Finnish Work and Residence Permits
Expat Finland is not a government authority and cannot arrange your residence in Finland. If you intend to live in Finland, and you are NOT an EU citizen or equivalent person, an application for the first residence permit MUST be filed PERSONALLY with the Finnish Embassy or Consulate in the COUNTRY OF ORIGIN.
- Finnish Embassies, Consulates & Missions: www.formin.finland.fi > in English > Diplomatic missions
- The Finnish Immigration Service: www.migri.fi - Site in over ten languages
- The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland: www.formin.finland.fi - Site in Finnish, Swedish & English
Jump Down to:
- Working In Finland: Introduction
- EU Citizens ;& Equivalent Persons
- EU Citizens & Equivalent Persons: Self-Employed
- Non-EU Citizens: Residence Permits - General Information
- Non-EU Citizens: Residence Permit for Working in Finland
- Non-EU Citizens: Residence Permit for Self-Employment in Finland
- Family Member of a Finnish Resident
- Permits For Students
- Administration Inside Finland: Extensions, Identity Cards +
- Citizenship Issues In Finland
- Working in Finland: Ministry of Employment and the Economy PDF answers questions most frequently asked by those moving to Finland
If you are a citizen of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland you do not require a residence permit for Finland.
Otherwise, an alien intending to engage in remunerated employment in Finland must usually have a residence permit for an employed person. A person intending to engage in an independent business or profession in Finland must have a residence permit for a self-employed person.
There are exceptions to this rule, and in certain circumstances or professional capacities you may work in Finland without a residence permit. For more information please visit:
Finnish Immigration Service: www.migri.fi > In English > Working in Finland > Right to work without a residence permit
There are 27 member countries in the European Union. In addition to Finland, these include Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland, Great Britain, Italy, Austria, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania,
Equivalent Persons" include citizens of Iceland,
If you are a citizen of the EU or an equivalent person, you will not require a residence permit for Finland.
You will be free to reside and work in Finland for up to three months. If you are staying longer you must register your right of residence before the end of the three-month period.
How is the right to reside in Finland registered?
The employee must go to the local police station to register his or her right to reside in Finland. The police register the right of residence of an employed person in the Register of Aliens and issue a registration certificate verifying the registration. When necessary, the employee must also present a doctor's statement testifying to his or her state
For how long is the right to reside in Finland valid?
Unless it is withdrawn, registration by a person with the right to reside in Finland is valid until further notice. After four years of residence in Finland, the employee can be granted a permanent right of residence.
EU citizens and equivalent persons can freely engage in business in Finland after they have registered their right to reside in Finland. The right applies to those who are either private entrepreneurs or self-employed persons (those with a right of establishment). Also, service providers and receivers, such as doctors, hairdressers, and those seeking medical care at their own expense, may belong to this group. They do not need a separate residence permit.
How to register the right to reside in Finland
A self-employed person must go to the local police station to register his or her right to reside in Finland. The police register the right to reside in Finland of a self-employed person in the Register of Aliens and issue a registration
When registering his or her right to reside in Finland, the self-employed person must present a certificate of the registration of a trade or other reliable account of self-employment.
A person moving to Finland should first apply for a residence permit from the Finnish diplomatic mission in his or her own country, or from the diplomatic mission of a Schengen country representing Finland. The application can be made by the immigrant or his/her employer. In exceptional cases, the application for a permit of residence can also be submitted in Finland.
A residence permit is either temporary or permanent (P). Depending on the nature of the stay, a temporary residence permit is granted as a fixed-term (B) or continuous residence permit.
The first permit is usually granted for one year, unless you specifically apply for a shorter period of validity. Continuous residence permits can be extended for a maximum of three years at a time.
If you have a fixed-term residence permit for an employed person or self-employed person, your permit can be extended on a fixed-term basis for a maximum of one year at a time. You can be granted a continuous residence permit after a two-year temporary stay if the preconditions for granting the permit are still valid.
You can be granted a permanent residence permit when you have resided in Finland without interruption for four years on the basis of a continuous residence permit.
Foreign employees who are non-EU citizens and equivalent persons generally need a residence permit for an employed person to work in Finland. An alien who has entered the country either with a visa or visa-free is not allowed to engage in remunerated employment in Finland but, rather, has to apply for a residence permit. A residence permit can be granted on the basis of either temporary work or work of a continuous nature.
In granting the permit, the needs of the labour market are taken into consideration. The aim of the residence permit praxis is to support the possibility of those who are on the employment market to gain employment. Thus, the availability of work force is also supported.
Granting a residence permit for an employed person requires that the alien's means of support be guaranteed. The employment office will estimate both the labour political requirements and the sufficiency of the means of support.
Priority is given to EU citizens and equivalent persons
for job openings
When making its deliberations, the employment office takes into account that EU citizens and equivalent persons, as well as other people who already legitimately reside in Finland and who in fact may be available to perform the work, have a priority in attaining job openings in the EU area.
There are exceptions to these rules, and in certain circumstances or professional capacities you may work in Finland without a residence permit for an employed person. For details please visit the
Finnish Immigration Service: www.migri.fi > In English > Working in Finland > An employee and work
Non-EU citizens need a residence permit for a self-employed person in order to engage in business activities in Finland. It is most common for self-employed people to have an individually-owned business (toiminimi), to be a partner in an unlimited partnership company (avoin yhtiö), or to be a general partner in a limited partnership company (kommandiittiyhtiö).
