Finland > Moving

How To Move To Finland - The Definitive Guide

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Apply For A Visa
Find A Job
Rent Property
Buy Property
Register For Healthcare
Open A Bank Account
Learn The Language
Choose A School



Apply For A Visa

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Depending on the country you come from and your length of stay, you may or may not need a visa to travel to Finland. Confirm this before you set out. If you plan to be in Finland for a long period, you may need a residence permit.

Nationals from the European Union can enter and work in Finland for as long as they want, but will need a residence permit if they plan to stay longer than three months. The Schengen Agreements states that people travelling from one Schengen country to another do not need to show their ID documents to enter. People from the US, Australia and Canada can stay in Finland for up to 90 days without a visa. However, they are not allowed to take on paid work during this time. They will have to provide a return ticket and bank statements proving they are financially stable. Citizens of other countries should check with their embassies for visa requirements.

Short stay visas last for three months and are suitable for people from countries that do not have specific visa requirements. Those in Finland on short stay visas are not allowed to work during this period. The visa can be applied for in the Finnish consulate in your home country.

The documents you require for a successful visa application include: a passport, bank statements that show enough funds for your stay, passport photo, a completed visa form, travel insurance policy, return ticket and travel itinerary. You may also be required to write down the purpose of your trip and duration of your stay. If you are visiting Finland to stay with someone, you need to add details about how you and the person you are visiting know each other. There are cases where you will be invited for an interview to discuss the purpose of your visit. If any of the conditions are not met, your visa will be revoked, and you will have to leave the country immediately.

The type of resident permit you need will also depend on the country you come from, how long you are staying and your plans. Nordic residents can enter, reside and work in Finland without needing a permit. Citizens should register their right to reside if their stay is more than three months. This can be done at the nearest police station. All citizens from other countries should apply for a permit from the Finnish embassy in their home country. The consulate will give you the relevant forms and information. The final decision about whether to grant you residency or not lies with the immigration service of Finland.

You are entitled to Finnish residency for the following reasons: humanitarian purposes, family ties, remigration, being of Finnish descent, or undertaking employment or studies. To apply, a separate form must be completed for every individual coming to the country. This includes children, even if they are on their parent’s passport. The immigration service website has the applications forms, which carry a fee. A valid passport is required during the application, but children who do not have travel documents will have a residence permit sticker on the travel documents of their guardians.

Your residence permit sticker has your photo and can be issued in either Swedish or Finnish. You are required to specify the language you want the sticker to be in. Once you have your permit, you are entitled to live and travel in Finland for as long as the permit is valid. You may also use the permit to enter other Schengen countries if you are not subject to entry restrictions. The residence permit is for a fixed amount of time, which may be a year, or the duration of your employment or studies. If you have resided in the country for four consecutive years, you can apply for a permanent residence permit.

Students coming into the country to join a Finnish learning institution must apply for a residence permit unless their study time is less than three months. EU students coming to Finland for studies do not need a residence permit. However, they are required to register their right to reside in the country at a police station if they are going to be stay for more than three months. A student’s right to live in Finland is automatically granted as long as their aim is to study in a Finnish institution and they have enough funds for the learning period. Bank statements will show proof of funding, which is not required for Nordic students. EU citizens are allowed to work while studying, and do not need a permit for that.

Students who come from non-EU countries will need a residence permit if their study period exceeds three months. Those who need to sit for an entrance exam before acceptance into a Finnish university may need a visa as well. The visa will cover you for the short stay as you take your exam; after that, you will need to go back to your home country and apply for a residence permit. A permit will be automatically granted if you study the country’s languages at degree level or if you are an exchange student from an international university doing an academic year in Finland institution. If your main reason for staying is to study in a Finnish school or if you are a student participating in an exchange program, you may also be granted the permit.

Students are expected to show proof of enough income, which is about €6,000 yearly. This can be reduced if the institution offers accommodation, tuition and meals. Students can take up employment during their stay to take care of their financial needs. The type of work permit one can apply for is limited to training relevant to the area of study, and employment hours cannot exceed 25 hours per week. However, in Christmas and summer holidays, students can work full-time. Valid health insurance is also required for a student to be granted a residence permit.


Find A Job

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Over the years, unemployment levels in Finland have decreased, as more companies become open to hiring migrants to fill the employment gaps. However, this does not mean that getting a job in Finland is easy.

