According to the new regulation announced at the end of January 2018 by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, since February 1st 2018, all driving licences issued in countries recognised by Finland are accepted for driving at the Finnish mainland.
This means that when you arrive, your home-issued licence will give you entitlement to drive in Finland if it is still valid in the issuing state. Therefore, the licence can be used as long as it is not expired and as long as the owner has not lost the right to use it in the country of origin for whatever reason.
Besides that, another important requirement has been established: the information contained in the licence must be written in Latin alphabet and must indicate the right to drive or include an official translation into Finnish or Swedish.
In order to prevent driving licence tourism, the new regulation establishes a basic requirement: that the person’s habitual residence was not in Finland at the time of issuing the licence.
All this means in practice that since February 2018 foreign driving licences are more widely accepted since ever before. Still, the Finnish Traffic Authority (Trafi) states a few differences depending on the licence's country of issue. Those differences mainly affect to its period of validity and to the obligation (or not) to exchange it for a Finnish licence after some time.
EU and EEA member states
So far, a licence issued in a European Union or European Economic Area Member State (EEA) is valid in Finland for driving the same categories of vehicles marked on the licence within the period of its validity.
This applies regardless of whether the holder is visiting the country as a tourist or has moved permanently. A temporary driving licence issued in the Nordic countries is also valid in Finland.
Driving licences issued in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan or at any other country that has ratified the Geneva or Vienna Road Traffic Conventions (those are the so-called ‘Contracting States’) are valid also when visiting Finland as a tourist until the licence expires. If the holder moves permanently to Finland, the licence will be valid for a period of two years.
The information included in the Contracting States driving licences must be written in Latin alphabet or accompanied by a translation into Finnish or Swedish, by a reliable source or an international driving licence.
Those licences must be exchanged for a Finnish licence within two years of becoming a permanent resident in Finland and before they expire, in order to do it without a driving examination. If the driving licence has already expired or the holder has lived permanently in Finland for over two years, to pass a driving examination (theory and driving tests) will be mandatory to get a Finnish licence.
Other nations recognised by Finland
With regards to the rest of the world, driving licences issued in other nations recognized by Finland will be valid for driving categories A1, A2, A or B when visiting Finland as a tourist, unless the licence has expired.
For the case that the holder has moved to Finland permanently, a licence of this type is also valid for one year starting the date that the licence holder registered at the Finnish Population System, if didn´t expire during that time.
In this case, the information included in the foreign driving licence must be written in a Latin alphabet or accompanied by a translation into Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, English, German or French by a reliable source. The driver must also fulfil the current age and health requirements stated in Finland to drive a vehicle.
If your driving licence was not issued in an EU, EEA or Contracting State, to obtain a Finnish driving licence you will have to apply for a driving licence permit, prove that you fulfil the related terms and conditions and pass the driving examination.