If you are going to live in Finland you will need to have a bank account for several reasons.
The most important one is that a bank account is the best instrument to manage your finances. It will enable you to get payments for instance if you are an employee or receive some kind of student grant or any other financial support.
With a bank account you will normally receive also a credit card that allows to make electronic payments at local shops or when buying products or services online.
The second great advantage of being a bank account holder in Finland is that you may receive a series of credentials to perform the main banking operations through the internet, from paying some bills to order money transfers or hire some simple financial products and services. And those same codes and keys that your bank will provide you for online banking operations will also allow you to identify yourself electronically and perform the most important procedures in the web pages of the different public administrations.
Therefore, if you live in Finland to hold an account at any of the Finnish banks will permit to you for instance to solve from your computer desk most of the tax-related issues or to register as a jobseeker at the network of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.
It will also make easier to apply online for the recognition of your social rights and benefits at the webpage of the Finnish Social Insurance Institution (Kela) or –if you are an entrepreneur who intends to setup a business- register as a self-employed, register your enterprise and ask for financial support for new entrepreneurship from state, regional or local organisms.
Stricter requirements for online banking
However, you must keep in mind that to enjoy these advantages you must fulfil a series of requirements, which are much stricter in case that you want to get also the online banking credentials.
Thus, depending on the bank you choose, you might be able to open a simple bank account just with your passport, identity card for foreigners, a refugee travel document or some other official identity card (a driving license is not valid).
But if you want to have the online banking credentials you will be asked to provide also a Finnish Personal Identity Code (henkilötunnus), perhaps a valid residence permit (if this requirement is applicable in your case) and a registered address in Finland. If you do not have the required documents the bank has the right to deny you the online banking codes even when you already hold an account.
Assets, taxes and addresses abroad
According to the Finnish law, the bank is entitled to ask you also for the purpose of opening a bank account, about your current financial situation and property assets and to check your credit history. You might be asked also about your goods and assets abroad, if you run businesses or pay taxes in other country and to provide an address abroad.
Banking services are not free or charge in Finland and those charges may vary a lot form one company to another. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you check the list of prices and services offered by the different financial firms operating in the country in order to find the most suitable for you.