Foreigners picking wild berries and other natural products in Finland

Finland welcomes every year approximately 2500–4300 foreign natural product pickers who almost solely pick wild berries. The vast majority of the foreign pickers come from Thailand. Foreign pickers come to Finland also from i.a. Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and from the Baltic countries. Along with the foreign pickers comes also the support staff, who commonly work with a residence permit.

Usually, the foreign pickers are not employed to the companies that have expressed their visa invitations nor are seen as entrepreneurs. Foreign pickers pick natural products in Finland from July to September-October.

Act on the legal status of foreigners picking natural products

  • Strengthens the legal status of the pickers and specifies the companies obligations more closely and more binding.
  • Improves the pickers earning possibilities and balances the companies opportunities to compete.
  • Strengthens the natural product picking industry’s preconditions for sustainable growth and internationalization.

Act on the legal status of foreigners picking natural products came into force on 14th of June 2021 and legislates the pickers rights, natural product industry operator’s obligations and the supervision of obeying them and the sanctions of neglecting them. The obligations of the companies that buy natural products, are mostly the same than in the industry’s Letter of Intent, but more precise and more binding.

Tasks of the Northern Ostrobothnia Employment and Economic Development Office

Northern Ostrobothnia Employment and Economic Development Office monitors the fulfillment of the conditions for a natural product operator on sections 5 and 7 of the Act on legal status of foreigners picking natural products, which came into force on 14th of June 2021. Northern Ostrobothnia Employment and Economic Development Office also takes care of the national mission for foreigners picking natural products in Finland. Employment and Economic Development Office gives guidance to the pickers and natural product industry operators about the applying of the law’s sections 4—7, the responsibilities of the authorities and directs matters to the competent authority.

Northern Ostrobothnia Employment and Economic Development Office makes the decision about the natural product picking industry operator’s reliability. Employment and Economic Development Office monitors the payment of the pickers earnings and the compliance of payment bans and on Finland’s Representation abroad or Labour Inspection Authority’s request, gives a statement regarding those requirements.

Northern Ostrobothnia Employment and Economic Development Office gives statements on request of Finland’s Representation abroad or Labour Inspection Authorities about the companies that invite foreign pickers to Finland:

  • Preliminary reports
  • Business conditions in the natural product picking industry
  • Ability to take care of the obligations regarding foreign pickers

For more information: berrypicking.northern-ostrobothnia@te-office.fi

Tasks of the Labour Inspection Authorities

The Labour Inspection Authorities supervises the law, if the supervision does not belong to other authority’s responsibilities. The Labour Inspection Authorities, among other duties, supervise the fulfillment of the rights of the pickers, obligations of the natural product collection sector operator and makes occupational safety and health inspections to the pickers accommodation bases.

Natural product picking industry operator has the obligation to inform the Labour Inspection Authority in advance the locations of the pickers accommodation bases.  If the pickers accommodation base changes during the picking season, an advance notification about the new accommodation base has to be made to the Labour Inspection Authority. The information of the pickers accommodation bases are given to the Labour Inspection Authorities here:

For more information, go to Labour Inspection Authorities website:

or ask via e-mail: luonnontuotteidenkeruu@avi.fi

Practices for the companies that are responsible for foreign pickers

Citizens outside the Schengen countries and visa-exempted countries need a visa to pick natural products in Finland. The visa of the foreigners who come to Finland to pick natural products gives only the right to pick natural products. It’s also possible to pick natural products as an employee and in these situations the Act on the legal status of foreigners picking natural products withdraws and the labour legislation is applied.

When you invite foreign pickers to Finland or are the responsible party of the picking conditions, take care of these:

  • It’s prohibited under penalty of a fine to act as a natural product picking industry operator without a valid decision about reliability. Ask Northern Ostrobothnia Employment and Economic Development Office for a decision about reliability which is given for one year at a time.
  • Familiarize the picker to the following matters: picking and conditions in Finland, the legal relationship between the operator and picker, the rights and responsibilities of the picker in Finland, everyman’s rights, the entities giving guidance and legal protection in Finland and other essential matters.
  • Pay the picker’s all earnings before the picker's departure from Finland and arrange up-to-date earnings follow-up.
  • Take notice that it’s prohibited under penalty of a fine to charge the picker fee for recruitment or any services related to entry to or exit from Finland, interest on financing the pickers’ cost of travel, fee for the orientation or cooperation for maximizing the picking result.
  • Take notice that it’s prohibited under penalty of a fine to charge the picker unreasonable fee for picking equipment, accommodation, vehicles or catering. The costs charged from the picker must be in balance with what the service contains and at maximum, should correlate what the operator paid for the services.

COVID-19 instructions for the pickers and companies

Questions regarding COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the mobility of work force and quarantine you will find more information on the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland website.

Letter of Intent on policies related to natural product picking by foreign citizens

Contact information

E-mail
berrypicking.northern-ostrobothnia@te-office.fi

Postal address
Pohjois-Pohjanmaan TE-toimisto
Sepänkatu 20
90100 Oulu