Finland is an EU country known for its high level and alternative methods of education as well as for being one of the world leaders in the production of cell phones. The country is situated in the far northeast of the European continent, bordering Schengen Norway to the north and separated from Sweden and Estonia (also Schengen Countries) by the Gulf of Bothnia and the Baltic Sea, respectively.
The north of its territory covers part of Lapland, mountainous and semi-desert region inhabited by Lapps, traditional reindeer herders. Located beyond the Arctic Circle, this region is also famous for the aurora borealis. Conifer forests cover two-thirds of Finland’s surface, providing one of the most developed wood and paper industries in the world.
This Scandinavian nation also shares an extensive border and centuries of common history with Russia. After a hit by the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, the country recovered economically after joining the European Economic Community, now the European Union (EU), in 1995.
With a vast sparsely populated area, tourism in Finland is marked by adventure activities and natural beauty. In summer, when periods of daylight extend to 18 hours, it is worth exploring the wild Lapland or the Alan Islands. However, in order to get to know Finland, a good idea is to start with Helsinki. The capital has a vibrant cultural scene and is full of pleasant parks, museums as well as the Suomenlinna citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Since the transport network in Finland is excellent, it is easy to travel to visit cities like Turku, Tampere, Savonlinna, and Kupio. However, no trip to Finland is complete until watching an ice hockey match, tasting a smoked salmon sandwich, or getting beaten by birch twigs in an 80 ° C sauna before plunging into a freezing pool.
Finland is becoming a popular destination among American travellers who choose to explore Scandinavia. Moreover, because it is part of the Schengen Area, Americans travelling from one of Finland’s Schengen neighbours – such as Sweden, Norway, or Estonia – don’t need to apply for a visa.
Finland has been a part of the European Union since 1995 and together with its Scandinavian neighbours (Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, and Norway), the country signed the Schengen Agreement in 1996. However, it only became an official part of the Schengen Territory in 2001, when border-control systems with other the Member States were abolished.
Finland has been involved in all political discussions taken by the European Commission, and after the outburst of terrorist attacks in across the Schengen Area in 2015, the Finnish government has supported the creation of new immigration policies. Hence, when the ETIAS was suggested as a way to control illegal immigration and improve internal security, Finland stood by it.
Although the ETIAS has been approved by the majority of EU members, this new pre-travel system will not commence in Finland until 2021. Until then, nationals of visa-exempt countries like Canada, Australia, or Brazil, may continue to visit Finland and the Schengen Area without applying for a visa or authorization. However, starting in 2021 Americans and all other citizens of countries enrolled in the Schengen visa-waiver agreement will need to bear a valid ETIAS when travelling to Europe.
The European Travel Information and Authorization System will be valid across all Schengen Member States, allowing visa-exempt passport holders to stay and transit in Europe for up to 90 days in every period of 180 days. Essentially, the rules for travel will not change, only as of 2021 visitors will have to go through an electronic identification process prior to arriving in EU territory.