Residence permit for exchange and visiting students

The instruction belongs to the following themes

By selecting a degree programme you are able to see the general content as well as the possible degree programme-specific content. You do not have to select a degree programme to see the Open University's instructions.

You must apply for a residence permit if you are not a citizen of EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland and you plan to study in Finland for longer than 90 days.

Cit­izen­ship - do you need a residence permit or not?

Are you a citizen of EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland?

  • If your answer is ‘YES’ you do not need a residence permit or a visa. Information on EU citizens’ registrations is available at Finnish Immigration Services and on our webpage "Registration with the authorities". 
  • If your answer is ‘NO’ and you plan to study in Finland for more than 90 days, you will need a residence permit. If you plan to study in Finland for 90 days or less, you may need a visa. Information on visas is available on the website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.
  • If your answer is 'NO' but you have been granted a residence permit on the basis of studies or research by some other EU Member State than Finland, you can carry out part of your studies in Finland for a period up to 360 days. You must in this case submit a mobility notification to the Finnish Immigration Service. (You do not need to submit a mobility notification if your studies / research work last less than 90 days and you have a visa to Finland.)

What to do now in order to get a residence permit?

Start preparing your application immediately after receiving your acceptance letter. The entire process may take several weeks or even months. The application process is longer if you submit an incomplete application, so be sure to follow the instructions carefully. 

  • The Finnish Immigration Service has prepared customer instructions in English for students who have received a study place in Finland. Read these instructions carefully before you start the application. Check out also this instruction video made by the Finnish Immigration Service.
  • Submit your application for a residence permit online at Online Service of the Finnish Immigration Services.
  • Apply for your residence permit abroad, not in Finland. 
  • Please note that if you are a Bachelor's or Master's level student, you must apply for a residence permit for study. If you are a doctoral student, you must apply for a residence permit for scientific research. If you are a Doctoral student in your home country but you will study only Master level courses in Helsinki, kindly contact for further instructions. 
  • Visit a Finnish embassy/consulate in person for identification and fingerprinting.  All Finnish embassies and consulates are listed on the website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. If there is no Finnish diplomatic mission in your country, check on the -website which embassy or consulate you need to contact.
  • Your application will be processed only after you have personally visited a Finnish mission. It is very important that you will be able to attend the orientation period so book the appointment time as soon as possible. 

Finnish Immigration Services processes all residence permit applications based on studying as urgent. To follow the progress of your application, log on to your electronic account. You can check the processing time of your application on this website. Remember that telephone or e-mail inquiries will not make the process faster.

If you need more information, please contact Finnish Immigration Services. 

Documents University of Helsinki provides for the application


  • You have received your stamped acceptance letter as an attachment in the Confirmation of acceptance email sent by the International Exchange Services. Include also the aforementioned Confirmation e-mail to your application.
  • If you are a PhD student, you must include a hosting agreement to your application. The agreement must be filled in and signed by your supervisor at the University of Helsinki. Please note that the start date in the agreement needs to be the day you arrive in Finland, e.g. one or two days before the orientation period.
  • You may be asked about your address in Finland. You can write "I have applied for housing as a part of my student exchange application and will receive a housing offer from HOAS or Unihome by the deadline given by the host university".

If you need more information, please contact Finnish Immigration Services.

Take note

You will need to have the required insurance before you submit your residence permit application. Insufficient insurance cover is the most common reason for not being able to get your residence permit on time. See more:   

If your application is approved, you will get a biometric residence permit card. The card is manufactured in Finland and delivered to the Finnish embassy. It’s not possible to expedite the delivery of the card or collect the card from Finland. All students must wait for the residence permit card before coming to Finland.

It may be a good idea to purchase airline tickets well in time, but make sure that you are able to both change the date and return the tickets if needed. 

Per­sonal iden­tity code

The personal identity code is compulsory to have in case your stay lasts at least three months (obliged by the University of Helsinki). When you are granted a residence permit by the Finnish Immigration Service, your personal information will by law in most cases be recorded in the Population Information System. You will also be issued a personal identity code.

If you cannot be registered in the Population Information System when you are issued with your residence permit, you need to ask for the registration at the Digital and Population Data Services Agency after you have arrived in Finland. Check first whether your residence permit card has a Finnish personal identity code. It is a number sequence with 11 characters, formed on the basis of your date of birth.