Arrival in Finland

Send your Fulbright Finland program coordinator your

  • Finnish address and
  • phone number 

as soon as they are available!

On this page


Arrival assistance

The host institution may arrange for lecturers and research scholars to be met upon arrival by a university or department representative. If arrival assistance is desired, please request help directly from your host institution and provide the appropriate arrival information (date, time, flight number and airline) well in advance. You can also be met by your Fulbright Buddy or a possible university tutor at the airport.

Things to do first

Inform your host and Fulbright Finland that you have arrived, either by calling or dropping them a line (many bars, libraries and public spaces have open access networks for visitors, if your laptop connection is not operational right away).

Things to do within a week of the arrival

Register with the local register office (maistraatti)

If you live in Finland at least for a year you must register your stay in Finland with the local register office (maistraatti). If you stay in Finland less than a year the registration is optional. However, it is recommended due to some of the benefits it offers. One of the most important reasons why Fulbrighters usually register with maistraatti is the considerable discount it allows you to receive on local bus pass.

Maistraatti also issues Finnish personal ID numbers/social security numbers (henkilötunnus). However, the most simplest way to obtain a personal ID number is to apply it with the residence permit. Unless you have not applied your personal ID number in conjunction with the Finnish residence permit, you may apply it from maitraatti after you have arrived in Finland.

To register with the local register office, you need to personally visit the register office where your details will be entered in the Finnish Population Information System. At the office, you will need to

  1. fill out and sign the registration form and
  2. present the following documents:
  • residence permit card,
  • passport,
  • Fulbright documents and university invitation letter (scholars) or university letter of attendance (students).
  • If your spouse and children have moved with you to Finland, take also your marriage certificate and children’s’ birth certificates to the register office. Please note that the marriage certificate and birth certificates need to be legalized.

If you are issued the Finnish ID number, it will come in handy for any public service or web-based form, and when opening a bank account or buying a phone contract for instance. Thus, it is recommended that you acquire the ID number so that you have it available in the beginning of your stay and for example before buying a phone contract. 

Please note that the procedures may vary between local register offices.

Among other things, the registered information is used in the organization of elections, for taxation, health care, juridical administration and statistical purposes. More information on the personal identity code, registration purposes and privacy protection with the registration can be found from the Population Registration Centre (Väestörekisterikeskus).

Change of Address Notification and Moving in Finland

Submitting a Change of Address Notification is required whenever you move to Finland and inside Finland. This way your mail will be delivered to you to the correct address. You can submit the change of address notification by either

  1. filling in a form at the post offices or register offices (Maistraatti) after arriving to Finland

  2. filling in an online form at 
    Using the online service requires identity verification based on online bank user IDs, a Posti user ID, or a Citizen Certificate (e.g. electronic ID card). 

Consult your host university

Please consult your host university for further instructions. Many lecturers have their housing arranged for them by their host universities, who may take care of this for you. If you are living in student housing, the university housing department will usually do this on your behalf.

Moving in Finland

If you change your address during your stay in Finland, submit your notification of move each time you move permanently. After registering with the local Register Office and submitting a ‘Change of address notification’, your new address will be automatically forwarded to several authorities, organizations and companies (further information: ‘Good to Know’ box at

When you leave Finland

Remember to complete a Change of Address Form at the end of your grant period. The Finland Post Corporation will forward your mail to your new address free of charge for one month. For an additional fee, the service may be extended

Set up your phone connection

If you did bring a European-compatible cell phone from the U.S., you can buy a pre-paid SIM card at a kiosk. If you don't have a European-compatible phone, get a cheap one (or second hand) and buy a prepaid SIM card. It can be a bit easier than trying to qualify for a regular subscription service. The SIM card can be recharged online or at the ATM machine in most cases.

If you wish to have a regular subscription service, visit the local register office for Finnish ID before contacting a cell phone network provider. Often cell phone network providers require a Finnish ID number when buying a month-to-month phone contract. You may also be asked to pay a deposit when making a month-to-month contract and it may take few weeks to set up.

For further information, please see section on Telephones.

