Doing Business In Finland

Visa Information

A valid passport or EU identity card is required to enter Finland. Most Western nationals don't need a tourist visa for stays of less than three months; South Africans need a Schengen visa. For more information contact the nearest Finnish embassy or consulate, or the Directorate of Immigration (09-4765 500;; Panimokatu 2A, 00580 Helsinki).
Russian & estonian visas
All foreigners require a visa to travel into Russia from Finland. Russian visas take about eight working days to process in Helsinki (you must leave your passport at the embassy) so you may want to get one before leaving home. Helsinki tour companies specializing in travel to Russia can usually expedite a visa much quicker, but for a fee.
European citizens and most Western nationals don't require a visa for a short stay in Estonia, but citizens of South Africa do (a valid Latvian or Lithuanian visa is valid). Check out the website of the Estonian Foreign Ministry (

Business Etiquette

Relationships & Communication

. Finns are transactional and do not need long-standing personal relationships in order to conduct business. 
. The basic business style is formal - i.e. there is relatively little small talk and Finns prefer people to speak succinctly and to focus purely on business. 
. Finns do not require face-to- face contact and, in fact, are quite comfortable using e- mail. 
. Finns are excellent time managers who prefer to organize their workday in order to accomplish as much as possible. 
. Finns are interested in long- term relationships. 
. Relationship building often takes place outside the office: in a restaurant or the sauna.
. Never turn down an invitation to use the sauna, as it is an entrenched part of the Finnish culture.
. Finns place a great value on speaking plainly and openly.
. What someone says is accepted at face value and this is a culture where "a man's word is his bond" and will be treated as seriously as a written contract, so verbal commitments are considered agreements.
. Finns are direct communicators. Expect your colleagues to tell you what they think rather than what you want to hear. 
. Professional differences are not viewed as personal attacks. 

Business Meeting Etiquette

. Appointments are necessary and should be made in advance by telephone, e- mail, or fax. 

. It is extremely difficult to meet with people without a formal appointment. 
. Do not schedule meetings between June and August as many Finns take vacation during the summer. 
. You should arrive at meetings on time or slightly early. 
. Telephone immediately if you will be detained more than 5 minutes. Being punctual is a sign of respect and efficiency. 
. Expect a bare minimum of small talk, if any, before getting into the business discussion. 
. Send an agenda before the meeting as well as the biographies of your team. 
. Meetings begin and end on time. 
. Avoid hype, exaggerated claims, or bells and whistles in your presentation.
. Finns seldom ask questions. The presenter is expected to make his/her case with sufficient detail that their Finnish colleagues do not need to ask questions. 
. There is no taboo on humour in the business environment. 

Dress Etiquette

. Business attire is stylish and conservative. 
. Men should wear dark coloured, conservative business suits. 
. Women should wear conservative business suits, trouser suits, or dresses. 

Business Card Etiquette

. Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual. 
. Present your business card so it is readable to the recipient. 
. Treat someone's business card with respect as it symbolizes the way you will treat them.

General Business Hours