Setting up a business
International companies are warmly welcomed and enjoy high return on investment in Finland. They can access the same benefits as Finnish companies. Opening a legal entity takes only a couple of weeks.
1. Select a name for your company. To gain exclusive rights to the name, you should submit it to the Trade Register which is maintained by the Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH).
2. Open a bank account for your business. The company requires a bank account to pay share capital, process payment transactions and support accounting.
3. File a start of the business notification. Establishing and registering a business requires that a notification be filed with the Trade Register and various Tax Administration registers. This can be done easily using a single form ("Y form").
4. Take advantage of online tools. You can establish a limited liability company online through the Business Information System online service. You can also create a workspace at My Enterprise Finland. The My Enterprise Finland service gives you access to a wealth of useful services. These online services require you to log in with your online banking credentials.
You can establish a limited liability company online through the BIS online service (ytj.fi).You can also create a workspace at My Enterprise Finland. The My Enterprise Finland service gives you access to a wealth of useful services. These online services require you to log in with your online banking credentials. Another source of information is Suomi.fi where you can find information on how to start a business and business licenses.
In Finland, foreign companies most commonly conduct business through private or public limited liability companies, or through a Finnish branch office. Business can also be conducted through general or limited partnerships or co-operatives. A foreign organization or foundation can also establish a branch in Finland.
A limited company can be established by one or more natural or legal persons (founders). At least one of the founders shall be a permanently resident or, if the founder is a legal person, have their domicile in the European Economic Area – unless the National Board of Patents and Registration grants an exemption from this rule. The nationality of the founder is thus irrelevant. A legal person shall have their domicile in the European Economic Area when it has been established in accordance with the laws of a State which belongs to the European Economic Area and when its registered office, central administration, or head office is in a State belonging to the European Economic Area. A person who is legally incompetent or declared bankrupt may not act as founder.
If a permit is required, the application is to be submitted to the National Board of Patents and Registrations either in Finnish or in Swedish. An application fee (EUR 120) is paid for each permit decision.
A public limited company shall have a minimum share capital of EUR 80,000 (Until 30th June 2019 a minimum share capital EUR 2,500 was also required from privat limited company, now capital is not required). The share capital must be paid to the company's account in full before the company can be entered in the Trade Register which is maintained by the National Board of Patents and Registration.
New businesses submit the basic declaration to the Trade Register using the start-up notification form. This form can also be used for registration with the Tax Administration, registration of a VAT liable business, registration as an employer, and registration in the tax prepayment register.
A branch refers to a part of a foreign organization or foundation that conducts continuous business or professional activities in Finland from a permanent place of business in Finland in the name of and on behalf of a foreign organization or foundation.
The trade name of a branch of a foreign entrepreneur established in Finland shall contain the trade name of the foreign entrepreneur with an addition to the name which indicates that it is a branch – e.g. CDE Cargo Ltd., branch of Finland.
The application fee for a branch of a foreign trader is EUR 380. If the trader opening the branch is from a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA), they will also need a permit from the National Board of Patents and Registration for the establishment of a branch. This permit costs EUR 120.
Foreigners may also acquire Finnish enterprises, their business operations, or become partners in an existing enterprise. The object of acquisition may be, for example, a private undertaking; shares in a general or limited partnership; the entire stock of a limited liability company; or a majority of the shares. You can become a member of an existing cooperative by paying the participation share.
All corporate acquisitions in the defense and dual-use goods sector are subject to approval by the public authorities – approval will be based on an application. In the civil sector, Finnish enterprises considered critical for securing vital functions within society and corporate acquisitions will also be subject to approval.
There are also commercial activities in Finland that are subject to a license. These include the serving of alcohol, debt collection and security guard business. There are also commercial activities that require registration in a register that is kept by the authorities. This registration obligation covers such activities as the package travel agencies, real estate agencies and housing rental agencies. An entrepreneur submitting this kind of registration must meet the prerequisites laid out for registration in the law.
There are also commercial activities in which the authorities must be notified of the start of the activities. Under the law, restrictions and obligations may also be imposed on commercial activities for which a notification is required.
In most cases, an entrepreneur can start their operation before the authorities have considered the notification.
The Enterprise Europe Network was established in 2008 by the European Commission. It provides free-of-charge internationalization services to SMEs and operates in over 50 countries.