Shipping takes care of Finland’s foreign trade transport

Shipping companies form the core of the maritime shipping industry. In addition, shipping industries include ship brokerage, shipping agents, and chandlery companies, as well as many other sectors serving the shipping lines and shipping industry.


Large international and small local shipping companies operate in Finland

There are approximately 25 Finnish shipping companies and about 120 ships owned by Finnish shipping companies operating in international maritime traffic. Finnish shipping companies are particularly specialised in operating ro-ro (roll-on/roll-off) ships and passenger car ferries. The largest vessel types also include dry bulk carriers and tankers.

In addition to shipping companies operating in foreign traffic, Finland has many small shipping companies which operate on the Finnish coast and along inland waterways. Most of this business is related to local tourism.

In total, the Finnish merchant fleet comprises approximately 700 vessels, which considers all vessels registered in Finland for merchant shipping of at least 15 metres in length. At the end of 2018, the total gross tonnage of vessels was 1,715,772.

The majority of the ships from Finnish shipping companies are in liner or tramp shipping and are operated by the shipping company itself. Some of these vessels are also chartered for other operators.

Finnish vessels operate mainly in the maritime traffic of the Baltic and North Seas. In addition to the Finnish flag, the vessels of Finnish shipping companies also fly the flags of other countries.

Bulker Eira leaving Helsinki Ro-Ro ship Finnwave on her way to Turku Tanker Kiisla in the port of Neste in Naantali

Maritime shipping is an international industry

In 2018, 33% of the cargo volume of the sea transport between Finland and abroad was carried by ships flying the Finnish flag. Thus, two-thirds were carried by foreign vessels.

Ship brokerage businesses represent both domestic and foreign shipping companies. They carry out a range of administrative and practical tasks between the shipowner and the shippers, as well as between the port service providers and the public authorities.

Shipping is a highly international business. For example, the world's largest container shipping companies are represented in Finland through their subsidiary companies. Finnish-owned ships, on the other hand, also operate in traffic between third-party countries and do not handle the transport of Finnish foreign trade only.

Shipping plays a vital role in the Finnish economy and in the security of supply

About 80% of Finland's foreign trade is carried by sea. In the case of exports, this figure is greater than 90%. Thus, year-round sea transport links are vital to the Finnish national economy.

The security of supply requires the continuity of maritime transport, even in the event of disruptions and exceptional circumstances. Domestic shipping operations, as well as Finnish-owned vessels and ships flying under the Finnish flag, create the basis for the security of supply.

Winter conditions are challenging for shipping

Due to the wintry conditions of the Baltic Sea, vessels with good icebreaking capabilities are needed for the year-round management of Finnish maritime traffic. One of the strengths of the Finnish shipping industry is its versatile expertise in operating vessels, even in difficult ice conditions.

To secure winter navigation in Finnish ports, there are eight large icebreakers and several smaller tugboats, which are mainly capable of icebreaking in harbours.

 Icebreakers are required for make vinter navigation in the north possible
Icebreaker Polaris opens a fairway to a cargo ship.

Key figures

310
companies
3.3
billion € turnover
10,900
employees

Operators in the business

The Finnish Shipowners Association
Member companies and ships of the Finnish Shipowners Association
Shipbrokers Finland
Member companies of Shipbrokers Finland
The Finnish Passenger Ship Association