Freedom of movement

There are no laws concerning recreational scuba diving in Finland. In principle whoever can do it freely as one chooses. However, responsibility conscious dive centres, diving schools and clubs will require an internationally recognised diving certificate before selling or renting equipment, filling breathing gas, or selling a dive trip.

The basic assumption is that no special permits are needed for boating, swimming, scuba diving etc., usually all these activities are allowed everywhere in Finland. Some exceptions which do not fall under the so called Everyman's Right are e.g. military areas, harbour areas, bird nesting areas, private piers.

Public right of access

Public right of access, or the Everyman's Right, is a Nordic concept which entails the right of anybody to move around freely in nature and to pick for instance wild berries and mushrooms, regardless of land ownership. There are restrictions for military areas and private properties such as courtyards and private gardens.

In Europe, the full public right of access to nature is unique to the Nordic countries; Finland, Sweden and Norway.

There are no general regulations on the public right of access in the Finnish legislation. Public right of access is based on partly unwritten established custom, partly criminal or other legislation. The Everyman's Right lives as popular tradition and is passed from generation to generation, so almost everyone knows what this right includes.

The most significant right is the right to move and stay on somebody else's land without the landowner's permission. Though movement is allowed it is assumed that yards are avoided and forests and hinterland preferred. The criminal code regards yards, gardens and other areas in special use to be under domestic peace. Breaking into these areas is trespassing in principle, but interpretation of the law is not quite unambiguous: for example, it is considered that wild berries may be picked nearer a yard than one may camp.

The right to stay on somebody else's land is considered to include the right to stay overnight, although this is not based on the law. A common opinion is that camping should not last longer than one or two days. According to the law, lighting a campfire or other naked fire without the landowner's permission is prohibited. If the Meteorological Institute has declared a prohibition on lighting fire in the open due to danger of forest fire the prohibition applies to landowners, too. No permission is needed for using a camping cooker. Rubbish or refuse must not be left to spoil the landscape or to harm nature. A person guilty of littering can be ordered to pay the expenses of clearing up. Trees have to be let alone. One must not gather branches, leaves, bark, resin or cones of trees that grow on someone else's land. Cultivated fields may not be disturbed.

The use of a motor vehicle outside the road network without the landowner's permission is prohibited, but boating and other means of moving on water is allowed. Anchorage is allowed, if neither disturbance nor nuisance is caused. One may walk on ice. It is allowed to swim, dive etc. Brooding or feeding birds or other animals must not be disturbed.

3.12.2002