Finnish Border Guard

The Finnish Border Guard (Finnish: Rajavartiolaitos; Swedish: Gränsbevakningsväsendet) is the national security agency responsible for enforcing the security of Finland's borders. It is a paramilitary organization, subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior in administrative issues and to the President of the Republic in issues pertaining to the president's authority as Commander-in-Chief (e.g. officer promotions). The Border Guard has police and investigative powers in immigration matters and can independently investigate immigration violations. The Border Guard has search and rescue (SAR) duties, both maritime and inland. The Guard operates SAR helicopters that are often used in inland SAR, in assistance of a local fire and rescue department or other authorities.

The border guard's active duty personnel consists of 3,800 men and women. The Finnish Border Guard has also 500 conscripts who are not used for border control during peace time. Upon mobilisation the Border Guard would be wholly or partly incorporated into the Finnish Defence Forces and its strength increased with reservists who have served their conscription in the border guard. The mobilized strength of the Border Guard is 12 600 servicemen. The Finnish-Russian border is actively monitored and patrolled by the Border Guard. The western sea borders and the western and northern land borders to Sweden and Norway are free to cross under the Nordic passport union, however the Border Guard does maintain personnel in these regions owing to its SAR duties.

There is a separate Finnish Customs agency, and immigration is handled also by the local police and Finnish Directorate of Immigration. PTR (police, customs and border guard) cooperation is well-developed and allows the authorities to conduct each other's duties as necessary.

Finnish Border Guard
Suomen rajavartiolaitos
Finska gränsbevakningsväsendet
Rajavartiolaitoksen logo
Finnish Border Guard emblem
ActiveMarch 21, 1919–present
RoleBorder guard
Internal security
Search and rescue
Light infantry
Size3,800 career personnel, mobilized strength 12,600
Part ofMinistry of Interior
General HQ Border Guards
5 District Commands
15 Battalions
EngagementsWinter War
Continuation War
Chief of the Border GuardLieutenant general Ilkka Laitinen
Deputy Chief of the Border GuardMajor general Pasi Kostamovaara
Ship racing stripe
Finnish Coast Guard racing stripe
Finnish customs, Border Guard and Police have close inter-agency cooperation.
UVL Turva
Offshore patrol craft Turva.
Uisko Oulu 20150614 01
VL Uisko.
Luftkuddefarkost IA-202 vänder 1 - Otto 2013
Hover craft IA-202.
Sjöbevakningen - PV281
Patrol boat PV 281.

Duties and jurisdiction

Main duties of the Finnish Border Guard:

  • Protecting the land borders and territorial waters of Finland from unauthorised encroachment.
  • Passport control at border crossing points, airports and ports.
  • First line of defence against territorial invasions
  • Rescue operations (mainly at sea and in the remote areas of Lapland).
  • Provide aid to other authorities such as the Fire Department in case of unusual events like wild fires.
  • Investigation of crimes pertaining to border security.
  • Aiding Police forces in civil duties such as crowd control and riot control.
  • Military operations pertaining to internal security.
  • Customs control in the minor border crossing points without customs authorities.
  • Training of conscripts for wartime duty. These include rajajääkäri (border jaegers) and erikoisrajajääkäri (special border jaegers).
  • (during wartime) Long range patrols and guerrilla tactics behind enemy lines.

For the discharge of its duties, the Border Guard has limited police powers in the areas where it operates. It can, for example, seize and arrest persons and conduct searches in apartments and cars pursuant to same legislation as the police, when investigating a crime. However, the power to arrest a person has been delegated only to the commanding officers of a border control detachments and commanders and vice-commanders of larger units.

The Border Guard is not supposed to be used for the keeping of public order under normal circumstances, but it has two readiness platoons that can be used to support the Police in exceptional situations in matters of crowd control and internal security (including incidents involving dangerous armed criminals).[1] The readiness platoons have been used to supplement riot police during high-profile international events where there is a perceived danger of violent demonstrations, e.g. during the "Smash ASEM" demonstration in 2006.[2] However, the main duty of the readiness platoons is to handle the most demanding border security incidents.[1] Border Guard helicopters have also been used to assist police and rescue authorities in various missions.

