Living in Finland

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Starting a business in Finland

You can start a company in Finland regardless of your nationality. It is important that you have a right of residence in Finland, the necessary professional skills and sufficient Finnish language skills.

Residence permit or registration of right of residence?

If you are a Nordic citizen and you move to Finland, register at the Local Registry Office. You do not need a separate residence permit for Finland. Read more on the InfoFinland page Nordic citizens.

If you are a citizen of an EU member state, Liechtenstein or Switzerland and you move to Finland, register at the Finnish Immigration Service and Local Registry Office. Read more on the InfoFinland page EU citizens.

If you are a citizen of a country that is not an EU member state and you move to Finland as an entrepreneur, you need either an entrepreneur’s residence permit, employee’s residence permit or startup residence permit. Read more on the InfoFinland page Moving to Finland as an entrepreneur.

linkkiNewCo Helsinki:
Immigrant Entrepreneurs: How to become an entrepreneur in Finland?(pdf, 384 kt)Finnish | English

linkkiSuomi.fi:
Permits and notifications of a foreign entrepreneurFinnish | Swedish | English

Develop a business idea

The process of starting a business is the same as for Finnish citizens.

If you want to establish a business, consider carefully whether your business idea is a good one. Consider too, whether you have sufficient professional skill and experience. It is important to be very familiar with the laws governing your field of business and entrepreneurship in general. It is also important to know your customers and sales methods.

Don’t forget that there are also risks involved in entrepreneurship. Adequate financing and careful planning are essential.

linkkiEnterprise Finland:
Starting a businessFinnish | Swedish | English

Make a business plan

In a business plan, you analyse the strengths and weaknesses of your skills as well as the properties of the product, goods or service you will offer. Consider who your customers are and what kinds of wishes they have. Also consider who your competitors are and what kind of products and operating methods they have.

The most important part of a business plan is the operation plan of your company. Consider carefully how, where and on what kind of premises your company will operate. Consider the production equipment or labour you will need. What kind of advertising media will you use to promote sales? You must also find out whether insurance covers the operational risks.

Also consider how you will organise bookkeeping and plan finances. How will you monitor the realisation of your plans? Write down all these things in your business plan.

Help in making a business plan

More detailed advice on producing a business plan can be obtained from the various business advice centres. You can also download entrepreneur guides in at least Finnish and English from their websites. You can also find a business plan template and other document templates there.

linkkiNewCo Helsinki:
Guide to starting a businessFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian | Estonian | French | Somali | Turkish | Chinese | Arabic

Ask for advice from Business advice

Free business advice is available to everyone in Finland. Advice is offered, for example, by:

  • Finnish Enterprise Agency (Uusyrityskeskus)
  • Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY centres) (Elinkeino-, liikenne- ja ympäristökeskus, ELY-keskus)
  • Employment and Economic Development Offices (TE Offices) (Työ- ja elinkeinotoimistot, TE-toimistot)
  • Enterprise Finland (Yritys-Suomi) (through its website and by phone)

If you have a good business idea, contact your nearest business development agency. There, experts will help you develop your business idea, do market research, calculate profitability and survey financing. You can also get support for considering whether to start a company.

Business advice is given in Finnish and Swedish and, at least in larger towns, also in English. Sometimes, it may even be possible to get business advice in other languages.

linkkiEnterprise Finland:
Business counsellingFinnish | Swedish | English

Courses for entrepreneurs

Different establishments organise courses and information events for entrepreneurs, and these are very useful for people who are starting a business. The subjects covered in the courses include, for example, how to make a business plan, launching business activities, bookkeeping, company taxation, legal matters, marketing, sales and customer service.

Organise financing

Financing of the company must be carefully planned before you start a company. It is important for there to be sufficient capital at the outset. Company financing may also be partly in the form of donations or loans. When you apply for financing, you must have a sound business plan ready.

Loans

Banks and Finnvera grant loans to entrepreneurs who start a company. Finnvera is a financing company owned by the state of Finland. It grants loans to new companies and to companies that are already running. If your company has the preconditions for profitable operations but you do not have enough capital or securities to get a loan from a bank, ask whether Finnvera could give you a loan or sponsor your loan.

linkkiEnterprise Finland:
Company financingFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiFinnvera:
Company financingFinnish | Swedish | English

Start-up grant (starttiraha)

When you become an entrepreneur, you can receive a start-up grant to ensure your livelihood during the beginning of your business operation. Apply for a start-up grant to your local Employment and Economic Office. You can receive it for a maximum of twelve months.

When you apply for a start-up grant, the Employment and Economic Office will determine if entrepreneurship is a suitable employment alternative for you.

You are eligible for the grant if:

  • you are an unemployed job seeker (työtön työnhakija).
  • you are not unemployed but about to transition into full-time entrepreneurship after having a job, studying or working from home.
  • you are a part-time entrepreneur and expand your entrepreneurial activities to full-time.

Prerequisites for getting a start-up grant:

  • full-time entrepreneurship
  • knowledge, skillset and resources required for the planned entrepreneurship
  • potential to run a profitable business, as evaluated by the Employment and Economic Development Office
  • the start-up grant is needed for the entrepreneur to make a living
  • business operations will be started only after the decision on your start-up grant has been made

If you are going to apply for a start-up grant, contact your Employment and Economic Development office as soon as possible.

Other forms of support for an entrepreneur are also available. Enterprise Finland gives information on different financing options.

linkkiMinistry of Economic Affairs and Employment:
Information about start-up grantFinnish | Swedish | English

Select your company form

When establishing a business, the company form, name of the company and choice of field of activity have to be chosen. When choosing the company form, you must consider, for example, the number of founders, capital requirement, division of responsibility and decision-making, financing and taxation.

The various company forms in Finland are proprietorship (toiminimi), partnership (avoin yhtiö), limited partnership (kommandiittiyhtiö), limited company (osakeyhtiö) and cooperative association (osuuskunta).

When you are considering the choice of company form, you are strongly advised to contact an establishment offering Business advice.

Read more on the InfoFinland page Company forms.