Practical information for living in Finland


EU/EEA Citizens

If you are coming from an EU or EEA nation, then you are not required to register for a residence permit to stay and study here. However, if your stay exceeds three months (90 days) you will have to register with the Finnish Immigration Service Migri. Otherwise, things couldn’t be easier for EU/EEA nationals! If you’ll be staying for over a year, you must also register with the Finnish Population Register Centre.

Nordic citizens

If you are from a Nordic country (Denmark, Iceland, Norway or Sweden) then you also do not require a visa or residence permit. Similar to EU/EEA nationals, you must register with the Finnish Immigration Service if your stay in Finland exceeds six months. If you’ll be staying for over a year, you must also register with the Finnish Population Register Centre.

Non-EU/EEA citizens

If you are visiting Finland for fewer than 90 days, you can apply for a short-stay visa - this entitles you to live and study here for that length of time. If you plan to stay for more than 90 days, you must apply for a student residency permit. This is a pretty simple process, and should be taken care of as soon as you receive your official acceptance from the university.

Interns and workers

If you are moving to Finland for a student internship, then you must apply for a resident permit. Remember that internships are not always paid, so make sure you have ample savings to prove your financial status before being supplied with a permit. The requirement is around €550 per month, but this is much less than you’ll actually need to survive as the cost of living is quite high.

Social security number

If you are staying for over one year, and have registered with the Finnish Population Register Centre, then you will be provided with a personal identity code. It’s an 11 character number which you need to open a bank account and get a mobile phone subscription. So while you don’t need to register until you’ve been here for a year, for all practical purposes it’s a very good idea to do it early.

Opening a Finnish bank account

There are 3 main banks in Finland: Nordea, Osuuspankki and Danske Bank. They all have slightly different requirements in terms of documentation, however as long as you take a lot of ID and any proofs of address you have, it should be all good. Simply go to the bank and arrange an appointment - someone will definitely speak English, but other languages may be more difficult.

You may require any of the following documents to open your account:

  • Passport

  • Additional photo ID (such as a driving licence)

  • Proof of address (in Finland)

  • Personal identification number

  • Your KELA card (see Health Insurance section)

  • Letter of residence from your home bank

  • Acceptance letter from the university

  • Visa and/or residence permit (if applicable)

It’s also important to check that you are given the following perks, as these may not be automatically assigned to your account:

  • Bank statements in English.

  • Access to online banking.

  • A debit card which can be used for payments, not just cash withdrawals.

Getting a SIM card in Finland

There are only 3 network providers in Finland: Elisa, Telia and DNA. You can get a prepaid SIM from any one of these networks, which is a good idea for the first few weeks here. You may need a proof of address in Finland and a personal identity code before you can take out a monthly contract.

DNA is probably the most flexible in terms of pricing, but Elisa has the best high-speed coverage. Shop around online and find the best deal for you, as everyone has different requirements when it comes to phones these days.

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