Raise your startups in Finland
This is your checklist to begin your startup adventure in Finland. We have collected the essential information to boost you and your brilliant startup baby to success. Step on your path to Finland!
Finland offers a vibrant and friendly startup ecosystem with accelerators, angel investors, VCs and strong innovation support by the government. The capital Helsinki ranks number one in the world in local connectedness among founders, investors and experts. One of the engines behind the growth of the Finnish startup scene has been the hugely successful gaming and software industry led by companies like Supercell and Rovio. Today, startups' business areas range from gaming, software, ICT and digital services to health tech, environmental and energy industries.
Finland is an excellent test bed for innovative, ambitious startup teams and a great place to scale your business globally. Our partners want to offer you an easy access to their services.
Phase 1: Applying to Finland
Enter Finland freely without a visa or a residence permit.
If you intend to live and work in Finland for longer than 90 days, you need to register your right to reside in Finland at the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) after your arrival.
Registering of right of residence
Starting up smoothly
Submitting your eligibility statement request with your business plan
In addition to the regular immigration process, the Finnish Startup Permit makes it easy and fast for innovative entrepreneurs outside EU to build a startup company in Finland and to become part of Finland's vibrant startup ecosystem.
Start your journey to Finland by writing your business plan and sending it to Business Finland with your Eligibility Statement request. All the necessary documents can be sent electronically. It takes approximately a month to get the statement from Business Finland.
Submitting your application for the Finnish Startup Permit
After receiving a favourable assessment from Business Finland, your next step is to apply for the Finnish Startup Permit from Finnish Immigration Service (Migri), with Business Finlands decision as an attachment.
Note that 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.
Migri generally grants the Finnish Startup Permit for maximum period of two years.
Applying for the Finnish Startup Permit
Phase 2: Step by step guide how to establish your company and move to Finland
Helsinki, Espoo, Turku, Tampere and Oulu are currently the cities where you will discover the most vibrant startup ecosystem in Finland. Finland is very well-known for our world-class education system. The children of the international entrepreneurs living in Finland can go to school in English, French, German, Swedish or Russian. You may want to choose the area where to move considering the location of the most suitable school for your children.
- Helsinki Business Hub
- Espoo Innovation Garden
- Turku Business Region
- Business Tampere
- Business Oulu
Education in Finland
Starting up smoothly
After you have decided where to locate, the next thing to do is to find accommodation. You can find furnished apartments for rent through real estate agencies. The amount of rent depends a lot on the location of your apartment and prices are higher in downtown areas.
You can also find apartment hotels to stay in for temporary accommodation need. Keep also in mind that if you are moving to Finland from outside of EU, you'll need to declare your removal goods, such as your pets or vehicles, to the custom authorities in Finland.
Guide about living in Finland
After arriving, you will need the Finnish personal identity code which is used for identification purposes, for example in banks, in Finland.
You can request a Finnish personal ID from a Local Register Office, Tax Administration, Finnish missions in foreign countries or the Immigration Service. The identity card you must pick up in person from the police. You can book the appointment via online booking system.
As one of the first things you should take care of is to open your personal bank account. Opening a personal bank account requires that you have a Finnish personal identity code and you have registered your place of residence to become part of the population register of Finland.
Your personal bank account services include also an online banking ID. It is your electronic identification in all official online services where identification is required.
As you are about to become an entrepreneur in Finland, you may be eligible for Finnish Startup Grant - a financial support provided by the Finnish government. Startup Grant is meant to support your income for ambitious entrepreneurs during the first months it takes to establish your business.
Check your eligibility for Finnish Startup Grant by contacting TE Office. Notice that it is important to apply for Finnish Startup Grant
before registering your company. After a favourable decision you will start receiving the money after the company registration is completed.
Entrepreneurs' startup grant
All businesses in Finland must enrol in the Finnish Trade Register. This registration is subject to a charge. Before submitting your registration application, remember to check from National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland that your trade name is free.
