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Driving in Finland


Driving in Finland can be a lot of fun. Provided you do it at the right time of year, the rugged landscape can be a pleasure to behold from the snug comfort of your car. If you were to bring your own car to Finland, it's advisable to have a Green Card as proof of insurance. More detailed information about driving in Finland can be obtained from the Automobile and Touring Club of Finland (Tel: (09) 7258-4400).

Though roads are generally good, there can be problems with melting snow, usually during April and May in the south and during June in the far north. The speed limit is 40-60 kph in built up areas, 100 kph on major roads, 120kph on motorways. Generally, the basic limit is 80 kph. Other rules of the road include using headlights when driving outside built-up areas and the compulsory wearing of seatbelts by drivers and all passengers. As elsewhere in Scandinavia, there are severe penalties if you get caught while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Warning signs of elk crossing the road should be taken seriously as elk abound and often come to the roads. Collisions involving these very large animals are often serious.

Renting a car in Finland is expensive. Prices are typically 60-100 euros per day. You need a valid driving licence, at least a year's driving experience, and to be aged at least between 19 and 25, depending on the car rental company.

Petrol is readily available all over the country, but many stations are not only self-service, but unmanned, meaning credit card payment is necessary.

Driving Licence

Finnish driving licences come in various categories. The most common are class B (passenger cars) and BC licenses (trucks). To obtain a Finnish licence, you must be 18 and pass a driving test. You must be 21 to be eligible for a BCE licence (tractor trailers) or BCD licence (buses).

It is possible to obtain a BCE licence earlier:

  • at the age of 18, provided that you have had the minimum of lessons required by the Ministry of Transport; or
  • at the age of 19 by passing the driving test in the Finnish Armed Forces.

An A1 licence (light motorcycle) can be issued to a 16-year-old, but for a class A motorcycle licence you must be 18. To obtain a Finnish licence, you must pass a driving test and a written examination, of which both will be taken in companies specialised in driver’s examinations. There are such companies all over Finland. Most people prepare for their drivers’ examination by taking lessons at a driving school, although private tutoring is also allowed if the teacher has the required permit. Finnish driving schools are run privately. The cost of lessons varies by district and the number of lessons required. You must also pass an examination to obtain a licence for a motorcycle or any other vehicle. The examination varies by class of vehicle.

Foreign Driving Licences

A foreign driving licence is valid in Finland if you are driving as a tourist (and are a permanent resident elsewhere), though for no longer than twelve months. All driving licences issued in EEA countries are valid in Finland. You do not need to exchange your existing licence for a Finnish one. If you wish, you may do so without having to pass a test.

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