The Border Guard also has the power to keep public order in its own facilities and in their immediate vicinity. For the execution of its military exercises, any officer with the minimum rank of Captain can close an area temporarily.

The Border Guard is responsible for enforcing the 3–5 km border zone towards Russia and issues the permits to visit the zone.


Administrative units are responsible for the functions of the Border Guard. These administrative units are the Border Guard Headquarters, Southeast Finland, North Karelia, Kainuu and Lapland border guard districts, the Gulf of Finland and West Finland coast guard districts, Air Patrol Squadron and Border and Coast Guard Academy.



The Border Guard operates:

  • Six Offshore patrol vessels (Four in Western Finland, two in the Gulf of Finland), fitted with ASW equipment
  • Seven Hovercraft (Five in Western Finland, two in Gulf of Finland)
  • 81 Coastal patrol craft (56 in West Finland, 25 in Gulf of Finland), in total 23 pcs of Watercat 1300 Patrol vessels ("PV 08"-class) are also on order, where 20 pcs have been delivered 2007-2012 and three more will be delivered 2012.[3]
  • Patrol vessel Turva built at STX Finland Rauma shipyard in 2014.

Small arms

Light weapons:


The Border Guard operates 14 aircraft, including 12 helicopters. The AB 412s are to be replaced by new twin-engined helicopters, while the Super Pumas and Do 228s are being modernized.

Aircraft Type Versions In service[4] Notes
AgustaWestland AW119 utility helicopter AW119Ke 4 built by Agusta
Bell 412 transport helicopter AB 412
AB 412EP
built by Agusta, two Helsinki based helicopters are to be replaced by new AS332L1e helicopters by 2015.[5]
Eurocopter Super Puma transport helicopter AS 332L-1
AS 332L1e
built by Eurocopter. L1 helicopters are based in Turku while the newer L1e helicopters are based in Helsinki.
Dornier Do 228 maritime patrol aircraft Do 228-212 2


Rajavartija koiran kanssa
A Border Guard member on patrol with a dog.

After the Finnish Civil War in 1919, the control of the Finnish borders was given to the former Finnish Russian frontier troops under the command of the Ministry of Interior. Until 1945, only the Russian border was supervised by the Frontier Guard, the Swedish and Norwegian borders having only customs control. In 1929, a separate Sea Guard was founded to prevent the rampant alcohol smuggling caused by the Finnish prohibition of alcohol (1919–32).

At the start of the Winter War there were nine Border Companies (Rajakomppania) on the Karelian Isthmus. North of Lake Ladoga the Frontier Guards were combined into six Detached Battalions (Erillinen pataljoona). Further north in Petsamo the defence was left to the 10th Detached Company (10. Erillinen komppania). After the war marshal Mannerheim awarded all frontier guards the title "Border jäger" (Rajajääkäri). During the Continuation War, the Frontier Guard companies were combined into 12 Border Jäger battalions (Rajajääkäripataljoona) and later during the Lapland War into a Border Jäger Brigade (Rajajääkäriprikaati).

Current activities

After the Second World War, the Border Guards were placed on all Finnish borders. In 1950s, the Sea Guard was attached to the Border Guard. Since then, the Border Guard has received a fine public image. It is famed for the wilderness skills of its guards foot-patrolling the forest-covered Russian border, its good efficiency in catching the few illegal border crossers and for the fact that it is the only state authority in large parts of Lapland. In these matters it resembles the popular image of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Border Guard of Finland is one of the links of the chain of protectors of the external borders of the European Union and Schengen agreement. Moreover, Border Guard officers also have to be very fluent in the Russian language.

Nearly every Border Guard District trains small number of conscripts for long range reconnaissance (Finnish: Sissi). Conscripts in Border Guard companies are mostly volunteers and preferably selected from the occupants of border areas, and while trained by Border Guard, they do not perform regular border control duties. Rivalry between Sissi from Border Guards and Defence Forces is traditionally high.