All entrepreneurs in Finland are liable to pay taxes once their company is established. For this reason, your business must also be registered for VAT at Finnish Tax Administration. This registration is free of charge.
Notice, that every company needs to have at least one EU citizen as their board member.
Starting up smoothly
Registering your business
Finding mentors, advisors and board members
After you have started the process to establish your company, you'll need a corporate bank account. To open a corporate bank account, you are typically required to present an extract from the trade register and your personal ID.
Notice that there are differences between bank requirements and their processing times with new international clients. This is why you should confirm all the required documents prior to your meeting at the bank.
After you have opened your corporate bank account and paid the share capital to the account, you can finish the company registration process with PRH.
To start earning income in Finland, you will need to obtain a personal tax card from the Finnish tax office.
It's good to keep in mind that taxation in Finland is progressive and in entrepreneur's income tax calculation, there may be both earned income and capital income. On Vero webpage you can chat with the chatbot and ask about details.
Phase 3: Developing your business and personal life in Finland
As a next step, it's a good idea to apply for accelerator & incubator programs. With these programs, you can get support from different mentors through their experience and knowledge. Accelerator programs are also a good way to meet investors and connect with potential customers.
What is often most important about accelerator and incubator programs is that they provide you a dynamic environment full of like-minded people that continuously support you forward with your business.
Comprehensive list of different accelerators in Finland
Vibrant startup community
Every entrepreneur with a freshly established business in Finland can apply for public funding matching to their own investments. Every company has an equal chance to get the funding - it's all about the brightest idea and the great team.
Private investment companies and angel investors also have a lot of interest in collaboration with international startups in Finland.
Ps. Do not forget the power of crowdfunding!
Different sources of funding
As an entrepreneur, the only form of insurance that you must take is called entrepreneurs pension insurance (i.e. YEL insurance). It must be taken at the latest when six months have elapsed from the beginning of your business operations. You can get the insurance from a pension insurance company.
Depending on your business or your personal situation, it may be recommended that you consider taking other optional insurances as well.
In Finland your health insurance is covered by Kela. You can choose to top it up with private health insurance.
Insurance companies, eg.
All businesses have a legal obligation to keep accounts in Finland. In other words, as an entrepreneur you will need to take care of your bookkeeping.
Since you likely wish to focus as much of your attention as possible on building and developing your business, it can be worthwhile that you consider outsourcing your bookkeeping to an accounting service provider.
Notice that auditing is mandatory in Finland. Ask tips from your accountant - they are happy to help you.
Accounting services, eg.
Making a contract with a teleoperator is easy to do either via operator website or call center, or simply by walking into a teleoperator shop.
It is recommended to check the special product packages that operators offer for entrepreneurs especially.
You should make an electricity contract for your apartment before you move in. It takes a couple of days to get the electricity on in the location. Electricity contracts are available from local service providers, as well as from countrywide companies. Remember to check the green power options!
Electricity companies, eg.
In the major cities of Finland, getting around by public transport is typically fast, effortless and very reliable.
If you use public transportation regularly, it's recommended that you get yourself a public travel card. This will reduce your travel costs considerably.
In addition to public transportation, you can easily get around by taxis or city bikes, or simply by walking.
Information about transportation in Finland
Mobility as a Service Apps
While you may have come to Finland to start your company, Finland has many great things to offer for your personal life as well. There are multiple different options depending on your own interests to balance your work-life.
As starters, if you are into sports, Finland has a lot of exciting options to offer. Starting a hobby is also a great way for you to make friends outside your business context.
Another great way to spend your leisure time and gain knowledge of the culture is to visit some of the many museums in Finland. On the other hand, if you are into music, there are also multiple concerts and festivals to visit in Finland.
While most people in Finland speak fluent English, knowing a bit of Finnish can be helpful in some situations. Learning Finnish is also a good way to meet other expatriates like yourself.
Did you know that in Finland most movies and broadcasts are shown in original language with Finnish subtitles?