To successfully find a job in the country, it is important that you understand Finnish. Aside from learning the language, you also need to target the large cities if you want to increase your chances of getting a job.

Some of the common sectors for job hunting in the country include social care and construction, as they have quite a few available roles. The labour market in Finland is open to people as young as 15 as long as they have completed their compulsory education. Parents are able to balance career and family because of the well-designed day care system.

Part-time work contracts are not common in the country, but in a bid to offer more opportunities, employers are slowly adapting to short term contracts. Lack of working experience and knowledge of the language will not hinder you from applying for short term positions. Indeed, these short-term roles may help you build your experience and learn the language as you work. Migrants are urged to start their job search as soon as they land in the country. Visit the nearest employment office to register as a job seeker.

Unfortunately, the best vacancies in Finland are often filled before they are advertised. The best way to stay ahead is to make contacts so that you can get a job by word of mouth. Make sure you talk to neighbours, friends and local business owners. The people you interact with may not be able to offer you a job directly, but they may be able to help you network and so find employment.

The Finnish labour administrations webpage offers information on available employment opportunities. The information is provided in English to make it easier for migrants who do not yet know the language. Another popular online platform is the European Job Mobility Portal, which offers information on job opportunities, working conditions and application process. You can upload your CV on the site and interested employers will contact you.

Using the newspaper is another effective way of job hunting. Finnish papers such as Metro and Helsing Sanomat have job sections. However, most of the adverts are in Finnish so you will need to understand the basics of the language. There are also adverts from firms who are looking for international workers, and whose adverts may be in English. You can also post adverts in local papers to indicate that you are job hunting.

If you find job-hunting a bit difficult you can volunteer, join work experience placements, look for an apprenticeship or subsidized employment. These options are short-term and usually pay little or nothing, but they will help in building your experience and CV. International qualifications in Finland are recognised by the Finnish national Board of Education, which assesses your academic papers, and matches them to specific jobs or education courses.

Seeking employment in Finland is a good way to start learning the language as well as you enjoy the country. Be patient and willing to start from an entry position. Good luck with your hunt!


Rent Property

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In Finland, most people prefer to live in properties they have bought. This means that rental accommodation is not common in the country and makes it difficult to find any such housing in Finland, even in Helsinki and other major Finnish cities, let alone in the quiet, remote parts of the country.

Most vacant houses in Finland belong to private owners or agents, so it is rare to come across a house for rent in Finland; instead, you will be more likely to find an apartment. There is some subsidized housing available to rent in Finland. However, it is rarely available to expats and has a long waiting list.

The majority of Finnish rentals are unfurnished with no carpets, curtains, and light fittings. However, most will be fitted with a kitchen that has an oven and a refrigerator. While they are generally well-insulated to protect against the cold, Finnish apartments are costly to heat up and are small in size, so will not be ideal for a family.

Where Do I Find Rental Accommodation In Finland?

Given how hard it is to find properties to rent in the country, it is advisable for anyone who is going to work there to ask their employers if they can help. Many companies have built or buy their own apartments specifically for international employees who come to work in Finland. If you can’t find housing through your employers, try the newspapers or the internet. Although they are not very comprehensive, Finnish papers often have listings of rental accommodation in their Sunday edition.

You may have more luck paying an estate agent to help find you a place, as many have a good database of places to rent.

Local municipalities tend to keep directories of vacant houses, so do check with them also.

You may be able to find a house through interactions with friends, colleagues and neighbours. Even if they cannot help, they might know somebody who can. Most deals begin by word of mouth rather than responding to a posted advert.

Student Accommodation

It is easier for students to find accommodation in the country thanks to the Opiskelija-asunto website, which is available in English, Finnish, Swedish, Chinese and Russian. This site provides plenty of information regarding accommodation options for students.

How Much To Pay?

Finland’s rental prices are flexible and reasonable due to the liberalisation of the Finland’s rental market in the 1990s. However, since the demand for housing outweighs the supply, rent has risen. You can also expect to pay more for a furnished apartment.

A maximum of three months rent is paid by the tenant as a security deposit. In the case of any unpaid rent or damage to property, the property owner can use this money for rent or repairs. The deposit will be refunded once the tenant has fulfilled their side of tenancy and is moving out of the property.

Helsinki and other major cities in Finland tend to be popular with expats despite the expensive nature of housing in those cities.

