Guidance

Living in Finland

Advice for British people living in Finland, including information on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more.

Overview

This guide sets out essential information for British nationals residing in Finland, including advice on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See our information on what consulates can and cannot do for British nationals

Health

The UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is valid for holidaymakers and temporary visitors who need to use the state health system while in another EU country. If you are not normally a resident of the UK, and therefore do not have entitlement to a UK-issued EHIC, the Finnish authorities may decide to treat you as a private patient.

National Health Insurance (NHI) in Finland (KELA)

Health care in Finland is not free of charge and is residence based. This is why it is important to register your stay in Finland.

As a rule, all permanent residents of Finland are covered under the NHI scheme run by Kansaneläkelaitos (KELA). Permanent residence means that you are domiciled and spend most of your time in Finland. Employees and self-employed people are typically covered under the NHI system as soon as they start employment or self-employment provided that it will last at least 4 months, or as soon as they have been self-employed in Finland for at least 4 months, regardless of whether they live in Finland.

If you are in receipt of a UK old age state pension, request an S1 form (previously E121) from the Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999. If you are in receipt of an exportable DWP benefit you can request an S1 form the office which pays your exportable benefit. It is your responsibility to keep the Overseas Healthcare Team or office which pays your exportable DWP benefit up to date with any changes in circumstances which may affect your entitlement to an S1 (E121). When received, register the S1 form with your local social security office, before you register with your local GP surgery and obtain a medical card.

Education

Finland has a good standard of education for all ages. There are some 3,200 schools that provide basic education. These schools are generally run by local authorities. There are neither exclusive girls’ or boys’ schools nor a significant private school system in Finland. Fewer than two per cent of children go to private schools.

For information on the school system in Finland, please visit the Ministry of Education and Culture website.

Employment and recognised qualifications

British nationals may work in Finland without a work permit, but need to register their residence (see Residence requirements below). The Public employment and business services website explains the rules of working life, permits needed and the Finnish working culture.

The recognition of a foreign degree in Finland is made by the Finnish National Board of Education on a case-by-case basis. A fee is charged for the decision.

Finland is a bilingual country (Finnish and Swedish). Knowledge of at least the basics of the Finnish language is required in practice at all workplaces, although English is often the corporate language of the largest organisations. The language level requirements are determined by the employer.

Entry and residence requirements

Please check our travel advice for Finland for general entry requirements.

If you are a British citizen you do not require a visa to enter Finland. Other British nationals should confirm the current entry requirements with their nearest Finnish embassy.

It is advised that you carry a proof of identity with you. For British nationals, this is a valid British passport. Applying for a British passport while in Finland can take 4-6 weeks as all applications are processed at HM Passport Office in UK.

According to Finnish legislation, all EU citizens planning to move to Finland must register their EU residence right with the Finnish Immigration Service. This must be done no later than 3 months after entry to Finland. Registration allows you to get a Personal Identity Code which is required by all authorities (tax, health and social services, banks, hospitals etc).

When you register, you may be asked to present UK documents like your birth/marriage certificates or documents relating to marital status (divorce/spouse’s death certificate). Make sure you get them legalised at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office before travelling.

If you move while staying in Finland, you must always inform the Population Information System. The same if you leave Finland.

Benefits

Your right to social security benefits in Finland, as a rule, depends on the duration of your residence in Finland. If you intend to take up permanent residence in Finland, you will normally be covered by the Finnish social security system and will qualify for benefits paid by KELA. For more information on EU Legislation see the KELA Finland website.

If you wish to claim a Finnish retirement pension when you have left Finland, but still plan to live in Europe, visit your local pension office where they will tell you what you are able to claim back when you leave Finland. For more information see: Pension Insurance Service

More information on some UK benefits you may be eligible for while living or travelling abroad.

Driving licence and vehicles

A UK driving licence is valid in Finland. You can exchange it for a Finnish driving licence if you are residing in Finland permanently or for a period of at least six months. See the following websites for further information:

For general regulations on driving in Finland, visit the Finnish Transport and Safety Agency

Should you need proof of your entitlement to drive you will need to apply for a ‘Certificate of Entitlement’ from the DVLA

Finance

When opening an account the bank will require at least the following information:

  • a valid ID (for British citizens this means a valid British passport)
  • personal identification code (from Population Information System) or another official code
  • address in Finland and/or abroad
  • proof of place of residence of the person opening/holding the account.

The bank may have additional requirements depending on your residence status, type of account, business/income source etc.

Any money deposited in a regular Finnish bank account is fully protected up to €100,000 per bank or a banking group. Funds held in accounts with foreign banks’ branches in Finland are protected as provided under the deposit protection scheme operated in the bank’s home country.

Taxation

Taxation is a complex issue and it is strongly recommended that professional advice is sought. Severe penalties for incorrect, incomplete or late reporting can be incurred and the legislation also means that criminal charges can be brought in the case of non-compliance. The requirement and potential penalties are in line with standard international tax practice.

For information on income tax, VAT, international agreements, taxpayer rights and obligations, inheritance, property tax etc, please visit the Finnish tax office website.

Guidance on bringing medication and other personal goods to Finland

For the latest information, please contact the Finnish customs office

Sponsoring family members

If you wish to join a family member (EU citizen) who already resides in Finland, please find guidance on your residence registration here.

Social ethics and traditions

For a brief summary, please read the guides to Finnish customs and manners published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and the judicial system of Finland.

Returning to the UK

When leaving Finland to move abroad, you must notify your Local Register Office and national insurance system (KELA). When you move to or from Finland, KELA issues a decision on your eligibility for social security benefits.

We recommend you follow us on Twitter (@ukinfinland) for important consular announcements or information affecting British nationals in Finland. In the event of a crisis, we will update you via Twitter.

Disclaimer

This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the embassy by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. The FCO and the British Embassy will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.

Published 15 November 2013
Last updated 10 May 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated information for the recipients of UK old age state pension in the "Living in Finland" guide.
  2. Updated Living in Finland guide
  3. First published.