Information for arriving international staff

This page is designed to guide you smoothly through the relocation and onboarding process.
Below you can find info on the following themes
  • Immigration formalities
  • Onboarding
  • Housing
  • Practicalities of living
  • Healthcare and social security
  • Childcare and education for children
  • Spouse support
  • Taxation and pension
Welcome to the University of Helsinki!

About this guide

We wish you a warm welcome to the University of Helsinki. We are a motivating, multicultural community of more than 50,000 students, researchers and staff. The University provides support for internationally recruited staff members and their families. Relocation advice, orientation, training and various other activities are provided to all staff to facilitate a smooth entry into the University of Helsinki community. We also wish to include spouses and families in the onboarding process.

Please review the information materials provided below. The content is designed to guide you through the relocation process independently. The materials include general guidelines regarding official matters that you need to attend to when arriving in Finland, as well as the necessary contact details for the relevant local authorities. In addition, we provide you with advice and contacts for public services (incl. daycare and schools), guidance on finding short- and long-term accommodation. Part of the instructions require access to University of Helsinki intranet Flamma, which you will get once you arrive at the University of Helsinki.

The most important websites we link to in this guide are the following:

InfoFinland (City of Helsinki and other Finnish municipalities)

welcome.helsinki (City of Helsinki)

International House Helsinki (City of Helsinki)

Greeting from the Rector

Pleased to meet you!

We are delighted that you will be joining our academic family. Our university is an international community of 50,000 students, faculty and other staff in which everyone brings something new to the whole. We want to enable a creative, international environment for learning and word class research. Our community offers top class services for your support at all stages of your career at the University of Helsinki. We offer support for the arrival process and orientation for you and your family. Tools for professional development, support for applying for funding and models for career advancement are always at your reach. A variety of services and employee benefits are available to all our staff. On this website you will find lots of useful information, as well as contact details for university and other support services. We hope you can take advantage of the opportunities for networking and creating yourself a good life here at the University of Helsinki.

Sari Lindblom, Rector

Onboarding events and information - Learning Finnish

The pre-arrival info sessions are meant for future employees and other staff members of all units of the university, who are still in the departure country. The main focus is on the necessities of relocation, but we also inform of other relevant matters one can start to get acquainted to.  Post-arrival sessions focus more on matters of integration in Finland and practicalities at the University. If the information in available in time, HR invites the international newcomers to the pre-arrival info sessions by email. You can however ensure your participation by contacting us at int-staff@helsinki.fi. You don't need to register for our post-arrival info sessions. We'll send invitations to staff based on their contracts in the HR system.

This page provides you with key information on the orientation to help you familiarise yourself with your new employer and learn about the practicalities involved at the beginning your new job.

Beginning a new job and orientation (Flamma intranet)

This induction event for new staff will give you an overview of the University as an employer and as a community. In addition to meeting colleagues, you’ll be able to ask questions from our experts on topics such as basic employment issues and occupational healthcare, university services, how to be active in the University community and relocation issues. The event is part of the University of Helsinki onboarding process and is organised twice a year.

Events, trainings and activities for international staff (Flamma intranet)

Finnish Working Culture is a recommended training event for new international staff. It is a one-day training course offering a general introduction to Finnish society and the working culture, its features and quirks. The training session is provided once or twice a year.

Events, trainings and activities for international staff (Flamma intranet)

Experiencing Finland are welcoming events held each semester for newly arrived international staff and their family members. The event is organiwed together with Aalto University so you can also meet colleagues from Aalto.

Events, trainings and activities for international staff (Flamma intranet)

Sign up for the programme and find your UniBuddy who will help you settle in at the University of Helsinki and in Finland.

Unibuddy

The programme is not for exchange students, nor for undergraduate students or students in Master's programmes.

The University of Helsinki offers possibilities for both normal language courses as well as an application for fast, personal learning of real-life language skills, operated via your computer or phone. Learning the local language will certainly help you to understand the culture and the daily life better.

The University's international staff can use the the WordDive language learning application, which can be activated even before starting / while still in the departure country by contacting int-staff(a)helsinki.fi. If you have already arrived in Finland and have a University user account, the registration is done via the intranet tool Suffeli.

The courses on offer range from beginner to advanced, and each course is built around the language situations that are important to the participants. Please read more via this Flamma-acticle, which also offers more info on the various courses.

In August of 2024, the University of Helsinki organises a “Survival Finnish” course for international students and staff, consisting of three (3) online meetings and a Moodle platform with useful information and tools. The aim is to give you a glimpse of the Finnish language and culture in order to make your first weeks in Finland easier. Please find more info at the website on Survival Finnish for international students and staff. 

Also more traditional Finnish for Foreigners language courses are offered for international members of staff. More information can be found on the intranet Flamma, at Language training for University staff.

The Kielibuusti (Language boost) project offers advice and materials on anything related to learning Finnish and Swedish. Do check out their website for learners.

