Helsinki Travel Information
Local time is GMT +2 (GMT +3 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Standard European two-pin plugs are in use.
Finnish and Swedish share status as Finland's official languages. Sami is spoken by the isolated population group in Lapland. English is taught at schools and is widely understood.
There are no health risks associated with travel to Finland. Visitors to the Aland Islands in the summer months should be cautious of tick-borne encephalitis. A tetanus-diphtheria vaccine is recommended for all travellers who have not received one within the last 10 years. Tap water is safe to drink in Finland. Medical care is of a good standard and medication is easy to find. British, and other EU nationals, should ensure they take a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which entitles citizens to emergency medical treatment on the same terms as Finnish citizens. Comprehensive travel insurance is advised.
Tips are not expected in Finland because a service charge is generally added to restaurant, bar and hotel bills, but customers often choose to round up the bill when paying in cash. Taxi drivers also appreciate any small change or coins that are added to round up the fare.
Crime levels are low in Finland and visitors can be assured of a trouble-free vacation. Drug offences and drinking and driving are dealt with very harshly. The main danger in the country is driving during the winter months, when icy roads are a hazard and cars must be fitted with snow tyres.
A Finnish way of life, the sauna is a popular activity in Finland, so expect to encounter one. Words are taken seriously in Finland and people are held to what they say, so think before you speak.
Business is conducted formally in Finland. A formal, understated sense of dress is important. Punctuality is also very important in Finland and being late is considered rude. Appointments should always be made and confirmed. Meetings are often strictly business and are not often over lunch. Finns do not require a strong relationship prior to doing business, and business often takes place over the phone, fax and via e-mail. However, the sauna is an important part of the culture and it is not unusual for business to be discussed in this environment on a more sociable level. Finns are very direct and prefer getting straight to the point. Often a verbal agreement may hold. At meetings business cards are exchanged and should have, on the alternate side, details in Finnish. Business hours are generally 8am to 4.15pm Monday to Friday.
The international country dialling code for Finland is +358. The outgoing code is 00, 990, 994 or 999, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). The city code for Helsinki is (0)9. Mobile phone networks cover much of the country; the network operators use GSM networks, which are compatible with most international mobile operators. Besides public telephone booths and hotels, calls can be made from post and tele offices. Internet cafes are available in major towns and cities. For international telephone enquires visitors should call 020208, and for local enquiries dial 020202.
Travellers to Finland arriving from the EU can enter Finland without restrictions on the quantity of purchases, provided they have been bought in the EU for personal consumption or as gift items. No restrictions are placed on meat and dairy products. Some restrictions may apply to selected tobacco products. Travellers over 17 years arriving from non-EU countries are allowed to bring in the following items without incurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes, or 100 cheroots, or 50 cigars, or 250g of tobacco. Travellers over 20 years can bring in 1 litre of spirits with maximum 22% alcohol content, or 2 litres of fortified or sparkling wine not exceeding 22% alcohol content, and 2 litres of non-sparkling wine and 16 litres of beer; perfume up to 50g and 250ml of eau de toilette; and other goods for personal consumption to the value of €175.
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