For international staff and visitors
LUT University's international community consists of about 500 students and 200 staff members, representing almost 70 different nationalities. LUT has two campuses, one in Lappeenranta and another in Lahti. Besides, LUT has two regional units in Mikkeli and Kouvola.
Without our international students, staff and visitors, we would not be as cool of a place as we are today! We are certain that you will be happy with your decision to come to work with us and that you will enjoy your stay here among us Karelians. We warmly welcome you!
Before you arrive, please carefully review the information and advice we have assembled for you in these pages.
- Living and working in Finland
- Practicalities prior to your arrival
- On your arrival
- Learning the language
- Family matters
- Other essentials
- Welcome to Finland Guide (pdf)
- Events and activities in Lappeenranta region
The quality of living in Finland is one of the highest in the world. Security, nearness to nature and education are priorities of Finnish society – and are also highly recognized internationally. All this makes Finland a great country to live in.
Lappeenranta is only about 230 kilometers from Helsinki, the capital of Finland and from the third largest metropolis in Europe – St. Petersburg, Russia. Good public transportation connections make Lappeenranta and Lahti easy to reach.
Lappeenranta is a city of 72 400 inhabitants located in Southeast Finland, on the shore of the largest lake in Finland, Lake Saimaa. Lappeenranta is a very international city, owing to both the University with its 70 different nationalities and its geographical location near the Russian border.
LUT campus in Lappeenranta is located right next to beautiful Lake Saimaa, at about 7 kilometers from the city center. LUT's state-of-the-art university education draws future professionals to Lappeenranta. The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming, and LUT's Green Campus is consolidated in one location: everything, from the library to the laboratories, lecture rooms and offices, is found under one roof.
Lake Saimaa provides excellent opportunities for outdoor activities; for example, paddling in the summertime, and skiing or skating in the wintertime. The harbor in the city center is a very popular place to spend your free time, especially during the summer. You can find local specialties at the little food kiosks there, as well as on the market square. Try a vety or an atomi! The city is also known for its old town, a fortress by the port, where you can find restaurants, café shops and various activities. In Lappeenranta, you cannot miss the sports scene, especially ice-hockey. Lappeenranta has its own hockey team, SaiPa. The team and their games are very popular among the locals.
In Finland, you will find a combination of plenty of unpolluted nature and high technology in a safe and calm society. Social security benefits are at an excellent level, crime is considerably low and the environment is not polluted. You can drink the tap water, food is clean and healthy, and people are honest and punctual. Finland can be described as a country where hierarchy is relatively low and everybody is equal. Finnish people are individualistic, and their values include equality, solidarity and quality of life. The nation is law-and-rule abiding and punctual.
To learn more about cities where LUT operates, check out, for example, the following web pages:
Finland is known for its high standard of living. This also means that it is not the cheapest country in the world, yet it is approximately at the same cost level as other western European countries. Still, you can get by on fewer euros in Lappeenranta or Lahti than in Finland's major cities.
Here are some examples of average costs in the Lappeenranta area:
- Rent (one-bedroom apartment): ~400-900€ / month
- Electricity (one-bedroom apartment): ~40-60€ / 3 months
- Home insurance (one-bedroom apartment): ~100€ / 6 months
- Local public transport: 30-day travel pass, adult 53€
- Lunch at a cafeteria at the Campus: 4-8€
- Cup of coffee in a café: 2- 4.50€
- Pint of beer: 4-8€
- Mobile phone (prepaid rates): 0.066€ / minute, 0.066€/ sms
- Internet connection: ~25€ / month
- Movie ticket: 10-12€
- Gym pass: 60€/month (or 10-15€ entrance fee for a single workout)
Please review this section carefully well in advance of your planned move / visit to Finland.
As soon as your employment is confirmed at LUT, please contact your host or supervisor in order to obtain an invitation letter or hosting agreement. You will need to prove your employment at LUT if you need to apply for a visa or residence permit to Finland.