There are also courses outside the University. You can find out more of them on Studying Finnish (InfoFinland) and on Finnishcourses.fi (InfoFinland)

 

Immigration formalities and settling into Finland
Uni Arrival Advisor

The Uni Arrival Advisor is a simple digital service by the University of Helsinki to guide you through the necessary registrations and formalities upon your arrival in Finland. It is important, that you use it to find out about the necessary steps you need to take before and after arrival in Finland.

If you are coming from outside the EU, you usually need to apply for a residence permit beforehand in the Enter Finland-service of the Finnish immigration service, which includes  identification at a local Finnish embassy or a VFS Global Application Centre. EU citizens complete an EU registration in Finland within three months of arrival. Nordic citizens must register at the Digital and Population Data Services Agency (DVV) within a week of arrival, if planning to stay in Finland for over 6 months.

Once in Finland, you need to visit the related officials. In the greater Helsinki area, this means visiting the International House Helsinki (IHH). At IHH, the services of the Digital and Population Data Services Agency (DVV), the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela), the Tax Administration, the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri), to name a few, at your disposal. Most of the service providers require a pre-booked meeting, please check the IHH website for details. Bear in mind the original and translated birth and marriage certificates needed at DVV. The Apostille is not required from certificates awarded in EU-countries.

Uni Arrival Advisor

A Finnish personal identity code (in Finnish "hetu") is needed for managing most administrative matters in Finland (e.g. opening a bank account). A personal identity code can be obtained when applying for a residence permit or an EU registration at Finnish Immigration Service (Migri). The personal identity code can also be obtained from the Digital and Population Data Services Agency DVV (at International House Helsinki), regardless of whether you are registered as a permanent resident or living in Finland on a temporary basis. You can also obtain a personal identity code from the tax office (in Helsinki at Hämeentie 15). Please note that you can only register as a permanent resident at the DVV, and this status will also be reflected on your personal identity code.

Currently opening a bank account in Finland can take several weeks, therefore we strongly recommend that you keep your account in the departure country active, if possible. Your first salary can in most cases be paid there, to avoid practical problems at the start of employment.

When opening a bank account, you will normally be required to present an employment or other type of contract from the University and your passport or identity card (from an EEA-country, Switzerland or San Marino) as well as your residence permit or EU registration document. Opening a bank account is recommended for all staff members receiving a salary from the University of Helsinki, especially if your intended stay in Finland is more than a few months. All salaries and grants paid by the University of Helsinki can be paid to any bank account in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). A Finnish personal identity code is usually required for opening a bank account. Please ask about additional requirements from the bank you have chosen.

The strong identification e-banking service is by far the most widely accepted and most practical method of online identification in Finland, and we recommend applying for that. For applying for strong identification banking services, an ID card from Finland or from another EEA-country, Switzerland or San Marino can be used. The police however also provides one-time identifications, e.g. for bank service purposes. The one-time identification costs as much as the ID-card.

Here is a list of the major Finnish banks:

OP (EU and swiss citizens do not need the ID card, only proof of citizenship)

Danske Bank

Nordea

Savings bank - Säästöpankki

S-pankki (only in Finnish)

Aktia (mostly in Finnish or Swedish)

Handelsbanken (only in Finnish or Swedish)

Banks must provide a basic payment account service on an equal and non-discriminatory basis to all retail customers who are legally resident in an EEA country. Strong identification online banking requirements are not a reason for a bank to not to offer basic services like an account where salary can be paid to. Read more about it the website of the Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority.

We advise you to apply for online banking codes, which enable e-identification. That allows you to log in to all Finnish public administration e-services, the use of which require strong identification. Using the online banking is by far the most common way of identification, and it is also most widely accepted.

Another way for e-identification, which comes with other benefits and which we strongly recommend, is to order a Finnish identity card from the police. Some banks in fact require the ID card for strong identification online banking. It is worth it to book a time for this well in advance.

To activate it for e-identification use on its own, you will first need a card reading device and software. More info can be found on suomi.fi-website.

It is recommended to book an appointment with the police beforehand. You will need an official passport photo for the card, which the service provider can deliver straight to the police. Below you can find a short list of photo service providers

Another way for identification is mobile identification, which works on all mobile phones, but strong identification requires that there is an activated mobile certificate on the mobile phone’s SIM card. See your mobile provider’s website and the Mobiilivarmenne.fi web page for more information on the introduction of a mobile certificate and any charges it may include. 

Passikuvasuomi

Fotoyks

Tunninkuva

Kuvatehdas

The EURAXESS portal is a useful website for finding information about Finland and living and working here. Please see especially the Guide for International Researchers and Their Families. You can also ask for more information on matters related to arriving in Finland from the HR Services of your unit.