The current market rate in the area will dictate your rent, although the actual amount is subject to negotiation between you and the property owner. Finnish courts can intervene in case of any irregularities.

A tenancy agreement will state how much rent the tenant must pay. Any adjustment clauses that may be made will also be outlined.

Contracts And Rights

Tenants and property owners are both obliged to sign a written tenancy agreement specifying the following:

• How much rent the tenant must pay

• The condition of the property

• The duration of the tenancy (either fixed or non-fixed term)

• The date and method of payment

• Any adjustment clauses

• The security deposit

• The duration of the tenancy

All tenancy agreements in Finland are for an unlimited or fixed period of time. Fixed term agreements bind both parties for an agreed period of time, which is stated in writing. This agreement may only be terminated under special circumstances. An unlimited tenancy can be terminated by either party. Property owners must give tenants three to six months’ notice, while tenants can issue the notice within 30 days.

Tenants’ Responsibilities

Tenants are responsible for paying rent throughout the duration of their stay. Unless agreed otherwise with the property owner, rent must be paid no later than the second working day of each month. The tenant is liable for any damage to the property, whether through negligence or deliberate harm. If there is any damage, the tenant should immediately notify the property owner.

Termination Of The Tenancy Agreement

Tenants have the right to challenge the property owner’s decision to terminate the rental agreement and may be able to claim up to three months’ rent.

In rare cases, the Finnish courts may cancel or postpone the termination of an agreement if the tenant has difficulty finding an alternative place to move to, following the termination of a tenancy agreement.

Failure to pay rent as stated on the tenancy agreement warrants the landlord to terminate the contract. Failure to pay for four consecutive months may be deemed by the court to be a serious offence, enough for the landlord to terminate tenancy.


Buy Property

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In Finland, most people prefer to live in properties they have bought. This means that rental accommodation is not common in the country and makes it difficult to find any such housing in Finland, even in Helsinki and other major Finnish cities, let alone in the quiet, remote parts of the country.

Most vacant houses in Finland belong to private owners or agents, so it is rare to come across a house for rent in Finland; instead, you will be more likely to find an apartment. There is some subsidized housing available to rent in Finland. However, it is rarely available to expats and has a long waiting list.

The majority of Finnish rentals are unfurnished with no carpets, curtains, and light fittings. However, most will be fitted with a kitchen that has an oven and a refrigerator. While they are generally well-insulated to protect against the cold, Finnish apartments are costly to heat up and are small in size, so will not be ideal for a family.

Where Do I Find Rental Accommodation In Finland?

Given how hard it is to find properties to rent in the country, it is advisable for anyone who is going to work there to ask their employers if they can help. Many companies have built or buy their own apartments specifically for international employees who come to work in Finland. If you can’t find housing through your employers, try the newspapers or the internet. Although they are not very comprehensive, Finnish papers often have listings of rental accommodation in their Sunday edition.

You may have more luck paying an estate agent to help find you a place, as many have a good database of places to rent.

Local municipalities tend to keep directories of vacant houses, so do check with them also.

You may be able to find a house through interactions with friends, colleagues and neighbours. Even if they cannot help, they might know somebody who can. Most deals begin by word of mouth rather than responding to a posted advert.

Student Accommodation

It is easier for students to find accommodation in the country thanks to the Opiskelija-asunto website, which is available in English, Finnish, Swedish, Chinese and Russian. This site provides plenty of information regarding accommodation options for students.

How Much To Pay?

Finland’s rental prices are flexible and reasonable due to the liberalisation of the Finland’s rental market in the 1990s. However, since the demand for housing outweighs the supply, rent has risen. You can also expect to pay more for a furnished apartment.

A maximum of three months rent is paid by the tenant as a security deposit. In the case of any unpaid rent or damage to property, the property owner can use this money for rent or repairs. The deposit will be refunded once the tenant has fulfilled their side of tenancy and is moving out of the property.

Helsinki and other major cities in Finland tend to be popular with expats despite the expensive nature of housing in those cities.

The current market rate in the area will dictate your rent, although the actual amount is subject to negotiation between you and the property owner. Finnish courts can intervene in case of any irregularities.

A tenancy agreement will state how much rent the tenant must pay. Any adjustment clauses that may be made will also be outlined.