Your nationality and the length of your stay determine whether you will need a valid passport alone or a visa or residence permit to stay in Finland.
For EU/EEA or Swiss citizens, a valid passport will suffice in any case; neither a visa nor a residence permit is required.
Citizens of certain visa-free countries may stay and work as a researcher or teacher based on an employment contract or on an invitation to Finland for three months without a visa. If your country of origin is neither an EU/EEA country nor a visa-free country, please consult the webpage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Finland and prepare to acquire a visa for stays of less than three months (90 days).
If your country of origin is not EU/EEA country and you are coming to work in Finland longer than 90 days, you need to obtain a residence permit (oleskelulupa) before arrival from the Finnish Immigration Service. You can apply for the residence permit online at EnterFinland Service. The first residence permit is always a fixed-term permit.
You must have a valid passport and a formal invitation from your host at LUT or a hosting agreement as proof of your employment when applying for a visa or a residence permit.
We recommend that you start the visa and residence permit application processes as early as possible, at least 3-4 months prior to your planned arrival in Finland. The processing times for applications vary. The process cannot be started until all required paperwork is received at the Embassy, Consulate or Finnish Immigration Service. The permits are usually subject to a fee.
For further information:
LUT offers its employees occupational health care services, but these do not extend to coverage during leisure time or in cases of emergency, nor do they cover all treatments, e.g. dental care. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you acquire separate health insurance coverage before arrival for you and your family members, at least for the first year of your stay.
Please note that EU/EEA and Swiss citizens' European Health Insurance Card only covers necessary medical treatment in the public sector. In the private sector, medical treatment and Kela (the National Health Care Scheme) compensation for that are available as long as the treatment has medical prerequisites. Also, the insurance provided by LUT to employees does not cover leisure time or any family members.
Once your employment at LUT has been officially confirmed, you should start searching and arranging for housing. Unfortunately, LUT cannot guarantee housing for international staff and visitors, but can provide assistance. LUT has some guest rooms available for short-term visitors in Lappeenranta, but for longer stays, housing must be arranged through the private housing markets. Finding a place to stay can be time-consuming.
Rental apartments or houses can be found in classified ads in the newspapers, online or through a housing agent. Colleagues and friends are often the best contacts when trying to find accommodation, or housing agents often have online advertisements for housing for rent or sale.
The housing costs in Finland are generally rather high, but significantly lower in the Lappeenranta or Mikkeli and Lahti area than those in the capital region. Rent varies according to the location, size, age and facilities of the apartment. Generally, apartments are rented unfurnished. In Lappeenranta, for example, it is particularly difficult to find furnished apartments.
The monthly rent for an unfurnished one-bedroom apartment (with a living room and a kitchen) may be anything between 400€ and 900€/ month, excluding water and electricity costs. When renting an apartment, you are usually requested to pay a deposit (as a guarantee) that is equivalent to 1-2 month's rent. This deposit will be returned when you move out.
If you plan to buy an apartment or a house, you will usually need to finance this with private savings and/or a mortgage. For further details, please consult your bank.
Links for finding rental apartments:
You should ensure that you have sufficient funds at your disposal when you arrive in Finland. Opening a bank account is not complicated in Finland, but it might take some time, and you will probably need to make some payments (e.g., the deposit and the advance rent) before you can move into your rental accommodation.
Your bank in your home country may be able to advise you on how to transfer funds to Finland if you have not opened a Finnish bank account yet.
However, one of the very first things to take care of in Finland upon arrival is to open a bank account, if you do not already have an IBAN (International Bank Account Number) bank account. There are a number of banks where you can open a bank account. Please note that when new clients transfer money to a Finnish bank account from abroad, Finnish banks require them to prove the origin of money. See also "Opening a bank account" below.
If you plan to move your household effects to Finland, it is advisable that you contact moving companies specialized in international moves to ask for bids. Depending on the amount of goods and the distance, your best option might be land transport, air freight or sea freight.