EURAXESS: Information and assistance for living and working in Finland

Guidance and advice:

Guides:

Practicalities:

Working in Finland

Information sources on working in Finland:

  • Higher education specific: contact your own institution’s HR
  • Work in Finland website, by Business Finland
  • Finnwards blog on working and living in Finland, by Finnwards
  • Finland works course, by Aalto University

Rights and duties in the Finnish labour market:

Learning Finnish / Swedish

Available courses

  • Check the University's language support for staff on this page
  • Finnishcourses.fi: search engine for Finnish courses in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Turku, Tampere and Oulu
  • Course location search, by the Language Boost project

Tips and resources for learning Finnish / Swedish

Job search and career development

Guidance and advice:

Guides:

Practices in job search in Finland:

Labour market, skills needs and career prospects in Finland:

Mentoring programmes:

Courses on career planning:

Organisations regularly organising events, workshops, hackathons etc. for internationals:

Entrepreneurship

Guidance and advice:

Networks and encounters:

Other support for entrepreneurship:

Life in Helsinki and Finland

Information sources on living in the region and Finland

  • InfoFinland: your guide for living in Finland, in twelve languages, by the City of Helsinki
  • Welcome Helsinki: a website for newcomers by the City of Helsinki
  • Hello Espoo: a website and events for newcomers by the City of Espoo
  • Vantaa for Immigrants: a website with information on key services, by the City of Vantaa
  • MyHelsinki: your local guide to Helsinki with tips on exploring the Helsinki region, by the City of Helsinki
  • This is Finland: things you should and shouldn’t know with tips and information on different aspects of life in Finland, by Visit Finland
  • Finnwards blog on working and living in Finland, by Finnwards

Leisure

Health and wellbeing:

  • National emergency number: 112

Family life

Networks and peer support for spouses:

  • Spouse program, by the City of Helsinki
  • HEI LIFE Spouse Network, by Aalto University, University of Helsinki, Hanken School of Economics, University of the Arts and the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT)

City and state services for families:

Information and support for childcare and schooling:

Useful organisations for families:

Information related to families and family life in Finland:

Once you have gotten familiar with the instructions for immigration to Finland  and starting work at the University of Helsinki, this list might be of help in remembering all the various steps.

Checklist for arriving international staff (pdf)

Support materials for onboarding

The University of Helsinki invests in the welfare of its employees by offering preventative occupational health services and general medical care. Occupational healthcare services are available for all University of Helsinki employees who work at least 14 hours per week. Family members or grant-funded researchers at the University are not entitled to use occupational health services.

In Finland, the employer does not usually provide health care insurance to its employees or their families, as residents normally belong to the Finnish social security system, administered by the Finnish Social Insurance Institution, Kela

The University employees can use occupational health services from Monday to Friday, 8.00–20.00, if their occupational health unit is open. Employees cannot use occupational health services at night, on weekends or on public holidays that fall on a working day. The assigned occupational health unit for employees depends on the location of their workplace. The occupational health unit in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area is Mehiläinen Ympyrätalo.

By far not all forms of healthcare are included in occupational health care, but are available to the University employees via the public system. All University of Helsinki employees are also insured for work-related travel and accidents.

Occupational Healthcare (Flamma intranet)

Occupational safety and worktime insurance (Flamma intranet)

One of the first and most important things you need at the University is a IT user account. You need to apply for that by sending a user account application. Please read further instructions here: Instructions for completing the username application form.

The IT services of the University are provided by the IT Centre. If you have any IT related questions or problems, please visit the IT Helpdesk instructions page, which is available 24/7 in Finnish, English and Swedish. You do not need to log in to use the instructions site. The contact information and service hours of the IT Helpdesk can be found on the Helpdesk instructions page.

We recommend that you read these useful IT instructions in advance. In order to use the information systems of the University of Helsinki, you will need a user account. For instructions on applying for a user account, please visit the Helpdesk instructions page.

The University of Helsinki uses the wireless eduroam network. You can access it with the username and password of your home university. If you do not have a username and password, you can create them before your arrival on the eduroam site. You can check if your home university uses eduroam by visiting the eduroam page. You can also find instructions for printing on the Helpdesk instructions page. If you do not yet have a University of Helsinki user account, please see the Print in City printing instructions.

 

Flamma is the intranet of the University of Helsinki. It is the main channel for internal communications for all University staff. The University offers comprehensive communication and other services in English.

 

On Flamma, you can:

  • Read, create and comment on news
  • Post and discuss in the University’s community feed “Virtanen”
  • Post events in the calendar
  • Find all services, tools and instructions easily
  • Find information and guidelines about the University
  • Find and fill in your personal profile for the University people finder.
  • Be a member of the University community

To log in to Flamma, you will need a University of Helsinki username and password.

Once you have received your University of Helsinki user account, we recommend you join our international Teams community: Internationals at the University of Helsinki.

It is open to all international employees at the university, as well as all international researchers and individuals completing doctoral studies at the university - regardless of how their studies/research is funded. Inclusion is the key word and anyone who identifies as international is welcome to join. There are specific channels for the main staff groups. 