Employment in Border Guard is much sought for, especially in North and Eastern Finland, which suffer from chronic unemployment problems. Typically a vacancy in the Border Guard receives at least 50 applications.

See also


  1. ^ a b Valmiusjoukkueet. Finnish Border Guard. Retrieved 2015-07-07. (in Finnish).
  2. ^ Smash ASEM: mielenosoitus joka ei koskaan alkanut. Yle Elävä arkisto. 10.1.2012. Retrieved 2015-07-07. (in Finnish)
  3. ^ Marine Alutech press release Archived 2008-06-08 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "World Military Aircraft Inventory", Aerospace Source Book 2007, Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 15, 2007.
  5. ^ [1]

External links

Media related to Border Guard of Finland at Wikimedia Commons

Border and Coast Guard Academy, Finland

The Border and Coast Guard Academy (Finnish: Raja- ja merivartiokoulu, Swedish: Gräns- och sjöbevakningsskolan) is a nationally and internationally networking institution for border security and maritime SAR education and research within the Finnish Border Guard. The activities of the Border and Coast Guard Academy are divided between two education centres located in Otaniemi, Espoo and Imatra.

The Border and Coast Guard Academy is a Partnership Academy of Frontex, the European Union agency for external border security. The Academy participates in planning and organising border security training and research co-ordinated by Frontex. The special responsibility of the Academy is to train teachers and Schengen Border Evaluators.

Finland–Russia border

The Finnish–Russian border is the roughly north/south international border between the Republic of Finland (EU member) and the Russian Federation. Some 1,340 km (833 miles) long, it runs mostly through uninhabited taiga forests and sparsely populated rural areas, not following any particular natural feature or river. It is also part of the external border of both the political and economic union; European Union (EU) and the loose confederation;

Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Border crossings are controlled and patrolled by the Finnish Border Guard and Border Guard Service of Russia, who also enforce border zones (0.1–3 km on the Finnish side, at least 7.5 km of Border Security Zone on the Russian side). Entry to a border zone requires a permit. The electronic surveillance on the Finnish side is concentrated most heavily on the "southernmost 200 kilometers" and is constantly growing in sophistication. The Finnish Border Guard conducts "regularly irregular" K9 patrols to catch anyone venturing into the border zone. Russia maintains its 500-year-old border patrol in the arctic region as elsewhere and plans to upgrade Soviet border technologies to both save on cost and to fully maximize the efficiency of the Border Service by the year 2020. However, Lieutenant-General Vladimir Streltsov, deputy head of the Russian border service, noted that electronic surveillance will never replace the human element.The border can be crossed only at official checkpoints, and at least one visa is required for most people. Major border checkpoints are found in Vaalimaa and Nuijamaa, where customs services on both sides inspect and levy fees on imported goods.

The northern endpoint of the border between Norway, Finland, and Russia form a tripoint marked by Treriksrøysa, a stone cairn near Muotkavaara (69°03′06″N 28°55′45″E). On the south, the boundary is on the shore of Gulf of Finland, in which there is a maritime boundary between the respective territorial waters, terminating in a narrow strip of international waters between Finnish and Estonian territorial waters.

Finnish Defence Forces

The Finnish Defence Forces (Finnish: Puolustusvoimat, Swedish: Försvarsmakten) are responsible for the defence of Finland. A universal male conscription is in place, under which all men above 18 years of age serve for 165, 255, or 347 days. Alternative non-military service and volunteer service by women are possible.

Finland is the only non-NATO EU country bordering Russia. Finland's official policy states that a wartime military strength of 280,000 personnel constitutes a sufficient deterrent. The army consists of a highly mobile field army backed up by local defence units. The army defends the national territory and its military strategy employs the use of the heavily forested terrain and numerous lakes to wear down an aggressor, instead of attempting to hold the attacking army on the frontier.

Finland's defence budget equals approximately 3.1 billion euros or 1.3% of GDP. The voluntary overseas service is highly popular and troops serve around the world in UN, NATO and EU missions. Homeland defence willingness against a superior enemy is at 76%, one of the highest rates in Europe.In war time the Finnish Border Guard (which is its own military unit in peacetime) will become part of the Finnish Defence Forces.

