A foreigner from outside the European Union may need
a residence permit
an employee’s residence permit, or
a residence permit for a self-employed person.
A foreign national from outside the EU who plans to work in Finland normally needs a residence permit for employed persons. For some types of work, a residence permit is sufficient. An entrepreneur carrying on an independent business must apply for a residence permit for a self-employed person.
A foreigner who has been granted a residence permit for at least one year must register at the local register office.
1. Residence permit
A residence permit must usually be applied for before entering the country.
Without a residence permit, a foreigner may stay in Finland for a maximum of three months. However, if the person engages in work that requires a residence permit for an employed person, a residence permit must also be obtained for periods shorter than three months.
Citizens of Liechtenstein and Switzerland are subject to the same regulations as EU citizens. Citizens of Norway and Iceland are subject to the same regulations as citizens of the other Nordic countries.
2. Residence permit for an employed person
A foreign worker from outside the EU countries needs a residence permit for an employed person to work in Finland. Founders and partners in a limited liability company, silent partners in a limited partnership and members of a cooperative also need a residence permit for an employed person.
A foreigner who has arrived in Finland as a tourist may not engage in paid employment in Finland, but must obtain a residence permit. A residence permit may be issued for temporary or continuous employment.
The permit application is submitted to a Finnish diplomatic mission abroad or, in Finland, to the Finnish Immigration Service. Permit extension applications are also submitted to the Finnish Immigration Service.
The residence permit is either fixed-term or permanent. The first permit is always granted for a fixed term, usually one year, unless the permit is applied for a shorter period of time.
3. Residence permit for a self-employed person
A self-employed person needs a residence permit for a self-employed person in order to conduct business. In order to be granted a permit, the business activity must be profitable. This is assessed on the basis of various accounts, such as the business plan or financing. The assessment is performed by the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres).
The permit for a self-employed person also requires that the self-employed person's livelihood is secured. The business activity must provide the person with a regular, adequate income. The adequacy of the income is determined by the Employment and Economic Development Centre.
A residence permit for a self-employed person must usually be applied for before coming to Finland. Only exceptionally can the application be filed in Finland.
The permit application is submitted to a Finnish diplomatic mission or, in Finland, to the Finnish Immigration Service. Permit extension applications are also submitted to the Finnish Immigration Service.
Application forms for a residence permit are available on the Finnish Immigration Service website (migri.fi) and from Finnish diplomatic missions abroad.
Who is a self-employed person?
A self-employed person is someone who pursues a trade or profession in their own name. For example, a partner employed in a general partnership and a general partner working in a limited partnership are self-employed persons, as they are personally liable for the enterprise.
Who is not a self-employed person?
The following are not regarded as self-employed persons:
a person employed by a limited liability company owned by them
a silent partner employed in a limited partnership
a member of a cooperative employed by the cooperative, unless they are liable under the cooperative rules for the cooperative's debts.
Appendices required for a residence permit application by a self-employed person
The following documents and accounts must be submitted as appendices to the application for the residence permit for a self-employed person:
detailed description of the company's form of operation and an action plan
predicted turnover in the next three years
description of the business premises
certificate of funds currently available to finance the operations
certificate of professional competence
clarification of income
number of staff required by the company
extract from the Trade Register (a self-employed person must usually register the business before the permit can be granted).
Additional clarifications may also be requested, if necessary.
The Finnish Immigration Service investigates whether the person meets the preconditions for residence in Finland. If the ELY Centre assesses that the criteria for business activity are not met, the Finnish Immigration Service will not issue the applicant a residence permit for a self-employed person. If the decision of the ELY Centre is favourable and there are no other obstacles to entry to Finland, the Finnish Immigration Service will issue the applicant a residence permit for a self-employed person.
Registration in the local register office
A foreigner who has been granted a residence permit for at least one year must register at the local register office in person. There, the person is registered in the Finnish Population Information System and receives a personal identity number.
Finnish Immigration Service (migri.fi)
Registration of foreigners (maistraatti.fi)