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.
What To Do Right After Arrival?
Please follow the steps below upon arrival to Finland. The steps are described in more detail manner below the list.
- Visit the Digital and Population Data Services Agency where you will be registered to the Population Register and where you can fill in the notification of move (muuttoilmoitus) form for mailing purposes
- Open a bank account
- Set up a phone connection
- Come say hi to us at the Fulbright Finland office!
Visiting the Local Digital and Population Data Services Agency
To register with the Finnish Digital Agency (previously called "maistraatti"), you need to personally visit the agency where your details will be entered in the Finnish Population Information System. If you stay in Finland less than a year, the registration is optional. However, it may be difficult for you to operate in Finland, if you have not visited the agency and received the Finnish ID number. Please see further instructions below.
Benefits of Visiting the Agency
In connection with registration, you will receive a Finnish identity code/social security number (henkilötunnus). You need the identity code when you use the services of the authorities and sometimes also with private companies.The identity number is also required, for example, when you open a Finnish bank account. If you are registered with the population register, it also allows you to receive considerable discount from local bus pass, for example, for those living in Helsinki. Thus, it is important to register with the Agency at the very beginning of your stay in Finland. Please note that the registering procedures may vary between local Digital Agencies.
NB! Please note that some of the grantees may already have the Finnish ID number when arriving to Finland, if they applied for the Finnish residence permit through a Finnish Consulate in the U.S. (and not through the VFS Global Center).
When the registration has been completed, the Agency informs you about it by mailing an extract from the Population Information System to your Finnish mailing address. This extract includes your Finnish ID number. Sometimes it might be possible to receive the document already during your visit to the agency.
NB! Please note that you can fill in the change of address notification also at the Digital Agency which saves you from a separate visit to the Post Office. Make sure that you tell at the Agency that you also want to complete the change of address notification. You might not be asked about it if you don't bring it forward yourself.
Do I Need an Appointment?
Usually Fulbright grantees have visited the agency without making an appointment as the appointment is not required by agencies located in bigger cities where the grantees most often are staying in. Please note that it is not even possible to make an appointment to all of the agencies. Please see the Finnish Digital Agency website if you wish to find out if you can make an appointment for the agency in your host town.
What Do I Need to Take Along?
At the agency, you will need to fill out and sign the registration form and present the following documents:
- residence permit card
- 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.
What Is My Information Used For?
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 acquired from directly from the Digital Agency.
Change of Address Notification
Submitting a Change of Address Notification (muuttoilmoitus) 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 fill in the change of address notification form at the Finnish Digital Agency or at the Post office.
The easiest is to fill in the change of address notification at the Digital Agency at the same time you visit the the Agency in order to be registered for the Population Register.
Please note that the Finnish ID number is not compulsory information in the the change of address notification form even though it is asked in the form. This means that you can submit the change of address notification, before you receive the actual Finnish ID number.
You can fill in the change of address notification form also online, but then you would need to already have received your Finnish ID number.
Consult your host university
Many lecturers have their housing arranged for them by their host universities, who may take care of the change of address notification for you. Please consult your host to find out if this has already been done. If you are living in student housing, the university housing department will usually do the notification on your behalf, but it is important to double check it.
Moving in Finland
If you change your address during your stay in Finland, submit your notification of move each time you move. After registering with the local Digital Agency and submitting a ‘Change of address notification’, your new address will be automatically forwarded to several authorities, organizations and companies.
When you leave Finland
Remember to complete a Change of Address Form at the end of your grant period. Based on the change of address, the Finnish Post will forward regular letters weighing up to 50 g to your new address abroad. Other items will be returned to the sender or processed as undeliverable items. If you order a paid Posti Relocate service, your letters weighing up to 250 g will be forwarded to your new address abroad. (Information as of January 23, 2020).
Open a Bank Account
Read more about opening a bank account and grant payments during your Fulbright term in Finland.
Set up Your Phone Connection
It’s important to have a working phone connection so the Fulbright Finland Foundation is able to reach you during your grant term in Finland.
If you bring a European-compatible cell phone from the U.S., you can buy a pre-paid SIM card at a convenience store. If you don't have a European-compatible phone, get a cheap (or second hand) one and buy a prepaid SIM card. This can be a bit easier than trying to qualify for a regular subscription service.
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 anywhere from 300 to 500 euros as a non-permanent resident when making a month-to-month contract, and it may take few weeks to set up.
Pre-paid SIM Cards
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. 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. You need to remember that the prepaid kits do not work outside Finland.
Buying a phone in Finland
Some grantees purchase a cell phone in Finland. 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.
You can also bring your phone from the USA, but first you need to make sure that it’s compatible with the European GSM system (3G, 4G/LTE) and you are able to insert a European SIM card in the phone.
Land lines are very rare in Finland and most Finns no longer have them.
You can easily and cheaply keep in touch with your family and friends overseas by Internet calling with programs such as Skype, Whatsapp or FaceTime. 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.
Keeping Fulbright Finland Updated
U.S. State Department requires all Fulbright offices to have the most up-to-date contact information of the grantees in the specific country. We need to be able to reach you in case of emergency, and sometimes there are also great opportunities that come up on short notice and we would like to inform you about them immediately.
Remember to notify the Fulbright Finland Foundation in case you are
- Traveling outside Finland
- Moving or your contact information changes
- Offered an honorarium or other salary during your grant period. Please note that Fulbright U.S. Student grantees need a prior approval from Fulbright Finland before accepting a job offer.
Keep you program coordinator also updated if you have any problems or questions during your stay in Finland. When you are in contact with IIE/IREX, remember to cc your program coordinator in the email.
Get in contact with your local Fulbright program coordinator before any travels!
Grantees cannot travel during compulsory Fulbright Finland events and other engagements. According to the international Fulbright grantee Terms and Conditions, “as a general rule, grantees are permitted a cumulative total of 14 days of personal travel within and outside of the host country, excluding weekends, national and/or religious holidays in the host country, and depending on the host country policies. The Fulbright Commission in the host country may permit more than 14 days of personal travel. The grantee must obtain prior approval for all personal travel from the Fulbright Commission, which may consult with ECA before granting approval.”
- Before making travel plans, talk to your host and make sure that the timing of your travel is suitable for your host in Finland and that it does not negatively impact on your Fulbright project.
- Contact your Fulbright Finland program coordinator well before traveling to inform them about your travel details and to find out whether the travel has any effect on your grant. According to the international Fulbright rules, the grantee must obtain prior approval for all travel from the Fulbright Commission, which may consult with ECA before granting approval. FDAT program participants will additionally need to consult IIE before any travel out of the country.
- Inform your Fulbright Finland program coordinator the exact dates of your travel, the destination and your contact information while traveling. Fulbright Finland is required by the U.S. Department of State to be aware of grantees’ whereabouts.
If your travel is not Fulbright-related, your ASPE insurance will not be valid during the travel and you must acquire other insurance. If the travel is a combination of Fulbright-related and personal travel, Fulbright Finland needs to consult IIE and U.S. State Department to determine the effect on ASPE coverage.
Be sure to check the visa requirements of the country you will visit.
Travel in European countries
U.S. citizens can travel to most European countries as tourists usually for a maximum of 3 months, based on European Union regulations or Schengen Convention. Please note that the European Union and the Schengen area are two different zones and include different countries. Before planning travel to other European countries, always check the traveling regulations for U.S. citizens with the country’s immigration officials. Do take your passport and residence permit along when traveling inside Schengen or EU area.