HMC Protector

HMC Protector is a Border Agency (customs) cutter of the United Kingdom, formerly the Tavi of the Finnish Border Guard. She was originally built by Rauma shipyard in Finland and was acquired by the UK Border Force in 2013. After a period of refit, the vessel was officially launched by then Home Secretary Theresa May on 17 March 2014. Protector replaced HMC Sentinel, which was retired in 2013.


A hydrocopter is an amphibious propeller-driven catamaran with a boat-like hull, small wheels and pontoon skis (as in a seaplane). An aircraft engine with a propeller and air rudder powers this lightweight vehicle over water, ice, snow and land.

Used in arctic coastal regions during "rasputitsa" or great spring thaw, when ice hinders boats and cannot support ground vehicles, it is a low cost alternative to hovercraft and helicopters and capable of rescue operations in weather conditions well beyond the safety limits of other vehicles. The Finnish Border Guard used hydrocopters from the 1970s to the 2000s, but they were replaced by hovercraft due to new, stricter work safety standards. Hydrocopters were never mass-produced; they were produced only by small machine shops for individual customers.

Ilkka Laitinen

Ilkka Laitinen (born 22 August 1962 in Nurmes, Finland) is a major general and the Deputy Chief of the Finnish Border Guard. He was the Executive Director of Frontex, the European Union’s border protection agency.

He served in the Finnish Border Guard in 1982 and since 1985. He rose to the rank of colonel in 2004 and has held a wide variety of national and EU jobs. He was appointed as the first head of Frontex on 25 May 2005.


Imatra is a town and municipality in eastern Finland. Imatra is dominated by Lake Saimaa, the Vuoksi River and the border with Russia.

On the other side of the border, 7 kilometres (4 mi) away from the centre of Imatra, lies the Russian town of Svetogorsk. St Petersburg is situated 210 km (130 mi) to the southeast, Finland's capital Helsinki is 230 km (140 mi) away and Lappeenranta, the nearest Finnish town, is 37 km (23 mi) away. Imatra belongs to the administrative province of Southern Finland and the region of South Karelia.

The main employers are pulp and paper manufacturer Stora Enso Oyj, the Town of Imatra, engineering steel manufacturer Ovako Bar Oy Ab, and the Finnish Border Guard.

As of October 2003, the total number of employees was 12,423. As of December 2004, 1,868 employees were employed by the Town of Imatra.

As of 24 April 2017, the mayor of Imatra is Rami Hasu.

Kai Jahnsson

Kai Jahnsson (Born January 25, 1965 in Helsinki, Finland) is a Finnish sport shooter who competes in the men's 10 metre air pistol. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, he finished 8th in the final round. He works for the Finnish Border Guard, is married and has three children.


Korvatunturi is a fell in Lapland, on the border between Finland and Russia. Its Finnish part is within Urho Kekkonen National Park in the municipality of Savukoski. Its name literally means "Ear Fell" in Finnish due to its unique shape.

Characterised by its thick pine forest, frozen lakes and hundreds of thousands of reindeer which roam the land, Korvatunturi stands 486 metres (1,594 ft) above sea level. It has three peaks, with the middle one between Finland and Russia's borders. Since Korvatunturi is located within the boundaries of the country, all visitors are required to secure written permission from the Finnish Border Guard. There are also no roads that directly lead to the fell, but there are hike trails that provide access, such as the one found in the Savukoski area.

Law enforcement in Finland

Law enforcement in Finland is the responsibility of several agencies. The Police of Finland, a national police agency, is responsible for most tasks. The two other main agencies are the Finnish Border Guard and the Finnish Customs. Examples of other agencies with limited policing powers are the Finnish Defence Forces, municipal parking inspectors and railway staff.

List of active Finnish Navy ships

This is a list of ships currently being operated by the Finnish Navy or entering service in near future, as of September 2018. In the case of a conflict, eight offshore patrol vessels, seven hovercraft and 81 coastal patrol boats from the Finnish Border Guard can be armed and transferred to the Navy.

