Frequently asked questions
Questions and answers regarding ship travel
Every passenger’s travel documentation has been checked in traffic between Sweden and Finland since 28 March 2022, and this practice will continue until the end of 2023. Finnish or Nordic citizens are allowed to travel to Sweden without a passport or official ID card, but they must be able to prove their identity, e.g. with a driver’s licence or a photo ID card issued after 1999.
Finnish citizens travelling to Tallinn must have a passport or a photo ID card. A driver’s licence is not accepted as an ID document.
Likewise, passengers travelling between Finland and Germany must have a passport or photo ID card.
If you are travelling to Tallinn or Germany, you are not allowed to board without a photo ID card or passport. For a cruise to Sweden, a photo ID card or driver’s licence will suffice. You can acquire an emergency passport at the Pasila police station.
The Port of Helsinki’s terminals provide free-of-charge assistance for passengers with reduced mobility due to a physical or mental disability, those with visual or hearing impairments, elderly passengers, those with temporarily reduced mobility and anyone else requiring special assistance. You must inform your travel agent or shipping company of your need for assistance when booking your trip or at least 48 hours before departure.
The passenger terminals are not always open. You can find the opening hours of the different terminals on their respective pages (e.g. Passengers / Hansa Terminal). Vuosaari Harbour features 24-hour services, such as an ABC service station.
Katajanokka Terminal and West Terminal 2 feature luggage storage lockers. The kiosk of Olympia Terminal stores luggage upon request.
Connections to the ship terminals and further contacts
In summer, a bike is never far away! There are city bike stations in the summer season near Olympia Terminal, Katajanokka Terminal, and West Terminal 1 and 2. The current situation of the city bike network can be viewed on the HSL website (https://www.hsl.fi/en/citybikes).
The HSL website features all the up-to-date information about tram stops and local buses (https://www.hsl.fi/en/timetables-and-routes/routemaps). Long-distance bus stops are located in front of West Terminal 1 and 2.
You can find parking spaces near the terminals for the duration of your journey. See the options and prices here: Parking at Terminals.
TThere are marked disabled parking spaces in front of the terminals. If the spaces are occupied, you can use your reduced mobility parking permit to park free of charge on any parking space for cars in the outdoor parking areas of the Port. You will not have to adhere to the maximum parking time.
You can take care of transport easily e.g. by contacting the nearest KTK branch (e.g. Helsingin KTK). You can take care of any customs formalities at the Vuosaari Harbour Gatehouse, Komentosilta 1. You can find the contact details and opening hours of the customs service point here.
For shipping your belongings, please contact the shipping company of your choice.
Private persons are not allowed to retrieve shipments from the cargo harbour. The shipping company will take care of it, or you can come visit the Vuosaari Harbour Gatehouse, Komentosilta 1, which features all operators’ service points.
By calling the operator whose area the shipment is located in. You can also check with the Gatehouse, but you need to know at least which ship the container will arrive on, and preferably the container number..
Heavy traffic drivers have several restaurants and washing facilities with a sauna at their disposal. Additionally, Helsinki Seafarers’ Centre serves heavy traffic drivers and seafarers around the clock. The Seafarers’ Centre features facilities such as a sauna, a library, a church and a canteen. See our website page on services for heavy traffic at Vuosaari Harbour.
Vuosaari Harbour features an electronic guidance system that identifies vehicles and directs them to the right place. Make sure that your front licence plate is clean so that the system will be able to identify your truck.
The Port as part of the city
The closed harbour area cannot be entered without an access permit. Citizens can take a look at Vuosaari Harbour from the Porvarinsilta pedestrian bridge and the Horisontti observation deck. Please contact maria.stuckey(at)portofhelsinki.fi.
When the ships move within the Port’s water areas, their main engines make some noise. When moored, the main engines are shut off and the vessels use smaller auxiliary engines to produce the energy they need (lighting, heating, ventilation, etc.) Alternatively, in many cases the vessel can also be connected to onshore power when moored, eliminating any noise. Ventilation machines also make some noise, as do the ships’ loading and unloading operations. Work machinery, such as forklifts and terminal tractors, as well as vehicle traffic, are also one source of noise.
