How I saw the Northern Lights in Finland from a Gas Station
Due to a strange series of events, a 24h gas station in the middle of nowhere in Finland turned out to be the ideal base for chasing the northern lights!
Finland is another beautiful country that forms part of the Schengen Area. But, like all the other Schengen Member States, you may need a visa to enter.
The type of visa you need depends on the purpose of your trip.
Suppose you plan to visit the magical forest of Suomenlinna, marvel at the northern lights, or explore the historical castle of Olavinlinna. In that case, you need a Finland Tourist Visa.
Don't you mean Schengen Visa?
Well yes. The Finland Schengen Visa and Tourist Visa are the same visas. It all depends on what you like to call it. Nonetheless, this is the visa you'll need if you plan to visit Finland for tourism purposes.
In this post, I'll walk you through everything there is to know about the Finland Schengen/Tourist Visa. After this guide, you'll be able to easily apply for your next Finland Tourist Visa.
Here's what I'll cover:
Applying for visas takes time and effort. Sadly, not all of us have an abundant amount of time on our hands. So if you wish to save time and effort, I highly recommend using Atlys when applying for your Finland Schengen Visa.
It's easy to use and will automatically generate the required documents for you (like proof of accommodation, a flight itinerary, etc.). With Atlys, you'll be able to complete the entire application process within 10 minutes. Don't believe me? Try it yourself!
Before jumping into the visa application and its requirements, I'll address some general questions most travelers tend to have about the Finland Schengen Visa.
The Finland Schengen Visa, also known as the Tourist Visa, allows you to enter Finland for tourism purposes. Such purposes include vacation, site seeing, leisure, and so on.
Short business trips are also allowed under the Finland Schengen Visa. However, you can't work in the country. Acceptable business purposes include attending meetings, functions, meeting clients, etc.
If your trip to Finland does not include tourism or business, you need to apply for another type of visa.
The different types of Finland Visas include student visas, work visas, long-stay visas (like residence permits), and so on.
Quick note: Some travelers refer to the Finland Schengen Visa as the Finland Tourist Visa and short-stay visa. These terms refer to a visa that allows you to enter the country (the only difference being the name). In this post, I'll use both these terms.
Well, that depends on your home country.
Some nationals, like US citizens, enjoy something called a visa waiver program (visa-free travel). Simply put, nationals from countries that fall under the visa waiver program don't need to apply for a Schengen Visa when visiting Finland.
Citizens from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and the Schengen Area don't need a Schengen Visa to enter Finland. This is also true for citizens from the US, Canada, Australia, etc.
On the other hand, some nationals don't enjoy such visa-free benefits. Generally, most third-country (non-EU) citizens need to apply for a Finland Schengen Visa to visit the country.
If you're still unsure if you need a visa, you can visit the official government website for the most up-to-date information. Additionally, in the FAQ section below, I'll add a list of countries that enjoy visa-free travel to Finland.
The Schengen Visa will allow you to visit Finland for a maximum of 90 days within every 180-day period.
In some cases, you may only stay in Finland for the duration you specified in your visa application form. Therefore, always check the validity period on your visa sticker before traveling.
Overstaying your welcome in Finland can lead to heavy fines, jail time, and even a ban.
You can start your application at your nearest Finish Mission or Embassy. It's also possible to apply for your visa at an authorized Visa Application Centre.
I should mention that Honorary Consuls and Consulates cannot grant visas.
Unfortunately, some countries don't have a Finish Embassy or Consulate. But, not to worry, you can apply for your Schengen Visa at other Schengen Embassies.
Here's how it works:
Once you click on the link above, you'll be redirected to a new page. There you'll find a list of countries that don't have Finland representatives.
If your country is on that list, it means you need to apply at another Schengen Embassy. All you need to do is click on your country, and you'll find where you need to apply.
Let's take Botswana as an example.
As you can see, nationals from Botswana need to apply at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany within Botswana.
The processing time for your Finland Schengen Visa is normally around 15 business days. But, unfortunately, it can take as long as 45 days. This can be because of missing documents, incomplete application forms, or a sudden demand for Finland visas.
At the latest, you can start your visa application 15 days before your planned trip. Nevertheless, I don't suggest starting your application this late.
The earliest you can apply is 6 months before your trip. I recommend starting your application at least 3 months before traveling. Doing this will leave you enough time should something unexpected happen (like a longer visa processing time)
You can expect to pay the following fees for your Finland Schengen Visa:
For adults: 80 EUR
For children 6 - 12 years: 40 EUR
For children under 6 years: Free
You'll find that all Schengen Member States have their own minimum financial requirements when visiting. This requirement has been implemented to ensure that visitors have the financial means to support themselves during their stay.
If you plan to visit Finland, the minimum financial requirement is €30 per day. So, suppose you plan to visit Finland for 30 days, then you need to prove that you have a minimum of €900 available in your bank account (€30 x 30 days).
Remember, this is only the minimum amount. Your visa application will look much more compelling if you prove you have more finances.
You're allowed to travel to any Schengen States with your Finland Schengen Visa. Nonetheless, you need to clearly state that you plan to travel to other countries in your application.
You can visit the following Schengen Member States with your Finland Tourist Visa:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Now that you have a general understanding of the Finland Schengen Visa, we can look at its requirements and application process.
First, I'll briefly discuss the required documents and what you need to submit.
Quick note: As I just mentioned, I'll only briefly describe the required documents. If you're looking for a more detailed guide, you can find it here. The guide explains each requirement in detail.
