Before your exchange - instructions for those chosen for student exchange

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.

Before you can embark on your exchange journey, you must complete a number of important tasks. This checklist for outgoing exchange students includes the most important tasks regarding participation in an exchange and moving abroad.

Checklist for outgoing exchange students

Checklist for exchange students

  • Prior to your departure, participate in the briefing for students selected for an exchange as well as the orientation session for exchange students.
  • Make sure you have applied to your target university by its application deadline. Read more below.
  • Also make sure you have read and agreed to the terms of your grant on your electronic Mobility Online account. Read more about grants on page Funding for the student exchange.
  • Submit a notice of change concerning financial aid for students as well as a housing allowance application to Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland. You need a student exchange certificate for this purpose (see more below). Read more below and on the Kela website.
  • Inform Kela and your local register office about your move abroad. Read more on the websites of Kela and local register offices.
  • Register as an attending student at the University of Helsinki for the duration of your exchange.
  • Make the necessary housing arrangements. Read tips below.
  • Do not buy airline tickets until your target university has informed you that you have been accepted.
  • Make sure that you have a comprehensive insurance policy.
  • Maintain and improve your language skills so that you master the teaching language of your exchange and do well in your exchange studies.
  • Follow the Facebook page for University of Helsinki students participating in a student exchange: Exchange studies for University of Helsinki students.
  • Inform Kela if you will be working during your student exchange.

NB! The email address you enter on the application form at the registration stage will be used for all communications relating to your exchange, including grant-related matters. If you have participated in an Erasmus exchange, the European Commission’s EU Survey will also be sent to the same email address. Consequently, it is important that you update the email address if necessary.


If you participate in an Erasmus exchange, also remember the following:

  • Take the OLS language test prior to your departure. The test is voluntary, but we recommend taking it so you know what level you are at before and after your exchange. We no longer send invitations to the test because it is no longer a mandatory condition of the Erasmus grant. In addition to the OLS test ("placement test", in the main language of your exchange), you can also participate in other activities found on the EU Academy website, e.g. language courses.
  • Print out the Erasmus Student Charter (PDF) for your own use. The document explains your rights and responsibilities relating to Erasmus student exchanges and traineeships.
  • The degree level for which you were registered at the University of Helsinki at the time of your departure for your exchange will be recorded in the relevant statistics as your degree level. If you have not completed a Bachelor’s degree at the time of application, but will complete the degree prior to the beginning of your exchange, notify International Exchange Services as soon as you complete the degree, so that International Exchange Services can register your Erasmus mobility period at the Master’s level.


Application for the target destination

For detailed instructions, read the email confirming your selection as an exchange student. The instructions depend on your exchange programme.

See also updates for coronavirus situation:


Checklist for applicants selected through all exchange programmes:

1. Accept or reject the place offer through your Mobility Online account within seven days.

2. Complete your Personal details on your Mobility Online account (and if the University of Helsinki pays your exchange grant, please fill in your bank details). 

3. Accept the terms and conditions of student exchange through your Mobility Online account. 

4. Explore the application instructions and deadlines of the target university on its website (Erasmus+ SMS, SEMP, Nordlys, Erasmus University Wide, and Nordplus) or by reading the application instructions you have received from International Exchange Services (exchange programmes outside the EU/EEA area) and apply to your target university according to the instructions.

5. If you need a stamp or signature for the application to your target university, visit International Exchange Services during consultation hours or by email (

6. Read the instructions for applicants selected for exchange studies for important information on topics such as moving abroad.

7. Your target university will inform you about your acceptance according to its timetable, but typically students receive this information in late summer (if the exchange begins in the autumn) or late autumn (if the exchange begins in the spring). 

Additional instructions for students selected for Erasmus, Nordplus/Nordlys or SEMP exchange:

  • International Exchange Services will nominate you for your target university if required.  The nomination information will be displayed on your Mobility Online account. You should note, however, that not all universities require a nomination. Before you begin to draw up your application, check the website of your target university to see whether it requires a nomination.
  • Erasmus exchange: Specify your exchange dates on your Mobility Online account under Change stay from / stay until if the dates have been specified after you submitted your application. (Exact dates are necessary because Erasmus grants are awarded for specific dates.)
  • Erasmus exchange:  Your degree level at the time of your exchange will be entered into statistics as the level for which you were registered at the University of Helsinki at the time of your departure. If you have not completed a Bachelor’s degree at the time of application, but will complete the degree prior to the beginning of your exchange, notify International Exchange Services as soon as you complete the degree, so that International Exchange Services can register your Erasmus mobility period at the Master’s level.
  • Prepare the application documents required by your target university in good time, and submit your application by the target university’s deadline.
    • Typically, an application requires the following documents

