Updated 8 months ago

In Finland, as is the case in all Nordic countries, the card is king. Debit card, that is. Finns use them to pay for goods and services in shops and almost everywhere -- with the exception of petrol stations, where cash is mysteriously still preferred. Indeed, cash is secondary which can be easily surmised by the lack of ATM machines in most banks (instead, look for the OTTO machines throughout the country). The good news is, you can get your own debit card very easily and without excessive documentation.

Procedures for opening a Finnish bank account

The exact documentation needed in order to open a bank account in Finland may vary slightly from bank to bank, but in general, the process is simple and fast. Banking services are available in Finnish and Swedish, but you’ll likely be able to communicate in English as well.

You will need a passport, an ID card for foreign citizens or some other official identity card (but not a driver’s licence). The bank also has the right to ask you what is the purpose of the account you’re opening, to check your credit and verify your address. If you pay taxes to a country other than Finland, the bank will need your address in that country as well.

Credit cards

To be issued with a credit card, you need to prove you have a satisfactory credit rating, which means it won't be an easy process if you just moved to Finland. Being able to prove that you have a steady income and a long-term residency might help your chances more than having, for instance, a substantial amount of money in your bank account. If you absolutely need a credit card (which, given how widely debit cards are used in Finland you may need to reconsider), then you may need to pay a security deposit to the bank to get it; three times the amount of the credit limit for which you will be applying. This deposit will be held by the bank for three years, but if you pay your bills on time it will be returned to you after that.

Online banking in Finland

Very few countries are as strong and competent when it comes to online banking as Finland; the country has been touted the leading member state in the EU for internet banking in 2012, with 91% of Finland’s internet using population enjoying internet banking services.

What can you do with online banking? Anything from paying bills and transferring funds, arranging insurance and setting up bank services to buying shares, and that’s not an exaggeration. All banks offer online banking and most major ones have an app that allows you to handle your accounts from your phone. Be aware though that there is a fee (that varies from bank to bank) that you need to pay in order to get your access codes for online and mobile banking. Also, the requirements for obtaining it are stricter than those for opening a bank account, so you may not get it at first anyway. But it is worth trying, especially since it’s available in English, which could be a huge help if you're yet to fully grasp Finnish.

 Useful links:

Expatriate Banking information
Nordea
OP Bank
Danske Bank

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