In this section you find information on practical issues concerning moving to Finland, such as social security, taxation and opening a bank account. It is good to familiarize oneself with how social security has been arranged in Finland and how taxation works. This way settling down in Finland gets a bit easier.Please note that several matters require some time to be taken care of, so it is good to reserve them enough time already before entering Finland.
- Health and Social Security
- Bank account
- Public Transportation
- Driving and Importing Motor Vehicle
- Cost of Living
- Leaving Finland
In matters concerning health and social security it is advisable to contact the In To - Finland service, which is designed especially for foreign employees coming to work in Finland.
Health care in Finland is mainly provided on the basis of residence and is primarily financed with general tax revenues. Primary health care services are the responsibility of municipalities and are generally provided through local health centers. Each municipality has a health centre (terveyskeskus), with the exception in some small municipalities. The health centers provide residents with physician, dental, laboratory and radiographic services. The municipalities own and operate almost all of the hospitals.
KELA's National Health Insurance does not include public health sevices provided by municipalities. Right to use public health services is based on the right of residence in a Finnish municipality (kotikuntaoikeus). The registration is to be done in a local register office (maistraatti). If the local register office has registered a person as having the right of recidency in a Finnish municipality, the person can use municipal health services. This requires two years of residency, i.e. the work contract must be valid at least for two years or the work contract must be permanent.
Private sector services, which mainly provide out patient care, complement the public services. The private sector also comprises a few hospitals (sairaala), rehabilitation facilities as well as all pharmacies (apteekki) with the exception of those operating in conjunction with a general hospital.
The Finnish social security system is administered by the Finnish Social Insurance Institution, KELA. Persons immigrating to Finland can usually get various benefits from KELA if they take up permanent residence. In some cases the right to KELA benefits can also be based on working in Finland even if the person does not take up permanent residence in Finland.
Please note that you should take your prescriptions with you if you have an illness that requires permanent medical treatment. If you are on a continuous medication, please make sure you will be able to get the appropriate medicine in Finland as well.
More information about social security in case of unemployment can be found from Kela and The Federation of Unemployment Funds in Finland.
Finnish Social Security
- Into-Finland (intofinland.fi)
- Kela (kela.fi)
- Expat Finland (expat-finland.com)
- Finnish Medicines Agency (FIMEA)
- Nordic Insurance Portal (nordsoc.org)
The earnings-related pension scheme in Finland is statutory and mandatory. The pension in Finland consists of earnings-related (everyone working) and/or national pensions (very low income or none at all). Everyone working in Finland (18 years and older) must pay ca. 5% of the salary in a month for the pension scheme. The sum is automatically paid from the salary by the employer in addition to the withheld tax.
The employer pays ca. 20% for the pension scheme for every emplyee every month.
Both the employee's pension sum and the employer's pension sum are listed in the payslip monthly.
The pension scheme is very safe and the pension is always paid to everybody after retiring. The pension is very easily collected by filling in a form. The size of the pension after retiring depends on the years of work, the age and the annual salaries during the work years.
More information, see also:
- Pension level 2012 (etk.fi)
- Supplementery pension provision (etk.fi)
- Pension percentage rates (etk.fi)
You are strongly advised to obtain a good health insurance for yourself (and your family members) from your home country to cover at least the first year of your stay. This is to secure your early stay in Finland.
- The entitlement to a partial Finnish social security and a KELA card requires four (4) months of work in Finland for EU/EEA citizens.
- EU/EEA citizens and their families are entitled to the services of the municipal health care at the moment they arrive in Finland when they work in Finland or they have a European Helath Insurance Card (EHIC) from other EU country. The costs are higher than for those entitled to the full Finnish social security.
- Family members of the EU/EEA citizens are entitled to some social benefits when the employee starts to work in Finland.
- Citizens of EU/EEA countries and their family members are entitled to the full Finnish social security when the Aalto employee works in Finland for two (2) years.
Social security agreement countries' citizens
- As social security agreements between Finland and other countries vary, citizens of those countries should check their right to medical treatment and social security in Finland from KELA.
