Guide in Finnish
This is a brief guide of the directions of the Finnish authorities. It is intended to be a friendly introduction to the community. Advice and help are freely available at various levels and in all government offices. You should always be prepared to seek them.
A researcher or a teacher coming to Finland should arrange for the following documents and matters.
Students who have not, yet, taken a basic degree and postgraduates: information on starting studies in Oulu University is found in the Student Services provided by the Academic Affairs.
1. Letter of Invitation
The visitor receives a letter of invitation from the University, containing information on the stay. The letter is signed by the professor or unit manager who will host the visitor or be in charge of his/her project. The visitor may use the letter, when applying for the residence permit or work permit, if such permit is needed.
The invitation letter model can be obtained from the HR secretaries of the faculty service points (secretariats). The invitation should include:
- Visitor´s name, birth date, title
- Duration of the visit
- Purpose of the visit
- Possible project or collaboration
- Inviter (professor or unit)
- How is the visit financed (salary or grant)?
Visitors coming to the University to study receive a letter of acceptance instead of the invitation, which may be used when applying for residence or work permit.
A visa is a combined entry permit and residence permit for visits that do not exceed three months. Stays of this kind include e.g. tourist, business and conference travel. A foreign citizen arriving in Finland is required to hold a visa, unless s/he is a free-mover.
Please, look at travel documents accepted by Finland.
2.1 Schengen Visa
The Member States of the Schengen Treaty have unified the requirements for a visa so that they now have a shared list of countries that are exempt from visa and those that are not.
A citizen of a country which is not exempt from visa must hold a visa, when travelling to one or more of the Schengen Member States. Conditions for issuing a visa have been largely unified so that the applicant must fulfil the same requirements and give the same accounts, regardless of the Schengen country whose Diplomatic Mission s/he submits the application to. Minor national differences may occur e.g. in the evaluation of invitations, subsistence requirements, etc. It is important to bear in mind that a visa issued by one Schengen country entitles the holder of the visa to travel and reside within the territories of any Schengen Member State.
Schengen visas are primarily issued by the Embassy or Consulate of the destination country.
Please, look at travel documents accepted by Finland.
2.2 Types of Visa
- Single-entry visa is issued for one entry and is valid for a maximum of three months.
- Multiple-entry visa is issued for two or more visits. The number of entries and the period of allowed stay are stated in the visa.
- Re-entry visa is granted to a holder of a single-entry visa who needs to leave Finland and the Nordic countries, but who needs to return to Finland while the single-entry visa is still valid. Re-entry visas are granted in Finland by the local police.
- Transit visa is issued for one or more journeys through Finland and it is valid for a maximum of five days. A transit visa is issued only in order to facilitate travel to the ultimate destination.
2.3 Applying for Visa
- Visa applications are submitted to the Finnish Diplomatic Missions abroad.
- The authorities issuing the visa may require a valid insurance for costs resulting from an illness or accident.
- Matters concerning a re-entry visa and an extension of visa are solved by the local police.
Following documents shall be obtained for the visa application process:
- Completed visa application form and 2 photographs.
- An approved, valid travel document, i.e. passport. The passport must stay in force for a minimum of three (3) months after returning from the intended travel.
- Documents that describe the purpose and conditions of the intended stay (e.g. invitation, which however is not a precondition for granting the visa)
- Financial assets sufficient to livelihood, considering the duration of the entire stay and return to the country of departure, or extending the travel to a third country, or that the applicant is capable of legally obtaining the assets (e.g. cash, credit card, travelling tickets, commitment of the host to account for the costs during the stay, etc. may prove necessary when applying for a visa).
- Travel insurance, which is valid throughout the entire stay and in the whole Schengen area. The insurance must cover costs resulting from a sudden illness and accidents, including home transportation of the patient, up to EUR 25.000. In addition, in a case of death, the insurance must cover the discharge of the deceased.
