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
- Finnish Social security
- KELA card
- Bank account
- Public Transportation
- Driving and Importing Motor Vehicle
- Cost of Living
- Leaving Finland
Health care in Finland is of high standard and primarily financed with general tax revenues. Primary health care services are organised by municipalities (e.g. Helsinki, Espoo) 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 services with physician, dental, laboratory and radiographic at a very low cost for those eligible. The municipalities own and operate almost all the hospitals. These services are available for everyone who are eligible for services. As the well-organised services and affordable prices of the municipal health services are available to everyone eligible, the private health insurances are not as commonly used in Finland as in other countries.
Eligibility to use public health services is based on the right of residence in a Finnish municipality (kotikuntaoikeus). The registration is done at the Local Register Office (Maistraatti). When a person has the recidency in a Finnish municipality, the person is free to use municipal health services. This eligibility for the affordable, lower cost services requires permanent residency or a working contract for one/two years (depending on the country of employee's origin).
Private sector services, which mainly provide 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. Various benefits (family, child-care, medicines, unemployment etc.) are available from KELA for those eligible. 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.
The easiest way to get things done right with taxation and social security is to visit International House Helsinki. International House Helsinki is a joint service of several service providers, such as Tax Authorities and Kela, with very professional service staff specialised with newcomers in Finland. More information www.intofinland.fi .
More information about social security in case of unemployment can be found from Kela and The Federation of Unemployment Funds in Finland.
For more information, please see also:
- International House Helsinki (ihhelsinki.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.
For more information, please see also:
- Pension level 2015 (etk.fi)
- Supplementery pension provision (etk.fi)
- Pension percentage rates (etk.fi)
Even though the health care services in Finland are very affordable, 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, as it may take from few months to two years to get the eligibility to the low cost health services and Kela benefits.
- The entitlement to the Finnish social security (family and some other benefits) and a KELA card when working four (4) months in Finland for EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens.
- EU/EEA citizens and their families are entitled to the services of the municipal health care at the moment they arrive in Finland. The costs are higher than for those who have a permanent home municipality.
- 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 (all benefits and eductions) when the Aalto employee works in Finland for one (1) year.
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 to the municipal health care at the moment of arrival in Finland when working in Finland.
- The entitlemment to 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 (benefits and reduced prices) for the citizens of other than EU/EEA countries requires a two years of working and a residence permit for 1 year in Finland.
- Right to use the services of the municipal health care after arriving in Finland from their home municipality health center. The costs are higher than for those who have a permanent home municipality.
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 (ie. municipal health centers). In the private sector medical treatment and KELA compensation from it are available as long as treatment has medical prerequisites.
Aalto University provides to its employees occupational health care (i.e. health services for employees during working days). These health care services do not cover leisure time or any family members. More information on occupational health care in Working at Aalto University section.
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.
For more information, please see also:
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 Interntaional House Helsinki (KELA services) and complete required application forms. In matters concerning health and social security it is advisable to contact the International House Helsinki.
For more information, please see also:
The easiest way to take care of taxation and health care is to visit the In To Finland service, where professional staff is able to help foreign employees coming to work in Finland. Foreign employees need a Tax Card from International House Helsinki 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 either 35% (you get a tax-at-source card) or your tax percentage depends on your wage: the more you earn, the higher is the tax percentage (this is called progressive taxation and you get a tax card for progressive taxation). If you work over 6 months, you get a tax card for progressive taxation.
The level of taxation in Finland is quite high in comparison with many other European countries. However, tax revenue is used to finance services of an internationally high standard, including very affordable 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.
- International House Helsinki (ihhelsinki.fi)
- Information about Finnish taxation in English for individual tax payer (vero.fi)
- Information about taxation in Infopankki website (infopankki.fi)
- Tax guide 2016 (vero.fi)
- Tax % Calculator (vero.fi)
It is recommended to open a bank account if you receive salary from the Aalto University. The banks recommend that customers reserve an appointment to open a bank account. This ensures that you get service in English. When resserving an appointment, make sure that you get instructions for the documentation to bring with you. Take at least a passport (and visa and residence permit) and some form of proof of the origins of the money coming into this account (contract of employment/certificate of scholarship). Remember to bring your Finnish address with you as well. Very often banks 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 who will help you with organizing housing matters. Unfortunately Aalto University cannot guarantee housing for the international staff, but has a few options for entry-level housing. 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 may be considered high, but is at the same level than in other Northern European countries. 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 are usually obligated 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)
- Moving to Finland (Finnish Customs, tulli.fi)
- Taxation of Used Motor Vehicles in Finland (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 2015 - 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
Check list 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-registrations, 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
See also tips from Expat Finland: Leaving Finland .