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Suomen sosiaaliturva

Finnish social security

In Finland, the purpose of social security is to provide people with sufficient livelihood in different situations in life. You may need financial support, for example, if you fall ill or have a child. You may be entitled to support if you work or live permanently in Finland.

This page contains information about the residence-based social security provided by Kela. In addition, social security in Finland is provided by municipalities, unemployment funds, pension institutions and other insurance institutions.

The InfoFinland page Unemployment benefit contains more information about who is entitled to unemployment security. More information about the Finnish pension system can be found on the InfoFinland page Pension.

Kela pays benefits, for example, to families with children, unemployed persons, students, disabled persons and those who are ill for a long time or need rehabilitation. You can also apply for support for housing costs from Kela in certain situations.

If you are covered by Finnish health insurance, you will receive a Kela card. When you show your card, you will be reimbursed for your expenses at pharmacies and many private clinics. Then, you only have to pay the deductible.

The grounds for Kela benefits are defined by law. When you apply for a Kela benefit, Kela checks whether you have a right to receive Kela benefits. It may be affected by permanent residence and working in Finland. When deciding on a benefit, Kela reviews the life situation of each applicant individually.

The situations in life and needs for benefit often vary greatly between applicants. Therefore, the amounts and grounds of the benefits also vary. Always clarify your own situation separately.

Right to Kela benefits

As a general rule, if you live permanently in Finland, you can receive Kela benefits. The law defines what is meant by permanent residence.

Working in Finland may also give you a right to Kela benefits.

Do you have a right to benefits? This is affected by whether you are moving to Finland

  • from a country belonging to the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA), the United Kingdom or Switzerland, or
  • from some other country.

The EEA countries include the EU countries, along with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Your right to benefits is also affected by the capacity in which you are moving to Finland, for example:

  • employee or entrepreneur
  • student
  • family member
  • seconded employee.

Finland has made agreements regarding social security with a number of countries. They include the Nordic countries, USA, Canada and Quebec, Chile, Israel, India, China, South Korea and Australia. The agreements primarily apply to pensions. Some of them also concern health care. If you are coming from one of these countries, check with Kela whether or not these agreements affect your social security.

The right to Kela benefits requires a permanent residence or work in Finland

When you move to Finland, Kela always first assesses whether or not you are moving to live in the country permanently, as defined by the social security legislation.

If Kela considers your move to Finland as not permanent, you may still have a right to Kela benefits based on your work.

You may be considered to be moving to Finland permanently in the following cases, for example:

  • You are a returnee, i.e. you are returning to Finland from abroad.
  • You have a permanent employment contract, or similar agreement, regarding work you will be doing in Finland.
  • You are married to or in an otherwise close family relationship with a person who is already a permanent resident of Finland.

In addition, if you are obliged to obtain a residence permit, it is usually required that your permit is valid.

An overall assessment of the situation will be prepared. Based on this, it will be considered whether or not your residence is permanent.

If you are moving to Finland temporarily, you are not entitled to Kela benefits. Starting from 1 April 2019, a student from outside the EU and EEA area may have a right to some Kela benefits, such as health insurance benefits.

Once the ruling has been made that you are a permanent resident of Finland, you will be regarded as such for as long as:

  • you have your primary residence and home in the country, and you spend most of your time in Finland


  • you have some other reason for your permanent residence in Finland, such as a family tie or work.

However, if you begin work in another country or go abroad for more than six months, your right to Kela benefits may be terminated. More information about these situations is available from Kela.

There are also benefits that you cannot receive if you are not, or have not previously been, a permanent resident of Finland. For example, parents can only receive parenthood allowance if they have lived in Finland for at least 180 days directly before the child’s expected date of delivery. If you are coming from another EU country, however, you can in some cases utilise the insurance periods you have accumulated in the other EU country. Ask for more information at Kela’s international situations unit:

tel. 020 634 0200
at 10 am–3 pm

EU countries, EEA countries, the United Kingdom and Switzerland

If you move to Finland for work, you will usually get a right to Kela benefits for the duration of your employment contract even if you have a short contract.

If your wage amounts to at least €800.15 per month, you have a right to most Kela benefits. It does not matter how many hours you work per week or how long your employment contract is.

Temporary protection in Finland

Persons fleeing the war in Ukraine can apply for a residence permit in Finland based on temporary protection. 

You can become entitled to Kela benefits if you work in Finland or have been living in Finland for at least a year. Before that, you are entitled to the services of your reception centre. You can receive a reception allowance if your or your family members’ income and assets are not enough to cover necessary expenses, such as food and clothes.

Help in taking care of Kela matters

Right to use an interpreter

If you are unable to take care of Kela matters in Finnish, Swedish or English, Kela can arrange interpretation for you. You do not need to pay for the interpretation service. You can order an interpreter from Kela’s telephone service or visit a Kela service point. Interpreters are bound to professional secrecy.

A relative or friend can also act as an interpreter if the matter in question does not affect your legal protection. However, those under 18 years of age cannot act as an interpreter.

Taking care of Kela matters on behalf of another person

If you want someone else to take care of Kela matters on your behalf, you can prepare a letter of authorisation for that purpose. The person you authorise can apply for Kela benefits on your behalf or appeal against a decision.

You can also provide oral authorisation for one appointment, for example, by phone.

A guardian can take care of all matters of a child under the age of 15.

Read more on Kela benefits

The InfoFinland website contains a lot of information on Kela benefits. Read more on the following pages: