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A Guide to Lapland in Winter: Visas & Immigration

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Unlike languages and money, visas across Norway, Sweden, and Finland are uniform and straightforward, since all three countries are part of the Schengen zone. This means border crossings are easy because they are no longer patrolled. If you’re not familiar with the Schengen visa, read on to find out what restrictions will be put on you and how long you can stay in the Schengen zone.

Visas

The Schengen agreement lets you stay in the Schengen zone for a total of 90 out of every 180 days. This zone includes:

Austria France Latvia Norway Sweden
Belgium Germany Liechtenstein Poland Switzerland
Czech Republic Greece Lithuania Portugal
Denmark Hungary Luxembourg Slovenia
Estonia Iceland Malta Slovakia
Finland Italy The Netherlands Spain

 

Notice the inclusion of countries like Norway and Switzerland and the exclusion of countries like the UK and Ireland. That’s because the Schengen zone actually includes a different set countries than the EU.

Finnish Border Control

A very well-used Finnish Border Control hut at Kaaresuvanto. And by that, I mean it had been closed up for quite a while.

It’s important to note the following about this visa:

Many countries are eligible for visa-less entry, meaning you will not have to fill out a visa application prior to arrival. Citizens of these countries will have their eligibility assessed at immigration in the country where they enter the Schengen zone.

Other countries are eligible for a three-month visa with the same restrictions, but you have to apply for it from the country that is your main destination (in this case, one of Norway, Sweden, or Finland). An up-to-date list of these countries is available on the official Europa.eu website.

You do not have to enter and leave from the same port, or even the same country. Feel free to fly in to Tromsø and out of Helsinki. Or in to Rovaniemi and out of Stockholm.

Unlike languages and money, visas across Norway, Sweden, and Finland are uniform, since all three countries are part of the Schengen zone. This means border crossings are easy because they are no longer patrolled.

This is the stamp you will receive from entering/leaving a country in the EU. It has the name of the airport, an arrow saying whether you entered or left, and the country code.

You need to keep track of your time in the zone. No one else will do this for you, and you’ll be the one at fault if you overstay your 90 days. The Scandinavian countries are often quite good at enforcing this rule too so you could be subject to questioning or deportation if you’re found to have overstayed.

You need to verify that you have a legible passport stamp showing your entry date into the EU. If you don’t, you could have issues with border control in the country from which you depart. This could include questioning all the way up to banning from the entire 26-member zone for a period of time.

You should make sure that you have at least 6 months passport validity before trying to enter the zone. Failing to do so — regardless of travel plans — may result in you being blocked from boarding planes into the zone or being turned around once you arrive at immigration.

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