National Defence University (Finland)

The Finnish National Defence University (Finnish: Maanpuolustuskorkeakoulu, MPKK, Swedish: Försvarshögskolan) is the Finnish Defence Forces' university located in Helsinki. The university trains officers for the Defence Forces and the Finnish Border Guard. The main campus is located in Santahamina, Helsinki with additional sites in Kruununhaka, Sörnäinen and in Tuusula.

Prior to 2007, the school referred itself in English to as the National Defence College.

SAH 2200 hovercraft

The Slingsby SAH 2200 hovercraft is a small military hovercraft produced by Slingsby Amphibious Hovercraft Company of Kirkbymoorside, England, and used by the Finnish Border Guard.

Sissi (Finnish light infantry)

Sissi is a Finnish term for light infantry which conducts reconnaissance, sabotage and guerrilla warfare operations behind enemy lines. The word sissi, first attested in the modern meaning "patrolman, partisan, spy" in 1787, comes to Finnish from Slavic and refers either to a forest bandit or his yew bow.The Finnish Army Sissi units are trained to conduct long range reconnaissance patrols, gather intelligence from concealed observation posts, raid enemy installations (especially supply depots), conduct road side ambushes and pursue and destroy enemy special forces units.

In wartime, an unspecified number of reservists assigned to Sissi battalions would deploy and operate as small groups up to company size. They are meant to stay behind and covertly operate against enemy forces in their area of responsibility even if regular friendly troops have been forced to retreat. Sissi battalions are part of Finnish Army local troops, unlike the jäger and armored brigades meant for operational use. Sissi units are considered as the elites of the Army conscripts, and many of the units, such as the Paratroopers or Border Jaegers, are formed of volunteers.

Tavi (disambiguation)

Tavi can refer to :

PersonsTavi (c. 1st century), slave of Gamaliel II

Janne Tavi (born 1989), Finnish professional ice hockey player

Tavi Gevinson (born 1996), American writer, magazine editor, actress and singer

Tavi Murray, British geologistPlacesTavi State, a village in Gujarat, India and former princely state in Kathiawar

Tavi, Iran, a village in IranShipsTavi, originally a Finnish Border Guard ship, now HMC Protector, a UK Border Agency (customs) cutterThe acronym TAVI can refer to:

Transcatheter aortic valve implantation

Training Air Wing, Finnish Air Force

The Training Air Wing (Finnish: Lentosotakoulu, abbr. LentoSK, Swedish: Flygkrigsskolan) was the Finnish Air Force pilot jet aircraft training school. It is located at Kauhava Airport in Kauhava, in Southern Ostrobothnia. The unit trains pilots for the Finnish Defence Forces, as well as for the Finnish Border Guard.


Turva is a Finnish offshore patrol vessel. Built in 2014 by STX Finland Rauma shipyard for the Finnish Border Guard, she is the largest vessel of the fleet as well as the first patrol vessel in Finland powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Wiljo Tuompo

Viljo (Wiljo) Einar Tuompo (23 September 1893 in Pornainen – 1957) was a Finnish Lieutenant General during World War II. He commanded the Finnish Border Guard from 1935 to 1939, and from 1940 to 1941. During the Winter War, he was commander of the North Finland Group. During the Continuation War, Tuompo was the Chief of the Command Staff at General Headquarters in Mikkeli. He retired in 1945.

XXXVI Mountain Corps (Wehrmacht)

The XXXVI Corps was a German military formation in World War II.

It was formed in October 1939 and took part in the invasion of France. In August 1940 the corps was moved to southern Norway and from there to northern Finland.

It took part in Operation Barbarossa in mid-1941. It was part of the German AOK Norwegen (Army Norway) and was moved to northern Finland during June 1941. The XXXVI Corps took part in Operation Polarfuchs aiming to advance through Salla to Kandalaksha, and from there to Murmansk.

In November 1941 the corps was renamed the XXXVI Gebirgskorps (Mountain corps).

In late 1944 the corps had to fight its former allies during their withdrawal from Finland. The corps was forced to retreat from Finland back to Norway. The corps stayed the rest of the war in Norway and surrendered there in May 1945.

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