Citizens of EU/EEA countries and Switzerland have to register their right to stay in Finland in the Finnish Immigration Service if they stay longer than 3 months in Finland. This registration must be done within three months after arrival. It can be done either by visiting the Finnish Immigration Service (a pre-booked appointment is required) or online (EnterFinland Service).
Applicants who file their applications online must still visit the Service point of Finnish Immigration Service to verify their identity and to present the originals of the documents attached to their applications. Please note that you must pay the registration fee when submitting the application. This also applies to applications filed through the online service; the application will not be processed before the fee of 54€ is paid.
Citizens of Nordic countries do not need to register in the immigration service; instead, they must register at the local Digital and Population Data Services Agency within a week. If a Nordic citizen needs a Finnish identity number, s/he can get it from the ocal Digital and Population Data Services Agency.
Citizens of countries other than EU member states and EEA countries do not need to register their right to stay in Finland in the immigration service. This right is included and displayed in the residence permit or visa. As the first residence permit is only for a fixed term, please remember to apply for an extension well in advance (2-3 months) before expiration, if your employment contract is for a longer period than the residence permit allows for, or is extended.
For further information:
Based on the registration, a foreigner citizen is given a personal identity number similar to that of a Finn. The identity number (in Finnish: henkilötunnus/ sosiaaliturvatunnus/ henkilönumero) is used for different purposes, for example for identification at banks, hospitals and the registers of various authorities.
Those needing a residence permit can apply for the Finnish identity number with the same application for the residence permit. The identity number will be printed on the residence card. In other cases, the personal identity number can be obtained from the local tax office, if you stay less than a year, or from the local Digital and Population Data Services Agency, if you stay longer than a year.
A passport plus the certificate of registration given by the Finnish Immigration Service (EU citizens) or a valid residence permit (non-EU citizens) is/are needed for the registration. Other official documents you may need when registering are a marriage certificate if you are married, and the birth certificates of any children you might have. Please note that these certificates must be officially legalized documents (through Apostille or three-step-authentication).
When visiting the local Digital and Population Data Services Agency, you can also register for your municipality of residence if you stay longer than a year, and make the notification of your move.
For further information:
A foreigner coming to work in Finland for a Finnish employer has to pay taxes principally from their earnings in Finland. You may be surprised by the level of taxation, which is quite high in Finland in comparison with many other countries. However, bilateral tax agreements between Finland and certain other countries can modify the situation. For example, researchers and teachers from certain countries are exempted to from paying taxes to Finland for a limited period. In addition, bilateral tax agreements usually prevent double taxation, in the event that you need to pay taxes to your home country as well.
The tax status of a foreign employee depends on the length of the stay in Finland. Staying in Finland for less than 183 days means that you are a non-tax-resident (in Finnish "rajoitetusti verovelvollinen") and thus pay 35% tax from all Finnish income (tax at source, "lähdevero"). This tax is final; you do not need to file a tax return in Finland afterwards.
Coming to work at LUT as a contract employee usually means that you will probably stay here for a longer period. Staying in Finland for more than 183 days makes you a tax resident (in Finnish "yleisesti verovelvollinen"), and you will be taxed progressively like Finnish citizens – meaning that the more you earn, the higher the tax percentage. Tax residents have to also file the tax return on their yearly income.
Besides tax, the employer will also withhold social security payments from your pay, amounting to approximately 8% of all payments combined (unless you have the A1 certificate or a similar of a posted employee, which is probably not the case if you are employed by LUT).
A tax card is needed in either case (resident or non-resident) or the tax percentage will be 60%. To get a tax card, you need to visit the local tax office (Verotoimisto). When you visit the tax office, take with you your passport, residence permit (if you have one) and salary information. The officers at the local tax office will instruct you on filing an application for a tax card, or you can ask for the tax card application forms from LUT HR. Should you need advice on taxation issues, please contact LUT HR or go online directly to vero.fi.
For further information:
For regular salary payments, you must have an international bank account number (IBAN). If you do not have one, we recommended that you open a bank account in Finland. There are several banks from which you can choose.
