Filming in public and most natural areas is free in Lapland. This is due to our Everyman’s Right–sometimes called the Freedom to Roam–which is among the most liberal in the world.
The rights of the filmmaker are the same as the rights of anyone else in Lapland. You can take your camera and freely move through and film in most natural areas, as well as public spaces. You have the right to walk, ski, cycle or ride freely through these areas and on public roads. Your rights extend to water features, as well, allowing you free access to most bodies of water (or ice, if winter). However, if the only access to the water is via a private roads or lands (which will be marked), you will need the permission of the landowner.
As liberal as Finland’s Everyman’s Right is, it is not unlimited. First and foremost, your access of natural areas must cause no more than minor disturbance or damage. While land ownership doesn’t affect Everyman’s Right, private yards are not covered. If a sign forbids trespass, or an area is fenced, it is inaccessible without permission. Nature reserves and conservation areas also offer limited access — for more information on filming in such areas, please see the Metsähallitus permit instructions for productions.
A short list of You Can’ts:
- Invade domestic or industrial privacy
- Construct buildings
- Dig significantly
- Cut or damage standing trees, even dead ones
- Make or set fires
- Drive off-road
- Disturb animals or birds, especially during mating season
Of course, you can always ask for permission to do most of these things from the landowner. In all cases, it’s always best to ask if you’re unclear of your rights or responsibilities.
Filming in public
While not exactly covered by Everyman’s Right, you also have the right to film in public, as long as you don’t significantly disrupt business or traffic. You can shoot streets, roads, marketplaces, public squares, shopping centers, train stations, and outside airports.
You need permission if you want to shoot a subject inside a home or residence, and this includes stairwells, toilets, dressing rooms, etc. You also need permission if you want to shoot, for example, inside private businesses, restaurants, factories and the like.
Sometimes, disruption is unavoidable, especially when filming on city streets or in the middle of a busy village. In these cases, productions need film permits to ensure the rights, privacy and safety of everyone involved are protected. Film Lapland does not issue permits, but we’re more than happy to help you determine whether you need a permit and with the permit process.
Traffic, on-road and off-road
If you’re going to disrupt traffic, you’ll need permits from the appropriate authorities. However, Lapland is covered in snow at least half a year, and if you need a road where there isn’t one—we have the snow-how to make one for you. In northern Lapland, Test World uses the half-year of snow cover for ice and snow tracks, but they also have the world’s first indoor ice track—all year round.
Everyman’s Right gives you the freedom to roam through the snowy wilderness on foot, fatbike or ski. But what if you need to move faster or with a large crew and equipment? That’s why Ray H. Muscott invented the snowmobile. In Lapland, you can drive snowmobiles on official routes, regardless of whose land they cross. You may also drive freely on the ice. But when traveling on snowmobile tracks maintained by Metsähallitus (the Forest Administration), you must first obtain a track permit. These tracks are designated “off-road” and are subject to different rules and regulations than the official routes. Driving off-road off-track is generally prohibited, but exceptions can be made. The process of getting a permit for driving off-road is simple and straightforward. You can find more information or start the process at the Metsähallitus Permit website.