Contracts And Rights

Tenants and property owners are both obliged to sign a written tenancy agreement specifying the following:

• How much rent the tenant must pay

• The condition of the property

• The duration of the tenancy (either fixed or non-fixed term)

• The date and method of payment

• Any adjustment clauses

• The security deposit

• The duration of the tenancy

All tenancy agreements in Finland are for an unlimited or fixed period of time. Fixed term agreements bind both parties for an agreed period of time, which is stated in writing. This agreement may only be terminated under special circumstances. An unlimited tenancy can be terminated by either party. Property owners must give tenants three to six months’ notice, while tenants can issue the notice within 30 days.

Tenants’ Responsibilities

Tenants are responsible for paying rent throughout the duration of their stay. Unless agreed otherwise with the property owner, rent must be paid no later than the second working day of each month. The tenant is liable for any damage to the property, whether through negligence or deliberate harm. If there is any damage, the tenant should immediately notify the property owner.

Termination Of The Tenancy Agreement

Tenants have the right to challenge the property owner’s decision to terminate the rental agreement and may be able to claim up to three months’ rent.

In rare cases, the Finnish courts may cancel or postpone the termination of an agreement if the tenant has difficulty finding an alternative place to move to, following the termination of a tenancy agreement.

Failure to pay rent as stated on the tenancy agreement warrants the landlord to terminate the contract. Failure to pay for four consecutive months may be deemed by the court to be a serious offence, enough for the landlord to terminate tenancy.


Register For Healthcare

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QUICK LINK: Finland health insurance

The taxes paid in Finland fund the health care system, which is divided into primary, tertiary and secondary levels. Every level is a representation of the type of healthcare one receives. Primary health care consists of preventive treatment or consulting a family doctor. The tertiary and secondary levels, on the other hand, deal with more advanced treatment.

Anyone who has lived in Finland for more than four months is expected to contribute to the health insurance system. This qualifies you to free healthcare in public health institutions, and also covers medicine costs, dental treatment and the cost of traveling to seek medical care. When it comes to private medical access, the kela, which is the social insurance institution of Finland, assists people who live in the country by paying a part of their medical bill. You can apply and obtain a kela card from the local municipality and use it to file for a reimbursement for medical costs.

Public health care in Finland is run by the local municipality. To get treatment, you will have to visit the nearest health centre as you cannot make an appointment or be treated in a centre outside your municipality. Facilities only open for a couple of specific hours on weekdays, so book ahead to avoid being kept in a queue. Staff at these centres consist of a midwife, two skilled nurses and three general physicians.

Available healthcare consists of counselling, maternity, dental, checkups and regular screening, home care, temporary in-patient services and school health services. Patients can expect to receive treatment within three days of calling a centre. Patients can sometimes be diagnosed through this phone call.

Finland municipalities lean towards the family doctor system. This means you are required to register with the doctor within your locality, who will become your family doctor. This system aims to minimise delays when it comes to accessing healthcare and forming a good doctor patient relationship. Assigning patients to a GP also minimises the number of people who are referred to a hospital for further examination, as the GP has a good understanding of the medical history of the patient.

You are entitled to regular checkups and treatment from your GP as well as professional advice. Before going to a hospital or health specialist, you need to get a referral note from your doctor. There are health care institutions that charge patients who are older than 18 for particular treatments. However, you can file for a reimbursement from the public health insurance system.

You can access dental care at your local hospital. You will need proof of health insurance cover and may be required to prove your identity using either your travel documents or passport. Depending on the hospital, you may not be able to find a dentist who is available all day, which means you may need to make an appointment or visit a private dentist.

Mothers and pregnant women can access hospital child care as well as prenatal and postnatal care.

Finland is split into about 20 hospital districts and the number of hospitals available in a district depends on the size. To find your nearest health centre, you can dial 118. Every district has a major hospital that deals with specialist treatment. When it comes to in-patient services, Finland has plenty of available bed space. However, hospitals have been cutting down on their emergency units so that they can reduce the workload of the doctors and save on costs.

Secondary healthcare in Finland deals mostly with emergencies or referrals for more serious procedures. Migrants require valid health insurance before they can be treated in such a facility. Patients who need non-urgent care must be treated within six months of their referral. If the hospital is not able to facilitate treatment within this period, then the local government will arrange for treatment in either a private or another district hospital at no cost.