However, the applicant does not have an unconditional right to a visa merely because s/he has applied for it and fulfils the basic requirements for it. The authority issuing the visa has the power to consider, whether to grant the visa or not. The right to a visa may be limited or the application may be rejected completely. Thus, a visa may be granted in accordance with the application, for a shorter period than applied, as a single-entry visa instead of a multiple-entry one, as excluding a territory of one or more Schengen states– or it may not be granted at all.
2.4 Grounds for Rejecting Visa Application
There are several technical and legal grounds for rejecting a visa application:
- Visa application may be rejected on technical grounds, e.g. when the passport does not stay in force at least 3 months after the intended travel, when the passport has no space for the visa stamp, when the passport has been damaged, when there is a reason to doubt the originality of the information presented in the passport, etc.
- The application may also be rejected, if the application form or the necessary appendices are incomplete and they are not completed despite of requests.
- The application is rejected beyond exception, if the applicant has been registered in the Schengen Information System as an unwanted person with refused entry and if the applicant has committed serious or repeated crimes during previous visits.
3. Residence Permit
Residence permit is a document allowing a fixed-term or permanent residence in the country. It is not granted for holidays or comparable short-term visits.
Citizens of the Nordic countries may enter Finland freely and reside in the country without a residence permit, regardless of the duration of the residence.
EU/EEA nationals (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain) may reside, work, practice their profession or study in Finland for a period of three (3) months without a residence permit. However, a residence permit is required for a stay that exceeds three months. The permit is granted by the local police.
Other nationals are usually required to obtain a residence permit from a Finnish Diplomatic Mission before arrival.
A foreigner arriving in Finland without a residence permit may be issued a fixed-term residence permit, e.g. if s/he has already before arrival lived in Finland with a spouse or common-law partner continuously for two (2) years with intentions to permanent residence.
The authority granting a visa, residence permit or work permit enters the status of the foreigner in the permit. The status indicates the grounds on which the permit is granted and the purpose of the stay. The permits granted on these grounds entitle the holder to various public services. The status also lets other authorities know which services the holder is entitled to.
The status has no effect on the validity of the permit in question, nor to the holder's right to travel. The status is not entered in a permanent residence permit or visa.
The status is entered in visas and fixed-term residence permits with certain number/letter combinations. The letters A, B and D indicate the nature of the stay. The letter is followed by a number which indicates the ground for issuing the permit in question. The status is entered only in fixed-term residence permits as well as visas.
- Letter A indicates that the residence permit is granted for permanent residence.
- Letter B indicates that the residence permit is granted for a temporary stay.
- Letter D indicates a residence permit granted for a fixed-term due to the fact that the foreigner cannot be returned at the moment to his/her home country
- Letter F indicates visas.
The status is not entered in residence permits granted to EU/EEA nationals and their family members.
Information on application processing fees: http://www.uvi.fi/englanti/oleskelu.html
The University will not pay the fees for the processing of
residence permit applications, nor does it compensate any
costs resulting from the application.
3.2 Appendices of Residence Permit Application
- Completed residence permit application
- Valid passport or other official travel document
- Two (2) passport photographs
- Accounts of the grounds for application, meaning when necessary:
- Account form of the applicant's subsistence and family circumstances
- Account of financial circumstances
- Account of marriage or common-law relationship
- Birth certificates of children
- Marriage certificate (original or a certified copy)
- Student certificate
- Balance account of the bank, showing secured subsistence
- Extract from the Register of Companies
- Other appendices which the applicant finds necessary
Applications for new fixed-term residence permits and permanent residence permits are submitted to the police of the applicant's place of residence. The granting authority attempts to process the applications as soon as possible in order to prevent any delays of starting work or studies.
4. Work Permit
Work permit is required, if the person in question intends to work in Finland.
However, the following groups of people not need a residence permit:
- Citizens of the Nordic countries and EU/EEA nationals: Other than citizens of the Nordic countries must apply for a residence permit, when residing in Finland for more than three (3) months. The application is submitted to the local police.