The Teams community is not designed to replace existing communication channels like service addresses or Flamma, nor procedures for staff to receive support, but rather to amplify the former and provide an informal discussion area for international staff. You can find the Teams community via this Teams link, or doing a search in Teams with "Internationals at the University of Helsinki".

Research Services help researchers in obtaining research funding, assist them in project administration while the projects are ongoing, promote the application of research outcomes and business collaboration as well as provide assistance in preparing research agreements. Research Services support laboratory activities by managing equipment maintenance and laboratory staff pools. In addition, Research Services support the academic leadership in planning and decision-making related to research activities and their development.

Support for research (Flamma intranet)

Research Services (Flamma intranet)

The Helsinki University Library operates on all four University campuses. The Helsinki University Library is open to everyone. A library card is required to borrow materials. You can get a Helsinki University Library HELKA card from the library by presenting an official ID the first time you loan an item. A library card is personal and the holder is responsible for the material borrowed with it. The library database HELKA can be accessed online through the library website or the direct link to HELKA services.

The Helsinki University Library has more than 30,000 scientific journal subscriptions. If you have logged in with your University of Helsinki user account, you have access to all the information resources (databases, e-journals, e-books) available at the University of Helsinki.

Helsinki University Library

The University of Helsinki has a talent management plan including digital skills, inclusive leadership, community spirit, and service skills. We support all staff in developing these skills and pay special attention to supervision skills.           

We offer courses supporting researchers at various stages of their careers. For example, you can choose from courses on communication, project management, research funding, educational technology and IT skills, as well as language courses.

Staff and supervisors address issues of personal development in annual target and development discussions. For teacher and researcher staff also so-called work plans are drawn up on this basis.

In addition, these discussions enable exploring the need for teaching and supervision in the degree programmes and ensuring the fair division of the workload while allocating sufficient time for research.

In addition to universitys own activity, we can recommend to get familiar with the career developments tools and information on Euraxess-website. Euraxess facuses also on the career options of researchers outside academia, in addition to promoting the more traditional academic mobility. 

Skills development (Flamma intranet)

Objectives and planning of work (Flamma intranet)

The wellbeing of our staff is important to us. We wish to help each employee succeed and thrive in their work. This is why we offer our staff a comprehensive selection of benefits.

Staff benefits

The legal status of grant-funded and visiting researchers differs somewhat from that of employees. Usually a contract is made with a grant-funded researcher or a visiting researcher staying at the University for a longer period. In the contract, the terms of working at the University and the arrangement of the necessary working conditions are agreed upon.

Scholars receiving a grant or a scholarship from Finland for a period exceeding four months are obliged to seek coverage under a special insurance for grant recipients. This insurance is provided by an institution called the Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution (MELA). It covers pension insurance, occupational accident insurance and group life insurance. More information can obtained from on-site HR Services and from the Flamma intranet.

Difference between contractual employment and the status of a grant-funded researcher/visiting researcher (Flamma intranet)

MELA

All the Finnish universities share the same salary system, which is defined in the Collective Agreement for Finnish Universities.

The agreement also includes the salary tables, which are used to give general increases in salary to the entire staff.

With employment lasting longer than 6 months, salaries are defined under the YPJ salary system, and consist of

  • A job-specific component (requirement level)
  • A personal component (performance category and performance percentage).

The performance percentage can be changed as a result of an assessment discussion held during the assessment period (normally between 1 September and 30 November). In exceptional cases can the personal performance be assessed in the spring (April-May).

Salary system (Flamma intranet)

Housing

Helsinki comprises a diverse array of distinct neighborhoods, each offering its own charm and character. In Helsinki all the neighborhoods are safe, and the public transportation works well. Within this vibrant city, a plethora of housing options awaits, ranging from short-term to long-term accommodations, as well as rented and owned properties. In addition, we highly encourage you to explore the accommodation options provided by Unihome, which are elaborated upon in further detail below. 

For those seeking assistance in locating housing, private house finding services are available, albeit at an additional cost, offering tailored support in navigating the complexities of the rental market. 

Please review the following materials when searching for housing 

  1. The guide Housing in Helsinki, provided by International House Helsinki, offers a comprehensive overview of the various housing options available locally, aiding individuals in navigating the process of securing accommodation that aligns with their requirements. 
  2. Housing in Helsinki page by infoFinland.fi has a lot of useful information about housing matters. 
  3. If you are a doctoral researcher, kindly visit our page: Housing for doctoral students 

The University of Helsinki offers affordable housing for staff members arriving from abroad through Unihome. We recommend that new employees consider this option and check availability from Unihome, a housing service co-owned by the University of Helsinki and Aalto University. For example, Töölö Towers offers good quality short-term housing with a big variety of apartment sizes. To access our special University rates when booking your stay online, simply enter the code Uni24 in the designated 'Add promotional code' section.