The startup community in Finland caters a variety of events throughout the year. These events are excellent gateways to network with fellow entrepreneurs, meet up with investors and potential clients and overall to build a name for your business.
The year's biggest event is undoubtedly Slush - the world's leading startup event which connects startups and tech talent with top-tier investors, executives and media.
Don't forget the PR and marketing services that can help your business to get noticed.
Startup communities and events
- Startup Community Maria01 Helsinki
- Startup Community Tribe Tampere
- Startup Community SparkUp in Turku
- Polar Bear Pitching
- Junction hackathon
PR and marketing, eg.
Co-working has been a trend for some time in Finland and this has led to the emergence of multiple inspirational co-working spaces. Starting your business by working from a co-working space is an excellent way to share experiences and develop ideas together with other people - as well as to have fun while you're at it.
While some co-working spaces in Finland are free of charge, usually they are provided on a monthly rate. Many of the co-working spaces also organise events on regurlar basis.
Eventually, at some point your company will typically need its own bricks and mortar office. Ask your accelerator contacts about the local offering!
Accelerators and work spaces
Startup Kit partners
AutoAccount is highly automated bookkeeping service which supports your startup, created by Digitase.
Berggren provides services for the whole IP life cycle. Berggren helps your company protect intellectual property rights and differentiating factors in such a way as to create value and competitive advantage for your business. Services Berggren offers for startups:
- IPR protection analysis
- IPR plan for startup
- patenting services
- brand and trademark services
- agreement services
More information here and Sakari Värilä, +358 40 838 5447, sakari.varila (at) berggren.fi
Boardio connects you with advisors and mentors from Finland to get a head start for your business. Use Boardio free features or get 50% off from Company Silver package. Use the code bobf18 when ordering the service.
Let's change the future together!
Elisa is a telecommunications, ICT and digital service company and a pioneer in new technologies and innovations. Elisa has established partnerships with over 90 startups. We are either an early customer or a sales channel with more than 2 million customers in the world's best living lab – Finland. For all startups registered in the last 6 months we offer the chance to have an introductory meeting. Simply contact us at startups (at) elisa.fi.
For all startups registered in the last 6 months we also give a 10% discount for first 12 months on mobile subscriptions, mobile broadband and fixed broadband. Remember you need to first register your company at the Finnish patent and registration office to get a business ID.
Contact our sales on 0800 04411 and mention the code BUSINESSFINLAND for a discount and more details on the offer.
We make sure you have the best tech talent in the world. Finders Seekers is a modern recruitment agency helping you to connect with the best tech talent in the world.
For new international startups, Forenom offers special price on hostel accommodation in Finland: single rooms at 16€ per night (including VAT 10%) for booking over 30 days. To get the discount in the web shop, ask for the discount code from Business Finland: startupkit (at) businessfinland.fi. https://www.forenom.com/hostels/
For shorter stays, Forenom offers -10 % discount on all Forenom accommodation services in Finland. Whether you're looking for hostels, aparthotels or serviced apartments, we've got your easy stay covered. To get the discount in the web shop, ask for the discount code from Business Finland: startupkit (at) businessfinland.fi.
Play. Grind. Grow.
KPMG Startup Services pulls resources together like access to financial, tax and legal advice in over 150 countries in the most challenging business issues within your entrepreneurial journey from foundation of your Startup in to its Exit or IPO.
For Finnish Startup Kit members we offer Start Smart -package as a bundle for 2.000 € (+VAT).
KPMG Start Smart -package includes:
- Review and comments on your Business Plan.
- Preparation of a suitable shareholders agreement for your new startup & founders (consists of 8 hours of work & one commenting round).
- Creation of the key employment contracts.
- Registration of trademarks in Finland & EU.
KPMG Oy Ab, Jussi Paski, jussi.paski (at) kpmg.fi, +358 20 760 3920
KPMG Oy Ab, Ilkka Vuorenmaa, ilkka.vuorenmaa (at) kpmg.fi, +358 20 760 3314
To ensure you make the right choices, you need experienced help from the very beginning. Leitzinger is specialized in providing IPR services for startups; you only need to know your business – we will take care of the rest.
