of destination to take care of the safety of its citizens or foreigners may, for various reasons, be limited.

Travel organisers assist travellers on a package tour

The travel organisers have the duty to assist their customers. In accordance with the Package Travel Act (Valmismatkalaki 1079/1994), the organiser has the duty to assist the traveller in the procurement of medical care or repatriation and in the clarification of an offence or loss or injury and other necessary measures.

Independent travellers take responsibility for their own decisions

Independent travellers and other travellers that are not covered by the Package Travel Act take responsibility for their own decisions concerning their travel and for expenses caused by accidents during their travels. Take out a comprehensive travel insurance and keep it in force.

How and who do Finnish missions abroad help in the event of a crisis?

Finnish missions are obligated to assist people in distress abroad. The majority of the services are designed primarily for persons staying abroad temporarily on holiday or on business. Some of the services can be used by Finnish citizens with a permanent residence abroad.

However, as a rule, the authorities of a person's country of residence are responsible for the basic services in society also in the event of a crisis.

In a crisis, the mission's capacity to assist people in distress may be limited. In that case, the mission assists to the extent it is possible. The mission's possible assistance measures are directed to the person, not possessions.

The services of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Finnish missions abroad in crisis situations are based on the Consular Service Act (Konsulipalvelulaki 498/1999)(Link to another website.) (Opens New Window), which lists the services that the Finnish missions abroad can provide for the people in distress.

Travel advice

The missions post regular updates of the travel advice applying to their area to the Foreign Ministry website and their own websites. In the event of a crisis, updates are made whenever any changes take place.

  • Persons living in a crisis area should, in the first place, follow information provided by the local authorities, but also the mission's website to obtain updates and instructions.
  • The missions that have their own Facebook and/or Twitter accounts inform via them about, for example, sudden changes in the situation in the country/area.

Preparedness plans

Each Finnish mission makes a preparedness plan in which they specify detailed measures to be taken in the event of a crisis in the area.   The preparedness plan can be published on the mission's website or sent in writing to the Finns residing in the country who have registered with the mission.

The preparedness plan includes, for example:

  • important contact details
  • assembly areas
  • evacuation instructions together with a list of essential materials

Sending you contact details

If you live abroad on a permanent basis, we recommend that you inform your contact details to the mission and to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The easiest way to do this is to submit a travel notification: to another website.).

Registration of Finns abroad

Finnish citizens who are travelling or moving abroad can use the service to send their itinerary and contact details to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.  In an emergency or crisis, the Ministry can contact persons who have left their registration.  It is advisable to register especially in case you are travelling to a risk-prone region. to another website.)

To find out more:Registration of Finns abroad

We maintain the travel notification register in order to ensure that in the event of an actual or imminent crisis, we can as rapidly as possible, contact people in need of assistance in the crisis area, which may be in the consular district of the mission.

Does the mission contact travellers in a crisis situation?

The mission seeks to contact those who have submitted a travel notification in crisis situations that call for measures, such as transfer to a more secure area. Travellers are encouraged to contact the mission whenever they notice anything indicative of a crisis in their place of destination.

The mission can assist in the organisation of evacuation from the crisis area to the nearest safe region or repatriation if the protection of affected persons' safety requires such measures. Evacuation is always voluntary and takes place  at the expense of the person assisted. In a crisis that develops slowly, it is advisable to leave the region independently when the regular means of communication still function.

The mission also assists travellers in their essential communication with the next of kin at home and informs the Ministry for Foreign Affairs about Finnish citizens in the crisis area and about developments there.

Country information

You can get information about different countries on the missions' websites and in the travel advice. Other countries' travel advice and travel organisers are other useful sources of information about the place of destination.

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