Here are the documents you'll need to submit at the Embassy:
A complete and filled out Schengen Visa application form.
One passport photo of yourself. It must meet the requirements set out by Finland.
A valid passport or travel document. It must be valid for 3 months after the end of your trip and be issued no later than 10 years ago.
Schengen Travel Insurance/Medical Insurance that provides a minimum coverage of €30,000.
Proof of accommodation. This can be private accommodation, a rental agreement, hotel reservations, etc.
Proof of financial funds. You can present bank statements, paychecks, and so on.
A return flight ticket that proves you plan to return to your home country.
A cover letter explaining the purpose of your trip, what you plan to do, and when you'll return home. Basically, it just proves the purpose of your trip.
Covid requirements and protocols can change without notice. For this reason, I can't specify the exact documents you require as they might have already changed. So instead, use Atlys's COVID-19 tool to learn about the country requirements and what you need to enter Finland.
One thing I can include is that you must have fully recovered from COVID-19 in the past 6 months or be fully vaccinated against the virus. Keep in mind that only approved vaccinations will allow entry into Finland.
You won't be able to visit Finland with only a negative COVID-19 test result.
You now know the documents you need to submit for a successful Schengen Visa application. Next, I'll walk you through the steps you need to take when you start your application.
Start collecting the required documents first.
It's the most time-consuming part of the process. Doing this first will allow you to leave enough time for unexpected delays, such as collecting an incorrect document, finding accommodation, and so on.
When gathering all your required documents, make a list of what you need to get. It's the easiest way to keep track of the documents you've collected.
Ok, so you've got all the required documents.
Now start filling in the Schengen Visa application form. Remember, all the information you provide must be correct and accurate. After completing the application form, print and sign it.
Quick tip: Keep your passport close when filling out your visa application form. Always refer to your passport when entering your personal details.
Did you know:
Most visa applications get denied due to incorrect information on a visa application form. Here's a guide highlighting the mistakes you should avoid when applying for your Schengen Visa.
As I mentioned, not all countries have a local Finland representative. Therefore, you should always check where you need to apply before submitting your application.
When using Atlys to apply, you'll be informed where you need to apply without any effort from your side.
After you've determined where you need to apply, you must schedule a visa appointment.
Be mindful that you might not find an appointment time suitable to your needs. As a result, you may have to keep your schedule open for the next few weeks, or at least until you find an appointment.
But, why do I need an appointment?
You'll submit your required documents and attend a short in-person interview at your appointment. It's nothing to get stressed about. It's just standard protocol.
On the day of your appointment, you must travel to the Embassy. You'll attend an in-person interview with an embassy official or staff member there. Ensure that you answer all questions as truthfully as possible during your interview.
Quick tip: You can use your required documents to support your answers. For example, should they ask where you plan to stay in Finland, you can present your proof of accommodation.
After attending your interview and submitting your documents, you'll be requested to submit your biometric information.
It's just your fingerprints and a digital photo of yourself. This is not required if you've been to the Schengen Area in the last 59 months.
After completing steps 1 - 5, you're basically done. The only thing left is to wait for your visa to be processed. As mentioned, this can take between 15 - 45 days.
After it's processed, you'll receive feedback from the Embassy via email, a call, SMS, or your preferred contact method.
If your visa is approved, you can travel back to the Embassy to collect your passport. Attached inside, you'll find your brand new Finland Schengen Visa.
Now you know how to apply for your Finland Tourist Visa!
Ensure that you follow my exact steps, and you'll have your visa in no time. The final step is to make some unforgettable memories in Finland!
First, minors need to present the same documents like those mentioned in this post. Furthermore, they need to submit the following additional documents :
An application form signed by both parents.
A birth certificate.
Family court order – in cases where only one parent has full custody of the child.
Certified copies of ID/passport of both parents.
A notarized parental authorization signed by both parents/legal guardians if your child will be traveling alone.
If you have stepchildren - A letter from the mother or father that permits the children to travel with you.
Check this all-inclusive guide to learn the exact process of applying for a Schengen Visa for minors.
When visiting a friend in Finland, you need to include an invitation letter alongside your required documents. The letter must include the host's (your friend's) contact details and your details, such as name, date of birth, address, passport number, and purpose and length of visit.
Yes. It's possible to extend your visa, but only under specific circumstances. You need to have a valid and acceptable reason for requesting a visa extension. Check this guide on how you can extend your Schengen Visa.
Not at all. As long as you meet the visa requirements as well as the entry requirements, you'll receive your visa. The only "difficult" part of the Finland Schengen Visa application is finding out where you need to apply for your visa. As mentioned, not all countries have local Finnish representatives.
That depends on your home country. For example, suppose you reside in a country that enjoys the benefit of visa-free travel to Finland. In that case, you don't need to apply for a Finland Tourist Visa. In contrast, if you don't enjoy such benefits, you need to apply for a visa to enter Finlan
No. You need to submit your application in person and attend a short interview.
If your visa is denied, you can appeal the initial visa decision. The process can be tiresome and stressful. However, it's definitely worth it.
Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria
Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria
Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic
El Salvador, Estonia
Federated States of Micronesia, France
Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala
Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary
Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy
Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg
Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro
Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway
Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal
Republic of Cyprus, Romania
Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
Taiwan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu
Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay
Vanuatu, Vatican City, Venezuela
If your country is not on this list, you must apply for the Finland Schengen Visa to enter the country.