In addition, Unihome offers rental apartments for longer stays to University staff arriving in Finland from abroad. Apartments for the University of Helsinki staff are rented initially for 12 months. After the first 10 months a second 12-month rental agreement can be concluded, depending on the length of the waiting list. The apartments cannot be reserved, but must be applied for by submitting the relevant form. An appointment letter, employment contract or official hosting agreement (please ask the onsite HR Services of your unit) is required in order to receive a rental apartment offer.

The tenant is expected to take a home insurance, when renting an apartment from UniHome.

In accordance with a rector’s decision, the apartments are offered to the international groups below, mainly at the beginning of their studies or work, so as to support the University’s international recruitment efforts:

  • Research staff arriving at the University of Helsinki from abroad
  • International grant-funded researchers working at the University of Helsinki
  • International externally funded researchers working at the University of Helsinki
  • International postgraduate students arriving to study at the University of Helsinki

The University of Helsinki does not offer apartments to other staff, but only to employees belonging to teacher and research staff.

The offered rental apartments are located at the following addresses:

  • Mannerheimintie 96 (45 apartments, unfurnished), close to Meilahti and City Centre campus
  • Maneesikatu 4 b (25 apartments, furnished) close to City Centre and Meilahti campus
  • Koetilankuja 2 (64 apartments, unfurnished) at Viikki campus and close to Kumpula campus
  • Vuolukiventie 1 b (staircases B–F, 127 studios, furnished) close to Viikki and Kumpula campus 
  • Hakalantie 12-16 (12 apartments, unfurnished), at Viikki campus and close to Kumpula campus
  • Karstulantie 2 (5 apartments, unfurnished) close to Kumpula and City centre campus
  • Viikinkaari 2 (2 apartments, unfurnished) at Viikki campus and close to Kumpula campus
  • Tilanhoitajankaari 4 (unfurnished, 1-3 rooms apartments) at Viikki area, please contact: viikki.isp@retta.fi

It is good to know that larger family-sized apartments are located at Mannerheimintie and Koetilankuja.

8 reasons to choose Unihome

  1. University-Owned and Flexible Housing Option - These housing solutions are provided
    directly by the university, offering flexibility to accommodate the needs of our staff members.
  2. Prime Locations Adjacent to Campuses - Enjoy the convenience of residing near our
    campuses, ensuring easy access to academic and professional facilities.
  3. Payment Flexibility for Short-Term Stays - For short-term stays at Töölö Towers, payment can
    be made in cash if needed, allowing for flexibility especially if your first salary or grant is received in
    cash.
  4. Deferred Initial Rent Payment for Long-Term Housing - In our long-term housing options,
    the first rent payment can be deferred until the beginning of the third rental month, providing relief
    if the process of opening a Finnish bank account takes time.
  5. Home Insurance Requirement - Home insurance must be confirmed at the beginning of the
    third rental month at the latest. This requirement offers a sense of reassurance, if obtaining Finnish
    social security, a prerequisite for securing insurance coverage, entails a considerable duration.
  6. Registration for Official Purposes - The address at Töölö Towers for short-term stays can be
    registered as a permanent address by the Digital and Population Data Services Agency (DVV).
  7. No Rental Deposit Required - Rest assured, there is no need for a rental deposit, alleviating
    financial burden during your stay.
  8. Community Atmosphere - Experience a strong sense of community as all tenants are fellow
    University staff members.

For further information and assistance, please send an email to housing(a)unihome.fi or call +358 50 310 9705 Monday-Friday 9.00-16.30

Unihome - Short term housing

Unihome - housing application (doc)

If you are a doctoral researcher, please visit our page:

Housing for doctoral students

International House Helsinki's guide Housing in Helsinki gives you an overview of the local housing options and helps you understand the steps to take to find a home that suits your needs.

Even though the prices at both renting and owning an apartment or house have decreased moderately during the early 2020´s, the rental market in the capital region is quite competitive and finding suitable housing may require some effort. It is not recommended to rent out property without first seeing the apartment in person. Private house finding services are available at an additional cost. 

Housing in Helsinki (International House Helsinki)

How to find housing in Helsinki (InfoFinland)

Long-term housing

Short-term hous­ing

In case you don't have housing when you arrive, check the short-term housing options below:

Alongside the rent, the resident is responsible for covering the costs of electricity, water, home insurance, and any internet services they utilize. Additionally, a security deposit equivalent to 1–3 months' rent is required upon move-in, which is fully refundable upon departure from the premises.

Furnishing your apartment

Your prospective home may come either furnished or unfurnished. In Finland, even unfurnished apartments often come with some essential amenities already in place. For instance, you can expect kitchens to typically include a fridge, a freezer, an electric stove, and an oven. If you're looking for affordable furniture options, consider browsing second-hand shops where you can find quality items at reasonable prices. Additionally, there are two convenient Ikea stores located near Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, both offering delivery services. For a comprehensive shopping experience, explore the shopping centers in Helsinki and its surroundings. Another option worth exploring is local Facebook recycling groups, where you may discover great deals on pre-loved furniture.