- IPR consultation session, free of charge.
- Technology check + Strong patent application 4.900 €.
- Namecheck + EU trademark-plus package 1.600 €.
- IPR-buffet service: first month for free.
Contact: Leitzinger Oy, Linda Norrgård, linda.norrgard (at) leitzinger.fi, +358 50 348 1950
MaaS Global / Whim
MaaS Global is the world's first true Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) operator with its award-winning Whim service. Whim is the first all-inclusive MaaS solution commercially available on the market providing users with all of their transport services under a single monthly subscription.
Whim combines public transport, taxis, city bikes (in the summer of course) and cars into one service. As a new Whim customer, you will get 20€ travel money to get around the city. Please ask the discount code from Business Finland: startupkit (at) businessfinland.fi.
New business package – A corporate bank account and savings under the mandatory insurance policy for companies. We put everything relevant in one package to give you an easy start.
San Francisco Oy
San Francisco provides integrated marketing & PR services for growth companies. San Francisco has produced a 7-week online course which shows you how to build PR strategy that supports your growth. Start your journey and get the first lesson free!
Terveystalo offers versatile healthcare, occupational healthcare, medical and examination services for private individuals, companies and communities, insurance companies and the public sector.
Our services are also designed to meet the specific needs of sole traders without salaried employees. Based on our extensive knowledge of workers and working life in Finland, we also know no two entrepreneurs are alike. And that's why our services can be tailored to meet your needs. Read more.
As a new customer you are entitled to a campaign discount where you will get the Occupational healthcare general and service fees for 0 € (value up to 90 €) or the Entrepreneurs Health service fee for 0 € (value 39.40 €) for first contract year.
Ask for an offer here, remember to use the campaign code BUSINESSFINLAND.
Tripsteri is your guide to living like the locals!
Tripsteri App is a trendy and responsible local friend, guiding you to the best restaurants, museums, landmarks and even saunas with the help of visual, audio and virtual content. You can embark on our awesome signature tours or make your own footpath. The app provides route planning, information on opening hours and official links. You can even book tickets, a table or a hotel room via the app. All content is curated and mirror the high ethical, ecological and sociocultural values of us Finns.
Tripsteri App features Helsinki, Espoo, Porvoo, Lapland as well as international destinations. New destinations are launched all the time. The App is available in English, Spanish, Finnish and Japanese and soon also in Chinese!
Volenti Partners Oy
Volenti offers trustworthy accounting in a laid back atmosphere. With state-of-the-art tools, we bring real-time accounting to your fingertips. Minimizing routines with electronic accounting software leaves us time to focus on more than the numbers – supporting your actual business. We are ready to tackle the most challenging economic tangles. Take us onboard and see your business take flight!
We wish to have more Startup Kit partners
If you have a service which can attract and help international startups and their founders to establish and develop their business in Finland, please describe your service and what's the benefit for the startups and email your description to startupkit (at) businessfinland.fi. We will be in contact with you!
About Startup Kit
The Finnish startup scene is thriving. With our vibrant startup ecosystem, unique talent pool, high commitment to R&D, support from the government and low corporate tax rates, Finland is an excellent test bed for innovative, ambitious startup teams and a great place to scale your business globally.
Finland is well-known for its innovations. One of the greatest examples is the Finnish maternity package that has been given to every expectant mother by the state for the past 80 years. The package is like a starter kit for new parents, containing all the necessary equipments for a newborn.
The aim of the package is that no matter what background the newborns have, they get the best possible start in life. Many even say that the Finnish maternity package has helped Finland to achieve one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world.
Inspired of the impact of this innovation, from 2018 on, ambitious international growth startups will receive a Finland Startup Kit from Finland. The aim of the Startup Kit is to make Finland the country with the highest success rate of great business ideas in the world by providing the teams with the right nurturing and vitamins for success.