      • A digitally verified transcript of your studies by ordering it from Sisu, see instructions here.
      • A letter of motivation
      • A language certificate, please check the language requirements of the host University.
      •  A learning agreement completed in your target university’s application system. You can find the contact person for your Learning Agreement at University of Helsinki below. 

o   At the first phase of the application process, the documents you upload to the Mobility Online portal are not transmitted to your target university. Instead, you must submit the required documents according to your target university’s instructions.

o   For outgoing Erasmus exchange students: You usually need the following information for the application submitted to your target university:

  • The institutional code of the University of Helsinki: SF HELSINK01
  • The country code for Finland: FI
  • Erasmus Institutional Coordinator is Mari Lauri.
  • Attend the session for selected students for Erasmus, Nordplus/ Nordlys- ja SEMP (in Finnish)

Additional instructions for students selected to destinations outside EU (university bilateral agreements, Faculty and unit bilateral agreements, Erasmus+ global)

You’ll receive an e-mail from International Exchange Services with application instructions to your host university. The e-mail is sent by The title of the e-mail is Application instructions. Before contacting International Exchange Services, check whether the answer is already included in the Application instructions.

NB! You can usually take Master’s level courses during your exchange only if you have completed your Bachelor’s degree prior to the target university’s application deadline. Even if you complete your Bachelor’s degree prior to the beginning of your exchange, the situation won’t change.

If your host university requires one of the attachments listed below, please follow these instructions. You will only need the attachments which are listed in your host university’s student exchange application instructions. Please note that your host university’s application instructions for exchange students are different from the instructions for degree students.

  • Passport: please check that your passport is valid until the end of your exchange. Your exchange country may require your passport to be valid after your exchange ends (typically 3 or 6 months after it ends). Apply for a new passport, if necessary, already before submitting your application to the host university. This way you can receive your visa invitation without problems.
  • Language certificate = Check the Application instructions sent by for whether you need an IELTS or TOEFL certificate or a language certificate from University of Helsinki’s language centre. Please note that the instructions listed in the Application instructions e-mail can be different from the instructions listed on your host university’s web page, if alternative arrangements have been agreed on between the universities. Get your language certificate early! It takes at least two weeks to get a language certificate from the language centre. IELTS and TOEFL tests are often fully booked, so you need to sign up for the test early.
  • Transcript = University of Helsinki’s transcript in English. If your host university has an online application system where all attachments are submitted online, you can use the transcript from Sisu. For destinations in Northern America: please check the Application instructions e-mail for any additional instructions, because some destinations in Northern America may require a signed transcript (see below for instructions).
  • Transcript = If your host university’s application is paper-based (for example, some destinations in Japan), you cannot use the transcript from Sisu. You need an official transcript on paper which you can get from Student Services. Please get the transcript from Student Services during their consultation hours
  • Transcript of all institutions which you have attended = If you have studied at other institutions on university level, for example, if you have graduated with a Bachelor’s degree at another university, send your other university’s transcript to your host university in addition to your University of Helsinki transcript.
  • Enrolment certificate / certificate of student status = Certificate of student status either from Sisu or from Student Services, which you can get during their consultation hours. Sometimes your host university has a separate form for this purpose, which International Exchange Services can fill in based on your request.
  • Estimated date of graduation = estimated date of graduation for your next degree. If you haven’t graduated with a Bachelor’s degree yet, please mark the estimated date for your Bachelor’s degree graduation. Please note that the estimated date of graduation needs to be after exchange, not during exchange.  
  • Letter of recommendation = Recommendation from a University of Helsinki teacher who has taught you. If your host university has its own recommendation form, please use it. If your host university does not have its own form, ask for a recommendation, which does not need to follow a set format. The recommendation is addressed to your host university. 
  • University of Helsinki contact details and contact person in the application = Please fill in the contact details based on this page. The contact person is the specialist for your continent.
  • Your host university's health certificate = If your host university has its own health certificate, please follow the instructions regarding your exchange destination which have been sent to you by the International Exchange Services (sender of the e-mail, title of the e-mail Application instructions). 
  • For more information, attend the information session for students selected for exchange studies.

