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Living and working conditions

Finland

GENERAL INFORMATION

Area - 338,424 km2

Population – 5,521,158

Official Language – Finnish, Swedish, Sami

REGISTRATION AND RESIDENCE PERMITS

Nationals of EU Member States, Liechtenstein and Switzerland do not need a residence permit for Finland. They must, however, register their right of residence in Finland, if they are staying for more than three months. Registration is done at the Finnish Immigration Service. Nordic nationals (i.e. people from Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland) must register if they are staying for more than six months. Anyone moving to Finland from another Nordic country must report this change to the local registration authority and present an identification document (passport, ID card issued by the police, etc.).

A residence permit is usually valid for five years. If your job is for a period of less than one year, your residence permit will only be issued for the duration of your service. European Union nationals are granted a residence permit automatically once they have been given a job or the right to study in Finland, or when they have started to pursue a profession in Finland. Registration of the right of residence by EU/EEA nationals may be affected by things such as work, study or family ties in Finland.

In order to register your right of residence with the Finnish Immigration Service, you will need the following documents, among others, depending on the grounds for your application:

  • European Union registration form
  • residence card application (for family members of European Union nationals)
  • form for clarification of family ties
  • marriage certificate or document of registered civil partnership
  • evidence of your job from your employer
  • explanation of your business activities
  • education certificates and evidence of adequate health insurance cover
  • statement that your livelihood is secure
  • photo
  • national ID card or passport
  • any other documents requested by the authorities.

By law, foreigners must be entered in the population register by giving the same details as is the case for Finnish nationals, if they are staying in Finland for at least one year. Registration is done at the local register office. European Union nationals should have their passport or official photographic ID card with them, as well as a certificate issued by the Finnish Immigration Service to show that their right of residence as a European Union national has been registered. Other documents that are required include your marriage or civil partnership certificate, and your children’s birth certificates (legalised). Foreigners who are living in Finland temporarily may send a voluntary registration declaration to either the Social Insurance Institute (Kela) or the tax office, in addition to the register office. Your stay is temporary if it lasts for less than one year.

LOOKING FOR A JOB

It is a good idea to start looking for a job in Finland before you arrive, for example, by familiarising yourself with basic information available on the internet. The public employment and business services [Työ- ja elinkeinohallinto, TE Services] website contains information about jobs, the services offered by TE Offices, registration, and various work-related opportunities.

EURES, or the European Job Mobility Portal, is where you can find information about job vacancies in Finland, as well as information about living and working in Finland, and the Finnish labour market situation. Jobseekers can upload their CVs to the portal’s online CV service, which employers can use to find suitable candidates for their job vacancies. You can also find help with writing a CV, as well as tips and links for job searches.

Nationals of EU/EEA Member States can spend up to three months looking for work in Finland. Unemployed job applicants may be able to obtain unemployment benefit from their home country during this time. It is a good idea to ask the employment authority or the organisation that pays out unemployment benefits about this opportunity in plenty of time before you leave.

If you have already moved to Finland, you should sign on as a jobseeker with the nearest TE Office for public employment and business services. The biggest TE Offices have experts who specialise in services for immigrants and can help you find a job.

The TE Services’ national telephone service also gives advice on how to find work. The TE customer service centre provides service in Finnish, Swedish, English and Russian.

Many businesses and companies have their own websites where you can find information about job vacancies. The internet also has websites and job search services from companies that specialise in employment services.

If you want to work in Finland, it would be a good idea for you to know at least some basic Finnish. In some parts of Finland, it is also good to know some basic Swedish, which is Finland’s other official language.

INCOMES AND TAXATION

Wage earners in Finland earned on average EUR 3 458 per month in 2018.

Finland has a fairly high tax level in comparison with other European countries. Tax revenue is used to pay for services that are at an internationally high level, such as healthcare, education and care for children and the elderly.

People must pay tax in Finland if they live there permanently, in other words for more than six months.

If foreign workers stay in Finland for no more than six months, their employers may withhold 35 % of their salary as tax at source. Before tax is collected, EUR 17 per day is deducted from the salary. This tax at source is a final tax, and the employee does not submit a tax return in Finland. The employee may also ask to be taxed progressively, whereby the tax is paid in the same way as for stays of longer than six months.

If foreigners work in Finland for longer than six months, they are taxed in the same way as Finns are. It is a good idea for immigrants to start by contacting the local register office, which will provide a Finnish personal identification number. The tax office will then issue a tax card, and the employer will withhold tax from the salary accordingly. Tax is paid on all income, whether earned in Finland or in another country.

Tax on earnings is paid to both the state and the municipality. Earnings are taxed progressively. The amount of tax to be paid to the state is determined according to the national income tax scale. Every municipality sets its own tax rate every year. In 2019, the municipal tax rate varied between 17.00 % and 22.50 %. The average municipal tax rate is 19.88 %. Members of Evangelical Lutheran and Orthodox congregations also pay church tax. Each congregation sets its own church tax rate every year. In 2019, the church tax rate varied between 1-2 %. Pension and unemployment insurance payments were also collected from employees’ net salaries in 2019, amounting to 8.25 %, as well as 1.54 % for health insurance payments. These are included in the pre-payment percentage that is withheld under the tax card.

