Finland 101: An Introduction to Living and Working in Finland

Finland101 An Introduction to Finland KitThis kit is aimed to give you the most basic information in regards to issues related to emergency, foreigners, accommodations, health, education, work, visa, politics and general information about Finland.

The population of Finland is just over 5.4 million. The size of the country’s working age population is decreasing due to an increasing rate of retirement. At the same time, the number of immigrants is growing and careers are becoming longer. In 2012, the labour force consisted of just under 2.5 million workers. The average number of people unemployed in 2012 was 207 000, and the level of unemployment was around 7.7%.

In Finland, the service industry provides significantly more employment opportunities than the industry and construction sectors. Sectors employing the largest number of people are commerce, transport, hotel and restaurant services, education, health and social services and other services. In 2012, the number of jobs grew the most in the health and social services sector (by about 13 000). The employment situation in other sectors was also reasonably good in 2012, considering the uncertain economic situation. Employment in these services is set to increase in the future.

The Finnish companies with the largest number of employers are: Nokia, an electronics manufacturer; Itella, a postal and courier service provider; UPM, a manufacturer of wood and paper products; and Kesko, a wholesale and retail trading company. However, the largest number of new employment contracts has lately been created in small and medium-sized enterprises, and the share of microenterprises, i.e. enterprises employing fewer than 10 people is increasing.

In Finland, the public sector is also an important employer. For example, the city of Helsinki is the largest single employer in Finland. It offers employment in the sectors of education, social and healthcare services, transport and maintenance.

Due to long-term economic uncertainty in Finland, an increasing number of companies are not currently recruiting. In the service sector, the outlook with respect to employment is slightly more positive than in other sectors. According to recent surveys, the most common reason for not employing new workers is uncertainty in the demand for products and services, but the lack of suitable employees is also a recurring problem in many sectors, particularly in the service sector.

The required job qualifications vary widely depending on the job concerned. The absence of suitable employees is often due to jobseekers’ inadequate training or lack of relevant work experience or specialist skills.



Emergency Line: 112The 112 number is used jointly by the fire brigade, ambulance service, the police, social services and sea rescue. All calls are free of charge from any phone. A GSM service is available for emergency calls made by the hearing-impaired.

The calls are answered in English in addition to official languages Finnish and Swedish. Calls can also be answered in German, French and Russian with the help of interpreters.

97% of 112 calls are answered within 30 seconds.

When making an emergency call, follow this procedure:

  1. Explain what has happened.
  2. Give the address and the municipality as accurately as possible.
  3. Answer any questions asked.
  4. Follow the instructions given.
  5. Finish the call only when given permission to do so. Don’t make other calls or otherwise use your phone immediately after the emergency call. The Emergency Response Centre may call you if they need more information.



Finnish public sector online services for citizens

Finnish Police Bureau

The European Commission

Finland Flag

Finland Flag

Finland Map

Finland Map


Finland in the EU

Finland was first settled after the last ice age, around 10,000 years ago. The settlers came from the east, from what is now Russia, and from the south via the present Baltic States. The roots of the Finnish language, which belongs to the Finno-Ugric group of languages, originate from Central Russia, but elements from the Baltic and Germanic languages, amongst others, have also been thrown into the mix.  More

Population:  5,430.207 (as of 14 February 2013)

Ethnic Groups: Finn 93.4%, Swede 5.6%, Russian 0.5%, Estonian 0.3%, Roma (Gypsy) 0.1%, Sami 0.1% (2006)

Languages: Finnish (official) 91.2%, Swedish (official) 5.5%, other (small Sami- and Russian-speaking minorities) 3.3% (2007)

Median Age: total: 42.7 years (2012 est.)

Unemployment rate: %20.5





Statistics Finland

Foreigners in Finland

According to Statistics Finland’s statistics on the population structure, there were 257,248 persons of foreign origin living in Finland at the end of 2011, which represents 4.8 per cent of Finland’s population. There were 219,702 persons that have been born abroad, so-called first generation Finns with foreign origin, and 37,546 persons born in Finland with foreign origin, so-called second generation Finns with foreign origin.

Largest groups of foreign origin among the Finnish population on 31 December 2011

Largest groups of foreign origin among the Finnish population on 31 December 2011


The age structure of people of foreign origin differs clearly from that of people of Finnish origin. The average age of the total population was 41.6 years at the end of 2011, and the average age of people of Finnish origin was 42.0 years. The average age among first generation Finns with foreign origin was 37.7 years, and the average age among second generation Finns with foreign origin was 11.8 years.

Among second generation Finns with foreign origin, 50 per cent were under school-age and 87 per cent were under the age of 18. The share of people of working age (aged 15–64) among the total population was 65 per cent. Among people with foreign origin, the share of people of working age was 77 per cent and among first generation Finns with foreign origin the share was 87 per cent.

Population by native language

Population by Native Language

Number of foreign nationals in Finland by region

Number of foreign nationals in Finland by region

Foreign job seekers by qualification level in 2010

Foreign job seekers by qualification level in 2010




Statistics Finland


For young students, their universities can help them to move into a cheap university house.

For adults (long term), if you plan to rent a house in Finland, please be aware of the flat’s condition before signing anything. Most of the rental houses (not premium ones) in Finland come with no furniture – literally. Thus, be prepared to make a budget for the furniture.

