Getting a Finnish bank account for foreigners (OP bank)
One of the most important things that you have to do after you have arrived in Finland is to get a Bank account so that you can use the bank card in your daily life. However, the path to getting a bank account is long and tedious, especially for people who come from outside the EU. This blog is intended to inform people so they can better prepare for the process and have an easier transition to living in Finland.
Students have to wait for months before they can open a bank account here in Finland. On average it will take around 2 months, however, one of my friends got her bank account after a year of staying in Finland. Hence, it is crucial to be prepared for the procedures. Note that even though you don’t have a bank account you can still use your card (master card/visa) to pay for the food and grocery if the cards you own can be used in Finland. People who come from EU countries will usually be able to use their cards but with a higher fee. Nevertheless, it is recommended that you open a bank account as fast as you can.
The first thing that you need to open a bank account here in Finland is a residence permit card. This can be acquired from the Migri website. For non-EU students, you should have this before you arrive in Finland. You can follow the steps explained on the website (link below). I recommend that you read the detail deliberately and carefully so that you won’t skip any details and make mistakes. The Kamu bot on the website is very useful, and it has helped me countless times. Also, another important thing is to get a Finnish phone number (I used DNA mobile network company), since you will need to make appointments later. Normally, students use a single payment to buy SIM cards.
After you have gotten your residence permit, you should be able to book an appointment at the Digital Data service center (DVV), which is the station for people to update their personal information in the Finland information system. What we are doing here is to inform the Finnish data system that we are legally residing in Finland with an address. Non-exchange students who will stay in Finland for more than a month will need to apply for a permanent address. However, the DVV process normally has an extremely long queue (around a month on average) and usually, you will have to book the appointment before you can visit the place. Therefore, I recommend you book the appointment in advance even before you travel to Finland since after you have visited the DVV you still have to wait for 7 more weeks before they finish processing your application (for registering the address). (Updated on 01.09.2022)
Next, you can make an appointment with the bank to schedule the time for opening your bank account. You can contact OP bank in three ways, mobile phone, website, and walk-ins. However, for OP bank you can use the document you got from the DVV station informing that you have applied for the permanent address, and a lease contract from your dormitory to make an appointment. After you have contacted them, they will make an appointment there (if you choose the walk-in option) or they will contact you later to make the appointment via mobile phone. The time you must wait will usually be around 2-4 weeks. Finally, you go to the bank according to your appointment and get your bank account. Noted that you must wait for another 2 weeks to get your bank card (they will send it to your dormitory location).
In conclusion, having no bank card is not an end-of-the-world situation, but it is quite frustrating since nearly all the Aalto cafeterias will only accept mobile or card payments. Thus, during that time you might need to borrow your friends’ cards to pay for your meal or choose the cafeterias that accept cash (only two places, Dipoli and Täffä). Lastly, it is important to remember that having a bank account or bank card does not mean that you can use online payment. To be able to use the online payment you must visit the police station and get a Finnish ID card to get strong authentication. But the details for those steps will have to be in another blog. I hope this blog will help your banking process become smoother. Thank you for reading!
I have attached the important links that you can use to read the information about the process below.
Migri website to get the residence permit: https://migri.fi/en/home (Don’t forget to use Kamu chatbot!)
DVV website to register your address: https://dvv.fi/en/foreigner-registration
DNA mobile service: https://www.dna.fi/contact-us
OP bank application for foreigners: https://www.op.fi/private-customers/become-op-customer/foreigners
- Best, First-year Master's student in the School of Engineering