Finnish Social Security
- Jump Down to:
- Permanent Residence - What is it?
- Application for Social Security Coverage
- Residence-based Social Security
- Employment-based Social Security
- Financial Aid for Students
- Related Links
Finland enjoys one of the world's most advanced and comprehensive welfare systems in the world, designed to guarantee dignity and decent living conditions for all Finns. The Finnish social security system reflects the traditional Nordic belief that the state can intervene benevolently on the citizens' behalf. Core to the system are social insurance (ex. pensions, sickness & unemployment benefits, workers' compensation), welfare (ex. family aid, child-care services, services for the disabled), and a comprehensive health system.
Finnish social security is divided into residence-based social security and employment-based, earnings-related social security. Residence-based social security is financed by tax and administered by Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland. Earnings-based social security is financed by contributions to private insurance companies and pension funds, and administered by the Finnish Centre for Pensions. Eligibility for most social security is based on permanent residence; the benefits can be claimed only by those who live in Finland.
Kela - Social Insurance Institution of Finland
Kela's comprehensive web site provides details about all aspects of residence-based social security
Kela: www.kela.fi - Fi, En, Sw +
The Kela web site is fully available in Finnish, English & Swedish. There is also a video version presented in sign language, and limited versions of the site in Sami, Russian, Estonian, German and French.
Kela can be telephoned by individual and institutional clients with social security related questions about moving to or from Finland:
Tel: 020 634 0200 for service in Finnish or English
Tel: 020 634 0300 for service in Swedish
Throughout this site you will regularly encounter the term "permanent resident"; permanent residnts are entitled to social security benefits from Kela and it is often in reference to this that the term is used.
The following description of a permanent resident is provided by Kela:
You can be considered to be living in Finland immediately from the day you move here if you intend to live in Finland on a permanent basis and have a residence permit for one year or more (if such permit is required; different provisions apply to EU and Nordic citizens. See Work & Residence Permits).
Whether residence is considered to be on a permanent basis or not is determined by the purpose of your entry to Finland. If you move to Finland as a return migrant, refugee or asylum seeker, and have been granted a residence permit valid for at least a year, you are usually considered to be moving to Finland permanently.
The move is also considered to be permanent if you come to Finland for family reasons or you have either a permanent work contract, or one for at least two years. If you move to Finland for a short period of time you are not considered to be moving permanently, nor if you are a student who is in Finland for the sole purpose of studying; in these cases you would not be entitled to social security benefits.
Under special circumstances, even those with residence permits valid for less than a year can be considered to be living in Finland provided that there are no reasons that would preclude renewal of the permit. Such special circumstances include family reunification and limited passport validity (due, for example, to conditions in the bearer's home country).
Persons seeking asylum in Finland are not considered to be living in Finland while their case is pending. If, however, they have been issued a residence permit valid for at least a year, they are considered to be living in Finland from the date the permit was issued. Quota refugees are considered to be living in Finland starting immediately from when they actually move to Finland.
Before applying for coverage under the Finnish social security system, persons moving to Finland must register at a population register office. Then to qualify for social security benefits from Kela, you must complete Kela form Y 77e Application concerning Finnish residence-based social security and health insurance
Y 77e is available as a PDF: www.kela.fi/web/en/forms > Moving to or from Finland
You will receive a written decision on whether or not you are covered by the Finnish residence-based social security system. If your application is not accepted, you can appeal the decision by following the instructions included.
If the application is accepted, a photoless Kela card is sent to you automatically, at no cost. Your Kela card is your personal health insurance card. By presenting your card at the pharmacy or at many private medical clinics, you can get an on-the-spot reimbursement for your costs. For a fee you can also get an ID card with health insurance data. This card can be used as a travel document in many European countries and as authentication when logging into various government online services.- see the Kela site for details.
Once you have qualified for coverage under the social security system, you may apply in the same way as Finns for for Kela benefits such as:
- family allowance
- student financial aid
- maternity allowance
- sickness allowance
- cash benefits for parents
- reimbursement of medical expenses
- unemployment benefit / allowance (non-earnings related)
- See also: If you become unemployed
- labour market subsidy
- child care subsidies
- old-age retirement pension
- See Kela for information on all residence-based benefits, and Related Links for more...