Otto cash machine
Open a bank account and apply for a Visa Electron debit card

Choose a Bank

You will need a bank account in order for Fulbright Finland to make payments to you (e.g. monthly grants, travel grants, and orientation and seminar reimbursements). You are free to select which bank you wish to use in Finland. U.S. Fulbright grantees in the past have used a number of Finnish banks. However, if you use the same bank as Fulbright Finland is using you will get your payments from Fulbright Finland faster, because transfers between banks may take 1-2 days, sometimes even longer. Fulbright Finland currently uses Nordea Bank. Please note that opening a bank account in Finland might take some time, so it is advisable to bring enough money with you for the first weeks or be prepared to use your U.S. bank account/credit card in the beginning.

If you wish to open an account with Nordea you need to make an appointment with them by calling their customer service number for service in English (tel. 0200 70000) and you will be given the address of the local bank where you need to go for the appointment. We also stongly recommend you to talk to your Finnish host university International Office on banking and ask them which local bank they recommend for international visitors as they have experience with which bank in your host town is familiar with handling international customers’ banking matters.

If you are a short-term grantee, please note that according to the information that Fulbright Finland has received from Nordea, international guests staying in Finland less than 90 days and who thus do not have a Finnish residence permit card are no longer able to open a bank account in Finland. If your grant period is 90 days or less and you do not have a residence permit, please contact your program coordinator at Fulbright Finland to discuss the options.

Arrive prepared for bank account opening

Previous grantees have found opening a bank account in Finland somewhat cumbersome at times. The procedures for opening an account may vary between banks and even between different branches of the same bank. Every individual situation can also be a little different with each grantee which is why it's difficult to give fail-safe banking instructions that would apply in all cases. The best approach is to be prepared with all of the paperwork required, but previous Fulbrighters have mentioned that banking experiences vary based on bank and personnel.

Due to these challenges, it is recommended that you visit the bank together with a Finnish speaking person, for example, with your Fulbright Buddy.

Usually the following documents are needed at the first banking appointment:

  • Form from the local register office Maistraatti stating that you are officially registered to live in Finland
  • Passport
  • Residence permit
  • Study certificate/invitation letter from the Finnish host institution
  • Fulbright documents
  • A recommendation letter from your current bank (“customer in good standing”)
  • Finnish ID number (written in the back of your Residence Permit card, if you asked the number in the residence permit application process). The bigger banks seem to be more flexible in this matter, for instance Nordea Bank does not require (always) the Finnish ID number when opening an account.

The grantee is responsible for opening the bank account on one’s own. Fulbright Finland does NOT open bank accounts for the grantees. 

Be prepared to be without a bank account for at least a month. You will be dependent on your own finances during this time.


I have a Capital One 360 account. It's US based and has no conversion fees. Has worked out everywhere.

U.S. Fulbrighter 2015-2016


Banking services

After opening the bank account, the customer is usually offered a Visa Electron debit card. Online banking services are usually offered for clients staying in Finland for a longer period of time, the limit can be for example 6 months.

You will not need a Finnish credit card. Visa Electron is sufficient for most purposes.

Paying bills

Ask someone to run through how to make online payments with your account. This is the way that business is done in Finland, other than store purchases. If you have not received online banking codes, you can use your Visa Electron debit card to pay bills by using the banking machines. Bank agents can provide guidance on this.

NOTE:  Checks are not used in Finland.

See also the Money and Banking section.

Get a bus pass

Public transport is relatively cheap in Finland and in the wintertime you will probably need it. Perhaps the easiest way of getting this done is simply asking your host guide to show you the local public transport office or heading to the local tourist office, since they are able to show you the directions.

Obtain library cards
Capital area travel card

Public libraries have literature and newspapers in multiple languages, as well as computer terminals for public use.

Locate the nearest pharmacy

Once you are settled, locate the nearest 24-hour pharmacy (apteekki) and public or private medical clinic, and put the info somewhere easy to locate, in case you need it.

Visit the local tourist office

They have a bundle of material about the city you are staying in, and most of it is free of charge.