Residence permits to Finland
If you want to stay in Finland for a longer period than three months, you need a residence permit. Nationals of an EU member state, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland do not need a residence permit to come to Finland.
How to apply for a residence permit
- You can apply for a residence permit in Finland if you have a job, a study place or a family member in Finland. Apply for a residence permit before you come to Finland.
- According to the EU visa rules, one of the requirements for granting a Schengen visa is that the person must leave the Schengen area before the visa expires. For this reason, a visa cannot be granted to a person who has come to Finland in order to obtain a residence permit or to wait for the decision on a pending residence permit-related matter. This also applies to family members of Finnish citizens.
- Only you may initiate the application.
- Apply for a residence permit electronically at enterfinland.fi(layout.types.url.description) (Opens New Window) or on paper at migri.fi(layout.types.url.description) (Opens New Window)
- Choose the correct application form based on why you are coming to Finland (job, study place or family member in Finland).
- Fill in the residence permit application carefully. Make sure that the appendices are correct.
- Having filled in the application, find out which Finnish mission or VFS Global Application Centre you can visit for identification and for submitting biometric identifiers (signature, photograph, fingerprints) and book an appointment there.
- A Finnish mission or VFS Application Centre may be located in a different country from where you are staying. Be prepared to apply for a visa for the country in question.
- Go to the mission, authenticate yourself, and pay the fee collected for the residence permit application. This fee will not be refunded even if you cancel your application or receive a negative decision.
- After this, your application will be transferred to the processing queue at the Finnish Immigration Service
- You can follow the progress of the processing online. You may be asked for further information and you may be invited for an interview.
- Processing the application takes time. Please be patient. Waiting times are usually long, but each application will be processed.
- You will be notified once a decision has been made.
- If you receive a positive decision, the residence permit card will be delivered to the mission. A negative decision means that is was considered that you do not have sufficient grounds for a residence permit.
- You can get further information about applying for a residence permit at the Finnish Immigration Service website migri.fi(layout.types.url.description) (Opens New Window)
If you lose your residence permit card
If you are a visa national and lose your residence permit card when abroad, you must primarily apply for a first residence permit at a Finnish diplomatic or consular mission to be able to return to Finland, even if you already have a valid residence permit. Applications for an extended permit cannot be lodged at missions. As a rule, a visa cannot be granted for this purpose, because the return requirement set out in the Visa Code is not met.
A visa may be granted only in situations referred to in the Visa Code, such as in a serious humanitarian situation – not because the applicant is in a hurry, has lost his or her air ticket or cannot pay the residence permit fee, for example. In other words, if a mission does not grant a visa, you must apply for a new residence permit to be able to return to Finland.
Expired residence permit
If your residence permit has expired while you have been abroad, apply for a new residence permit at a Finnish diplomatic or consular mission. A visa cannot be granted for this purpose, because the return requirement set out in the Visa Code is not met. A visa may be granted only in situations referred to in the Visa Code, such as in a serious humanitarian situation – not because the applicant is in a hurry, has lost his or her air ticket or cannot pay the residence permit fee, for example.
If a mission cannot grant a visa under the Visa Code, you must apply for a residence permit before returning to Finland.
Fast track for holders of a D visa who have been issued with a residence permit
You can be issued with a D visa for Finland if you are applying for one of the following:
- a residence permit for a specialist
- an EU Blue Card
- a residence permit for startup entrepreneur
- a residence permit for ICT specialist (company’s internal transfer)
- a residence permit for family member of an applicant for one of the above permits.
Citizens of countries exempt from visa requirement do not need a D visa.
For more information, please visit the website of the Finnish Immigration Service(layout.types.url.description).
Please note that the Embassy of Finland in Pretoria does not accept cash nor credit card payments. All the payments should be done in advance to embassy's bank account. See our list of service fees for more details.