Making the Learning Agreement to your host University

The Learning Agreement is done to the host University according to their instructions (exception Erasmus-programme). The host University usually provides the Learning Agreement template that should be used. If there are no template and you need UH to provide one please contact the International Exchange Services and Education Cooperation.

The Learning Agreement if you have received an Erasmus grant

The Learning Agreement (LA) is done in Mobility Online at the same time as you are preparing the application to your host University. However the LA has to be done at least 2 months before your exchange starts. You start your learning agreement by clicking on the Create and sign Learning Agreement link on your Mobility Online application.

Once you have clicked on the link, you can enter the relevant information of your study plan.

  1. Click on Enter further courses to enter information on each course you intend to take.
  2. You should add both the home and host universities details of the course: study points, name of the course and course code. If the UH course is an optional course you can name it as optional /elective course and give the course code TBC. The virtual component box is left empty for physical exchanges. Tick the box automatic recognition if it's an optional course. If the course is a compulsory course you can write in the field Condition for recognition e.g. recognition by the degree programme.
  3. Save the course information by clicking on Create.
  4. You can edit courses by clicking on the Update record icon (the form icon) next to the course title.
  5. You can delete courses by clicking on the Delete record icon (the recycle bin icon) next to the course title.
  6. When you are finished with the LA you have to remember to return it electronically signed to the International Exchange Services and Education Cooperation by clicking on the Final check before signing and Sign and transfer.
  7. After you have done this the International exchange Services can accept your LA or ask you to update it
  8. When the LA has been accepted by the International Exchange Services and Education Cooperation it will be transferred electronically to the host university (in some cases you are asked to fill in an email address for LA signatures at the host university).
  9. You can print the LA by clicking on the link Print Learning Agreement. The printed LA is electronically signed and can be used when applying to your host university.

If your host university doesn't sign LA:s electronically via the EWP-network you can upload a pdf-version signed by all parties to your Mobility Online account under After the mobility- Upload signed Learning Agreement or the Documents –tab with the name Required documents after the mobility.

Submitting a deficient Learning Agreement (e.g., listing the courses to be completed at the target university and leaving the sections for the University of Helsinki blank) means that your Learning Agreement is not yet complete. Please prepare it carefully!

The contact information to the contact persons for the University of Helsinki’s Learning Agreements can be found below according to the Faculty. All contact persons have the same e-mail and phone number +358 2941 22401 

  • Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, Specialist Sari Mikkola
  • Faculty of Arts, Specialists Anna-Maria Sillantaka, Heidi Säävuori and Maria Takalainen
  • Faculty of Educational Sciences, Specialist Mikko Moilanen
  • Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Specialist Outi Orenius
  • Faculty of Law, Specialist Sanni Ruuskanen and Jenni Mäkelä
  • Faculty of Medicine, Specialist Jenni Mäkelä
  • Faculty of Science (Physical Sciences, Geography and Geology), Specialist Kaisa Paavola
  • Faculty of Science (Chemistry, Mathematics, Computer Science, Data Science), Specialist Yonca Ermutlu
  • Faculty of Social Sciences, Specialists Mari Lauri and Niina Haapasilta
  • Faculty of Theology, Specialists Anna-Maria Sillantaka and Heidi Säävuori
  • Faculty of Pharmacy, Specialist Outi Orenius
  • Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Specialist Sari Mikkola
  • The Swedish School of Social Science, Specialist Janina Lygdman (2022-23: Eeva Korteniemi)


Student Exchange Certificate

International Exchange Services provides a student exchange certificate to all those who participate in an exchange through International Exchange Services.

  • The certificate features the name of the exchange programme and target university, the duration of the exchange and grant-related information.
  • NB! This certificate does not constitute a letter of acceptance by the target university and does not mean that the target university has informed International Exchange Services about your acceptance.
  • You must enclose a copy of the student exchange certificate with the notice of change concerning Kela's financial aid for students when you apply for such aid for the duration of your stay abroad.
  • Take the student exchange certificate with you to your destination. You may need it when enrolling at the target university or applying for a residence permit.
  • You will receive the certificate by e-mail from It will be sent about two months before your exchange begins (Erasmus+, Switzerland and Nordplus/Nordlys exchange, exchange destinations outside EU: America and Oceania), or about six to four months before your exchange begins (exchange destinations outside EU: Japan, China, Singapore, India, Thailand, Russia, Georgia and Ukraine).
  • If you need to certificate earlier than described above, you can ask for it by e-mailing

Housing arrangements

You are responsible for your own housing arrangements, so start making them well ahead! You should, and usually can, apply for housing through your target university when applying to it for the right to complete exchange studies. Most universities offer advice and assistance, although the Erasmus and Nordplus agreements, for example, specify no obligation to provide housing to exchange students.