- Holders of permanent residence permit. This also involves other groups of individuals which are stated on the website of the Finnish Directorate of Immigration (http://www.uvi.fi/englanti/oleskelu.html).
- Lecturers, researchers and teachers engaged in teacher exchange or comparable programmes who stay in Finland temporarily, i.e. less than an academic year, do not (usually) need a work permit. However, the need for the permit should be confirmed from a labour force bureau.
NOTE! A postgraduate's status in the residence permit is a student, even though s/he should participate in a doctoral training programme. A student outside EU/EEA region is allowed to work 20 hours a week during an academic term and full time during holiday seasons.
Work permit is not required, when a foreigner arrives in Finland as a holder of a fellowship in order to carry out a scientific research or to participate in the work of a scientific research group.
Work permit is granted on condition that the applicant may also be granted a residence permit. The first application for a work permit is submitted to the nearest Finnish Diplomatic Mission before arriving in Finland. In addition to the application, a comment of the labour force bureau on whether the work permit can be given must be delivered to the Mission. The comment form (TM 054) is found on the website of the Finnish Ministry of Labour (http://lomake.edita.fi/julkinen/english/index.html).
The applicant should reserve at least a few months for the whole permit application process. The comment from the labour force bureau may be ready in 1-2 weeks.
The person preparing the commission proposal shall ensure that the foreigner is holding a work permit or that s/he does not need one. If the work permit is fixed-term, but the employment is extended, the presenter must make sure that a new work permit is granted. Copies of the permits are enclosed to the proposal and delivered to the Personnel Secretary.
5. Registration for Population Information System
A foreigner who resides in Finland for at least one year must submit the same information for the population register as a Finnish citizen. The registration takes place in the local Register Office (Maistraatti in Finnish).
Basic information on people residing in Finland are recorded in the Population Information System. Such information includes e.g. name, date of birth, nationality, family relationships and address. The registered data is used e.g. for elections, taxation, health care, juridical administration and compilation of statistics.
On the basis of registration, a foreigner is given a similar personal identity number as a Finnish citizen has. A foreigner staying in Finland temporarily is also entitled to a personal identity number, if s/he needs it e.g. to be able to work. However, a Finnish municipality of residence is not registered for a temporary resident, nor is s/he entitled to the rights related to it.
Note! Having a personal identity number does not guarantee a valid work and residence permit.
6. Pension, Social Security and Health Care
6.1 Pension and Social Security
Social security in Finland consists of benefits based on employment and benefits based on residence. Pension and accident insurance are part of employment-based social security. Otherwise social security is based on residence in Finland. Residence-based social security is under the authority of the Social Insurance Institution (Kansaneläkelaitos or KELA in Finnish).
In principle, all work done in Finland is insured in Finland in accordance with Employees' Pension Act and Accident Insurance Act. Place of residence or citizenship of the employee has no significance in the matter.
6.1.1 Citizens of EU/EEA Member States (Council Regulation 1408/71)
EU Member States include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. EEA Member States include Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
As a principal rule, the legislation of the country in question is applied; i.e. in Finland the employee is insured according to the State Employees' Pension Act (VEL). A citizen of another EU/EEA country who is employed by the University has an employment-based right to the employment pension and accident insurance coverage.
The University pays the employer's social security fee, pension fee and fees for accident and financial support from EU/EEA national's salary. The University also deducts the employee's pension fee and unemployment insurance fee from the employee's salary.
Note! The authorities of EU/EEA countries may agree to make exceptions to all abovementioned rules of insurance based on the application of the person concerned. This application must be made in the home country prior to person's arrival in Finland. A person who has been granted an exception should present the form E101 in order to prove that s/he is covered by the social security of his/her home country. In this case the University pays the insurance premiums to the home country, according to the legislation of the country in question. E101 certificate must be delivered along with appointment and payment documents to the Personnel Secretary.
