Apply for a Startup Permit and set up your business in Finland 

Finnish Startup Permit enables entrepreneurs from outside the EU to establish a startup company in Finland. Applying for the permit is an easy two-step process that can be done online. First, you need to receive an Eligibility Statement from Business Finland, which assesses whether your business is suitable for the permit. After a favorable assessment, you can send your visa application to Finnish Immigration Service. The permit is meant for innovative growth entrepreneurs looking for opportunities in the vibrant Finnish startup ecosystem. Maximum length for the permit is two years, but it can be renewed if needed. The permit does not include investments or any other financial support. 

Who can apply for the permit? 

Since entrepreneurs residing in the EU/EEA can relocate to Finland without a visa, the Startup Permit is meant for founders coming from outside the area. The permit is applied as a team of at least 2 founders, so it is not possible to apply only by yourself. There is no maximum number of team members, but the Finnish legislation requires that each team member has to demonstrate having sufficient income. If your team has EU citizen members, their information has to be attached to the application as the team will be evaluated as a whole

It is also, naturally, required that your team has the intention of moving to Finland and establishing a company here. In order to receive the permit, you must have an innovative business plan and commitment to the business, meaning that you will work full time in your company. The startup permit allows you to have other employments on the side, but the startup entrepreneurship must be your main activity

In addition, it is required that you demonstrate having access to sufficient resources and funding for the company’s development at the early stages, and that you have financial resources to support your team

What kind of business is non-eligible? 

The criteria for receiving a Startup Permit are quite straightforward, and businesses that fall outside of the scope set forth in Business Finland’s guidelines are not eligible for the permit. Those include, for example: 

  • a Finnish subsidiary or a branch office of a foreign enterprise 
  • a company aiming solely to Finnish markets 
  • a business without an innovative competitive advantage (e.g. restaurant, consulting, import or distribution business or other service business without an innovative business model) 

Sounds good? Here’s how to apply! 

1. Obtain Eligibility Statement from Business Finland 

Fill in the Eligibility Statement request template (which can be found on Business Finland’s webpage) and send it with required attachments to the email address provided in the form. 

Business Finland evaluates the business plan, the team, and the resources by assessing these matters: 

  • the team understands what need the product or service idea meets  
  • the team shares a vision to grow company to reach at least tens of millions revenue at global markets 
  • the business idea has a competitive advantage  
  • the team has identified a potential customer base and earnings model  
  • the business model is scalable internationally 
  • the team has estimated the size and business potential of the target market 
  • the team has versatile expertise 
  • the value created in the new company accumulates in the Finnish economy (salaries paid, export revenues) and the company is headquartered in Finland 

It is not required that the startup team has confirmed financing at the time of application. However, in the application process an adequate level of financial means has to be demonstrated. 

The processing time is approximately 2 weeks. The Eligibility Statement is valid for two months, so make sure to apply for the Startup Permit on time! 

2. Submit application to the Finnish Immigration Service 

After receiving a positive Eligibility Statement, application for the Finnish Startup Permit can be submitted to Finnish Immigration Service. The Eligibility Statement is valid for 2 months and it must be attached to the residence permit application. 

You can fill in the application online (see more information and the application form on Finnish Immigration Service’s webpage). Finnish Immigration Service has a fast-track system which allows you to get the permit within 14 days (normal processing time for an electric application is 1-2 months).  

In order to receive the residence permit, you need to demonstrate that you have sufficient financial resources for living in Finland. Finnish Immigration Services requires you to have at least 1 000 EUR per month, and you need to have enough funds to support your living for at least one year. The permit can be granted for two years if you demonstrate that you have sufficient financial resources to cover the living costs of two years (24 000 EUR). 

3. Establish a company in Finland 

After the residence permit process is done, you can set up your company in Finland! 

We at Lexia are specialized in all things startup, and we can help you to establish your company quickly and easily! 

4. Extend your stay in Finland 

You can apply for an extension, if you wish to stay in Finland for more than 2 years. For the extension obtaining a new Eligibility Statement is not required

Requirements for the extension are that you need to have set up your limited liability company in Finland, proceeded with your plans and that the business is able to grow internationally. You also need to be living in Finland and had stayed less than half of the duration of the residence permit abroad. 

The permit can be extended for up to four years. The permit can only be extended for a period of time for which you have a proven and continuous income, i.e. the length of the extension period depends on your financial resources. 

We at Lexia are happy to answers any questions you might have related to the Startup Permit and establishing a business in Finland. 

Send your questions our way!
Senior Associate Marko Moilanen, email: [email protected], tel: +358 40 517 0002
Legal Trainee Anni Kaarento, email: [email protected]