To open a bank account, you must have already obtained a Finnish identity number. Please note that before visiting a bank, you need to reserve time for an appointment by calling. The service numbers of banks are available on their homepages.
Ensure that you will get service in English, and find out which documents you will need to bring with you. At a minimum, your passport, residence permit card or proof of registration from police, and proof of employment and salary are needed.
If you are not drawing a salary on a regular basis, but instead receive some other payments for your fee or remuneration of costs, the IBAN bank account is not necessary, but your bank account must be able to receive foreign currency. If you and your host have agreed on some kind of payments from LUT (e.g. a lecturing fee), discuss the type of payment in advance with your host to ensure that the payments can be made.
LUT employees are entitled to occupational health care services, if their working time exceeds 14 hours per week. These services are not, however, available for emergency cases, and do not cover all healthcare. Public or private health care services are used to complement the occupational health care.
Being covered by Finnish social security (The Social Insurance Institution of Finland - Kela) can be based either on residence or on employment. The benefits to which you are entitled may also depend on the length of your stay and the country from which you are coming.
You can become entitled to social security coverage in Finland immediately when moving to Finland, if you move to Finland on a permanent basis or if you work in Finland and the wage amounts to at least EUR 723.69 per month.
Once you come to work to Finland, you start paying certain social security contributions to Finland, which entitles you to the Finnish social security system – welfare benefits and services – and earnings-based pension.
If the local Digital and Population Data Services Agency has registered a person as having the right of residency in a Finnish municipality, the person can use, for example, municipal health services at the same customer fee rates as other residents. In case you stay temporarily in Finland and do not have a residency of municipality here, you will receive medically necessary treatment in the public healthcare system if you have a European Health Insurance Card or can use private health care services.
You need to apply for social benefits (http://www.kela.fi/web/en/forms ) on Kela's e-service, or by mail or visit the local Kela office. Before filling out the form, you need to have a Finnish identity number. Kela will send you a written decision confirming your entitlement to the benefit you applied. In order to get Kela card, which is used to get discounts on prescribed medicines in pharmacies and to apply for refunds on private health care payments, you need to apply for the card as well..
For further information:
You can survive in Finland without knowing any Finnish, as most Finns speak English to some degree. However, knowing the local language is very useful and will make your life easier in many ways. Particularly in the job market, basic Finnish language skills are often required.
International staff and visitors are encouraged to study Finnish. There are different opportunities for and ways of learning Finnish. The LUT Language Center organizes courses in Finnish and many other languages, and all the courses are available to staff members as long as there is room in the classes; students are the priority, however. There are also Finnish language courses targeted only for staff members.Also, spouses may take these classes if there are available seats.
The Adult Education Center of South Karelia (Etelä-Karjalan Kansalaisopisto, www.ekko.fi) or equivalent institutions in other cities arrange Finnish language courses for immigrants, but also arranges courses in other languages and subjects, mainly in Finnish. For course information, see here.
You can learn Finnish on your own, too. Online language courses are available, for example, at:
Generally, if your spouse has been granted a residence permit on the basis of family ties, s/he will have an unlimited right to work in Finland. This right will be entered and displayed on your spouse's residence permit card. However, if s/he has been granted a residence permit on the basis of a personal relationship, s/he does not have an unlimited right to work. For more information, please visit the Migri Right to work website.
Finding employment can be time consuming. Generally, employers value solid education and require at least basic Finnish-language skills. Labor force supply and demand naturally varies in different sectors. Most of the vacancies are announced in web portals. In Finland, it is always necessary to submit an application letter and a resume (CV) when applying for a job vacancy. Also, it is helpful to be active and search the web pages of the companies and other organizations operating in the special field of expertise in question. Personal and professional networks are valuable in searching for work, as well.
More information about the Finnish labor markets and working in Finland can be found in the web pages of This is FINLAND. One can find more information there about finding work in Finland.