- Finland has a social security agreement with the following countries: USA, Canada, Chile, Israel, Quebec, Australia
Non EU/EEA country citizens
- The entitlement for the KELA card is provided for the citizens of other countries than EU/EEA after four (4) months of work.
- The entitlement for the full Finnish social security for the citizens of other than EU/EEA countries requires 2 years of work in Finland.
- Please note that citizens of other than EU/EEA countries should inquire their right to the services of the municipal health care after arriving in Finland from their home municipality health center.
Health insurance is recommended also for EU/EEA or Switzerland citizens since the European Health Insurance Card only covers necessary medical treatment in the public sector. In the private sector medical treatment and KELA compensation from it are available as long as treatment has medical prerequisites. Also, the insurance provided by the Aalto University to its employees does not cover leisure time or any family members.
One option available is insurance negotiated by Aalto University with MARSH/SIP. Insurance packages are primarily for students but also staff members and their families are eligible for this insurance. More information on SIP.
When you work in Finland at least four months, you may be entitled to certain KELA benefits and a KELA card. You can use KELA card to prove your eligibility for National Health Insurance scheme in Finland. For example, by showing your card at a pharmacy when purchasing prescription medicine, you are entitled to a discount. You are also entitled to a reduced price for doctor’s and dentist's services at a private medical centre. In order to receive a KELA Card, a person moving to Finland must register at a local KELA office and complete required application forms. In matters concerning health and social security it is advisable to contact the In To - Finland service.
In matters concerning taxation and health care and it is advisable to contact the In To - Finland service, which is designed especially for foreign employees coming to work in Finland. Foreign employees need to obtain a Tax Card from the InTo Finland office or the local tax office.
Principles of taxation are based on the duration of the visit/stay: a stay of max of 6 months and a stay of over 6 months. If you work in Finland max 6 months, your tax percentage is 35%. If you work in Finland over 6 months, the tax percentage depends on your wage: the more you earn, the higher is the tax percentage (this is called progressive taxation).
The level of taxation in Finland is quite high in comparison with many other European countries. Tax revenue is used to finance services of an internationally high standard, including health care, education, security as well as care for children and the elderly.
Tax Offices (Verotoimisto) are local units of the regional tax offices. Tax offices impose the income and net wealth taxes as well as inheritance and gift taxes in a tax district.
Please note that the instructions presented here are only the main principles. Depending on the taxation agreements between Finland and other coutries, researchers and teachers may be taxed in a different way. It is always important to contact the Finnish taxation officials well before coming to Finland to ensure the right taxation during your stay.
- InTo Finland (intofinland.fi)
- Information about Finnish taxation in English for individual tax payer (vero.fi)
- Information about taxation in the InTo Finland services website (infopankki.fi)
- Taxation in Finland guide 2010 (vero.fi)
- Tax % Calculator (vero.fi)
It is recommended to open a bank account if you receive salary from the Aalto University. You might want to contact the bank in advance and set up a meeting to open a bank account. This ensures that you get service in English. Take with you at least a passport (and visa and residence permit), some form of proof of the origins of the money coming into this account (contract of employment/certificate of scholarship) and the Finnish personal identity number in order to open the account. The account can also be opened with the temporary personal identity number. Remember to bring your Finnish address with you as well. Some banks may require additional documents.
- Information about banks in Finland (expat-finland.com)
As soon as your stay in Finland has been officially agreed, you should contact the receiving unit to help you with organizing housing matters. Unfortunately Aalto University cannot guarantee housing for the international staff. More information about Housing services.
Rented housing can be obtained mainly on the private housing market. The free market operates through advertisements in the newspapers, online or through an agent. Often friends and colleagues are the best contacts when trying to find accommodation, as finding housing can be time-consuming. You may also use housing agents, which often have online advertisements for available housing for rent and for sale.