Social security based on employment includes
earnings-related unemployment allowance, retirement and old-age pensions, accident insurance
and security against disability and illnesses.
Private insurance companies and the Finnish Centre for Pensions
deal with matters related to employment-based social security.
Note: Being self-employed impacts your pension and social security entitlements!
See also: Yle News article 23.7.2015 Finnish Entrepreneurs Get the Short End of the Stick Archive
Earnings-related Unemployment Allowance
Unemployment funds operated by trade unions pay an unemployment allowance for their unemployed members. Entrepreneurs can also belong to an unemployment fund. The amount of the allowance is determined by your salary/income before unemployment and is usually higher than the unemployment allowance provided by Kela. You can receive an earnings-related allowance for about two years. The requirements are that you have been a member of the unemployment fund for a specified period before the termination of employment, and that you have paid your membership fees. Because of this, you should immediately find out which unemployment fund you can join after finding a job.
- Trade Unions: Which Finnish trade union to join?
- AYT - Ammatinharjoittajien ja Yrittäjien Työttömyyskassa: The Unemployment Fund for Entrepreneurs and the Self-Employed En, Fi Sw
- SYT-kassa - Suomen Yrittäjäin Työttömyyskassa: Finnish Entrepreneurs' Unemployment Fund Fi, Sw
The Finnish Centre for Pensions, Eläketurvakeskuks, is the central body for Finnish statutory earnings-related pension provision in Finland. Their web site provides comprehensive information on numerous pension insurance matters.
Eläketurvakeskuks: Finnish Centre for Pensions www.etk.fi > In English - En, Fi, Sw
See also: Työeläke.fi www.tyoelake.fi > In English: Determining the Pension, Pension Benefits, Insurance, Application and Payment, The Statutory Earnings-Related Pension Scheme, Pension Calculator - En, Fi, Sw
Pension insurance is obligatory. TyEL insurance is taken out by entrepreneurs for their employees while YEL insurance is taken out by the self-employed persons for themselves.
Pension Reform 2017
Changes to pensions come into effect in 2017 which affect retirement age limits and pension accrual rates. A summary of changes is available in English at
Employers take out insurance for all employees, known as TyEL, and pay the insurance contributions to an authorised pension provider (insurance company or pension fund). The contributions are taken directly from the employees salary, in addition to taxes. The length of the employment contract has no significance.
*This obligation to take out insurance also concerns private households when they act as employers!
Salaried employees are covered by the occupational pension system. Entrepreneurs and farmers are covered by their own employee pension systems. Both systems include old-age pension, disability pension, individual early-retirement pension and unemployment pension. Your profession and type of employment define which pension law is applied.
Self-employed people must take out pension insurance. Entrepreneurs' earnings-related pension insurance is known as YEL. The obligation starts when self-employment has continued for four months. The self-employed persons insurance contributions are based on confirmed income from self-employment. More information
If you qualify for coverage under the social security system, you can apply for student benefits in the same way as Finns. See
If you are not a permanent resident and have come to Finland for the express purpose of studying, the general rule is that you cannot get financial aid from Finland. However, exceptions apply. See Financial Aid for Foreign Students
- A detailed overview of benefits is available in the Kela PDFs Guide To Benefits - 2014 and Guide To Benefits - Supplement 2015
- Social security rights when moving to or away from Finland are detailed in the Kela PDF Moving To Or Away From Finland - 2015
- The LATEST PDFs are available from www.kela.fi > In English > About Kela > Publications > Brochures including Home & Family, Studying, Unemployment, and Pensions & Retirement
- Most Kela forms are available in English at the Kela site, and can be downloaded OR completed online. This includes an application for a Kela card
- Suomi.fi > In English > E-Services: Multilingual e-services and downloadable forms from Finnish government agencies and local authorities
- Expat Finland's Healthcare page provides additional information on social and health services
- The web site of the Ministry of Social Affairs & Health provides great detail on Finland's welfare policy and includes sections on Promotion of welfare, Social and health services, Income security, Insurance, Occupational safety, and Gender equality