Helsinki Visas & Permits

As a foreign resident, what is my status in your country?

The provisions on free mobility of EU citizens also apply to the nationals of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The citizens of these states are thus comparable to EU citizens.

An EU citizen may reside in Finland for a maximum of three months without registering right of residence if the citizen has a valid identity card or a passport and is not considered to pose a risk to public order and security.

If an EU citizen resides in Finland for more than three months, the citizen must register his or her stay with the police department of the place of residence within three months of entering the country.

In the event that an EU citizen resides in Finland for over three months, his or her family member who is a non-EU citizen may apply for a residence card for an EU citizen's family member. The residence card must be applied for within three months of entering the country.

The family members of an EU citizen include spouse, direct descendants who are under 21 years of age, or dependents, and similar descendants of his or her spouse; dependent family members who are direct ascendants, and similar relations of the spouse. Persons continuously living in a joint household in circumstances resembling marriage are comparable to spouses regardless of their gender, if the partners have been cohabiting for a minimum of two years or if they have a child in their joint custody.

Other family members are comparable to family members of an EU citizen regardless of their nationality if, in their country of origin, they are dependents of the EU citizen who is the holder of the primary right of residence, or live in the same household with him or her, or if it is vital for serious health reasons that the said EU citizen personally care for them.

Citizens of the Nordic countries do not need a visa or a residence permit to live or work in Finland. No passport or other identity document is required of Nordic citizens. However, they must be able to prove their identity and their Nordic citizenship if necessary. A driver’s license is not a proof of identity, nor does it show the nationality of the holder. Nordic citizens are registered by the local registry offices. Nordic citizens must register their stay if residing in Finland for more than six months.


What kinds of visas are available?

A visa is an entry permit for a short and temporary visit that lasts no longer than three months. Foreigners who wish to travel to Finland for a short period of time (for example, for a holiday, a business trip or a visit to their friends or family) need a visa unless they are citizens of a country that is exempt from the need to obtain a visa.


If you intend to:

  • work in Finland, you need a residence permit based on employment, granted by the state of Finland.
  • employ yourself in Finland, you need a residence permit for a self-employed person, granted by the state of Finland.


You must apply for a residence permit before you enter Finland. You can apply for a residence permit at a Finnish diplomatic mission in your own country.


You must have a justified reason for moving to Finland. The following are grounds for gaining a residence permit in Finland:

  • Work
  • Business activities
  • Studying
  • Family ties (a family member is residing in Finland)
  • Remigration
  • Finnish heritage
  • International protection (asylum, for example)


Working in Finland with a permit granted by another country is usually not allowed, especially if the duration of the job is longer than three months.


In some cases, it is sufficient that you have a residence permit or a visa granted by another Schengen country, or that you are allowed to reside in Finland without a visa. In these situations, the right to work is limited to certain jobs, and it applies for a maximum of three months, yet no longer than your visa is valid.


If you have another type of a residence permit granted by the state of Finland, you may have the right to work. If this is the case, you do not need any other residence permit to be allowed to work. You can check your residence permit and the residence permit decision to determine whether you have the right to work in Finland.


If you have completed a degree or qualification in Finland and you have a job, you must apply for a residence permit on the basis that you have a degree from Finland.


If you have been granted a residence permit on the grounds of being a victim of human trafficking, you have the right to work in Finland without limitations.


A residence permit may either be a fixed-term or a permanent one.


A fixed-term residence permit is issued for either a temporary stay (temporary residence permit, status B) or a continuous stay (continuous residence permit, status A) in the country. The type of the residence permit depends on the purpose of the stay. Studying, for example, is usually of temporary nature, whereas the stay of a family member of a Finnish citizen can be considered continuous. The permit authority will determine the purpose of the stay based on information provided by the foreign national.

As a rule, the first fixed-term residence permit is issued for one year; however, it is issued for no more than the period of validity of the applicant's travel document, unless the residence permit is applied for a period shorter than this.


As a starting point, an application for a residence permit should be submitted abroad before entering the country.

The first fixed-term residence permit is granted by the Finnish Immigration Service, and subsequently a new fixed-term residence permit (extended permit) can be issued by the police. However, the first fixed-term residence permit for a family member of a Finnish citizen resident in Finland or a family member's unmarried child is also issued by the police.


Citizens of the EU/EEA member states

If you are a citizen of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you will not require a residence permit for Finland. Information on permit matters is available from local police.


What is required to obtain these visas?

When applying for a residence permit, you will need to bring with you a completed residence permit application (forms available from the local police station), a valid passport, and two passport photographs. In addition, you will need to provide grounds for seeking the permit: when necessary, an account of your livelihood and financial status and/or an account of your family relations, marriage, or cohabitation without marriage; your marriage certificate; and the birth certificates of your children.


Are spouses permitted and/or likely to find work?

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.

The family members of Finnish citizens and of non-EU (third country) citizens and comparable persons are:

  • spouse
  • registered partner
  • cohabiting partner
  • guardian of a child under 18 years of age
  • child

A broader definition is applicable for family members of EU citizens.

With regard to the definition of a family member, the family members of Finnish citizens have the same status as family members of citizens of third countries. The broader definition for EU citizens is not applicable in this case.


What are the main forms of identification and how does a newcomer obtain them?

A Finnish driver’s license and passport are the most commonly used forms of identification.

A separate identity card can be applied for from the police authority. An identity card includes a photograph and serves as proof of the holder's identity. To a limited extent, an identity card can also be used as a travel document.

An identity card also contains a technical component (a microchip), which makes it possible to use e-services, for example (a so-called electronic identity card).

On the applicant's request, other information, such as health insurance information, can be stored on the identity card, and the card can then be used instead of a Kela card in pharmacies or medical centers.

Identity cards are issued by the police on application. Under certain conditions, an identity card can also be issued to a foreign citizen or a minor. A temporary identity card may also be issued, if reasons warrant.

A standard identity card is valid for 5 years. A temporary identity card is valid for no more than 4 months. A person may only hold one valid identity card at a time.


Are there any other important permits I must obtain, or places where I must register right away?

A Finnish ID number can be obtained by visiting the local register office (maistraatti). A passport and residence permit is required. Accompanying family members should have their wedding and birth certificates with them. Persons must fill out and sign a foreigner’s registration form in person at the register office and make a notification of move to the Population Register Center (Väestörekisterikeskus). Generally, all foreign documents must be notarized by the local embassy/foreign ministry or apostille-stamped if the country in question is part of the Hague convention.


What items should I avoid bringing into the country?

Whereas a private person can bring alcohol into Finland for their own personal use without having to pay duty or tax, this only applies if they physically bring it themselves, i.e., with their own car or in their own luggage. When a third party, such as a removal company, is involved, all alcohol products must be declared to customs, resulting in taxes and VAT being charged. These may not amount to high charges, but the time to inventory and declare the items can result in additional charges. Hence it is commonly recommended to leave all alcohol and tobacco products out of HHG shipments.

Some wildlife items, such as artifacts made from endangered species, are generally forbidden to be brought into Finland. Guns and ammunition require a permit in Finland, which needs to be applied for in person from the Finnish police before the items are imported into Finland.


Is there anything else I should know about entering and remaining in the country legally?

The first residence permit is always valid for a fixed period for a maximum of one year. A permanent permit can be obtained if the nature of residency in Finland is permanent and the person has lived in Finland continuously for four years.


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Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Please contact your closest embassy or consulate for confirmation.