Your Rights and Responsibilities as a

  1. Rent is payable by the agreed date of each month.
  2. The tenant is responsible for any damage to the property. This includes damage caused by visitors of the tenant.
  3. Follow the house rules and regulations, which in tower blocks are usually placed on the wall in the proximity of the main entrance.
  4. Tenancy agreements must be terminated in writing. The property must be vacated within one month of the termination of the tenancy agreement.


Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Landlord:

  1. The landlord is responsible for the maintenance of the property but not for the damage caused by the tenant.
  2. The landlord can only terminate the tenancy agreement in writing and an acceptable reason must be given.
  3. The landlord can evict the tenant if the tenant has not paid the rent for the property or is continuously acting in a socially irresponsible manner.


You can try these websites to look for houses to purchase or buy in Finland.

FINNBAY Classifieds (in English)


For adults (short term), a hotel may be the best option. Most of the hotels in Finland have pretty pictures about their services including pretty pictures about Finland’s nature on their websites. This may mislead you when you face with reality. Thus, you can see variety of reviews of hotels and other accommodation options at our Travel section along with other expats’ opinions on them.


The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (MSAH) is responsible for social and health policy and preparing associated legislation.

Finnish Ambulance

Finnish Ambulance

Healthcare in Finland is mainly provided on the basis of residence and is primarily financed with general tax revenues. This means that if you have a permanent residency visa in Finland you are covered by the public health insurance. Otherwise, you are left to take care it on your own privately.

Conditions of having a residence in Finland is tied to having a bonding relationship with the Finnish society such as being a citizen, working, studying and so on. Please see Immigration Office website for more information.

There are both public and private sector providers. Primary health care services are the responsibility of municipalities and are generally provided through local health centres.





Immigration Office in Finland


In Finland, education is of high importance. The Finnish Education System is divided into basic education, secondary education, higher education and adult education.

For a comprehensive insight on education, please see the new presentation on Finnish education system created by the Finnish National Board of Education.


There are a number of websites that advertise vacancies. The largest is the one maintained by the labour administration at

If you are a permanent resident and if you do not have work, you can register as a jobseeker with an employment and economic development office. The employment and economic development office will help you in looking for a job. Once you have registered as an unemployed jobseeker, you can apply for the unemployment benefit.

You can register as an unemployed jobseeker online at the employment and economic development office website, For using this service, you will need bank identifiers or an identity card with a microchip. After your online registration, you must visit the employment and economic development office within ten days.

The unemployment benefit is paid out either by the Social insurance institution (Kela) or an Unemployment fund.

Government procedures change from time to time. For an up to date information on work related issues and entrepreneurship in Finland, your first step must be the Employment and Economic Development Office.

Ministry of Employment and the Economy

Ministry of Employment and the Economy

Most of the new jobs requiring workers were in the health and social services sector, trade and services. The demand for labour is at a high level (with many vacant positions and few applicants) in the following professions in particular:
·         Nurses/Practical nurses/Care assistants
·         Doctors
·         Sales representatives/Telemarketers
·         Nursery school teachers
·         Social workers/Social instructors, Nurses
·         Special education teachers
·         Accountants/Payroll accountants
·         Psychologists
·         Dentists/Dental hygienists
·         Cleaners.
Most people employed work in the sectors of industry, technical work, art, administrative and office work. Unemployment is at a high level (with few vacant positions and many applicants) particularly in the following professions:
  • Office workers
  • Telecommunications assemblers/Electronics assemblers
  • Tailors/Dressmakers
  • Visual artists
  • Cabinet-makers
  • Advertising designers
  • Wood machinists
  • Operators/Helpdesk support technicians
  • General labourers in industry
  • Press journalists

Finland is a democratic republic. The president is elected by a direct national vote for a six-year term. The current President of Finland is Sauli Niinistö (2012–2018).

Current President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö

Current President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö

The Finnish Parliament comprises 200 representatives. The parliamentary term is four years.

The Prime Minister, who is elected by the Parliament, and the other ministers in the cabinet form the Council of State, which wields executive power together with the President.

Finland is a member state of the European Union. Finnish representatives at the European Parliament  are elected for a five-year term.

Central and local government

Central government in Finland is divided into central, regional and local government. Central government consists of the Council of State and the national boards and bodies, for example the Population Register Centre and Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.

Regional and local government consists of public authorities that operate regionally or locally, for example Regional State Administrative Agencies and Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY-centres). State and municipal authorities are in close contact with one another.

Municipalities in Finland are self-governed. They must guarantee, under law, that local residents have access to certain basic public services. The highest municipal decision-making body is the Municipal Council, whose members are elected by popular vote every four years.

Here are some of the Finnish government organs’ online addresses:

Police (poliisi)
Social Insurance Institution (Kansaneläkelaitos)
Employment and Economic Development Office (työ- ja elinkeinotoimisto)
Social Welfare Office (sosiaalipalvelutoimisto)
Tax Office (verotoimisto)
Finnish Immigration Service (Maahanmuuttovirasto)
Administrative Council (maistraatti)
Office of the Ombudsman for Minorities (vähemmistövaltuutetun toimisto)
Office of the Ombudsman for Equality (tasa-arvovaltuutettu)

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