The noise made by the auxiliary engines, in particular, typically has a strong, low-frequency tone, which clearly penetrates building facades more easily than noise from traffic does. Additionally, the source of the noise is located at a relatively high level, which means that the noise spreads more easily into the surrounding areas.
The Port of Helsinki takes the vessels’ noise and emission levels into consideration when choosing the berths and drafting schedules.
- Among other measures, a noise barrier has been built in Vuosaari Harbour, which significantly decreases the noise emissions spreading into the bordering nature conservation area.
- Onshore power connections reduce the noise generated by ships’ auxiliary engines.
- In certain berths, the Port of Helsinki has required vessels to take some measures to decrease the ventilation noise, use a quieter auxiliary engine and stop on-deck announcements.
- The Port of Helsinki is constantly working with the city planning authorities to ensure that the impacts of port operations are taken into consideration in zoning work.
The noise levels of the Port are controlled with environmental permits, which are a mandatory requirement for port operations. These permits define aspects such as the permitted daily average noise levels and how to monitor them. West Harbour is the busiest passenger harbour of the Port of Helsinki. The Port’s environmental permits regulate the noise level of port operations measured from the outdoor areas of the residential districts.
A ban on releasing untreated wastewater into the Baltic Sea is currently in force. Ships either have to discharge their wastewater into the Port’s systems, to be conducted to a treatment plant, or they must treat their wastewater on board, with the ship’s own wastewater treatment equipment.
However, the Port of Helsinki has accepted wastewater from ships without charging a separate fee since 2008. Ships can empty their wastewater directly into the Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority’s (HSY) sewer network from all berths provided by the Port of Helsinki.
In addition to this, in 2016, the Port of Helsinki introduced an incentive, which offers a 20% discount on the waste charges for solid and oily wastes for ships that discharge their wastewater into the harbour’s systems.
The ships of regular liner traffic mostly leave their wastewater in the harbour while staying at the Port of Helsinki. Most international cruise ships also discharge their wastewater into the harbour’s systems or treat their own wastewater with the ship’s wastewater treatment equipment.
Ships need energy for heating, ventilation and lighting, even while in their harbour berths. The ships use auxiliary engines to produce this energy. They are diesel or gas engines that are significantly smaller than the main engines intended for moving the ship.
A few of the Port of Helsinki’s quays have the option to supply the ships with electricity directly from the quay, which decreases the need for the auxiliary engines. For example, vessels at the Katajanokka harbour and by Olympia Terminal can be connected to the onshore power supply, which is an electricity network produced centrally on shore.
To make use of the onshore power supply, ships must be equipped with the appropriate technology and, on shore, a shore power transformer substation is needed. Onshore power supplies are best suited for traffic where the ship stays in the berth for several hours. Traffic from West Harbour to Tallinn, for example, is so-called short turnaround time traffic, which means that the ships stay in the berths only for a short while, making connection to the onshore power supply impossible.
The positive environmental impacts of using onshore power are therefore local. By contrast, the impacts of emission-deceasing fuel selections, for example, are clearly more far-reaching.
The ship and vehicle traffic using the harbour areas discharge emissions into air. The Port of Helsinki participates in the joint monitoring of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area’s air quality. One of HSY’s air quality measuring stations will be placed in one part of the harbour area every other year. In general, the air quality has been good in all the harbour areas, and the limit values have not been exceeded significantly or repeatedly.
Port operations have been part of Jätkäsaari ever since the end of 19th century, and the passenger traffic in its current form started in 1995. In 2008, West Harbour’s container traffic was moved to the recently opened Vuosaari Harbour. These days, West Harbour mostly serves fast liner traffic to Tallinn: both passengers and cargo traffic utilising trucks and trailers.
The business operations of passenger shipping companies are based on the fact that cargo is also transported on the RoPax ferries. With regard to environmental impacts, maritime transport is a sustainable form of cargo traffic, and combining passenger and cargo traffic is an energy-efficient operating method.