6.1.2 Citizen of a Social Security Agreement country
In addition to the Nordic Social Security Convention, Finland has Social Security Agreements/bilateral agreements with Austria, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg and United Kingdom (Great Britain).
Finland also has separate Social Security Agreements with Estonia, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Quebec, Switzerland and United States
The agreements apply only to the visitors who are not included in the EU regulation 1408/71, i.e. Third-World citizens and those who have never been employed nor are family members of the employer, officer or student.
The general rule concerning the citizens of countries with whom Finland has a bilateral Social Security Agreement, is that the employee is insured according to the VEL.
Note! If an employee has an exceptional permit (E101 certificate), or s/he has used the option provided by the Social Security Agreement (Canada and Quebec) and chosen the social security of his/her home country, s/he must be insured according to the national regulations of his/her home country. In this case the University pays insurance premiums to the employee's country of residence. E101 certificate must be delivered along with appointment and payment documents to the Personnel Secretary.
6.1.3 Citizen of Any Other Country
The employee is insured according to the VEL. It is not possible to apply for an exceptional permit.
6.2 Occupational Health Care Services and Compensation for Accidents
6.2.1 Full-time Employees
All full-time employees of the University who work at least 14 hours a week are entitled to occupational health care services. This applies also to Fulbright professors and foreigners working under official agreements.
Occupational health care services consist of:
- preventive occupational health care and activities to maintain work ability
- GP-level health care at occupational health clinics
- lab, x-ray and other contractual tests related to health care and ordered by the company doctor
The University purchases its occupational health care services from Medivire Työterveyspalvelut OY. Medivire limits its services into working days and office hours, and it does not provide e.g. first aid in case of an accident. Appointments tel. 578 5601.
The University's insurance agency is the State Treasury (Valtiokonttori). Valtiokonttori covers the travel-to-work and accident insurances of state employees.
Employees are only covered for accidents that occur during travel to and from work or at work. This insurance does not cover free time nor does it cover hospital charges or other comparable costs. Foreign employees are recommended to obtain a travel and leisure time insurance in order to cover the abovementioned costs. The University will not pay for such insurance.
University employees on a domestic work-related trip (virkamatka) are covered by a group accident insurance. An approved proposal for a domestic work-related trip (virkamatkaesitys) activates the group accident insurance of Valtiokonttori to come to force. For foreign work-related travelmestic trips the employer has a separate contract with the insurance company Pohjola (Eurooppalainen).
6.2.2 Non-employees (i.e. scholarship recipients, visitors)
Non-employed foreigners have no employment pension insurance or accident insurance. They receive no occupational health care services of the University, nor are they insured on the University's behalf.
Thus, visitors and scholarship or grant recipients are not entitled to occupational health care services provided by the University, because there is no employment relationship between the University and the person in question. This applies also to the staff that a researcher has hired with his/her own grants; the researcher shall attend to insuring his/her staff.
6.3 General Health Care Services
Citizens of Nordic countries are regarded as residents of Finland, if they present an Inter- Nordic Migration Form. They receive all KELA benefits (Nordic Popular Register Treaty = country of residence provides all social benefits). Citizens of non-Nordic countries are not entitled to these benefits.
Citizens of EU/EEA countries are entitled to the primary health care they need. This health care is provided by public health services. In order to receive treatment EU/EEA citizens must present the form E111 or E128 obtained from their home country.
Non-employed non-EU/EEA citizens may apply for social security through their own insurance, if certain conditions are met. Primarily this happens through a travel or leisure time insurance obtained from the person's home country. If necessary, the person in question may also obtain such insurance in Finland provided that s/he has a valid visa. The University does not handle or pay for such insurances.
Prior to arriving in Finland, non-EU/EEA citizens must ensure with an insurance they have obtained in their home country that they are covered in case of sickness or an accident. The University does not pay for such insurance.
