Mar 10, 2023 Tiina Korpio

EU-citizens right of residence

An EU citizen’s right to residence and work in Finland is amongst the most important aspects of membership in the Union. The free movement of people has created both companies and individuals an excellent opportunity to match needs and talent.


Employees from EU-countries

Finland is seen in a very positive light abroad, and according to research, foreign employee’s experience working and living here is very pleasant. For employees coming from other EU countries Finland can be familiar prior to arrival, as significant numbers of Finns have moved to many other EU countries to work and study. At the same time, many foreigners have moved to Finland, either permanently or temporarily, from other EU member states, and share their experiences with their networks back home.
This movement of people has created an excellent opportunity for companies to find talent for expert positions. For employers, it is relatively easy to hire talent from other EU countries when compared to hiring from outside the Union.

In both cases, there will be both bureaucracy and regulations to overcome, but with an EU citizen, one does not need to be concerned over labor market testing or the processing time for a residence permit. The new employee can move to Finland and start working very quickly as long as the necessary local registrations are taken care of.

An EU citizen can start working almost as quickly as a Finn 

This freedom of movement has also provided new opportunities for employees. Highly educated and experienced experts are in high demand in the international job market and young recently graduated people are also being employed abroad more than ever.
Unfortunately, often when I talk to company representatives, that necessary talent is not available in Finland. When I ask if they have considered extending the search abroad, perhaps by publishing the job ad in English in media relevant to their field, the answer is that it is difficult to hire people from abroad.

“We don’t have time, he won’t come anyways, it is so difficult, it takes so long” – these are the kinds of comments I hear needlessly often. If the need for a good employee exists right now, one shouldn’t restrict the pool of potential employees just to Finland. An EU citizen can start working almost as quickly as a Finn. Usually, this leads to a better and faster result than hoping that a suitable native candidate will appear.

What are the challenges, and how to overcome them?

However, there are challenges to overcome as well. When asked about challenges to integration, language is almost always mentioned. This is more a societal than workplace issue, however, as the English skills of Finns garner praise without exception. This could be a reason for a company to hire an EU-citizen if the time is right to change the corporate language to English.

Another common challenge to integration and retention is the lack of social circles. Here the ability of the employer to make a meaningful impact is lower, but a good corporate culture and an open approach may have a significant impact on the retention of a new employee.
Hiring an EU citizen is not an invincible challenge to companies, as they have the right to work in other EU countries with the same rights and grounds as the citizens of those countries. There are several unavoidable additional steps of course, for example, Finns have had a Finnish ID number from birth, whereas foreigners must apply for and receive one before for example one can go to the bank.

Regardless, hiring an EU citizen has undeniable benefits compared to a position left unfilled or recruiting a less suitable native employee.


Published by Tiina Korpio March 10, 2023
Tiina Korpio