Opening a Bank Account and Grant Payments

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.

Choose a Bank

The grantee is responsible for opening the bank account on their own. The Fulbright Finland Foundation does NOT open bank accounts for the grantees. 

You will need a bank account in order for the Fulbright Finland Foundation to make payments to you (e.g. monthly grants, travel grants, and orientation and seminar reimbursements) and to pay bills from a Finnish account. 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 the Fulbright Finland Foundation uses, you will get your payments from the Foundation faster, because transfers between banks may take 1-2 days, sometimes even longer. Fulbright Finland currently uses Nordea Bank.

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 urge 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 regarding 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 is 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 or university tutor. 
  • If you go alone, ask the teller to write down in Finnish and English what is still missing or what is the problem so that we can easier help you, if needed, to complete the process.

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

  • Form from the Digital and Population Data Services Agency stating your Finnish ID number and that you are officially registered to live in Finland
  • Passport
  • Residence permit card
  • Study certificate/invitation letter from the Finnish host institution
  • Fulbright documents
  • A recommendation letter from your current bank (“customer in good standing”) - this document might sometimes be asked

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

Banking Services

After opening a 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, for example, a minimum of 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 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 (ATMs). Bank agents can provide guidance on this. NOTE:  Checks are not used in Finland.

Finnish banks with webpages in English

Grant Payments

Grant can’t be paid without submitting first all the required documents/info. The grant payments are made on the first day of each month.

All grantees must bring enough funds to cover room and board for at least the first 2-4 weeks in Finland. It is also wise to be prepared for other settling-in costs, such as bus passes, mobile phone deposit, and student housing deposits. Many of these expenses may have to be dealt with before your first grant payment and can easily add up to $2,000 or more.

The grant allowance is intended to assist with living costs in Finland. It bears no relation to the grantee’s salary in the United States nor is it meant to pay for the travel expenses or tuition of dependents. It is not intended to cover extraordinary project costs, such as film, art materials, extensive photocopying, and so on.

Grantees should be prepared to make some adjustments if need be. For example, apartments are usually smaller than those in the United States. The prices of most things do not vary remarkably from their counterparts in the United States, but some items can be much more expensive. The maintenance allowance will not suffice to cover major purchases of winter wear or sports equipment. Furthermore, the allowance has not been designed to cover travel in Europe during or after the grant period.

It is important to note that internationally the funding for Fulbright grants comes from a number of sources and it very much depends on the country as well as the particular grant program. In approximately 50 countries around the world, there is a binational commission that administers the Fulbright program and each of the commissions is unique (and different from each other) in many ways. Fulbright Finland Foundation is an independent binational commission. Approximately 80% of the funding of the Finnish Commission comes from Finland.

The maintenance allowances in the majority of grant categories are paid by Fulbright Finland from a Finnish account. Please note, there are three exceptions: the Specialist program, the Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching program, and the Fulbright-EDUFI Fellowships program. The CIES is responsible for the grantee's monthly allowance (honorarium) and travel grant for the participants of the Specialist Program, IREX handles the payment of the Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching and The Finnish National Agency for Education EDUFI pays the grants for the Fulbright-EDUFI Fellowships program grantees.

The maintenance allowance is normally for 9 months (one academic year) or 4-6 months (one semester). Grantees will receive their allowances from Fulbright Finland in equal monthly installments, paid directly into their Finnish bank accounts on the first day of the month. The first monthly payment will be made during the first week of September/January, or as soon as the grantee has delivered his/her Finnish bank details to Fulbright Finland. Please note that maintenance allowances can only be paid in Euros to a bank account in Finland.

For students fully funded by Fulbright Finland or a university, for example the University of Helsinki or Turku, the monthly grant allowance will be paid by Fulbright Finland directly to the grantee’s bank account in Finland.

For Fulbright-EDUFI Fellows, the monthly grant allowance will be paid by EDUFI directly to the grantee’s bank account in Finland. After EDUFI has received the grantee bank account information, it will take approximately 10 days for the grantee to receive the first allowance installment. The grantee will receive the following allowances on the first weekday of each month (or few days before the turn of the month).

During the Fulbright Finland orientation, grantees will be given a bank account information form, which needs to be filled in after opening the Finnish account and sent to Fulbright Finland.

Fulbright Finland will deposit the travel allowance to each grantee after the grantee has completed all the required pre-departure paperwork. The travel allowance is deposited in the grantee’s U.S. bank account.

Additional Income during the Fulbright Grant Period

The grantee is required to notify the Fulbright Finland Foundation, if she/he is offered an honorarium, lecture fee or other salary during the grant period. Student grantees may not undertake remunerative employment during the grant period without prior written approval by the Commission. Grantees are reminded that Finnish legislation on taxes and work permits regulate accepting payments while in Finland.

Residency Restrictions

The grantee will not be entitled to any maintenance allowance until he/she takes up the assignment in Finland. The initial maintenance payment will be made shortly after the grantee’s arrival in Finland to take up the project.

If for any reason the grantee, during the term of this grant, ceases to carry out his/her project or activity, the maintenance allowance and other grant benefits may be suspended until the grantee resumes his/her project or activity.