A few examples of the shopping centers:

Forum (Helsinki City Centre

Kamppi (Helsinki City Centre) 

Stockmann (Helsinki City Centre) 

Sokos (Helsinki City Centre) 

Clas Ohlsson (Helsinki City Centre) 

Itis (Eastern Helsinki) 

Jumbo (Vantaa) 

Sello (Espoo) 

Iso Omena (Espoo)

A few examples of the secondhand shops:

Kierrätyskeskus department stores and shops 

Fida second hand shop 

Kontti second hand stores by the Red Cross 

Artek Second Cycle vintage/pre-loved Artek furniture 

Fasaani antique store 

Fargo Vintage & Design for vintage and design furniture 

Tori.fi online flea market

Recycling 

Please follow the provided instructions for waste sorting to facilitate recycling efforts. Mixed waste is transported to an energy plant located in Helsinki. For detailed guidance on waste sorting, including information on specific items such as furniture, electrical equipment, or construction waste, refer to the InfoFinland page dedicated to Waste and Recycling. Additionally, disposal of certain domestic waste items requires a visit to the Sortti station. Further details on waste sorting and recycling locations within Helsinki can be found on the HSY (Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority) website.

Practicalities of living in Finland and Helsinki

The Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) operates the public transport services in the Helsinki metropolitan area (Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen, Vantaa, Kerava, Sipoo and Kirkkonummi). The public transportation system is efficient and serves all areas of the metropolitan area. On he HSL mobile app (HSL app) you cand check the best route to your destination and buy tickets. Commuter trains, buses, trams, metro and Suomenlinna ferry services are available depending on the route.

It is not possible anymore to buy tickets from the driver in public transportation.

The HSL app allows you to buy single, day or season tickets and conveniently pay them on your phone. It is available on apps stores for free. When buying a season ticket on the app for the first time, you must strongly authenticate using your online banking credentials or a mobile certificate. This is done to verify your place of domicile, for the correctly priced ticket. Ticket purchases up to 50 euros can also be charged to your phone bill.

It is also possible to buy a physical HSL travel card. Travel cards can be purchased from HSL service points and R-kioski, for instance. The main HSL service point is at Central Railway Station (Elielinaukio 3, next to VR service point)

Reduced-price travel cards are available for permanent residents of the Helsinki metropolitan area municipalities. Entitlement to this reduction requires registration at the Digital and Population Data Services Agency (DVV).

Getting around Helsinki (My Helsinki)

HSL website (including Journey Planner)

HSL app

HSL travel card

A taxi can be ordered through a dispatch service, through various mobile applications or by calling a taxi company directly. Taxis also continue to be available at taxi ranks. At a taxi rank, customers can choose the car they want instead of taking the first car in the taxi rank.

More information can be found on the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority website.

Uber and similar services are also available in Finland.

Mobile phones work in Finland almost everywhere and the networks covering the country are very reliable. Basic phones are available from bigger supermarkets e.g. Prisma and Citymarket, department stores and mobile phone retailers.

For a telephone subscription, you must have a Finnish personal identity code and an address in Finland. Also, without proof of a Finnish credit history you may need to pay a deposit to open a mobile phone line. The deposit can be substantial but is fully refundable when either you cancel the service or the 'trial period' of up to two years is over.

A prepaid connection is another option, and is the easiest and most affordable option for foreigners arriving in Finland. It is possible to get a connection with postpaid billing as well. Prepaid connections are offered by many different operators. They can be purchased from newsstands and supermarkets. Prices and terms of contract vary depending on operator policies.

Everyday life in Finland - Telephone (InfoFinland)

ATMs are available throughout the city and they are called “OTTO”, “NOSTO” or “Pankkiautomaatti” in Finnish. Withdrawing money is usually free for a certain number of times, check the details with your bank.

Healthcare and social security for you and your family

It is important to make sure that you and your family members are insured during their stay in Finland. Family members are not entitled to occupational health care services provided for the employees of the University of Helsinki. In Finland, the employer does not usually provide health care insurance to its employees or their families, as residents normally belong to the Finnish social security system, administered by the Finnish Social Insurance Institution, Kela

Please visit the Kela service point in International House Helsinki or other Kela office. If you have not previously applied for Kela benefits or the Kela card and you have moved to Finland, you must file a notification of the move to Finland in addition to the application for a benefit or the Kela card.

Practical instructions for using the healthcare and social services can be found on the City of Helsinki website welcome.helsinki

If the family resided in an EU country before moving to Finland, it is advisable to get a European Health Insurance Card EHIC (European Commission's website) for each family member. Medical records, prescriptions and immunisation records of children should be collected as well.

