Anyone with a permanent place of residence in a country within the European Economic Area (EEA) can start a business in Finland.
Residence permit for a self-employed person
If you want to work as an entrepreneur in Finland, you need either a residence permit for a self-employed person or a residence permit for an employed person. The one you need will depend on the form of enterprise in which you are engaged. If your enterprise is an individually-owned business (toiminimi), you will need a residence permit for a self-employed person. If your enterprise is a limited liability company, you will need a residence permit for an employed person. In order to be granted a residence permit, you must work in your company in Finland. Further information on how the form of enterprise affects the type of residence permit you need is available on the website of the Finnish Immigration Service.
Applying for a residence permit
You must apply for the first residence permit before you come to Finland.
You can apply for a 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.
The processing of the permit application is subject to a charge. You must pay the fee when you submit your permit application.
A residence permit application is processed in two stages. Firstly, the Employment and Economic Development Office (ELY-keskus) makes a partial decision on the application. The Office will base its assessment of whether your company has profitability potential on issues such as your business plan or financing. After the Office has made a partial decision, the Finnish Immigration Service will make a decision on the residence permit.
Read more about starting a business on the Infopankki page Starting a business.
linkkiFinnish Immigration Service:
Residence permit for a self-employed personFinnish | Swedish | English
linkkiFinnish Immigration Service:
Residence permit for an employed personFinnish | Swedish | English
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 Infopankki page Registering as a resident.
Entrepreneurs residing outside the EEA area
If you reside outside the EEA area, you must apply for a permit from the National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland (Patentti- ja rekisterihallitus), if you wish to start a business in Finland or work in a leadership position within a company. Such a requirement for a permit does not depend on your nationality, but on your place of residence.
If you move to Finland or another country within the EEA area, you do not need a permit from the National Board of Patents and Registration to start a business.
linkkiNational Board of Patents and Registration of Finland:
Permits for entrepreneurs living outside the EEA areaFinnish | Swedish | English
Being an entrepreneur in Finland
More information for employees and entrepreneurs is available on the Infopankki page Employee or entrepreneur.
Guide to starting a businessFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian
The Finnish Immigration Service: Presentation of the Enter Finland e-service