Information for arriving international staff
The information below is designed to guide you smoothly through the relocation and onboarding process.
Welcome to the University of Helsinki!

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.  

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Immigration formalities

The Uni Arrival Advisor is a simple electronic service by the University of Helsinki to guide you through the necessary registrations and formalities upon your arrival in Finland.

 

If you are coming from outside the EU, you usually need to apply for a residence permit beforehand, which includes identification at a local Finnish embassy or 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. 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), TE Services (for employment) and the City of Helsinki are at your disposal.

Uni Arrival Advisor

The EURAXESS portal is also a useful website for finding information about Finland and living and working here. You can also ask for more information on matters related to arriving in Finland and settling in from your recruiting unit and on-site HR Services.

Euraxess: Information and assistance for living and working in Finland

A Finnish personal identity code 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 EU registration (Migri). The personal identity code can also be obtained from the 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. 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.

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, 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 contact your bank to enquire about any additional requirements.

Here is a list of the biggest finnish banks:
OP
Nordea
Danske Bank

We advise also 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. Another way for e-identification, which comes with other benefits and which we strongly recommend, is to order a finnish ID card from the police. To activate it for e-Identification use, you will first need a card reading device and software. More info can be found on suomi.fi-website.

Onboarding events and training

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.

Further info: Beginning a new job and orientation - New employees from outside Finland (intranet Flamma)

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 working culture, its features and quirks. The training session is provided once or twice a year.

Further info: Beginning a new job and orientation - New employees from outside Finland (intranet Flamma)

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

Further info: Beginning a new job and orientation - New employees from outside Finland (intranet Flamma).

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

Unibuddy

Finnish for Foreigners courses are offered for international members of staff. More information can be found on Flamma, at Language training for University staff.

 

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.

UH 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.

Not all healthcare is included in the service, such as dental care. For these services, you can visit public or private health clinics. All University of Helsinki employees are also insured for work-related travel and accidents.

Healthcare and insurances (Flamma)

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 site.

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 this page. You can also find instructions for printing on the Helpdesk instructions site. 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 need a University of Helsinki username and password.

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 supports the academic leadership in planning and decision-making related to research activities and their development.

Support for research (Flamma)

Research Services (Flamma)

Helsinki University Library operates on all four University campuses. 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 this link.

Helsinki University Library has more than 30,000 scientific journal subscriptions. If you have logged with your Helsinki University 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.

Skills development (Flamma)

Please see the Flamma-page 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 Flamma.

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

MELA

Family health matters and social security

It is important to make sure that 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

If the family resided in an EU country before moving in Finland, it is advisable to get a European Health Insurance Card (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 health care 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 proof of residency for 2 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.

infoFinland: Municipality of Residence in Finland

KELA: From other countries to Finland

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 UH 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.

KELA: Medical care in Finland

Childcare and education for children

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. 

KELA: Families

Family life in Helsinki (InfoFinland.fi)

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 16. 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.

 

Early childhood education in Finland (InfoFinland.fi)

Daycare in Helsinki (City of Helsinki, hel.fi)

Childcare and education in Espoo (City of Espoo, espoo.fi)

Language-oriented daycare centres

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.

 

Education in Helsinki (InfoFinland.fi)

Finnish education in a nutshell

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.

 

Open University

Welcoming the spouses

We find it important that the family members of our employees also thrive in Helsinki. We offer the following to the spouses of our employees free of charge:

  • Relocation support
  • Information on the job market in Finland
  • The UniBuddy programme 
  • Training and events to welcome you into our community

We welcome the spouses of our newly arrived staff members to participate in selected staff training. Training on orientation matters and Finnish working culture as well as the Experiencing Finland event are offered to spouses free of charge. Finnish language courses may also be available depending on the unit.

Finding employment in Finland requires an active approach from the spouse. A range of public services is available to support job searching.

Employment services (City of Helsinki)

EU/EEA nationals have the right to work in Finland. For citizens of other countries, the right to work depends on the type of residence permit. Generally, a residence permit on the basis of family ties gives unlimited right to work in Finland. A residence permit granted on another basis may not include unlimited right to work.

The Jobs in Finland website supports Finnish employers in gaining international visibility for positions with a shortage of applicants in Finland.

Since September 2020, the University of Helsinki is leading a national HEI LIFE-project to enhance the immigration and integration process of international employees and their spouses, as well as their employment in Finland. One goal of the project is a national model for spouse support at institutions of higher education.

Housing

The University of Helsinki offers affordable housing for staff members arriving from abroad. 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 short-term housing for up to six months. The University of Helsinki also rents furnished and unfurnished apartments to its incoming staff. The maximum rental period for these apartments is two years.

 

Unihome

There are several options available on the private rental market in Helsinki and the capital region. 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.

 

How to find housing in Helsinki (InfoFinland.fi)

Taxation and pension

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. Grant-funded researchers may be required to pay taxes if the grant exceeds a certain yearly amount (20 728,44 EUR in 2020). In addition to Finnish legislation, international tax treaties may affect your taxation in Finland.

To pay taxes, a tax card needs to be obtained and delivered to the University’s payroll services. Without it, 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.

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 2020, employee contributions are as follows:

 

ELMA (employee pension): 7,15%

ELMA for 53–62-year-olds: 8,65%

Unemployment contribution: 1.25%

*according to data available as at 1/2020

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 = €43.05

3. Deduct these sums from your monthly salary €3,444 - €688.80 - €246.25 - €43.05 

    = €2,465.90 = The amount of money paid to your account each month.

Tax Administration: Researchers and teachers – your taxes in Finland

Tax Administration: Taxation of people working for higher education institutions – international situations. Detailed info.

Taxation (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

Other practicalities of living in Finland and Helsinki

HSL (Helsinki Region Transport) operates the public transport services in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The public transportation system is efficient and serves all areas of the metropolitan area. There are mobile apps for finding the best route (Reittiopas) as well as for buying tickets (HSL app).

Commuter trains, buses, trams, metro and Suomenlinna ferry services are available depending on the route. It is advisable to buy a personal travel card if you use public transport regularly. A travel card can be used on public transport services in Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen, Vantaa, Kerava, Sipoo and Kirkkonummi. Travel cards can be purchased from HSL service points and R-kioski, for instance.

 

Reduced-price travel cards are available for permanent residents of the Helsinki metropolitan area municipalities. Entitlement to this reduction requires registration at the DVV.

 

HSL website (including Reittiopas)

HSL app

HSL travel card

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.

 

A prepaid connection 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.

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.

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.