Living in Finland

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Moving to Finland as an entrepreneur

In Finland, anyone with a permanent residence in a country belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA) can start a business. The need for a permit is not dependent on nationality but instead your place of residence.

If you are a citizen of an EU country, EEA country, Nordic country or Switzerland and wish to move to Finland to start a business, you do not require a residence permit.

Read more on the InfoFinland page EU citizens.

If you do not live in the EEA area and are a citizen of a country other than a Member State of the European Union, an EEA country or Switzerland, you will need a residence permit to become an entrepreneur in Finland.

Your business operations must be profitable, and your livelihood must be ensured by earnings from these activities. You must apply for the first residence permit before you come to Finland.

Entrepreneur’s residence permit

If you want to work as an entrepreneur in Finland, you will need an entrepreneur’s residence permit.

The following are regarded as entrepreneurs:

  • start-up entrepreneur
  • sole proprietor, an individually-owned business
  • partner in a general partnership
  • active partner in a limited partnership
  • member of a cooperative who has an unlimited obligation to contribute
  • partner in an executive position in a limited company (managing director or board member) or some other corporation

In order to be eligible for a residence permit, you must personally work at your company in Finland.

If you do not have a permanent residence in Finland or elsewhere in the EEA area, you must register your business operations in the Trade Register of the Finnish Patent and Registration Office before applying for an entrepreneur’s residence permit.

If you move to Finland or the EEA area permanently, you will not require permission from the Finnish Patent and Registration Office to set up a business. In other words, the permit is not dependent on your nationality but instead your place of permanent residence.

The processing of the residence permit application involves two phases. First, the ELY Centre (Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment) assesses the profitability of your company based on your business plan and financing, among other things. Then, the Finnish Immigration Service issues its decision on the residence permit.

The web pages of the Finnish Immigration Service provide more information on the preconditions for applying for an entrepreneur’s residence permit.

linkkiNational Board of Patents and Registration of Finland:
Permits for entrepreneurs living outside the EEA areaFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiFinnish Immigration Service:
Entrepreneur’s residence permitFinnish | Swedish | English

Start-up residence permit

If you would like to establish a start-up company in Finland, you can apply for a start-up residence permit intended for start-up entrepreneurs. In order to gain a start-up residence permit, you must have a concrete business plan.

The process of applying for a start-up residence permit involves two phases:

  1. You need an eligibility statement from Business Finland to serve as a start-up entrepreneur.
  2. Apply for a start-up residence permit and visit a Finnish diplomatic mission or a Finnish Immigration Service office to establish your identity.

The process is very fast and smooth. First, you need a favourable eligibility statement from the Business Finland innovation centre. Business Finland, which provides support to businesses, will evaluate your company’s business model, competence and capability of growing its operations. You can send the information regarding your business plan and the requisite documents to Business Finland electronically.

Once you have received a favourable assessment from Business Finland, you can apply for a start-up residence permit from the Finnish Immigration Service. Business Finland’s statement will remain valid for two months. Deliver the statement to the Finnish Immigration Service as an appendix to your start-up residence permit application.

You cannot receive a start-up residence permit for Finland without a favourable assessment from Business Finland.

The web pages of the Finnish Immigration Service and Business Finland provide instructions and more information on applying for the residence permit for start-up entrepreneurs.

linkkiBusiness Finland:
Start-up residence permitEnglish

linkkiFinnish Immigration Service:
Start-up residence permitFinnish | Swedish | English

Applying for a residence permit

You can apply for an entrepreneur’s residence permit or start-up residence permit online through the Enter Finland service. After applying, you must visit the closest Finnish diplomatic mission to prove your identity, and present original copies of the application appendices. You must visit a Finnish diplomatic mission within three months of submitting the application online. The application cannot be processed until you have visited the Finnish diplomatic mission. You usually need to make an appointment in advance to visit a Finnish diplomatic mission.

Remember to check your Enter Finland account regularly. If further clarifications are needed for your application, you will be informed through your account.

If you are unable to apply online, you can bring a paper form and its appendices to the closest Finnish diplomatic mission. You can print out the application form from the Finnish Immigration Service website.

Processing the permit application is subject to a fee. You must pay the fee when you submit the permit application.

Read more about starting a business on the InfoFinland page Starting a business.

linkkiEnterfinland.fi:
Electronic applicationFinnish | Swedish | English

Finnish personal identity code

When you apply for your first residence permit for Finland, you can ask to be registered in the Finnish Population Information System. This means that you will receive a Finnish personal identity code at the same time as your residence permit. Further information on the Finnish personal identity code is available on the InfoFinland page Registering as a resident.

Being an entrepreneur in Finland

More information for employees and entrepreneurs is available on the InfoFinland page Work and Enterprise.

linkkiNewCo Helsinki:
Guide to starting a businessFinnish | English | Chinese

The Finnish Immigration Service: Presentation of the Enter Finland e-service