Press release 177/2017
12 October 2017
In 2016, the Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic and consular missions abroad handled about 55,000 requests for consular service and consular assistance. A total of 359 persons responded to the consular and travel services survey, commissioned by the Ministry. Slightly over 60 per cent of all respondents were women, and the respondents represented mainly ages between 25 and 64.
The respondents were fairly or very satisfied with for instance the following matters: ease of being in contact; professional, objective and friendly service; speed of service; clear instructions; and availability of service staff. Based on the survey, the services should be developed across the organisation to create a harmonised services experience. The Ministry and its missions abroad will lay an emphasis on the provision of uniform quality and friendly and approachable service.
The respondents’ overall assessment of the use of the services on the scale of 1 to 5 averaged 3.8, and 66 per cent of them were very or fairly satisfied with the service experience. The respondents were also given an opportunity to assess the Foreign Ministry’s consular and travel safety services by giving them a mark between 4 and 10. The average mark on this scale was 8.1, which can be considered a good result.
The three most central reasons to contact the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or a mission of Finland abroad, cited by the respondents, were:
applying for a passport (36.7 per cent of the respondents)
travel safety/travel notification (31.2 per cent of the respondents) and
legalisation of documents/notarial services (13.8 per cent of the respondents).
Awareness of the recommendations of the four Ts (travel notification, travel advice, travel documents, and travel insurance) of the Foreign Ministry’s travel safety services was also surveyed. A total of 68.7 per cent of all respondents told that they submit details of their travel arrangements at matkustusilmoitus.fi prior to travelling abroad. Nearly as many, that is, 66.0 per cent of the respondents read the Ministry’s travel advice related to their country of destination.
Almost half of the respondents (47.8 per cent) informed that they are usually independent travellers, and nearly half of the respondents (41.3 per cent) said that they live abroad.
In 2015 and 2016, all Finnish missions’ out-of-hours services were gradually transferred to the Ministry in Helsinki. The Ministry’s 24/7 Crisis Services is in preparedness round the clock and last year, several thousands of phone calls were received. However, only 5.2 per cent (18 respondents) of all those who took part in this survey, had contacted the Foreign Ministry’s 24/7 Crisis Services. The Foreign Ministry aims to enhance awareness of its 24/7 Crisis Services
The survey also confirmed the impression that there are still many services, in which the citizens mistakenly consider that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is a competent authority, such as entry regulations in their country of destination. Information about visas, residence permits, work permits, and customs regulations must be requested from the authorities of the country of destination or from the embassy of the country in question in Finland.
The Foreign Ministry surveyed client satisfaction with its consular and travel safety services in July–August 2017. The aim of the survey was to provide an opportunity for the clients to assess the quality of the services provided by the Ministry and the missions abroad as well as to find out how well the Ministry’s travel safety services are known. At the same time, the survey measured the success of communications on travel safety matters and sought to identify targets for development.
A similar client satisfaction survey was made nearly ten years ago. Since then, the field of activities covered by consular and crisis services has markedly expanded and diversified. The Finns make ten million visits abroad every year. The increase of travelling shows in a rising number of contacts to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and the cases have also become more complicated.
Consular services include, for example, assisting arrested or imprisoned citizens, helping victims of crime or accident, and granting Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs).
Inquiries: Juha Savolainen, Director of Unit for Consular Assistance, tel. + 358 295 351 508.
The Foreign Ministry’s email addresses are in the format email@example.com.