Moving to Finland?

Connect with fellow expats in Finland
Join exciting events and groups
Get information in our Finland guides
Exchange tips about expat life in Finland

Finland: Visas and Registration

Whether you are moving to Finland for a new job or for the opportunity to reconnect with nature or perhaps to some Finnish roots, you are in for a rewarding experience! Our InterNations Expat Guide answers your questions about moving to Finland, from Finnish humor to popular expat destinations.
Moving to Finland introduces you to the Northern lights, the midnight sun, and the sometimes dark, sometimes light, Finnish humor.

Note the Different Requirements for Visas and Permits

Planning a Short Visit of Up to Three Months?

Thanks to modern European mobility, citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein do not need a visa to visit Finland, and are even free to reside and work there for up to three months without a lot of paper work. Similarly, if you are a citizen of a visa-free country, then no visa is required to visit. On the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you can find a list stating which countries are visa-free and citizens of which countries are required to present a visa upon entering Finland.

If you do need a visa for your short stay, you will have to apply for it at your nearest Finnish mission or visa center. For more details on the application process, visa fees, et cetera, please refer to the visitor visa summary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Or Is It Going to Be a Longer Stay?

If you are a citizen of one of the European countries mentioned above and intend on staying in Finland for the long-term, then you need to register your right of residence at your local police during the first three months of your stay (see below). If you are a citizen of another country and plan to stay for more than three months in Finland and possibly even work there, then you have to apply for a residence permit.

There are several different residence permits available and which one you should apply for depends on the reason for your move to Finland. The following types of residence permits are available:

  • self-employed person
  • specialist
  • researcher
  • au pair
  • working holiday
  • student
  • other types of work that require a residence permit
  • asylum seeker
  • stable intimate relationship

You must pay a fee when you submit your application and these processing fees are relatively high. If you are applying for a resident permit for employed or self-employed persons, the fee is 500 EUR for a paper application and 450 EUR for an electronic application (as of 2016). Check the Finnish Immigration Service website for fees for other residence permits.

If you are self-employed, you can go ahead and apply for a residence permit. However, if your move to Finland is based on employment, then you need to have a job before you can apply for a residence permit.

Generally speaking, foreigners must apply for a residence permit at the Finnish embassy in their home countries. However, if you happen to find a job while visiting Finland on a tourist visa, it is possible to submit your application directly in Finland at a local police service point. The Finnish Immigration Service will then process it.

You can find all application forms on the Finnish Immigration Service’s website. If you submit an electronic application, you can check the status of your application on their website. 

Permit A versus Permit B

Finland issues continuous residence permits (permit A) and temporary residence permits (permit B). It is possible to extend a temporary residence permit usually only a year at a time; whereas, one can extend a continuous residence permit for up to four years at a time. The nature of a person’s stay determines which permit the Immigration Board issues.

Registering in Finland

In Finland, everyone has a personal identification code. In order to get this code, you must register at your local register office. In Finnish it is called henkilötunnus and, in Swedish, personbeteckning. If you needed a permit to live in Finland, applying for your personal identification code can be done together with your residence permit application. 

If you are staying in Finland temporarily but are working there, you also have to register for this personal identification code. If you plan to live permanently in Finland, you must register as a resident of Finland.

If you are moving to Finland with children, be sure to bring their birth certificates along. Also, if you are married, you need to bring your marriage certificate when you register. If you move to a new home, city, or even country, you have to inform the register office.

You must also apply for a tax card at your local tax office. Remember to bring your passport and residence permit with you.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

Francois Bertrand

"I found a former Helsinki expat who had recently moved back to Brazil, so we swapped all the important need-to-knows."

Maria Loura

"Some information on InterNations helped me a great deal, and I'm sure other expats in Helsinki feel the same way."

Global Expat Guide