Do you want to start a business in Finland? The setting up process is relatively smooth and painless, but requires some Finnish or Swedish skills.
Forms of business
The most popular forms of business are Tmi (sole trader/private enterprise; the easiest option) and Oy (limited company). Other options are partnerships, Co-operative, and a foreign branch organisation. Citizens from EEA can operate their own firm as sole traders in Finland, but generally businesses and branches have to register and submit a declaration of foundation to the Finnish Trade Register at Finnish Patent and Registrations Office PRH. Before registering any type of company it is worth browsing Finnish Trade Register’s Virre Information Service to check whether your planned business name is already taken.
Other important aspects in the registration process are tax and employment matters. Finnish Trade Register and Finnish Central Tax Administration have a joint business information system, where registering for VAT liability or Register of Employers can be done when submitting the declaration of foundation. Enrolling in the VAT register can be done voluntarily, but is mandatory if the accounting period sales exceed EUR 8500. Registering as an employer has to be done if the company has two or more permanent or six or more temporary employees during the calendar year.
Depending on the type of company, registration fees vary from EUR 110 for a sole trader to EUR 380 for limited company and branch. This registration will provide you with a business ID number. For a private enterprise, one form (Y-3) and a personal data form are enough; establishing a Limited company naturally requires more paperwork. For a private limited company the minimum share capital in 2017 was EUR 2 500. Although most forms are available in English, they must be filed either in Finnish or in Swedish. This may require some local assistance at the registration office. Mandatory insurances There are also a number of mandatory social and pension insurances in Finland that have to be taken into account depending on the type of company; an entrepreneur has to have an entrepreneurs’ pension insurance, and salaried employees need employees’ pension insurance, health insurance, and unemployment insurance.
Financing and grants
Generally commercial banks in Finland require that 20% of the finance provided comes from entrepreneur’s own assets; in addition to standard commercial loans, some new businesses may be eligible for special loans, business subsidies, and start-up grants. State owned financing company Finnvera and Regional ELY centres (Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment) can give advice on the available options and requirements.
Investing in Finland
Government agency Invest in Finland promotes foreign investments into Finland. They assist international companies in finding business opportunities and provide relevant information and guidance required to establishing a business in Finland. Invest in Finland is a part of the FinPro Network.
Finnish Patent and Registrations Office PRH
Finnish Tax Administration
Business Information System YTJ
Virre company information service by PRH
Finnish Centre for Pensions ETK
Finnvera, specialised financing company owned by the State of Finland
ELY Centres, Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment
Invest in Finland
More information for entrepreneurs
Enterprise Finland, a part of Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) is a joint effort by public business service organisations for companies and people interested in starting up their own company. Finnish Enterprise Agencies publishes comprehensive guides for entrepreneurs in several languages.
Finding a business partner in Finland
Are you looking for an entry point to the Finnish market? It all starts with a background analysis, the right connections and a targeted search of potential business partners. EEN offers partnership services, and for sector specific background information, trade and industry associations are a good starting point. Some offer information on their website only in Finnish, but others have comprehensive reports available in English.
When looking into broadening your contact network, the FinnCham network comes in handy; it consist of numerous bilateral chambers of commerce, trade associations and business clubs around the world.