Permits and notifications for non-EU citizens
If you are a citizen of a non-EU country and are moving to Finland to become an entrepreneur, you need a residence permit for an entrepreneur, an employed person, or a start-up entrepreneur. Once you have been granted a residence permit for at least one year, you must register at the Digital and Population Data Services Agency which will provide you with a municipality of residence and a Finnish personal identity code.
The actual process of establishing a business is similar as for Finnish citizens. You can also take advantage of the Business start-up wizard. It is an easy-to-use tool which gives you a check-list of matters that are obligatory when you are setting up a business.
Submit your start-up notification of your company electronically in the Finnish Patent and Registration Office's Business Information System (YTJ).
If you are a citizen of a non-EU country and are moving to Finland to become an entrepreneur, you always need a residence permit.
You need a residence permit for an entrepreneur if you are a shareholder employed in a leading position at a limited liability company, a partner in a general partnership, or a responsible partner in a limited partnership.
You need a residence permit for an employee if you are the founder or shareholder in a limited liability company or a silent partner in a limited partnership.
You need a residence permit for a startup entrepreneur, if you wish to establish a startup company in Finland.
Once you have been granted a residence permit of at least one year, register at a service location of the Digital and Population Data Services Agency (a local register office).
Please note that your personal identity certificate and other documents must be legalised so that you can apply for a residence permit, register in Finland, and get a Finnish personal identity code. You must also provide an official translation into Finnish, Swedish or English or all your documents in a foreign language. You must personally get the translations from an authorised translator.
A residence permit may either be for a fixed term or be permanent. The first permit is always valid for a fixed period, typically one year. After this, you may apply for an extension to the permit.
If you are abroad, submit your residence permit application to a Finnish consulate, and if you are in Finland, to the Finnish Immigration Service. Apply for the extension from the Finnish Immigration Service.
You may also apply for a Finnish personal identity code when applying for a residence permit.
To receive a residence permit for an entrepreneur, you must be able to prove that the enterprise has the potential to be profitable and that your own income will be guaranteed. You must also personally work in your company in Finland. The ELY Centre will assess whether you meet the criteria, for example based on your business plan. A final decision on a residence permit will be made by the Finnish Immigration Service.
If you intend to establish a startup company in Finland, you must prepare a business plan and ask for a favourable statement for acting as a growth entrepreneur from Business Finland. You may only apply for the residence permit for a startup entrepreneur after this.
You must apply for a residence permit electronically online in good time before arriving to Finland. Select the residence permit for an entrepreneur, employee or a startup entrepreneur based on what your role will be in Finland.
After submitting the application, visit the Finnish consulate nearest to you within three months. Be prepared to prove your identity, give your fingerprints and present the original copies of the appendices to your application. The processing of your application will only start once you have visited the consulate.
If you are unable to apply for the residence permit online, you may submit a paper application form and its appendices to the Finnish consulate nearest to you.
The processing of the permit application is subject to a fee. Pay the fee when visiting the consulate.
Once you have been granted a residence permit for at least one year, you must also register at a service location of the Digital and Population Data Services Agency (a local register office), which will assign a municipality of residence for you. Getting a municipality of residence may make your life easier, as municipalities provide their residents with a wide range of important services. You may apply for a municipality of residence in Finland if you have a valid permanent or continuous residence permit and you reside in Finland permanently.
Register at a service location of the Digital and Population Data Services Agency (a local register office) in person. Take with you your passport and residence permit, and your marriage certificate and the birth certificates of your underage children if these apply to you.
The Digital and Population Data Services Agency will store your basic information in the Finnish population information system, including your name, date of birth, nationality, family relations and address. In this context, you will get a Finnish personal identity code, which makes it easier to manage issues at banks and with the authorities.
If you are a citizen of another Nordic country, you can establish a company in Finland. You will need a residence permit to be able to do it. The process of establishing a company is similar to the process for Finnish citizens. Submit your company's start-up notification in the Business Information System (YTJ) either by using a paper form or electronically. Currently, you can submit the start-up notification electronically for a private entrepreneur and, in most cases, a limited liability company. Other company forms require a notification on paper.
You can use the start-up notification on paper to submit your company’s information to the Trade Register of the Finnish Patent and Registration Office and to the customer, prepayment, employer and VAT registers of the Tax Administration. If you submit the start-up notification to the Trade Register electronically, you must submit you company’s information to the registers of the Tax Administration in a separate notification of change. To submit an electronic notification, you need a Finnish personal identity code.
If you do not have a permanent place of residence in the European Economic Area, you need a permit for working as a private trader in Finland. The permit issue is assessed and resolved by the Finnish Patent and Registration Office.
Persons in managerial and responsible positions in other company forms in Finland, such as limited liability companies, may also have to apply to the Finnish Patent and Registration Office for a permit.
A permit from the supervisory authority is also required for engaging in certain trades, such as goods transport and the sales of alcoholic beverages. Check if engaging in your trade requires a permit. Apply for the permit before starting your business from the government agency whose field of operations covers the issue.
Some trades, including real estate brokerage and package tour services are not subject to a permit but you must inform the supervisory authority if you intend to engage in the trades. Check if engaging in your trade requires a separate notification.
Please also note that some professions are subject to regulation in Finland. For instance, if you intend to start a chimney sweeping company and work as a chimney sweep, you must first apply for the recognition of your professional qualifications from the competent authority. Check whether your own profession is regulated in Finland and which authority recognises the professional qualification.