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Working in Helsinki?

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Francois Bertrand

Living in Finland, from Canada

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

Maria Loura

Living in Finland, from Brazil

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

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Helsinki at a Glance

Working in Helsinki

Moving to Helsinki to work is an attractive option for expats because of its flourishing economy and high standard of living, boosted by a strong innovation-oriented society. Read on to find out more about the many opportunities Helsinki offers and how to approach them.

Local Economy

The majority of foreign companies which have established operations in Finland have chosen the Helsinki area, with its well-educated and skilled workforce and successful local economy. The latter generates over 30% of Finland’s total GDP.

Key industries in Helsinki include metals, wood, and engineering. Innovation is vital to the success of the Finnish economy. For example, as the demand for paper declines, other uses for wood are being explored, such as turning wood fiber into cellulose for the textiles industry. The Finnish forestry sector employs over 50,000 people, amounts to 14% of the country’s GDP, and also provides significant environmental benefits. 

There is a large technology sector in Helsinki, too. Research and development is particularly significant in Finland, and the country’s spend per capita on R&D is one of the highest in the world. A large cluster of technology companies have their headquarters in Espoo, Finland’s second largest city which is situated in the greater metropolitan district of Helsinki.

Tourism is a small but growing industry for Finland, with around a third of tourist income being generated by foreign visitors. The revenues from tourism equate to approximately 2.5% of Finland’s GDP. 

Job Hunting in Helsinki

There are job opportunities for expats in various sectors, including engineering, technology and research & development.

Many job vacancies in Finland are advertised online on job agency sites such as VMP, Barona, Academic work, and VPS.

Word of mouth is still widely used as a means of recruitment, too, so it is good to build a network of contacts and let people know if you are looking for job vacancies in Helsinki.

Another option for finding work in Helsinki is to look for jobs posted in the recruitment portals of colleges and universities. If you are fortunate enough to speak fluent Finnish, you can also find recruitment adverts in the Finnish newspapers. 

It is not essential to learn Finnish to get by in Helsinki, as the majority of people in the capital speak at least some, and often very fluent English. However if you do take the trouble to learn the complex language, it will be to your advantage and can help to expand the job opportunities available to you. 

Work Permits for Helsinki

Your country of origin will determine whether you require a permit to work in Helsinki. The citizens of EU countries, as well as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway are permitted to live and work in Finland for three months, after which you are required to register your right to reside in the country.

The registration process is done at the local police station. Once you have registered, your right to reside will continue unless it is officially retracted. If you live in Finland for a period of five years you may even be entitled to permanent residence in the country.

If you are moving from outside the EU, you will need to apply to the Finnish embassy in your home country to obtain a residence and work permit before you can move to Helsinki. Residence permit applications may be granted for temporary or permanent work in Helsinki. Permits are renewed at the police station, and the application documents can be sent online. A personal visit is, however, required to finalize the application.

InterNations Expat Magazine