Cell Phones

As the home of cell phone maker Nokia, Finland is one of the most wired countries in the world and phone booths have nearly all disappeared. Many grantees have indicated that it is almost a necessity in Finland to have a cell phone, in order to keep in touch with social and work contacts.

Obtain a cell phone as soon as possible – it is practically a necessity if you want any kind of social life in Finland.
- U.S. Grantee, 2014-2015

Purchasing a Cell Phone

Most grantees purchase a cell phone in Finland (~€30 used to €90+ new). The cheaper models may not come with an Internet connection or other fancy features, but they have all the functions you need to make ordinary local and international phone calls and text messaging.

Bringing a Phone from the U.S.

Before bringing a cell phone from the United States, ensure that it is compatible with the European GSM system (3G, 4G/LTE), and you are able to insert a European SIM card in the phone.

International Calls

Direct-dial telephone service is available to all European countries and North America. Collect and person-to-person calls may be placed via international operators (with service in English) by dialing 020 222.

If you do not have your own telephone, international calls can be made at the main post office in all cities. AT&T’s “USA Direct” is available for collect or credit card calls. In larger cities, there may be a “TeleCentre” where you can make calls overseas for low rates. MCI also offers direct service from the United States to Finland.

Please note that it is much more expensive to call out of Finland than calling internationally from the United States. Additionally, placing international telephone calls from hotels may add surcharges of up to 300 percent.

Beware of placing international long distance calls from your mobile phone while traveling outside Finland, also the use of data can be very expensive. For example in some cases, such as in Russia, a single call may incur charges of several hundred euros.

Prepaid SIM Card

Depending on the length of time you will be in Finland, and your predicted calling habits, you may opt to sign up for a contract or purchase a pre-paid start-up kit. Those signing up for a contract (with various lengths available), should be prepared to deposit anywhere from 300 to 500 euros, as a non-permanent resident. The deposit will be refunded upon departure and if you have settled all of your bills.

For those with the iPhone5, Finland didn't offer prepaid nano SIM cards in August 2013. I was only able to get a SIM card through a monthly plan, which required a deposit.
-U.S. Student Grantee 2013-2014

(Update July 2014: Nano SIMs are available in prepaid packages.)

Pre-paid start-up kits are available at convenience stores across the country (R-Kioski is one popular chain). The start-up kits range in price from 5 to 20 euros, and include a Finnish phone number and depending on the price, approximately 5-10 euros in credit. Additional credit may be purchased at convenience stores or at some ATMs. You can start using your new phone number immediately, along with text, voice mail, and data services.

There is one important thing to bear in mind, though. The prepaid kits do not work outside Finland. When traveling outside Finland, you will need to purchase a local prepaid set, that naturally has a different phone number.

Mobile phones: Absolutely necessary in Finland. Look for a special offer and try to find a plan in which you do not have to pay a large deposit (they asked me for 300 Euros!). Another option is Pre-pay, which is much better than pre-pay plans in the U.S., and prevents “surprises” at the end of the month.
- U.S. Grantee , 2014-2015

Finnish cell phone operators are listed below, and many provide service in English.


Various operator companies have special prefixes people can dial before calling abroad. These prefixes can help reduce the cost of long distance calls.

  • Prefix 99588 -- Globetel --  USA: 0,12€ / min

Depending on your own phone or operator there may be some extra charges.

Check with your classmates and colleagues to determine which prefixes offer the best savings for your purposes.

Internet Calling

An easy and cheap way for keeping in touch with friends and family overseas is Internet calling with such programs as Skype, WhatsApp or Apple's FaceTime. This will require a computer with Internet connection and a microphone or a smart phone. Service prices range from free, for calls made from one computer to another, or two euro cents a minute for calls placed from a computer to a landline.

Users can also pay to establish a phone number in the U.S. that will route calls through the Internet to your computer. Some research prior to your departure will certainly save some euros down the road while in Finland.

Land Lines

Most Finns do not have a landline any longer, and rely rather on their cell phones to communicate with family and friends. Setting up a regular landline phone line costs around 140 euros and this fee is non-refundable. There are additional charges if an installer visits your residence.

Calls are generally billed on a two-month cycle. For example, your phone bill for January and February will arrive in mid-March. Finnish telephone bills are not itemized, but are billed as cumulative message units.

Be cautious about using your telephone, especially during the first billing cycle, until you are aware what your bills are likely to be. An initial bill of 400 euros or more has often surprised unsuspecting grantees.

Settle bills before your departure. Arrange with the telephone company to pay all charges up to a set day before your departure. The Fulbright Center is not responsible for grantee telephone bills that surface several months later. Grantees are accountable for all such bills, plus the late-payment penalties that will accrue.