Photo Finnish Defence Forces, Ville Heiskanen.

Instructions for aerial photographers

Taking photographs and inspecting military zones from the air requires authorisation. The targets inspected may be moving or shifting. Therefore, a permit is often needed for aerial photography. Permits are issued by the Defence Command. The permit fee in 2017 is 80 euros as per the decree 1198/2016 of the Ministry of Defence.

You need a permit to photograph or otherwise store information from the air within Finnish territory in the following cases:

  • areas that are permanently restricted to aerial traffic
  • fortification areas, fortifications and garrisons
  • military ports or military air bases
  • Finnish Defence Forces' warehouses or storage areas
  • FDF signal stations, antenna sites and other defence equipment or materiel
  • FDF or Border Guard field exercises

You do not need a permit when recording information for private use while on board a civilian, commercial aircraft. You may, for example, take pictures from an airplane during a commercial flight.

When do you need a permit?

You always need a permit for any extensive aerial photography, regardless of flying altitude or equipment, be it a manned or an unmanned, remote-controlled aircraft.

You do not usually need a permit when

  • what you are photographing is already well-known and identified and when it does not includetroops, buildings or vehicles mentioned in section 14 of the Act on Territorial Surveillance.
  • photography is not extensive and focuses instead on a predetermined target, such as a narrow power line, block, park area, industrial area or area of forest (less than 10 km2).
  • The flying of or flying in must be carried out according to current aviation laws and regulations.

Any permitted images or modelling material produced of targets at a terrain resolution of more than 30 cm or which at nominal value can be equated with this figure are automatically classified as level IV restricted material, as according to the Act on the Openness of Government Activities, Section 24.1 Subsection 10. This material remains restricted until the images or files have been inspected. This ensures that restricted material remains protected as according to the law.

If you are not sure whether you need a permit or you suspect that you may have taken pictures of targets that are named in the Act on Territorial Surveillance, contact the Defence Command. We are happy to help.

Do not publish this material or forward it to anyone before it has been cleared and authorised by the Defence Command. Remember: taking photographs of a military area without a permit is a punishable offence.

How to apply for an aerial photography permit

To apply for a permit, send us a description of your intentions using the permit application form. Send the form and any attachments to this address permit.defcom@mil.fi. If you need more information on how to apply for a permit or on aerial photography in general, send your queries to the same email address or contact us by phone (FDF switchboard 00 358 299 800, Operations Division, territorial surveillance and permits).

An aerial photography permit may still contain terms and conditions. The Defence Forces have the right to a photography notice (kuvausilmoitus) and they have the right to check saved images and modelling material (mallinnusmateriaali).

For more information on the inspection of photographic material, send email to this address ilmakuvat.pvtiedl@mil.fi or call (switchboard 00 358 299 800, topographic service, information service expert).

For more information