If you are reading this, you are probably a student who will soon be starting their studies in Finland. So what needs to be taken care of to make sure your stay in Finland will be as smooth as possible? Each country has a certain set of procedures that any foreigner must undergo. We will be listing the most important things all foreigners should do after they have moved to Finland. We hope you will find this checklist useful and that you will have wonderful time in Finland!
Get a travel card
This could be a bus card or a season ticket that covers all means of transportation (HSL card in Helsinki). Single tickerts are expensive in Finland, the price can be anywhere from 3€ to 3,50€. A bus card makes the trip cheaper at the price of 1,30€ or you can choose a season ticket for a certain period of time, either for a month or up to a year. If you travel in Helsinki, the travel card can be purchased right at the airport at the blue-colored machines and at every metro station. If you live in other cities, there is always an office in town which you can pay a visit later.
Make a visit to your student housing company
You should visit the housing company first to get the keys and sign the contract. Normally, your tutor will help you getting the keys beforehand. In such case, you can go to the housing company within the first week to sign the contract.
Get a Finnish phone number
The two most popular phone operators in Finland are Telia and Elisa. Both of them provide various packages for phone calls and internet connections. For example, Elisa offers a Saunalahti Prepaid package, which is available at Elisa stores, R-kioskis, S-group’s stores, K-group’s stores, or online, at Elisa webshop.
Go to school to meet with the social service person
Each school has a social service department that helps incoming students with school related work.
Register at Maistraatti – the Local Registery Office
If you are a full-time student, it is important to register your home address, phone number, university, nationality, etc. After 3 weeks, your Finnish social security number will be sent by mail to your apartment address.
Open a bank account
After you have received Finnish social security number, book an appointment with a Finnish bank of your choice. If you are planning to stay in Finland for a longer time, it is advisable to open a Finnish bank account. In Finland, if you are under 25 years old, Osuuspankki lets you register a bank account free of charge. Nordea is the second most popular option but they will charge a registration fee. Other banks in Finland include Danske Bank, Aktia and Säästöpankki.
Remember to take these documents with you to the appointment:
- Residence permit card
- Certificate of study issued by your university (normally given to you during your orientation/welcome week)
In many banks, you can get your account number immediately. Getting a Visa Electron Bank card will take you longer, about 1 to 2 weeks . Furthermore, depending on the bank you choose, getting access to online banking can take weeks after the account has been opened.
Online banking gives you more rights to your existing bank account, and helps you make payments and credit transfers easier and faster. It also assists you in monitoring your Mastercard or Visa card use. In case your bank card gets lost, you can close the card from the account immediately using online banking services.
Most of the banks require a Finnish ID card for foreigners which costs around 60 EUR (and expiress when your residence permit expires). If you want to have a Finnish ID, you can get that at the police station.
However, there are some banks that do not require you to have a Finnish ID. For example, at Nordea, you can ask for an appointment to open online banking service after having successfully opened a bank account without any further requirements. And, there will be an extra fee of only 3 EUR per month.
Do some shopping
An apartment always need new decors and amenities. Apartments for newly-arrived international students are mostly furnished. We would recommend the following places for shopping in case you might need furnish you apartment:
- IKEA: for buying furnitures, winter blankets, bed sheets, curtains, desk lamps, bulbs, and kitchenware with reasonable prices
- Clas Ohlson: for buying lightbulbs, and decorations
- Gigantti, Verkkokauppa: for buying electronics, computers, mobile phones, rice cookers, irons, and so on
- K-Market, S-Market, Lidl: for grocery shopping. K-Markets are easily accessible, whereas S-Supermarkets and Prisma offer a wider range of products
Finally, relax and enjoy your time in Finland!