Family members taking up permanent residence in Finland are normally covered by the Finnish social security system. If a family member arriving in Finland to work is already included in the system, the family is usually also entitled to these benefits. The Finnish social security system covers public healthcare and social security benefits. An application must be submitted to Kela to receive benefits.

Some social benefits and services are dependent on the person’s municipality of residence. In order to have a municipality of residence in Finland, you usually must move to Finland permanently. For a non-EU-citizen living in Finland for the first time, this usually means a proof of residency for two or more years, such as an employment contract. Please check from the website below, if your situation allows you to obtain a municipality of residence.

People do sometimes have private health insurances too, especially popular are separate insurances for the children. The insurance allows you e.g. to see a doctor without long waiting hours. Please note that demanding cases, such as surgery, is usually managed by public healthcare services in Finland.

Municipality of Residence in Finland (InfoFinland)

From other countries to Finland (Kela)

 

Ýou are entitled to public health care services for the time that you are insured for earnings-related pension benefits, against employment accidents and unemployment in Finland. All University of Helsinki employees are insured as listed above.

Persons from outside EU or EEA and Switzerland also need to have a residence permit or a visa that gives the right to work in Finland. Persons with a researcher’s residence permit can obtain the services also without employment, e.g. with a research grant. Family members who move to Finland have a similar right to medical treatment as the family member who works in Finland, given that they have a residence permit. More information can be found through the links below.

Medical care in Finland (Kela)

Childcare and education

Finland offers free prenatal care for families and nearly a year of paid family leave with allowance, when a child is born. Affordable childcare makes it easier for parents to combine work and family life.

In Finland, equality between parents is valued. 80% of fathers take paternity leave and enjoy KELA paternity allowance instead of salary. Paid family leave is guaranteed by law – and encouraged. A parent can take parental leave or work part-time until the child is three years old.

A parent is also entitled to take a temporary paid leave of absence to care for a child under 10 years of age in case of the child’s sudden illness. 

Families (Kela)

Family life in Helsinki (InfoFinland)

Daycare is available in Finland for small children in daycare centres and family daycare. Children aged six can attend pre-primary education, which is arranged in daycare centres and comprehensive schools. Nine-year basic education usually starts in the year children turn seven and ends when they are 18. After compulsory basic education, pupils can go on to general or vocational upper secondary school.

Daycare centres and schools include both public and private providers. Public daycare providers generally have lower fees, while fees for private providers are higher. It is recommended that you apply for a place for your child well in advance. You are entitled to apply for a private daycare allowance from Kela when living in Finland permanently. The public sector cannot provide daycare in all languages, but several private providers cover more languages than the public sector.

International House Helsinki has a Daycare and Education Guidance service available by phone. They have also published a Guide to Early Childhood Education and Care.

Early childhood education in Finland (InfoFinland)

Daycare in Helsinki (City of Helsinki)

Childcare and education in Espoo (City of Espoo)

Early Childhood Education in Vantaa (City of Vantaa)

Language-oriented daycare centres (City of Helsinki)

Children must be enrolled in comprehensive school at the beginning of a year. You can register your child for school online or visit the school on the registration day.

If a pupil’s Finnish language skills are not good enough for comprehensive school studies in a Finnish-speaking school, he/she may be provided with preparatory education. This education prepares the child for studies in a comprehensive school.

There are also several private international schools in the capital area. All of the English language schools have entrance examinations to make sure the children can follow the teaching. The International School of Helsinki is a private school and the costs are approximately €20,000 per student per year. The school follows the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme and educational plan. It is located in Ruoholahti.

The European School of Helsinki provides education in English, Finnish and French. Each student must learn French from the third grade onwards. The school follows the Finnish curriculum and Finnish studies are obligatory.

International House Helsinki has a Daycare and Education Guidance service available by phone.

Daycare & schools (welcome.helsinki)

Education in Helsinki (InfoFinland)

Finnish education in a nutshell (Finnish National Agency for Education)

Guide by International House Helsinki: Starting school in Helsinki

Tertiary education is provided by vocational institutes, universities and universities of applied sciences. Admission is based on an application procedure.

Many options for non-degree studies are also available. Providers of these studies include open universities or open universities of applied sciences, summer universities and adult education centres. Studies are usually subject to a fee. Finnish language courses are offered by a range of providers.

The University of Helsinki provides advice to immigrants interested in studying at a Finnish higher education institution. The University’s advice service provides information on how to apply to a Finnish higher education institution. Please read more from our site Higher education advice for immigrants.

Open University

Information for spouses

We find it important that the family members of our employees also thrive in Helsinki. We offer a variety of services to support the spouses of the University of Helsinki staff members. Also several useful public services are available to the spouse.

