Banks, currency exchange and credit cards

All banks operate throughout Finland; the largest ones are Nordea, Danske Bank, Aktia and Osuuspankki.

If you are an exchange student and only staying in Finland for less than one year, you probably don't need or want to open a bank acocunt here. However, if you are are a ful-degree student and staying for a longer time or otherwise need to open a bank account, it's very important that you prepare some documentation beforehand, especially if you come from a non-European Union country.

During the last few years the EU has created stricter regulations for banks in all EU countries. It is therefore now more difficult to get a bank account for international students, mainly for those coming from outside the EU. Hopefully you have read carefully the banking information letter that you received before you arrived and have brought with you your:

  • Letter of Reference from your bank in your home country (in English)
  • Bank account statements for three (3) months from your bank in your home country
  • Letter of acceptance from the university
  • Any scholarship notification that you may have (if applicable)

Once you are in Finland, you will need to take all the above documents and the ones below to the bank:

  • Finnish identity code (if you have one)
  • Your address in Finland
  • Passport
  • Visa and residence permit (if applicable)

Opening a bank account (once you are in Finland)

Here are few to tips for how to open a bank account in Finland. These tips are only recommendations; please note that there might be some variations in practices between banks. You can check the exact instructions for each bank from the customer service. For those students who will be in Finland for less than 6 months the best option is generally to open their account at OP Bank.

  • You should ALWAYS make an appointment at the bank where you want to open a bank account (and confirm the documentation that you need)

Nordea: (>Start banking with us), +358 20 70 000, Mon-Fri 8 am–6 pm

OP: (>Private customers >Daily banking >Welcome as our customer), +358 10 253 1333, Mon-Fri 9 am-4 pm)

  • Opening a bank account usually takes ca. 30-45 min, so please make sure you have reserved enough time for this

Please note: Online banking is not something that everyone is entitled to in Finland. It is mostly reserved for those who will be in Finland more than 6 months. When you open the account, be sure to ask for:

  • Statements to be sent to you in English (other options: Finnish or Swedish)
  • Online banking facilities, if you qualify
  • The ability to use your ATM/debit card in shops, restaurants etc. (i.e. not just cash machines)

You will receive a bank card giving you access to virtually every cash point (Automatic Teller Machines, pankkiautomaatti in Finnish) in the country. Apart from withdrawing cash you can also check your balance and, at some ATMs, pay bills; or you can also pay your bills at the bank in person, or online. Check with your bank for details.

Banks are normally open Monday–Friday from 9am to 4pm, but office hours may vary. Banks are closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Cash points are open around the clock every day, and there are plenty of them. All banks have branches throughout the country. In addition, banks offer electronic customer service making it possible for you to manage your bank affairs on the internet.

Foreign currency can be changed at most banks in Finland as well as at many currency exchange offices in larger cities. It is worth changing large amounts at a time to avoid service charges. At FOREX offices you can change and buy currency. You can find a FOREX office e.g. at Helsinki Central Railway Station (Rautatieasema). You can check other locations through their website. Money transfers to and from abroad incur an extra commission fee, the size of which depends on the destination. Having a bank account here is not necessary for receiving money.

The major credit cards (Visa, Eurocard, Access, Mastercard, Diner’s Club, and American Express) are accepted throughout the country.