Application Processing & Decision
The embassy or the police will forward your application to the Finnish Immigration Service for a decision.
- The Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment makes a partial decision on the application. It evaluates the profitability of the business and the sufficiency of income to cover living expenses. The profitability of the business is evaluated on the basis of documents such as the company's business plan, binding preliminary agreements, and financing. The Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment may ask further clarification from you if the documents accompanying your application are not sufficient.
- When the partial decision has been made, the Finnish Immigration Service will process the application and make a decision on it. In some cases, you may be interviewed before the final decision, in writing or orally.
For details on how to apply for a residence permit for a self-employed person please visit the
Finnish Immigration Service: www.migri.fi > In English > Working in Finland > Self employed person
If you want to move to Finland to live with a member of your family who is already residing in this country, you will require a residence permit. The permit can be granted on the basis of family ties. The family member residing in Finland with whom you intend to lead a family life is referred to as the sponsor. The sphere of family members is laid down by law and does not necessarily correspond to general views on what constitutes a family member. The Finnish concept of family is narrower than that of many other countries.
If you are married or have a registered partnership with a Finnish citizen, or have what is referred to in some countries as a "common-law marriage" with a Finnish citizen, you may be able to apply for a residence permit on that basis. Residence permits may also be applied for on the basis of children, guardianship or other family relations.
Following is a brief summary only of two sections from the Finnish Immigration Service, October 2013.
Marriage / Registered Partnership with a Finnish Citizen
If your spouse is a Finnish citizen residing in Finland you may apply for a residence permit for yourself on the basis of family ties. The same applies to persons of the same gender who have registered their partnership.
Cohabitation with a Finnish Citizen
If your cohabiting partner is a Finnish citizen residing in Finland you may apply for a residence permit for yourself on the basis of family ties. A residence permit may be granted if:
- You have cohabited with your partner for a minimum of two years – present proof of your cohabitation, for example a rental agreement, or
- You have joint custody with your cohabiting partner of a child, in which case the stipulated minimum two years of cohabitation will not apply, or
- There is some other compelling reason for granting a residence permit
- If you and your cohabiting partner are officially resident in different countries, cohabiting for example during holidays, this is not considered sufficient for the granting of a residence permit
For full, current information it is essential you consult the
Finnish Immigration Service: www.migri.fi > In English > Moving to Finland to be with a family member
See also: Infopankki > Living in Finland > Family
Foreign students are welcome to study at Finnish educational institutions. You must apply for a residence permit if you plan to study in Finland for longer than three months. If your studies will take less than three months, apply for a visa unless you are a citizen of a visa-free country, in which case you can study for three months without a visa or residence permit. For visa requirements see:
Ministry for Foreign Affairs: www.formin.finland.fi > In English > Services > Foreign nationals arriving in Finland > Visa requirement and travel documents accepted by Finland
If you are an EU citizen or equivalent person you will not require a residence permit for Finland.
Student permit matters are handled by the Finnish Police. Students may now apply for a residence permit online! Please visit
Finnish Police: www.poliisi.fi > In English > Licences > Licenses and permits for foreigners > Residence permits > Students
INSIDE Finland, the police handle residence permits. The police:
- issue first residence permits to family members of Finnish citizens residing in Finland, and to a family member's unmarried minor children
- extend fixed-term residence permits and permanent residence permits to foreign nationals residing in Finland
- issue a permanent residence permit and an EC residence permit to a citizen of a third country who has been a long-term resident in the EU
- issue certificates of registration of an EU citizen's residence permit and certificates of permanent right of residence
- issue residence cards and permanent residence cards to family members of EU citizens who are non-EU citizens
- add days of residence to a visa and/or extend the period of validity of visas. Note: Since 5 April 2010 re-entry visas no longer exist.
- transfer a residence permit to a new travel document
A foreign national resident/living in Finland must personally submit his or her application for the above to the police department. Contact your local police department to find out which service point in the area provides the required services.
EU citizens and equivalent persons: The local police register EU citizens' right of residence, and handle matters relating to the issue of residence cards to EU citizens' family members if the family members are not EU citizens.
Nordic citizens do not need a visa or residence permit for residing or working in Finland. When travelling between Nordic countries, they do not need a passport or any other identity document. Nordic citizens must, however, be able to prove their identity if necessary, which is why they should hold a passport or identity card when travelling. When entering Finland for purposes other than short-term residence, Nordic citizens must register their residence at a Register Office. That is why the local police do not register their right of residence.
The police may issue identity cards to foreigners. Such identity cards are not travel documents, which is why they cannot be used for travelling outside Finland. The police may also, upon application, exchange a driving licence issued in an EU or EEC country to a comparable Finnish driving licence.
For further information about permits and licences, as well as details of application procedures, forms and charges, please see:
- Finnish Immigration Service - Site in over ten languages
- Finnish Police > In English > Licences > Licences and permits for foreigners (also available in Finnish and Swedish)
- Ministry for Foreign Affairs - Site in Finnish, Swedish & English
- Suomi.fi > In English > E-Services: Multilingual e-services and downloadable forms from Finnish government agencies and local authorities