  • Read more on the website of your target university.
  • Read about the experiences of previous exchange students in Mobility Online and on the University of Helsinki site
  • Search for useful information online.
  • Use social media, such as the target university’s Facebook page.

The cost and quality of housing varies in different countries and cities. Housing is more expensive in big cities, and student housing quickly reaches capacity in cities popular with students. The quality of housing provided by universities may be higher than that on the private market (e.g., in Britain). In many countries, two or three students may live in one room. Choose the right option for you, but also bear in mind that the more flexible you are, the easier it is to find accommodation.

In recent years, international student housing has also been plagued by fraud. If you wish to rent an apartment advertised on the private market, do not sign a contract or pay a deposit until you have arrived on location and viewed the apartment. This will protect you from unpleasant surprises. Find out more about the housing culture of your target country. For example, oral lease agreements are still common in countries such as Italy and Spain. Stand up for your rights and find out all relevant information before signing an agreement!

Finding accommodation may feel like the hardest part of the exchange process, but don’t be discouraged. All exchange students have eventually found a place to stay!

If you are looking for a tenant to live in your apartment for the duration of your exchange, you can advertise your apartment, for example, to incoming exchange students.

Coverage by the Finnish social security system

Persons who stay abroad for a short time can usually receive Kela benefits if the stay abroad lasts for a maximum of 6 months. However, as a student or researcher staying abroad you are entitled to Kela benefits for a longer period. Read more on the Kela website.

Remember to inform Kela if you study abroad. See the Kela site for more information.

Payment of student financial aid and a housing supplement during your stay abroad

You can apply for student financial aid for the duration of your stay abroad by submitting a notice of change concerning the student financial aid to Kela. You can also apply to Kela for a housing supplement during your stay abroad. Your application must be accompanied by a student exchange certificate (see above).

If you are going abroad as a free mover, and you need a certificate for the notice of change concerning student financial aid, please contact

For more information on student financial aid and the housing supplement, see the Kela websites: If you study abroad and Report changes.

After returning to Finland from abroad, remember to ensure that the studies you completed during your exchange are entered into the Student Register as soon as possible. Also remember to inform Kela about your return to Finland. Read more on the Kela website: Returning to Finland

Insurance and medical treatment

Purchase a comprehensive insurance policy for the duration of your student exchange or international traineeship! The required insurance coverage depends on your destination.

In certain situations related to studying, University of Helsinki degree students fall within the insurance coverage provided under the act on study-related accidents. For more information, see page Accident Insurance for Students.

Destinations in the EU/EEA and Switzerland

If you participate in an exchange in an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, request a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from Kela in good time. If you do not receive the card before your departure, request a temporary certificate from Kela. The EHIC covers the costs of medically necessary treatment in the target country. More information is available from Kela. NB! The EHIC does not cover the costs of returning to Finland due to, for example, a serious illness or accident, so you should also purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy.

The European Health Insurance Card is not necessarily needed in the Nordic countries because they are covered by the Nordic Social Security Convention .

The training agreement of participants in Erasmus traineeships requires that the trainees have appropriate accident, liability and medical treatment insurance. For more information, click here.

Destinations outside the EU/EEA

If you participate in an exchange outside Europe, make sure that your insurance coverage is appropriate! Some countries and universities require that exchange students purchase an insurance policy before applying for a residence permit. Even if your target country requires that you also purchase local, inexpensive insurance (e.g., in Japan and Russia), you should note that it does not cover the costs of returning to Finland, for example, due to a serious illness or accident. Purchase a comprehensive insurance policy for the duration of your exchange! You should also consider the purchase of liability insurance.

