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Travelling abroad? Remember to use the Foreign Ministry’s services for peace of mind

Ministry for Foreign Affairs 17.1.2020 9.20
Press release

When Finns travel abroad, the majority of trips go according to plan. In 2019, approximately 251,000 people registered their travel details at matkustusilmoitus.fi, a service maintained by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The most common travel destinations registered were Spain, Thailand and Turkey. In the event of a crisis situation of some kind, the Ministry sends information and guidance to those who had submitted travel details indicating they could be in the area affected. In 2019, there were 142 such crisis situations, most of which involved natural disasters.

We recommend that before you travel, you check the Ministry's travel information for details about your destination. These travel advice bulletins cover 157 countries and provide important information on travel safety. If you submit your travel details on matkustusilmoitus.fi before your trip, the Ministry will then be able to contact you if any crisis situation arises. The service is free.

“You should make it a regular habit before each trip abroad that you read the relevant travel bulletin, file a travel notification and take out travel insurance. In particular, it's worth being prepared for dealing with unexpected events and thinking about what you should do in such instances,” says Antti Putkonen, Director of the Consular Affairs Unit. “You should always remember that things may be done differently in other countries, and there may be administrative considerations concerning such things as the validity period on your passport,” Putkonen notes.

In 2019, almost 251,000 travellers registered at matkustustilmoitus.fi. The number of notifications has remained around the same level in the past few years. Crises or other emergencies can occur anywhere in the world. The Ministry is able to send information and advice to you in such cases if you have submitted your travel details. In 2019, this was done in a total of 142 crises and emergencies. A text message is sent to the phone number given in the travel notification. The majority of the messages were sent because of a natural disaster or exceptional weather conditions.

In most cases, of course, travelling abroad goes according to plan. However, if consular assistance is needed, the primary duty of Finnish diplomatic missions is to give advice and help people handle matters independently. “Unfortunately, you may also fall ill or become a victim of a crime, which is why comprehensive travel insurance should be taken out to provide security. Embassies and consulates will help you if necessary, issuing a new passport for example, but travel insurance provides important security in a great many situations,” Putkonen says. In 2019, Finnish missions abroad issued 19,046 new passports and 2,787 identity cards.

Figures show that advisory services were provided in 2019 more than ever before, but this is partly explained by more accurate statistics. In 2019, approximately 87,400 of the nearly 91,000 registered consular cases involved provision of advice. People in distress abroad get in touch with the Finnish diplomatic missions or contact the Ministry directly or its 24/7 Service Centre (+358 9 160 55555). The Service Centre handles requests for consular assistance received by Finland's missions abroad outside their office hours. 

In 2019, the Foreign Ministry’s Unit for Consular Assistance assisted in the repatriation of 593 deceased persons. Compared to previous years, there was a decrease in the number of victims of crime (121) and those in need of assistance in the event of illness (394), and in the number of arrested and detained Finns (221). In such situations, too, comprehensive travel insurance will make it easier to manage the situation. As in previous years, the majority of consular cases were recorded in Spain, Germany, Estonia, Thailand and Sweden, which are the countries most frequently visited by Finns.

More information: Antti Putkonen, Director, Unit for Consular Assistance. tel. +358 295 350126 or Henna Harju, Team Leader, tel. +358 295 350333. The Foreign Ministry’s email addresses are in the format [email protected]

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