Wohoo! You have finally arrived in Finland!
There’s a lot of excitement in the air for sure, just as it should be! However, in order to make sure that your journey will be smooth, there are some things that need to be taken care of. We have gathered a checklist for you to make sure you won’t forget anything! This way you can begin your life in Finland with no worries and get everything done.
1. Arriving in Finland
Welcome to Finland! It is important to get a good rest on your first day. You have traveled a long way! However, first you need to travel to your study destination and accommodation. It is important to get the keys to your accommodation and sign the contract as soon as possible! After settling, you can dive in to the rest of this checklist.
2. Buy essential furniture, groceries etc.
You might have brought many bags of luggage with you when you left your home country, but it is almost impossible to be perfectly prepared for a new country until you reach it. It is a good idea to get your most essential shopping done during the first few days. It will make your life so much easier when you have everything you need at your apartment.
- For small furniture, blankets, bed sheets, towels and such, the most affordable shop is IKEA. Other suitable shops include Sokos, Stockmann and Tokmanni, for example.
- Groceries can be bought at big supermarkets such as Prisma and Citymarket – these are often located on the outskirts of the city centre. Or at smaller markets like S-market, K-Market and Lidl, which can be found in city centres and suburbs.
- Clothing shops are found in city centres and bigger shopping centres. If you are looking for affordable clothes, all cities and towns have second-hand stores where you can find good quality clothes for very cheap prices! Look for second-hand stores (kirpputori in Finnish) in your own living area when walking around the streets.
3. Visit your campus for registration
You need to enroll to the university once you arrive in Finland. This can be done at the Admissions or Study Services office that is located at each campus. Remember to carry with you the following:
- Residence Permit Card
- Acceptance letter from the university
- Original study certificates (high school / bachelor’s certificate). Note that copies are not enough, you need to bring the original documents with you to Finland!
4. Get a Finnish phone number
Using mobile phone and internet with a Finnish service provider is very affordable. Whatsapp/Skype calls are a free and easy way to keep contact with your family and friends back in your home country.
When you get a Finnish mobile phone plan for the first time, it is advisable to get a Prepaid plan. It is an easy and cheap solution for the first months – there are different plans for 5 EUR, 10 EUR, 20 EUR, and so on. When the mobile credit is full, you can simply recharge the plan with another deposit of a given sum of money.
- Prepaid mobile phone plan can be purchased at any R-Kioski, which are located all around Finland, even in the smallest town. Look for the yellow sign, they are often located near train stations and in the city centers.
- Most popular mobile phone plan providers are Telia, DNA and Elisa. They offer similar plans for different starting fees. All of them can be purchased at R-Kioski.
5. Visit Local Register Office to get a Finnish Identity code
Local Register Office (Maistraatti in Finnish)
When you are staying in Finland for a longer period of time, you will need a Finnish identity code. This is one of the most important steps in this checklist. You need the code when dealing with Finnish authorities. You will also need a Finnish ID when opening a bank account in Finland or renting an apartment from the private market. Here’s another “checklist” for you about how to apply for the identity code:
- (It is possible to apply for the Finnish identity code at the same time as applying for the residence permit. If you already applied for the identity code during the RP process, you don’t need to do it again.)
- If you didn’t apply for the identity code before arriving in Finland, you can fill out the following form: The Registration Information of a Foreigner
- Take the filled-up form to the Local Register Office in the city you have moved in to. If you can’t get the form beforehand, they are also available as a paper form at the Local Register Office.
- Check out your nearest Local Register Office from https://www.maistraatti.fi/en/Contact-Information/
- When you go to the Local Register Office, remember to also bring your Passport and Certificate of attendance from your university in Finland (which you have received when you were admitted to the university.)
- When you visit the Local Register Office, you can also have your personal data entered into the Finnish Population Information System during the same visit. All people who live permanently in Finland should register .
Please note that it can take approximately 4 weeks to get the identity code. Once you get it, the code will be marked in your residence permit card.
6. Join the Student Union
Each university in Finland has a Student Union that organizes events and trips for its members. More importantly, by joining the Student Union you will get the official student card! With the student card, you get access to all student benefits, such as train and bus discounts, student-priced meals etc. This step in our checklist you definitely don’t wanna miss!
You can find your local Student Union on the university campus. In the beginning of the semester, the Student Union often organizes events and fairs on campus, where you can get more information on how to join. Student Union is also great for meeting other new students and to get help on academic and other matters. Go and roam around your campus to find your Student Union or google your university’s website for more information!
7. Open a Finnish bank account
Once you receive your Finnish identity code, you are able to open up a Finnish bank account. Our checklist focuses on the most important things, and this one is certainly one of them. It makes life so much easier!
The practice of opening a bank account varies from bank to bank. In many banks you can get your bank account number immediately, but getting a debit card will take longer, and an access to the online banking services can take up to 2-4 months after the account has been opened.
For banking services, foreign citizens need to show generally accepted and valid documents. Please take with you:
- Your passport
- Residence permit card
- Certificate of attendance by your host university
- Cash money for opening the bank account
Other information that the bank will need when you’re opening a bank account:
- Your full name
- Address in Finland (after being registered at the Local Register Office)
- Finnish identity code
- Your occupational status which describes your financial position (= student)
- Whether you will use the Finnish bank as your main bank
- Origin or source of your funds and regular payment transactions or cash flows, if applicable
- Estimated amounts of your regular payment transfers (= certificate of scholarship, if applicable)
- Estimated amounts of regular foreign payments and reasons for them
8. Get a local travel card
If you live in a bigger city that has a good public transportation system, it is very good to get a local travel card during the first days. This way you get familiarised with the transportation system of your city. You also get to move around more freely when you don’t need to walk everywhere!
This concludes our checklist! These steps should get you started on adjusting to life in a new country! If you want to read more about life in Finland, check out our other blog posts.
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