Read more about the University of Helsinki services and available support for spouses

Taxation, pension and holidays

Foreign citizens working for a Finnish employer are usually required to pay taxes in Finland. In most cases, progressive taxation is applied to persons who reside in Finland for more than six months, and a source tax (35%) is applied for shorter periods. In some cases, progressive taxation is possible for periods shorter than six months. Progressive taxation is normally beneficial to the employee, as the tax percentage is that way clearly less than 35%. Please read more about this from the Tax officials webpage: Taxation at source or progressive taxation 

In addition to the Finnish taxation, it is advisable to find out if work in Finland has some effect on ones taxes in other countries, e.g. in the country of residence before moving to Finland. This goes especially for persons working simultaneously for employers outside Finland.

Grant-funded researchers may be required to pay taxes if the grant exceeds a certain yearly amount (26´269,46 EUR in 2024). In addition to the Finnish legislation, international tax treaties may affect your taxation in Finland.

If you are considered an international Key Employees, you can enjoy a flat tax rate of 32% for the first 7 years of your employment in Finland. In practice this is of benefit in manager-level positions. You can read more about the taxation of Key Employees from the tax authorities page Taxation of key employees.

With questions of international tax matters, please call the Finnish tax authority service number: +358 29 497 024. They help with questions regarding the taxation of employees coming to work in Finland, as well as with income from sources outside Finland. For more information, see Arriving in Finland

To pay taxes, University’s payroll services uses your Finnish personal identity code to obtain a tax percentage and an estimate of your annual earning from the Tax officials. You can set and change the estimate and therefore also the tax percentage yourself by using the MyTax-system of the Tax administration. However, this requires the strong, electronic identification capability, which has been explained previously on this site. Another way for the employee to give this tax data to the university is to book a time and visit a tax office. A third (the traditional) way is to acquire a tax card from the tax office, which must be sent per email to palkka(a)helsinki.fi.s. Enter your unit and name as the subject of the message.

Whatever way is used, the tax info must be at the university no later than two weeks before the next payday. Without one of these two actions, 60% tax is initially withheld from the salary, though it is mostly possible to correct this later.

A tax card can be obtained from the International House Helsinki service point or a local tax office branch. The tax office at Hämeentie 15 is able to create a Finnish personal identity code, if the person does not yet have one. An estimate of the total income earned in Finland during the calendar year is generally asked at a tax office. A tax percentage calculator can be used to estimate the percentage.

Social security and pension contributions are always deducted from salaries in addition to taxes.

These fees are automatically deducted from the salary and they are obligatory by law. In 2022, employee contributions are as follows:

  • ELMA (employee pension): 7,15%
  • ELMA for 53–62 years of age: 8,65%
  • ELMA for over 62 years of age: 7,15%
  • Unemployment contribution: 1,5%

This table will help you assess what your take-home pay will be.

Calculating take-home pay

Example: salary €3,444/month

1. Calculate the amount of your monthly taxes: 20% = €688,80

2. Calculate the amount of your monthly employee contributions: ELMA (pension) = €246,25  

    Unemployment contribution = €51,66

3. Deduct these sums from your monthly salary €3,444 - €688,80 - €246,25 - €51,66

    = €2,457,29 = The amount of money paid to your account each month.

Researchers and teachers – your taxes in Finland (Tax Administration)

Taxation of people working for higher education institutions, International situations (Tax Administration) 

Payment of salaries (Flamma intranet)

In Finnish universities, the teaching and research staff (app. 65% of total staff) have a special system regarding the free time equivalent to holiday. They belong to the 1,612 annual working hour system, whereas the other main staff group, expert and support staff, have a more directly defined amount of holidays. However, in both systems the annual amounts of holiday (or "free time") are normally similar, app. six weeks on average. 

Working hours for teaching and research staff (Flamma intranet)

Annual leave (expert and support staff holidays) (Flamma intranet)

All staff groups receive a holiday bonus, and the big majority receive it in connection with their July salary. The size of the holiday bonus depends on the amount of the salary and the number of full holiday credit months. It is also at start somewhat lower (4% per month), but normally the second holiday bonus of the employment is 60% of the monthly salary (12 months x 5%).

Annual leave (Flamma intranet)

In Finland, pensions of university employees are covered by one of two state pension systems, depending on the employee’s year of birth. The amount of earnings-related pension is affected by the length of the working career, earnings and the pension accrual rate, which varies for people of different ages. Finnish earnings-related pension is paid out to all eligible employees regardless of their place of residence. The pension contributions are not paid out when a person leaves Finland. When the person becomes of pensionable age, the pension can be claimed from the pension fund.

Pensions are funded through contributions from the employees and the employer. The employer deducts the employee’s pension contribution from the gross salary in connection with the payment of the salary and pays it, together with the employer contribution, to the pension company. The amount of the contributions is based on a fixed percentage of the employee’s gross salary.

Grant recipients pay a pension contribution from their grant if they are eligible for MYEL coverage by MELA.

Pension system in Finland (Finnish Centre for Pensions)

Finnish Centre for Pensions