There are secondary hospitals that charge a fee for surgery, outpatient treatment and other specific types of treatment. Most treatments available under public healthcare system qualify for the reimbursement of fees but do check this with your insurance policy. Tertiary healthcare refers to specialist treatments which are offered in the university teaching hospitals. Finland has several university teaching hospitals and the levels of healthcare, equipment and medical training are all very advanced.

The private healthcare system is Finland is small and complements the already existing services offered by the public healthcare system. The public health insurance system, known as kela, refunds a percentage of the fees paid by patients who visit private healthcare institutions. Refunds are available for services such as physiotherapy, prescription drugs, dental treatment and travel costs to health facilities. Paying private healthcare fees can be done through private insurance or independently. Once this is done, the patient can apply for a refund using kela.

All employers in Finland are expected to offer health care to their employees. Occupational services are available for the company employees and financed by the company. Nevertheless, employees still receive a small refund from kela. Health insurance in Finland is from either kela or the compulsory public health insurance system.

Anyone who is covered by the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme is part of the kela. As long as you are covered by NHI, you are entitled to subsidised fees for private doctors’ consultation, dental care, medication, accommodation and travel costs. The refund will be paid after the initial payment has been paid independently.


Open A Bank Account

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Since 2002, Finland’s currency has been the euro. One and two-cent coins are rare in Finland, meaning it is common to find the amount rounded off to the nearest five cents. Goods and services are easily paid for using credit and debit cards.

Towards the end of the 20th century, Finland was voted one of the most expensive countries to live in, although the cost of living in the country has dropped in recent years. However, compared to some parts of Europe, the cost of living of in Finland is still high. Accommodation is reasonably priced, whereas goods such as tobacco and alcohol are expensive. The value added tax in the country is 22 percent and is included for all products and services.

The banking system in Finland is advanced, meaning opening a bank account is quite easy. The country’s three leading banks are OKO Bank Group, Nordea Bank Group and Sampo, which make up about 80 percent of the banking services. The country also has commercial banks, mutual funds, finance entities and life insurance companies on offer. Banks operate from 9:15am to 4:15pm, although this depends on the bank and its location.

As you prepare to open your Finnish bank account, ensure you have all the right documents, which include proof of residence, residence permit, passport, Finnish personal identification number, KELA card and passport photos. Once you have all this paperwork, the process is straightforward, and you can get your ATM card on the same day. It is important to ask for services such as bank statements in the language of your preference. Access to online banking will allow you to pay for services and goods conveniently.

Bank charges vary from institution to institution. However, they are reasonable, and some banks have fewer fees than others. Services that you may or may not have to pay for include monthly reports, withdrawals, bill payment using cards, balance enquiries, deposits and money transfers. Finnish people are heavily reliant on online banking, since it is a secure and convenient way to carry out transactions and pay bills.

Loans, pensions, investments, monitoring of credit cards and insurance are some of the services you can expect from online banking. It is fairly easy to access your online account; the bank will provide you with the codes, web contacts and customer number you will need to access the platform. If you have a WAP phone, you can also access internet banking from it if you would prefer. Speak to your bank first. The majority of banks in Finland offer internet-banking services in English, Swedish and Finnish. Ensure you check whether your bank has any charges for accessing internet banking.

Before you arrive in Finland, make sure you have a plan for how to access your money. You can use credit cards, traveler’s cheques and debit cards in the country before you obtain a Finnish bank account. Since credit and debit cards are popular ways for paying for products and services, you should confirm whether using your card in the country is an affordable way to pay. Common cards accepted in Finland are MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners, although you may need to show identification.

It is hard for migrants to obtain a credit card in Finland if they do not have a steady job or a local bank account. Regulations vary from bank to bank, so if the charges on your home country’s credit card are not high, you could continue to use that. Those who need a credit card from Finnish banks may have to pay a large security deposit. This is usually three times the credit limit amount for which you are applying. The bank will hold on the deposit for three years and if you pay your bills on time, you will be refunded the amount. People who have been living and working in Finland for a longer time have no problem accessing a credit card from local banks.

Most petrol stations accept cash payment right now, but they are working to upgrade their systems. Some stations might refuse to let you pay using a card so if you are driving in Finland, you may need to have some cash handy in case you need to fuel. ATM machines are widely available in Finland if you do need a quick cash withdrawal. Ask your bank to confirm the charges you may incur for withdrawals. Normally, withdrawals from your bank’s ATM should be free, but if you take money out from the ATM of another bank, you may need to pay a small fee.

