Beginner’s quick guide to metal detecting in Finland

Metal detecting in Finland

Here’s our long-awaited beginner’s guide to metal detecting in Finland. In this article you will find basic information about metal detecting in Finland. We will dive into questions like what is allowed and what is not, where can you search for metals, what permits are required, and what happens if you find something valuable.

We recently tried metal detecting for the first time (I told you this is the beginner’s guide!), and it proved out to be really fun outdoor activity for kids. The kids were enthusiastically walking around with the metal detector, quickly learning its different sounds, and looking for the best places to dig. They let me do the shoveling. When I was digging, they checked through the dirt with a pointer and found many rusty nails, cans, metal boxes, and some other unidentified stuff. And my metal shovel, which got too close to the pointer. This time we didn’t find any old coins or horse shoes, but those would be interesting treasures to find.

Metal detecting pointer

Being a newbie in metal detecting myself, I needed to find out some basic rules for the hobby prior to starting it. I had some questions and I think I found some answers that might be beneficial for anyone interested in metal detecting in Finland. This is my understanding of rules around metal detecting, that I have collected from multiple sources. The most important sources are linked within the text.

Where am I allowed to search for metals in Finland?

You can basically roam in Finnish forests according to everyman’s rights almost freely, only avoiding few strictly protected areas and respecting private properties such as yards. Using and carrying a metal detector does not require any permits in Finland. When digging, the effect of legislation, everyman’s rights, and the rights of the landowner must be taken into account. In short, taking advantage of everyman’s rights must not cause any damage or a disturbance, and you should ask the landowner’s permission for excavation.

It’s important to remember that excavation in an ancient monument and the protected area around it is not allowed without a permit. Ancient Relics Register lists all locations you should especially avoid when metal detecting. Digging is also prohibited in areas protected by the Nature Conservation Act.

What laws and regulations I need to follow in metal detecting?

Laws that regulate metal detecting in Finland are the Antiquities Act, the Lost Articles Act, the Criminal Code, and everyman’s rights. In addition, the Nature Conservation Act (1096/1996) egulates movement in nature and the utilisation of nature. The legislation can be found at the Finlex Data Bank of Finnish legislation.

Items you may find with a metal detector are classified either lost property, antiquities, or military debris.

  • Lost property is handled in accordance with the Lost Articles Act (778/1988) and handled by the police. If the lost property is of low value and if its owner would be difficult to find, the finder can keep it.
  • Ancient monuments in Finland are protected by the Antiquities Act (295/1963) and handled by the Finnish Heritage Agency. Objects that are over 100 years old belong to the state.
  • Military debris is the property of the Finnish Defence Forces under the Decree on the Finding and Salvaging of Items of the Finnish Defence Forces (84/1983).

What is an antiquity?

In accordance with the Antiquities Act, an antiquity, or a movable ancient object, is for example a coin, weapon, tool, ornament, vessel, or transport equipment, of which the owner is not known and which can be expected to be at least one hundred years old.

What should I do if I find an antiquity in Finland?

The Finnish Heritage Agency has an online reporting portal Ilppari where you can report your find. The basic rules for finding antiques are as follows:

  • According to the Antiquities Act, objects over 100 years old that are discovered on land belong to the state, and the law requires the finder to report the findings to the Finnish Heritage Agency.
  • Do not try to clean the object by yourself.
  • Stop excavation. If you discovered an object that could be stationary relic, the location could be an old grave or habitation, which are protected by the Antiquities Act.
  • Report your find to The Finnish Heritage Agency through Ilppari.
  • Wait for further instructions or send the object to The Finnish Heritage Agency with Ilppari’s information or contact the agency at metallinilmaisin@museovirasto.fi.
  • Failing to report the find is a violation of the law.
  • The finder of a movable ancient object referred to in the Antiquities Act must offer his or her find for redemption or donate the find.
  • The keeper of the numismatic collections at the National Museum of Finland is responsible for the official duties concerning coin finds in cooperation with the Finnish Heritage Agency.

Ethical rules for metal detecting by Suomen Metallinetsijät

Suomen Metallinetsijät Ry (Finnish Metal Detectors association) has published ethical rules for metal detecting for their members and I think they are great and worth sharing and obeying:

  1. I respect public and private land and properties.
  2. I don’t metal-detect without a permission.
  3. I don’t harm any properties or buildings.
  4. I take all the trash and lost property I find to where they belong, and cover all holes I have digged.
  5. With my finds I act according to Antiquities Act and also take other rules and regulations into account.
  6. I don’t dig in areas protected by the Finnish Heritage Agency.
  7. I understand I represent SME ry when metal detecting. I have good manners and do not cause any disturbance to anyone.

Have you ever tried metal detecting? Have you found anything interesting?

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