The housing costs in Finland are high. The rent on the private market varies depending on how near the Helsinki city center the apartment is located, the size, age and the luxury level of the apartment. For a one bedroom apartment (with a living room and a kitchen) the monthly rent can be anywhere from about 500 (Vantaa) to over 1000 euros (Helsinki city center). Usually apartments are rented unfurnished. When renting an apartment, you may have to pay a deposit that is equivalent to 1-2 month rent. This deposit will be returned when you move out. Rent is paid monthly usually at the beginning of each month.
If you wish to buy an apartment or a house, you usually need to finance this by private savings and/or a mortgage. For further details please contact your bank.
Public transportation is well organized and widely used in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The distances in the region are fairly short. You have a variety of public transport (bus, train, metro/subway, tram) to choose from and they are mostly accessible with one travel card eg. Electronic Travel Card. You can buy Travel Cards at HSL service points. It is profitable to buy a personal Travel Card if you use the public transport regularly, and especially if you have a Finnish municipality of residence, a monthly travel card is the most inexpensive way to travel in the Helsinki region. The R-kiosks sell multi-user Travel Cards (Bearer Cards), which can be used also by other travelers than the card owner. More information on connections, travel times and routes within the Helsinki Region, please see Housing section, Getting Around.
Useful links for public transportation
- Helsinki Region Transport (hsl.fi)
- Helsinki region journey planner (reittiopas.fi)
- Matkahuolto long distance bus services (matkahuolto.fi)
- Finnish Railways for long-distance travelling by train (vr.fi)
Those who have a driving license issued by an EU/EEA country are permitted to drive a vehicle specified in their license as long as the license is valid. Those who have a driving license issued in a country that has signed the Geneva or Vienna Road Traffic Convention are permitted to drive for a period of one year. After that they have 6 months to apply for a Finnish driving license.
Motor vehicles imported to Finland are subject to car tax. Before an imported vehicle is registered or taken into use in Finland, car tax must be paid. More information is available at the customs offices.
Useful links for driving and importing of motor vehicle
- The Finnish Police (poliisi.fi)
- Finnish Transport Agency (tiehallinto.fi)
- Driving in Finland – guide (pdf, expat-finland.com)
- Importation of Personal and Household Effects and Private Motor Vehicles as Removal Goods into Finland (pdf, tulli.fi)
- Taxation of Used Motor Vehicles in Finland
July 2012 (pdf, tulli.fi)
- Customs contact information (tulli.fi)
General cost of living is relatively high in Finland and especially in Helsinki metropolitan area. Still approximately on the same level as in the western European countries (Mercer: Worldwide cost of living survey 2011 - city rankings for expatriates).
Here are some examples of average cost:
Rent: studio apartment ~500-900 euros, depending on the location
Travel card: in Helsinki or Espoo 44 euros / month, regional ticket Helsinki+Espoo 92 euros/ month
Lunch at cafeteria at the university: 4,5-8 euros.
Mobile phone: 0,066 euros / minute , 0,066e/sms (prepaid)
Internet connection: ~25 euros / month
Electricity (studio apartment): ~40-60e/ 3 months
Home insurance (studio apartment) ~100e/6 months
Movie ticket 12-14 euros
Cup of coffee in café 2- 4,5 euros
Unisport 6 months card 59 euros
Checklist for foreign employee moving away from Finland
- Return keys and access cards
Also other practicalities, mobile phone and computer etc.
- Practical Issues
Eg. moving arrangements, de-registarions, informing officials about the move to the home country etc.
- Bank Account
If you close your bank account before your last salary, remember to notice payroll office to which account they pay it. Notify also the Finnish Tax Administration of your bank account number in a foreign bank; this will facilitate the direct deposit of any tax refunds.
- Notice Population Registration Centre
Notification of move (muuttoilmoitus) is very important to remember to submit within one week when moving away from Finland. E.g. Tax administration needs your new foreign address for tax refunds and gets address from Polulation Registation Centre.
If working in Finland continues, ask payroll office to return the tax card. Note: liability to file a tax return later. Tax Administration instructions.
- Alumni Network