Bringing money into Finland through travelers’ cheques is generally considered safe. Note down the serial number of each cheque so you are insured against theft or loss. Keep them tucked away safely and only remove them when you need them. Cheques can be exchanged at a bureau de change in the airport, city and railway stations. There are also larger shops that accept these cheques as a mode of payment, although preference is given to cheques that are in sterling pounds, euros and US dollars. When you cash your travelers’ cheques into a Finnish bank, confirm the charges, since these vary across banks.

Some of the factors that determine whether you can get a loan from a Finish bank are your income, the amount you would like to borrow, your employment status, salary, credit background and the sponsor who will act as your guarantor. The interest rate on repaying loans depends on the banks, so it is advisable to shop around before you settle on the bank you would like to take a loan with.

The financial system in Finland is easy, so as long as you have the required documents, you can open an account with the bank of your liking. Loans and credit card applications rules are flexible enough for migrants to access.


Learn The Language

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The main language spoken in Finland is Finnish, which is also commonly spoken in Sweden. The language is not related to any other Scandinavian language and is considered hard to learn. Like Estonian and Hungarian, it originates from the Uralic languages. Finnish is spoken by about 90 percent of the population, while Swedish is the mother tongue for the remaining five percent. These Swedish speakers are found in the south west coast of Finland. English is the most common second language in the country, followed by German.

Finnish is a hard language, so approaching it in a methodical fashion makes it easier to grasp. This means you need to understand pronunciation as well as the formation and structuring of words. Once you understand these concepts, you can look at the grammar, and from there you can slowly build up your vocabulary. Unlike other European languages, Finnish has no genders.

As a student, you will need to understand the rules surrounding the long and short consonants as well as the short and long vowels. Other noticeable features of the language include its inflections. Cases and endings are added to words to complete grammatical functions, which this explains why some Finnish words are quite long.

You can enroll for Finnish language courses at any level, although learning will be easier if you practice outside the classroom as well. Educational institutions are some of the best places to learn. The prices are reasonable, and existing students can access subsidised or free language courses. As long as you stay in Finland, you will need to speak the language, so once you are settled, ensure you enroll for classes. Get in touch with your chosen institution, read up on the details about the course, and sign up on time. Most educational institutions start courses in August or September with a new semester starting in January.

The Finnish National Board of Education has information that can help international students make informed choices about the best way to learn. Unemployed people can learn the language for free via an employment agency. The labour administration has all the information about such courses on their webpage.

A popular, cheap way to learn Finnish is to study online. This gives you the freedom to learn at your own pace and convenience. There are websites that have an audio feature so you can work on your pronunciation as well.

Online lessons can give you a solid foundation upon which to base your skills. Learning materials are plentiful on the internet, but there is no trick to learning the language; just practice as often as possible! Read as many books, magazines and newspapers you can, and listen to Finnish radio stations. As you continue exposing yourself to environments where Finnish is commonly used, you will be able to learn.

Television is another good way to enhance your listening and understanding of the language. You will be able to hear the pronunciations and how the language is spoken. Remember that you will not understand everything, but the more you watch, the more you will pick up.

There is a proficiency test you can take after learning the language. National certificates of language proficiency test your writing, reading, speaking and listening skills, and show proof of your language abilities. The national education board came up with the system and collaborates with the University of Jyvaskyla to offer completion certificates. The certificate will help you get a job or a place at school or university.

There are various levels on which you can be tested, from beginner to expert. A six-step proficiency scale can help you select the level you want to join. The tests are for all adults regardless of their language skills. There is no age limit on who can do the tests. However, some assignments require students to call on their past experiences, which can be difficult for younger people. A completed language test is a prerequisite to work in a government office or to get a university degree.

Other Languages Spoken In Finland

As mentioned earlier, Swedish is the mother tongue of about five percent of the population. The language is closely related to Germanic languages such as Danish, Dutch, German and Norwegian. Swedish is a compulsory subject in school, although children who have another language as their native tongue are excused.

Finnish minority communities who speak Swedish include Vaasa, Helsinki, Porvoo and Espi. Helsinki is the capital of the Swedish-speaking community, and majority of its inhabitants spoke the language until the 19th Century. Finland-Swedish literature is rich with authors such as Zacharias Topelius, Johan Ludwig Runeberg and Tove Jansson. The national anthem was written by poet Runeberg in Swedish and was later translated into Finnish.

