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Customs control

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Frequently asked questions on customs control


According to the Water Traffic Act, Customs has exactly the same powers as the Police. According to the Customs Act, Customs can also stop a person arriving in or leaving the country, discuss with the person and, when necessary, perform a customs inspection.

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No. Before the vehicle is scanned, the driver assures Customs in writing that there is no one in the vehicle. Nevertheless, the radiation dose received during a scan is so small as not to pose any danger to humans. A normal medical x-ray examination gives a higher radiation dose to a patient.

Customs does not under any circumstances scan people. Customs can order a person to undergo a bodily search that is performed in the form of an x-ray examination. The x-ray examination of a person is a medical procedure and is always undertaken under the supervision of a doctor.

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To carry out a customs inspection of a person does not require any evidence or suspicion of any offence. The selection is based on a risk assessment or other observation made by Customs.

According to a decision by the Parliamentary Ombudsman, stopping a person and discussing with him or her does not yet constitute a customs inspection.

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In Finland, filming and photography in public places is allowed. In authorities’ facilities to which the public does not have free access, filming and photography is not allowed. This means that it is allowed in a passenger terminal but not in Customs’ inspection facilities. When filming or taking photographs, do remember the privacy protection of people.

Customs supervises and controls arriving and departing goods and travellers. Customs supervises the compliance with time limits concerning imports of tobacco products and nicotine liquids in connection with other customs enforcement through control measures aimed the flows of vehicles and travellers in different traffic types.

Section 66 of the Tobacco Act provides for the time limits on imports of tobacco products and nicotine liquids by travellers from non-EEA countries. The time limits are implemented to prevent illegal trade in tobacco products, and to prevent the entry into the Finnish market of tobacco products that are in violation of the Tobacco Products Directive.

Read more: Bringing back tobacco products from travels 


Customs controls alcohol brought in by travellers from within the EU and can inspect such alcohol. Even when you can take the alcohol products with you after the inspection, the inspection may lead to tax consideration. As of 1 January 2017, the tax consideration will be performed by the Tax Administration. When necessary, the Tax Administration may contact you, and you have the responsibility to account for the purpose of use of the alcohol products even after the import.

According to section 103 of the Act on Excise Duty, Customs has the right to detain excise products if there is any ambiguity about for example the liability to pay taxes, taxability, application of excise regulations or the purpose of import, or if there is some other justified reason for detaining the goods.

Excise duty is levied on products imported for some other purpose than a private person’s personal use. As of 1 January 2017, the Tax Administration is responsible for the taxation. If Customs has detained excise products you have brought in, wait for the Tax Administration to contact you.


When assessing if goods brought to Finland by a private person are meant for personal use or for commercial or other occupational purposes, the assessment focuses on:

  • the commercial status of the person possessing the goods and the reasons for possessing the goods
  • the location of the goods and the method of transport
  • documents relating to the goods, the nature and quantity of the goods and
  • other comparable relevant matters.

 (Act on Excise Duty, section 72)

The law uses the term “reasonably prove”. In Customs' instructions the terms used are “explanation” or “account”. 

In practice, when the passenger arrives in the country with their alcohol, they do not have to do anything, unless the customs officer specifically asks.

But if, at the time of entry into the country, the customs officer asks what the alcohol that exceeds the guideline limits will be used for, then a free-form oral explanation or report is usually enough. The customs officer may ask more specific questions in response to the passenger’s explanation or report. The quantity and quality of the products may be checked as well as the passenger’s ID and their contact information. No written material will have to be presented or written up, but that does not prevent the passenger from presenting such material. In most cases, the discussion with the customs officer and verification of the quantity brought into the country is sufficient.

In some instances, the passenger might be required to present additional information in written form; adhering to the instructions in the request for additional information.


Any questions?

Contact Customs Information Mon–Fri 8 am–4.15 pm

Please have a look at the frequently asked questions.

If you have a question about the arrival of parcels, its contents or the handling fee, please contact Posti.

Customs Information Service