Uber returns to Finland after a change to the country’s strict transport laws

Key Points
  • UberX and UberBLACK will be available again in Helsinki as of 3 p.m. CET (9 a.m. ET) on Wednesday, the company said.
  • Unlicensed Uber drivers had been faced with the risk of fines or prosecutions in the Northern European country under a police crackdown.
  • Uber is still unavailable in Denmark, Hungary and Bulgaria.
Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber's pick for CEO, listens during the GeekWire Summit in Seattle, Washington, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016.
Bloomberg | Getty Images

Uber is re-launching its services in Finland, following an almost one-year suspension that resulted from the country’s strict transportation laws.

Two of its most popular services, UberX and UberBLACK, will be available again in Helsinki, Finland’s capital, as of 3 p.m. CET (9 a.m. ET) on Wednesday, the company said in a blog post.

Finland’s new Act on Transport Services came into effect at the start of the month. The law is aimed to be digital-friendly and to make the process of applying for taxi permits easier. Permits are granted by Trafi, the central transport watchdog, rather than ELY centers, which are regional authorities that oversee transport services. The law also lets taxi operators set their fares freely.

“The new modern regulations in Finland promote fair competition and recognize the role new technologies can play alongside more traditional means of transportation,” Joel Jarvinen, general manager of Uber Nordics, said. “For consumers, the liberalized market will lead to much more choice. For drivers, they’ll have more freedom and possibilities to expand their business.”

Jarvinen added: “We hope that other countries, where local people are not currently able to use apps like Uber either to get around or to make money on their terms, will soon follow suit.”

Unlicensed Uber drivers had faced the risk of being fined or prosecuted in Finland under a police crackdown. The company suspended its unlicensed platform, UberPOP, in the north European country last July, but said it would resume all operations with the correct permits in place once the new law came into effect.

Europe, a continent of more than 740 million people, is an important market for the ride-hailing firm. Uber has been hit with challenges across the region over concerns that it is undercutting traditional taxi services and dodging the law.

The company has seen off intense pressure in London, for instance. It won a battle to renew its license to operate in the U.K. capital last week after a judge granted it a 15-month temporary license with caveats.

London’s transport regulator had last year, a move that stunned both the company and its users. The ruling last week was seen as a vote of confidence for the company under its new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi, who was given the difficult task of turning the company around following a series of scandals under the leadership of former CEO Travis Kalanick.

Uber is still unavailable in some European countries, however. It voluntarily suspended UberPOP in Hungary and Bulgaria in 2016, and pulled out of Denmark completely last year due to regulations requiring a cap on new taxi licenses and mandatory fare meters. Uber said it is in ongoing talks with the Danish government and regulators to restore operations in the country.