In general, KELA benefits are available for those who have moved to Finland permanently and who hold a residence permit which is valid for at least one year. However, all cases will be reviewed separately by KELA. Once a person has a KELA card and s/he is registered in the Population Register of Finland, s/he becomes eligible for Finnish social security. Each person should find out himself/herself about the possible KELA benefits in KELA offices.
Foreigners arriving in Finland may be divided into those with unlimited tax liability and those with limited tax liability.
Unlimited tax liability applies to people who have primary residence and home in Finland, or who reside in Finland continuously for over six months. A temporary absence from the country does not make the stay discontinuous.
A person who has unlimited tax liability is obliged to pay progressive tax on income received both from Finland and elsewhere. E.g. wages and rewards, fringe benefits, welfare benefits and also scholarships to an extent are regarded as taxable income. To find information on deductions, visit the Tax Administration website or the local tax office (verotoimisto).
A permanent resident of Finland must pay the following taxes: progressive state income tax on earned income, municipal tax on earned income (varies according to the domicile), church tax (1-2 %, applies only to the members of the Evangelical Lutheran or Orthodox Church of Finland) and health insurance premium.
In addition to taxes, the employer collects employees pension insurance contributions and unemployment insurance contributions. These contributions are not included in the withholding tax rate. The tax rate depends on the amount of income earned in Finland during a tax year. If a person has lived in Finland only for a part of the tax year, the tax rate is around 15 % at its lowest.
Limited tax liability applies to people who have no permanent residence in Finland and who study no more than six months in Finland.
- The receiver of the salary/reward applies for a tax-at-source card with the form VEROH 6201, available at local tax offices. The employer or the payer of the work compensation may also apply for the tax-at-source card as a representative.
- Limited tax liability only applies to income earned in Finland.
- Tax-at-source is a final tax of 35 %, unless otherwise instructed in the tax-at-source card received from the tax office.
- The salary recipient is given a receipt of paid wages or rewards. The person may use this receipt in his/her home country, e.g. when double taxation is eliminated.
- In addition to tax-at-source, the employer usually collects employees pension insurance contributions and unemployment insurance contributions.
- A person with limited tax liability should check in his/her home country, how to report the income earned in Finland to the tax authorities of the home country.
Foreigners arriving in Finland for more than six months may, in some cases, pay 35 % tax on their earned income instead of progressive tax.
The following conditions must be met for the person to be treated as a foreign salary recipient as defined in the law of foreign employee taxation.
- The person becomes liable for unlimited taxation, when the work referred to in the abovementioned law begins.
- The person's monthly salary in money is at least EUR 5.800 throughout the working period.
The second condition does not apply to foreign employers who work as teachers or researchers in an institution of higher learning in Finland.
- The person is a foreign national and has not had unlimited tax liability in Finland during the five calendar years preceding the beginning of the work. The purpose of this condition is to prevent misconducts.
The law applies to salary which is regarded by the Income Tax Act as income received from Finland. The law provides that the work is primarily done in Finland in the service of a Finnish employer. The tax is collected as a final tax so that the employer deducts it from the employee's salary and disburses it to the tax office. The employer's social security fee and other insurance fees are paid in the usual manner, unless the employee presents a letter of invitation (see ch.1). Application to the local tax office for the tax card entitling to this benefit must be made at the latest within one month from the beginning of the work in question. The benefit is granted for a maximum of 24 months and the work must be started no later than during the year 2003.
8. Coverage of Residence-Related Costs
8.1 Foreigners Residing in Finland Less than Six Months (Limited Tax Liability)
Employees with limited tax liability are taxed-at-source. If a person has regular employment abroad while working in Finland, s/he can receive the following payments in addition to his/her salary without being taxed-at-source:
- Compensation for tickets, freight rates, and other comparable necessary costs inherent in travel on the basis of traffic contractor's receipts.
- Compensation for accommodation on the basis of hotel (or other place of accommodation) receipts or some other reliable document.
