In Finland, distances are long, but public transport works well and the roads are in good condition. In Finland, you drive on the right. People with driving licences issued abroad are usually allowed to drive in Finland, but in some situations such licences must be exchanged for a Finnish driving licence. This page contains information on public transport, the use of your own car and driving licences in Finland.
Public transport works well in Finland. You can travel almost anywhere in Finland by train or bus. You can also reach many cities by air. In addition, the largest cities and their neighbouring areas usually have well organised local public transport. Buses are normally used for local transport.
The railway traffic in Finland is handled by VR. You can buy a ticket for a train on VR’s website, VR Matkalla app, a ticket vending machine or ticket point at a railway station, by phone at VR’s customer service or at R-kiosks. Information on train timetables is available on VR’s website and at railway stations.
There are many bus companies in Finland. You can buy a ticket for a long-distance bus, or coach, on Matkahuolto’s website, Routes and Tickets app, Bus Tickets app, Matkahuolto offices or from the driver. Information on bus timetables can be found on the Matkahuolto website and at Matkahuolto offices.
Discounts on train and bus tickets are available to
- conscripts in military and civil service
You can plan a travel route that suits you, for example, in Traficom’s Matka.fi service.
Finland has 21 airports. The largest is Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Many airlines offer flights from Finland to foreign countries. Most of the foreign flights depart from Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.
Driving in Finland
Buying and operating a car in Finland is fairly expensive. Cars in good condition cost several thousands of euros. Many expenses are related to the ownership and use of a car, such as
- insurance policies
- maintenance and repair
- car taxes
If you own a car, you must take out a motor insurance policy (liikennevakuutus). A motor insurance policy can be obtained from an insurance company.
In Finland, cars must be inspected and registered. Vehicle inspections are conducted by inspection stations. Registrations are carried out at inspection stations, insurance companies and car dealerships, for example. You can also register a vehicle online on Traficom's website.
The Finnish law requires cars to have winter tyres in the winter. You can use either studded or snow tyres. A car with studded tyres is easier to handle on a slippery road. However, you cannot use studded tyres in the summer.
In Finland, traffic rules must be observed carefully. The police enforce adherence to the traffic rules. You can get fined for breaking the traffic rules.
Driving any motor vehicle is a crime if the driver is intoxicated (alcohol or drugs).
LiikenneturvaDriving in FinlandLink redirects to another website
ExpatFinland.comCars and driving in FinlandLink redirects to another website
Using a foreign car in Finland
If you bring a car from abroad to Finland, you must take care of the car’s insurance, registration and tax matters.
If you are permanently residing in Finland
If you are permanently residing in Finland or your residence in Finland becomes permanent, you must pay car tax on your car and register your car in Finland. If you import a car from outside the EU customs and fiscal territory (or from outside the EU fiscal territory), it must also be cleared through customs in Finland.
When bringing your car to Finland:
- Make a customs declaration for the car if you import it from outside the EU customs and fiscal territory of from outside the EU fiscal territory.
- Obtain a transfer permit for the car if it does not have a valid registration of an EU or EEA country.
- Ensure that the car is covered by a motor insurance policy that is valid in Finland.
- Make a commissioning notification to the Tax Administration before you start using the car.
- File a car tax return to the Tax Administration and pay the car tax.
- Take the car to an inspection station for a registration inspection and register the car.
More information on bringing a car to Finland is available on the websites of Finnish Customs and the Tax Administration.
If you are permanently residing abroad
You do not need to pay car tax or register your car in Finland if you are not permanently residing in Finland. This means, for example, tourists, students and those working in Finland temporarily and for a short time.
As a tourist, you can usually use your car tax-free in Finland for up to six months over a 12-month period if all of the following conditions are met:
- You are not permanently residing in Finland.
- Your car is registered abroad.
- Your car has a motor insurance policy valid in Finland.
Employees and students who are not permanently residing in Finland may also have the right to use their car tax-free in Finland. Read the rules on the tax-free use of a car on the Finnish Customs’ website.
If your residence in Finland becomes permanent, you must clear the car through customs in Finland (if you have imported it from outside the EU customs and fiscal territory or from outside the EU fiscal territory), register the car in Finland and pay the car tax.
More information about the temporary use of a car imported from abroad in Finland is available on the Finnish Customs’ website.
Finnish transport and communications agency TraficomInformation on how to register a vehicleLink redirects to another website
Finnish transport and communications agency TraficomVehicle inspectionLink redirects to another website
Finnish transport and communications agency TraficomInformation on vehicle taxationLink redirects to another website
Finnish Transport and Communications Agency TraficomImporting a vehicle to FinlandLink redirects to another website
Tax AdministrationTax-free use of a foreign vehicleLink redirects to another website
Tax AdministrationImporting a vehicle into FinlandLink redirects to another website
You can only drive a car in Finland if you have a valid driving licence.
Foreign driving licences in Finland
All driving licences issued in countries recognised by Finland are accepted in Finland. A foreign driving licence is not accepted if the holder was living in Finland when the licence was issued.
Your driving licence must be written in Roman letters, or you must also carry a Finnish, Swedish or English translation.
If you have a driving licence issued in an EU or EEA member state, you can use it in Finland for as long as it is valid. You can exchange it for a Finnish driving licence if you are residing in Finland permanently. A licence entitling the owner to drive a passenger car must be exchanged for a Finnish licence within two years of its expiry.
If you have a driving licence issued in a non-EU country that is party to the Geneva or Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, the licence is valid in Finland for two years. Exchanging a foreign driving licence for a Finnish one is possible when you are permanently residing in Finland. Once you have moved to live permanently in Finland, you have two years to exchange your driving licence for a Finnish driving licence. Your driving licence must be valid at the time you exchange it. If you do not exchange your licence in time or your licence is no longer valid, you need to complete a driving test (theoretical and practical tests) in Finland.
If you have a driving licence from a country that is not party to the Geneva or Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, the licence is valid in Finland for one year after you have been entered into the Finnish Population Information System. After that, you need to complete a driving test in Finland if you want to continue driving.
You can apply to exchange your driving licence for a Finnish driving licence at an Ajovarma service point. Book an appointment in advance through Ajovarma’s website.
Getting a driving licence in Finland
Before you can get a driving licence, you must take part in driving training and take a driving test.
A motorcycle licence is required to ride a motorcycle.
If you do not have a driving licence, riding a moped requires a moped licence.