There is a range of related tongues used along Lapland known as the Sami languages. They have a distant relationship to Finnish, with about 1,800 speakers. Meanwhile, Karelian was spoken up to World War II in the northern area of the Lake Ladoga. When the war ended, migrants settled all over Finland and spread their language to the places they settled. Currently about 30,000 people speak and understand Karelian.

In previous decades, Russian replaced English in Finland, especially among the young generation. Russian is the third most spoken tongue in the country, despite not being an official language. Historical records show that Russian was the third language in Finland between 1900 and 1917.


Choose A School

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Finland offers high quality education which is ranked the best in the world. Education is free to all full-time students and children. Student performance has earned the country top spots in sciences, numeracy and literacy.

Compulsory education begins from age seven and ends at age 16. Children usually attend the school that is closest to their home. Most 16-year-olds have the option to continue with high school or join vocational colleges, both of which open the way for advanced education, a popular choice in Finland.

Education is a fundamental right for all Finland’s citizens. That is why all Finnish citizens have the same rights when it comes to education whatever their gender, nationality, age, financial condition or native language. Students with learning disabilities and special needs also have equal rights and access to high quality education.

Private schools in Finland may be a little different from those in your home country. Founding such a school needs approval from the council of state. The selection method for pupils has to be the same as those for municipal schools, and private school students – who don’t pay fees – have similar opportunities to those they would get in a state school. Private schools in Finland are not common, with the existing ones being either religious or Steiner schools. Those private secondary schools are remnants of the earlier education system.

There are pre-schools in Finland which cater for children before they start their compulsory education. Preschools are not compulsory, but every municipality is expected to provide them for those in need. They are located in day care centers and comprehensive schools. Meals, education and health care services in pre-school is free. There are also instances where travel costs are paid. Finland offers other education services such as day care which attract an income-based fee.

Pre-primary education has a minimum of 700 hours yearly with a maximum of four hours daily. In most cases, the term times of these pre-schools match the normal school year. Team work exercises and activities at preschools are aimed towards helping children learn interaction and general knowledge skills. The development of every child is studied and assessed so that early signs of difficulties can be picked up on. Parents are given regular updates on the development of their children and have a say when it comes to their children’s pre-primary daily plan.

Primary education lasts for nine years. Its aim is to create equality while equipping children with knowledge and skills they can use later in life. The school year, which has 190 days, starts in the middle of August and lasts until June. Primary schools are divided into two sections: one for the younger children, and one for the older students. In most cases, you will find the two sections in different blocks but within the same compound.

In the lower primary, subjects are taught by one teacher, while children in the upper classes are taught by various teachers. When ninth grade ends, students that have not reached the pass mark must enroll for tenth grade before they can start applying for secondary education. Textbooks, learning materials, daily meals and healthcare are free at primary schools in Finland. If the commute to and from school is more than five kilometers, it is also free. The state provides additional tuition as well. Children go to nearby schools, and for the first two years attend voluntary morning and afternoon classes that are arranged by the local government.

After graduating from primary school, pupils have the option of joining secondary school or vocational schools. Almost half of the students who graduate from high school go to vocational schools, while the other half go to secondary school. Vocational school focuses on practical skills and equips students with workforce preparedness. These schools offer a range of topics, including environment and natural resources, culture, technology, social sciences and business, catering and domestic economics, healthcare and social work. They cover around 50 trades.

The interior ministry offers vocational courses to train firemen, law enforcement and prison guards. These institutions are owned by the local authorities and receive equal funding. They are non-profit organizations who have a yearly quota of pupils. Tuition fees, healthcare and lunch are provided for the students. Tools and practice materials are free, although students have to buy their own textbooks. Most vocational students go straight into work when they finish their courses, although they are qualified for further education upon completion. It is important to note that there are not enough secondary vocational diploma holders in various trades in Finland, which has increased demand for qualified workers in those industries.

Those who chose to continue with upper secondary education are taught general studies, which does not prepare students for any specific career. An exam dictates whether one will continue with further studies. This system is specifically designed in such a way that a small percentage of pupils fail and a small percentage gets the highest grade. The final exam is generalised and allows specialisation in either natural or social sciences. The syllabus lasts three years, but students can choose to finish their studies in two or four years instead. The matriculation event is considered a rite of passage for any Finnish person.



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