Port operations are a vital sector for Finland

Port activities include port management, cargo handling and storage within the ports, and passenger services.

Foreign sea transports are handled through about 50 ports in Finland. However, most of this traffic is concentrated in the largest harbours.

In 2021, foreign cargo traffic arriving at Finnish ports totalled 94.1 million tonnes. Of this, 82% was handled in the ten largest ports. Cargo traffic decreased by 2.1% compared to the previous year.

In 2021, 6.2 million passengers passed through ports between Finland and abroad. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the amount of passengers decreased by 7% (in 2020 there were 6.7 million passengers). Each year, more than 30,000 foreign vessels call at Finnish ports.

Freight and passengers also pass through ports in domestic waterway transport. The volume of domestic cargo in 2021 was approximately 4.8 million tonnes (decrease by 32% compared to 2020). Total number of  passengers was 2.8 million in 2020. This figure also includes those passengers travelling on inland waterways.

More than half of the freight traffic is transport of oil products between the refinery of Porvoo and the storage facilities in Naantali and their distribution to other domestic fuel storage facilities.

 Map of Finnish ports and their goods traffic in 2018
International sea transport of goods by port 2018

Ports either serve all customers or only certain industrial plants

Ports can be divided into two main categories, i.e. general and industrial ports. General ports serve all customers, while industrial ports serve only the needs of a particular industrial plant.

As of the beginning of 2015, all municipal port and commercial enterprises were incorporated as joint-stock companies. However, their ownership remains with the municipalities. There are also private general ports in Finland.

Various other companies and authorities from different sectors operate in the ports

In the harbour, port operator companies are engaged in traditional stevedoring, i.e. the unloading and loading of ships. In addition, they take care of terminal operations, as well as providing other freight handling and logistics services.

There are about 30 port operator companies in Finland, some of which operate in several ports. Conversely, other companies specialise in handling only certain types of cargo.

 Unloading of a ro-ro vessel  Loading of a ro-ro vessel  Loading of paper rolls

In addition, there are many service providers in the ports, such as ship brokers, freight forwarders and ship chandlers, as well as pilotage, fuel, maintenance and towing services.

Many authorities are also present in the everyday life of ports, such as Customs, the Finnish Border Guard, the police, as well as maritime and environmental authorities.

The ports enable shipping, which is vital to the Finnish national economy

Ports are vital to the functioning of the Finnish economy. In other words, almost 90% of the transport between Finland and abroad takes place by sea.

Ports are also important hubs in the logistics chain of Finland's foreign trade. In ports, goods for export arrive by either road or rail transport and are transferred to the ships. Imported goods, on the other hand, continue their journey from the ships by land transport, either immediately or after a period of storage.

Some of the production facilities may be located in the immediate vicinity of the port. For example, coal can be transferred directly from the ships to an adjacent power plant storage depots by means of transfer conveyors.

In harsh ice winters, all Finnish ports are subjected to being locked up by sea ice. For this reason, it is necessary to enable year-round traffic with the help of icebreakers. Even the ports of the Bothnian Bay have been in good working order during the winter since the 1970s.

Key figures

turnover (billion €)

Operators in the business

The Finnish Port Association
Members of the Finnish Port Association
Finnish Port Operators Association
Port Operator companies
Port of Mariehamn
Port of Långnäs (in Swedish)