Who wouldn’t want to study or work in the happiest country in the world? Here are the essential steps to move to Finland.
Visas and Permits
If you are a citizen of a Nordic country (Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, and Norway), you can reside work, and study in Finland without needing a residence permit.
If you are a citizen of the EU/EEA, you will not need a visa or residence permit to study or work in Finland. However, you if you are planning to stay in the country for more than three months you must apply to the Finnish Immigration Service for a registration of an EU citizen’s right of residence. If you plan to stay for more than a year you must also register as a resident at the Local Register Office (see the “registering” section below).
Students and researchers not from the Nordic region or EU/EEA you will need a residence permit to study and research in Finland. PhD students, postdocs, visiting lecturers, instructors, or researchers can apply for a residence permit for scientific research as long as they are receiving a salary or grant for their work. The application can be done online, but as part of the application they will have to make an appointment to visit the closest Finnish embassy or consulate to prove their identity and provide original copies of documents.
Bringing Your Family
Family members (a spouse or common-law spouse and children under 18) with EU/EEA citizenship do not need a residence permit to live and work in Finland. Family members who are not EU/EEA nationals are able to obtain residence permits to accompany you to Finland and have the right to work. Your spouse will need to apply for their own Finnish residence permits in their home country before they arrive. They can apply at the same time as you. As part of the application, they will have to make an appointment to visit the closest Finnish embassy or consulate to prove their identity and provide original copies of documents. Different rules apply to the family members of EU/EEA citizens.
Registering and Personal Identity Code
Once you arrive in Finland, you must register your move in person at the Local Register Office (maistraatti). You will need to bring your passport or identity card, residence documents, employment contract, and marriage/birth certificates for accompanying family members. Your personal information—including name, birth date, citizenship, address, and family—will be entered into the Finnish Population Information System. The Local Register Office will also determine whether you are entitled a municipality of residence (kotikunta) and use the services of the municipality. Your right to a municipality of residence depends on the country you have come from, your reason for moving to Finland, and the length of your stay. Those staying more than two years usually have a municipality of residence.
The Finnish personal identity code is an 11-number personal identity code (henkilötunnus) which is needed to open a bank account or get a cell phone plan. You can apply for a personal identity code when you apply for your residence permit or registration of your right of residence as an EU citizen. If you don’t apply when obtaining your residence documents, you can also get your Finnish personal identity code at the Local Register Office. Once you have your personal identity code, regardless of your citizenship, you will need to go to the tax office (veroprosentti) to get a tax card which allows you to receive a salary in Finland.
Finland has both public and private health care. If you have a municipality of residence in Finland you can use the public health services, which are much less expensive than private ones. Those without a municipality of residence will have to pay to use private medical clinics. Nordic citizens are entitled to pay the same amount for health care as Finns, while EU/EEA nationals are entitled to essential care and public health care in Finland with a European Health Insurance Card.
To open a bank account in Finland, you need to bring your passport/identity card and personal identity number to a bank. It is a good idea to have a few weeks worth of living expenses available in your home bank account as it may take some time to get receive your new bank card and get access to internet banking. Check with your home bank before you travel to make sure you will be able to use your bank card abroad.
Learning the Language
While Finns speak English quite well, learning one of Finland’s official languages (Finnish and Swedish) will help you establish yourself in the country especially if you plan on staying for several years. You can learn Finnish at community colleges, adult education centres or language schools across the country. Many universities also offer Finnish or Swedish courses for their international students and staff.