- Daily allowance up to the tax-free domestic daily allowance confirmed by the National Board of Taxes.
Travel costs must be verified with receipts attached to the travelling expenses claim. A prerequisite for obtaining tax-free travel compensations is that the employee has permanent employment abroad and is working in Finland on a temporary basis.
The University does not compensate for travel or leisure time insurance, nor does it pay the travelling-, moving-, or residence-related costs of a spouse or family.
If a person has no regular employment abroad while working in Finland, the daily allowances and compensation for travel costs must be taxed-at-source. However, daily allowances and travel costs of work-related trips that are made outside the regular place of employment i.e. the University are an exception. Departments must in advance receive a reliable account of whether the person has regular employment abroad while working at the University and whether the trip is temporary and work-related.
Prior to the payment of the first salary a person must obtain a tax-at-source card/tax card from the local tax office. This is to ensure the correct application of tax treaties in Finland. For further information, please, contact the local tax office, international taxation.
8.2 Foreigners Residing in Finland Over Six Months (Unlimited Tax Liability)
In case the University is regarded as the employee's regular place of employment, s/he is not entitled to receive tax-free daily allowance or travel cost compensation while travelling from his/her home country to Finland and back.
However, travel and residence costs may be reimbursed without tax to a person who resides in Finland for more than six months, if the person has regular employment abroad and it can be assumed that s/he is in Finland on a temporary assignment.
The University does not compensate for travel or leisure time insurance, nor does it pay the travelling-, moving-, or residence-related costs of a spouse or family.
Prior to the payment of the first salary a person must obtain a tax card from the local tax office. This is to ensure the correct application of tax treaties in Finland. For further information, please, contact the local tax office, international taxation.
Non-employees include e.g. visitors and recipients of scholarships or grants.
If the person has regular employment abroad, travel-related costs can be reimbursed tax-free within the maximum limits set by the travel compensation regulations (matkustussääntö). Appropriate receipts must be attached to the travelling expenses claim (matkalasku). Each person should him/herself clarify all matters concerning pensions, social security, taxation and reimbursement of costs well before arriving in Finland. In handling these matters, the University follows the national legislation in force at the time.
9. Tax Agreements Between States
Tax agreements may restrict Finland's right to levy taxes on foreign assets and on income received from abroad. These agreements may contain specific regulations, regarding the taxation of teachers, researchers and students. For further information, please, contact the local tax office.
10. Payment of Salary/Reward
Before any salary can be paid to the employee, his/her residence and work permits must be in order. If the University knows already in advance the person's date of arrival, duration of residence and amount of his/her salary, it may apply for a tax card or tax-at-source card for the person.
1. The following documents are required for monthly salary payment:
- Proposal for appointment to service/employment (Personal Data Form 2)
- Tax card or tax-at-source card
- Person Register Form (Personal Data Form 1)
- Copies of work permits etc.
2. The following information is required for reward payment:
- Personal identity number (date of birth)
- Home address
The person's address in the home country, not the possible Finnish address nor the person's work address in the home country.
- Tax-at-source card
Tax-at-source card is also required from those whose withholding rate is 35. The department/unit must submit an application for a tax-at-source card of a person living abroad to the tax office, and the received card must be attached to the invoice.
- Country where the work has been done
If the entire work has been done abroad, the working country must be stated in the invoice; supplementary costs paid from the reward vary according to the country where the work has been done.
- All account details
- Bank account details
The details of the bank account where the money is paid, especially when paying abroad, should be written on a separate paper by the person in question or otherwise clearly stated. In addition to the name of the bank and the account number, one should also state the address of the bank. The receiver should make sure that the information is clear and easy to read. The bank account details are attached to the invoice.
The pay days are the 15th and the last day of every month, unless otherwise agreed upon. The salary of a person with tax liability is paid into the Finnish account. Advance payments are not possible.
Updated 20 August, 2012.