Depending on all these factors outlined above, the tax rate on a monthly income of EUR 3 308 (average earnings at the end of 2013) ranges from 26 % to 30 % (including pension and unemployment insurance payments). A tax calculator is available on the tax administration website.

Capital gains (such as share dividends, interest income, rental income and other capital gains) are taxed at 30-34 % (in 2019).

Value-added tax is usually 24 %. VAT on food is 14 % and VAT on items such as books, train and bus tickets and haircuts is 10 % (in 2019).

Road tax is collected through basic road tax and propulsion tax. Propulsion tax is levied on vehicles that use other types of power or fuel than petrol. Further information is available from the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (TRAFICOM).

Tax offices provide guidance for immigrants on all matters relating to taxation. Advice is also available by calling the tax administration customer service number.

Last updated: 05/2019

COST OF LIVING

According to a consumer survey carried out in 2014, accommodation and heating costs accounted for 27.6 % of disposable household income. After this, households spend most of their money on food (12.7 %), transport and communications (12.0 %) and leisure pursuits (10.8 %).

According to the Eurostat price comparison in 2015, Finland is in the top ten most expensive EU and EEA Member States.

Inflation was at 1.3 % in February 2019.

Text last edited on: 05/2019

EDUCATION SYSTEM

The Finnish educational system is grouped into stages. The educational system consists of basic education, which provides a general education, secondary education, which follows basic education, and tertiary education. Adult education is also available at all levels of teaching. Most basic education is provided by municipal primary schools. Finland also has approximately 85 private schools. Private schools include Steiner schools, faith schools and some foreign-language schools.

Education in Finland is generally free of charge at all levels leading to a qualification, and it is free for nationals of EU/EEA Member States too. Costs may, however, be incurred for workshops, travel, accommodation, learning materials, healthcare and student association membership fees.

Education is compulsory for every child living permanently in Finland. Compulsory education starts in the year the child turns seven, and it ends when basic education has been completed or when ten years have passed since the start of compulsory education. Basic education is usually completed within nine years. The year before compulsory education begins, the child may participate in free pre-school education. There are some basic schools and general upper secondary schools in Finland that use foreign languages either as one of the languages of instruction or as the only language of instruction.

Secondary education is provided by general upper secondary schools and vocational colleges. General upper secondary education (in Finnish ‘lukio’), which lasts for 2-4 years, provides a general education and culminates in a matriculation exam. Vocational training usually lasts for three years. Vocational training can be undertaken at educational establishments or in the form of an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is based on an employment contract (apprenticeship contract) between the student and the employer, and it is confirmed by the training organiser. Basic vocational training may also be undertaken as a skills-based qualification. Both the matriculation exam and basic vocational training confer eligibility for higher education.

In Finland, higher education is provided by universities of applied sciences and by traditional universities. Universities of applied sciences focus on working life, and traditional universities focus on scientific research. There are 23 universities of applied sciences. Åland also has its own university of applied sciences, and Espoo has the Police University College, which trains police officers. Courses at universities of applied sciences last from three to four years and culminate in a lower degree. After acquiring at least three years’ work experience in the sector, people who have completed a lower vocational degree may apply for a higher degree. This takes between one and one and a half years, in close collaboration with business.

There are 13 traditional universities in Finland: nine multidisciplinary universities, one technical university, two schools of economics, and one university of arts. The university network covers different parts of the country and offers places for nearly one-third of the people in the relevant age group. In addition to this, advanced study in the military sector can be undertaken at the National Defence University. University study has a two-tier structure: in many areas, students first undertake a lower (bachelor’s) degree and then continue to a higher (master’s) degree. It is possible to complete a bachelor’s degree in three years, and a master’s degree usually takes two years. After a master’s degree, university students can continue their studies with a licentiate degree (equivalent to MPhil) or PhD study.

A total of 71.4 % of Finns over the age of 15 have completed post-compulsory education (in 2016). In 2015, some 25 % of men and 32 % of women had a higher education qualification. Just under half of the working-age population participates in adult education each year.

RECOGNITION OF DIPLOMAS AND QUALIFICATIONS

The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:
- An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
- The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

  1. The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

  1. The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  1. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

  1. Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents

  1. a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
  2. a language passport,
  3. certificate supplements,
  4. diploma supplements, and
  5. a Europass-Mobility document.

The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.

USEFUL LINKS

https://migri.fi – Finnish Immigration Service
https://www.maistraatti.fi – Public Register
http://www.mol.fi - Finnish Public Employment Service
http://www.kela.fi - Social Security
http://www.vuokralaiset.fi – Information for Accomodation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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