Medicines during an exchange or traineeship

If you need medicines during your exchange or traineeship, find out whether your target country has imposed restrictions on the import of medicines. If necessary, ask your doctor for a European medical prescription, so that you can obtain your medicines in your target country if a sales permit has been issued there. Finnish prescriptions should be valid in the Nordic countries.

Proof of assets for a residence permit

If you are participating in an exchange outside the EU/EEA and apply for a residence permit, you must usually provide proof that you can support yourself during your exchange. The amount of sufficient funds depends on general costs and the standard of living in the target country. For information on the required amount of funds, see the website of the target university or the consulate of the target country.

Certificates for proving your assets:

  • A certificate of student financial aid (available from Kela in four languages)
  • A student exchange certificate
  • A balance statement from your bank (available from some banks for a fee)
  • If your parent or someone else agrees to fund some of your costs, ask them to provide a written commitment and balance statement.

Information material and orientation sessions of the target university

Target universities often send an information pack to students accepted as exchange students. Some universities provide such material to exchange students once they arrive. The best way to get started is to arrive on time at the destination and network with other students.

If your target university organises an orientation course or orientation day, take the date into account when making travel arrangements. Target universities can charge fees for language and orientation courses, but most courses are free. International Exchange Services does not provide separate grants to cover the fees of orientation courses.

Health and safety during exchange

Read more under our section  Do you want to study abroad?

Instructions of the Ministry for foreign affairs of Finland

Read the country-specific travel advice (in Finnish) of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland before your departure. This piece of advice pertains to the country’s safety and security situation and contains instructions for what to do if you need consular assistance during your exchange. Also read the instructions of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland concerning the support offered by both the Ministry and Finnish missions in the event of a crisis.

Students, particularly those whose destination is outside Europe, should register with the Ministry. Some Finnish missions also request persons moving to the country to submit their contact details directly to the closest Finnish mission. For more information, see the Ministry’s country-specific travel advice.

You can also request information on safety and security to be sent to your mobile phone via text message. More information is available on the website of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

Maintaining and improving your language skills before the exchange

Maintain and improve your language skills so that you master the teaching language of your exchange and do well in your exchange studies. Good language skills ease your daily life at your exchange destination.

Here are some tips on how to maintain and improve your language skills:

  • Participate in the language courses of the Language Centre. The Language Centre has also good self-study options.
  • The Faculty of Arts also offers language courses.
  • The Language Centre's Intercultural Communications course is organised twice a year and it is a good way of improving English language skills before exchange. 
  • Read local newspapers and follow the local media on the teaching language of your exchange.
  • Try language learning apps, such as Duolingo.
  • If you are going for Erasmus+ exchange, remember also the possibility of the OLS language course.

Telling others about the University of Helsinki and Finland during your exchange

We highly recommend that all outgoing exchange students take with them brochures about the University of Helsinki as well as other material relating to Finland. Exchange students often have opportunities to present Finland and Finns to others.

Below are some links that you may find useful if preparing a presentation on Finland as part of a course at your target university or answering questions about Finland and Helsinki as a place to pursue studies in:

The University of Helsinki


  • For information on student exchange at the University of Helsinki, click here.
  • If you are asked about studying in Helsinki, the University of Helsinki’s How to apply site contains information on study opportunities and the University’s application process.
  • Edufi’s Study in Finland site offers a range of information on study and traineeship opportunities in Finland as well as related practical matters. The site also provides information on studying in Finnish across the world and on CIMO’s scholarships for students who come to Finland.
  • The This is Finland site of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland offers a wide variety of facts and information on Finnish culture, history and events, as well as an image bank and the latest news from Finland.


Material on Helsinki and Finland


Would you like to tell about your exchange on social media?

By writing about your experiences, you help other future exchange students. The story can be about everyday things like student life at the exchange destination and the practices at your host university. The story  will be posted on our page Vaihtokertomuksia maailmalta (page in Finnish). After the exchange, you will receive 50 euros as a reward when you finish writing your exchange story. International Exchange Services aims to collect stories from all our exchange destinations, so we might contact you in order to write a story about your exchange. 

You can also read Finnish-language blog posts and stories by previous exchange students.

There are also other ways to tell about your exchange. Students have taken over our Instagram account and post about their everyday life in exchange destination. International Exchange Services look for students every Spring and Fall to produce content to our Instagram. You can take a look at a list of students who participate this semester on Do you want to study abroad? page.

If you are interested, please contact us via e-mail ( for more detailed instructions.