Many job portals are in Finnish, but some have information in English, like Adecco Finland, Barona, Eila Kaisla and Rekrytointi.com. Examples of sites with extensive information are Oikotie and Monster. Academic Positions lists academic vacancies in Finland and other countries as well, whereas Infopankki.fi provide information about the Finnish working culture.
Social security of family members
The eligibility of family members for benefits depends on whether they are considered to be moving to Finland on a temporary or permanent basis.If you move to Finland with your family member, your status is usually assessed on the basis of whether the family member who comes to work or study in Finland is considered to be resident here.
For more information, contact Kela.
Children under school age (7 years old in Finland) have the right to inexpensive day care provided by the municipal authority, either at a day care center or in a family day care setting. Children aged six have the right to pre-school education, which is arranged in day care centers and comprehensive schools.
NOTE: Parents are responsible for applying for the child's placement in the day care early enough in advance, as it may take several months to receive a day care slot for the child.
In the Lappeenranta area, there is no day care available in English, but there is a pre-school group where English is used on daily basis.
For further information:
When moving to Finland with a family, one of your major concerns might be finding a school for your children. Although the school education in Finland is primarily given in Finnish, Lappeenranta, for example, also offers education in English and in Russian. Kesämäki primary school has international classes, meaning that the teaching is in English for grades 1-6, and Kesämäenrinteen middle school continues with this for grades 7-9. In addition, the South Karelia IB World School prepares students (aged 16-19) for the International Baccalaureate Diploma.
The Finnish-Russian School of Eastern Finland is a private school offering education in all grades. Teaching is mainly in Finnish; certain parts of the curriculum are taught in Russian.
All children living in Finland are entitled to attend comprehensive school. Children begin first grade at the beginning of the autumn term the year they turn seven. Each child has the right to pre-school education free of charge for one year prior to commencement of their basic education. Pre-school education is provided by day care centers and some schools.
The school year begins in August and ends at the end of May. School day usually begins at 8 or 9 a.m. and may last until any time between 1 and 4 p.m. A warm lunch is provided for free during the school day to all children. No school uniforms are in use.
Comprehensive school lasts for nine years in Finland. After comprehensive school, pupils can study at upper secondary schools or in vocational schools, after which their studies may continue at higher education institutions (universities and universities of applied sciences).
NOTE: Parents are responsible for applying for the child's/children's placement in the school early enough, as it may take several months to receive the placement. The nearest school cannot necessarily provide a school placement. It is also good to have your children's most recent school reports and portfolios with you, as the schools may ask for them.
For further information:
Public transportation between the University and the city center (as well as the railway station) is well organized in Lappeenranta. The cost of public transportation without a prepaid bus card is relatively high, which is why it is recommended that you buy a pre-paid bus card ‘Waltti' if you need to use public transportation regularly. You can load on your Waltti card either single tickets or/and 30-day travel pass.
You can purchase the Waltti travel card and either load cash on it or buy a travel pass for it at Waltti webshop, Lappeenranta City Hall's Customer Service Centre Winkki or LUT Skinnarila campus bookstore Aalef.
For the public transportation route map , the prices and the schedule in Lappeenranta please visit Local Public Transport.
For information about public transportation in other cities, please check
If you plan to bring your pet(s) to Finland, please check the regulations on Evira's (Finnish Food and Safety Authority) web pages.
Driving in Finland is safe; roads are wide with less traffic than in many other places, and drivers obey traffic regulations. The only challenge might be driving in winter if you are not used to it.
For more information about driving, regulations and licenses, please click on the following links:
- Driving in Finland – licenses, schools and vehicles
- Driving in Finland
- Road signs and traffic regulations
If you plan to bring your own vehicle to Finland, you may need to pay an import duty. Please find out more about importing vehicles from the following links:
In addition to normal holiday accrual (2-3 days/month), public holidays give you some extra days off; for example, at Christmas, Easter, Labor Day (May 1st) and Midsummer.
For details, please see Finnish public holidays