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 also register at the Local Registry Office, 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.
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 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 the 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 the 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 Local Register Office 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.
The actual process of setting up a business is the same as for a Finnish citizen. Submit the start-up notification of your company in the Business Information System (YTJ) electronically or using a paper form. You can submit your company’s information to the Trade Register of the Finnish Patent and Registration Office and in the customer, prepayment, employer and VAT registers of the Tax Administration. More details on submitting the information is available on the website of the Business Information System. If you are submitting a notification for private traders, you cannot submit the above-mentioned notifications at the same time.
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 Finnish Patent and Registration Office has in practice granted permits for persons who live permanently in Switzerland. The Finnish Patent and Registration Office assesses the situation and decides whether a permit is granted when it processes the matter. 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. 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.
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.