If you get into trouble abroad, Finnish missions – embassies, consulates, and honorary consuls – provide assistance and advice. Local contacts and familiarity with customs and culture may speed up the management of one’s affairs in case problems arise.
Usually acute help from a mission is required when a misplaced passport needs to be replaced. Missions can also advise on money transfers, maintain contact with authorities, family members and insurance companies, and assist with retaining a defence counsel and an interpreter.
“We help Finnish people help themselves. Missions cannot lend out cash or pay for hospital or hotel bills”, Director Teemu Turunen from the Unit for Consular Assistance at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasises.
Also, Finnish missions cannot free Finns who have been arrested or detained in foreign countries. Consequently, travellers should observe local laws and official regulations.
Treatment gauges the value of travel insurance
Turunen urges travellers to take out travel insurance, read the Foreign Ministry’s travel bulletins, and file a travel notification with the Ministry.
“Half of all Finns still travel without travel insurance that pays compensation for personal injuries. Still, anyone can become ill or get into an accident abroad”.
“Travel insurance makes it easier to get treatment”. One should also remember that the daily rates of private hospitals abroad may be in the thousands of euros.
Be aware of the tricks employed by pickpockets
The Foreign Ministry’s missions regularly publish travel bulletins on 160 countries. They provide information about the general security situation, any natural conditions affecting travel safety, and political and cultural circumstances.
“I urge travellers to read travel bulletins before every trip. They may warn people about new tricks used by pickpockets in the destination country, for example”, Turunen states.
Travel bulletins are available on the website of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland (www.formin.fi).
Contact details for crisis situations
A travel notification means submitting your personal details, contact details during the trip, and information about the trip to the Foreign Ministry. Turunen hopes that doing so becomes a routine measure for all travellers.
“Travel notifications can be filled out quickly, and they make it much easier for us to act in crisis situations. We have used notifications to warn people in the Philippines of an imminent tsunami and holiday-makers in Egypt of the threat of a terrorist attack”.
Before going on a trip