People walk across bridges linking terminals of Changi International Airport in Singapore on May 13, 2022. LEHTIKUVA / AFP


You are going on a trip abroad and your mind revolves around the weather at the destination and around what to pack. At this stage, few people think about the return trip. However, at the latest when you leave for home, it is good to be aware that you can’t bring back whatever you want to Finland. Before travelling, you should learn in advance about import restrictions and prohibitions to avoid unpleasant surprises when you arrive at customs.

Many products can only be imported in restricted quantities, while some require a licence or may even be prohibited. If you are bringing medicines or pets with you or the aim is to buy different products such as tobacco products or expensive things at the destination, you should prepare in advance by reading Customs’ instructions. It also depends on from which country you are arriving in Finland.

- Our advice to a person travelling is simple: read in advance about the import restrictions and prohibitions, for example on Customs’ website. This way, you can avoid unpleasant surprises, says Senior Customs Officer Nadja Painokallio.

Do I have to declare my purchases? The country of departure and how you travel are of importance

From the customs and fiscal territories of the EU, you can import goods you have purchased for your own personal use without having to pay customs duty or tax. However, the importation of certain goods such as medicines and tobacco products is restricted or prohibited.

If you arrive in Finland by car or train from outside the EU, you can bring in goods worth a maximum of 300 euros without having to pay duty and tax. If you arrive by air or by sea, you may bring in purchases worth no more than 430 euros without having to pay duty and tax. The right is personal, and the value of a single purchase cannot be divided between travel companions. However, these value limits do not apply to alcohol or cigarettes; rather there are time limits and quantitative restrictions on the tax-free import of these products.

What happens if something inappropriate was left in the suitcase?

If the traveller carries excess goods that are under import restriction or any goods under a complete import prohibition, they can be surrendered to Customs on the traveller’s own initiative. In such cases, the red channel is chosen at the port or airport.

- If you’re unsure, choose the red channel. Then you can ask the customs officers for advice – we are happy to help you, says Painokallio.

If the traveller has chosen the green or blue channel and customs officers find goods in the traveller’s possession that are subject to tax or under import restrictions or prohibitions, then Customs can detain or seize such goods. Double tax may have to be paid on the goods, or the traveller might even be suspected of a customs offence, so it pays to be careful.

The import restrictions and conditions should be checked in advance for at least the following products:

  • Medicines and medicinal substances
    • From outside the EEA, you may bring in for your own personal use, medicinal products in a quantity corresponding to no more than three months’ use. Don’t forget the prescriptions.
  • Tobacco products
    • The restrictions on the tobacco products travellers can bring in vary from product to product and depending on whether the imports are taxable or tax-free. These imports can also be subject to restrictions concerning journey time and the mode of transport.
  • Dairy, meat and fish products
    • You can’t bring in to Finland meat or dairy products from outside the EU. This includes sandwiches.
  • Plants
    • You can’t bring in most species of plants or plant products to Finland from outside the EU territory without a phytosanitary certificate. Please note that the restriction also applies to Norway.
  • Pets
    • If you arrive in Finland with a dog, cat or ferret, you must be aware of the entry requirements and make sure that your animal fulfils them. Please note that the entry requirements depend on the country from which you arrive in Finland.
  • Cash
    • There are no prohibitions or restrictions on importing cash to Finland. However, if you are carrying 10 000 euros or more in euros or other currencies you must fill in a customs declaration.
  • Endangered species and derivative products, such as caviar or orchids
    • Bringing in CITES products to Finland is either prohibited or requires a permit from the Finnish Environment Institute. CITES products can only be brought in through specific border crossing points.

More information on import restrictions on the Customs website and our leaflet.

Source: Finnish Customs