Obligations of a foreign employer

If you have a business based outside Finland that pays wages to an employee working in Finland, you may have tax and social security-related employer obligations to fulfil.

These obligations depend on whether or not your company is considered to have a permanent establishment in Finland.

More information on permanent establishments for purposes of income tax.

Businesses with no permanent establishment

If your business has no permanent establishment in Finland for income tax purposes, it does not have to seek entry in the Register of Employers. However, you are entitled to request employer registration on a voluntary basis.

Reporting obligations in force for employees staying longer than 6 months

If a worker of yours stays in Finland for more than 6 months, you must file a report, detailing all wages paid.

The routines of payroll reporting have changed as of 1 January 2019:

  • If you paid wages on 1 January 2019 or later: You must file an earnings payment report to the Incomes Register in 5 days after payday. The previous requirement is no longer in force for the 2019 year of payment to file a separate employer payroll report when the year is over.
  • If you paid wages during 2018 or prior to 2018: File an employer payroll report to the Tax Administration.

You as the employer do not have to withhold tax on the wages that you pay out, because your worker must make tax prepayments independently each month. However, if you do carry out tax withholding on your worker's pay, report the amounts you withheld as follows:

  • For the amounts you have withheld on 1 January 2019 or later: Complete the earnings payment report and send it to the Incomes Register. You are required to report the amounts withheld and the wages on this report.
  • For the 2018 payment year and withholding year: File a return for employer's contributions.

However, if a worker of yours is paid through the payroll system of a Finland-based substitute payer, who is not the actual employer, then the usual procedure of withholding applies. In this case, the worker does not have to make tax prepayments.

If you as the employer become registered in the register of employers, you have the same responsibilities as a foreign company with a permanent establishment employing people in Finland.

Further information

Businesses with a permanent establishment

  • You must register your company as an employer if you pay wages to two or more people on a permanent basis, or if you pay wages to at least six people at the same time, even though their employment contracts are temporary and meant to be valid for a short term only.
  • For having your company registered as an employer, submit Start-Up Form Y1, Y2, or Y3. Visit ytj.fi to download Y forms.
  • You must withhold money on all wages paid out.
    The amount to be withheld is dependent on the percentage rates printed on the employee's tax card or tax-at-source card. Taxes are based on the entire gross amount, including cash wages and fringe benefits.
  • You must pay the employer's health insurance contributionif your employees do not hold documentation establishing that they are posted employees. Your company must pay the Employer’s health insurance contribution to the Finnish Tax Administration.
  • You must pay the amount withheld and the employer's health insurance contributions to the Tax Administration on your own initiative. You are expected to do this independently, on your initiative.

The routines of payroll reporting have changed as of 1 January 2019:

  • If wages were paid on 1 January 2019 or later, you must file an earnings payment report to the Incomes Register by the fifth day after payday. Employer's separate reports on health insurance contributions must be submitted by the 5th of the month following the payday month. You will not have to file an employer payroll report for 2019.

  • Businesses must submit a tax return on employer contributions and an annual payroll report if wages were paid during 2018 or prior to 2018.

Further information

Social security obligations

Do posted employees have A1 (E 101) Certificates or similar documents?

Foreign companies sometimes send employees to Finland from their domicile countries. If the domicile (the country of tax residence) is in the European Union or is Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, the social security authorities of that country may give the employee an A1 or E 101 certificate of posting. This means that the employee is still covered by home-country social security. As long as the certificate is valid, no social security contributions have to be paid in Finland.

Employees without a document establishing posted employee status

In this case, your business must take out pension insurance for the employee with a Finnish pension insurance company. You must pay the premiums, about 20% of wages. These include the employee’s own contribution, which you must withhold every time you pay wages. Foreign employers are usually subject to the same obligation as Finnish employers to arrange for pension insurance as set out in the Act governing employment pensions (TyEL) for employees working in Finland.

For more information, visit the website of Finnish Centre for Pension

In addition to pension insurance, other insurance contracts to be covered by the employer may include:

  • Accident insurance
  • Unemployment insurance and
  • Group life insurance.

For further information, contact:

Employer’s health insurance contributions payable

If you are considered to have a permanent establishment in Finland for income tax purposes, your company has to pay not only the insurance premiums but also the employer's health insurance contribution (previously the employer's social security contribution).This contribution is paid to the Tax Administration.

Consequences of non-reporting

If you report employer’s contributions after the deadline, we impose a late-payment penalty charge – the level of which depends on the amount of tax reported. If no report of employer’s contributions is filed, we can estimate the amount of tax that you have to pay and impose an additional surtax.

If you are late or if you do not follow the formatting instructions for Employer Payroll Reporting, we may have to impose a charge for negligence. If no Employer Payroll Report is filed, we may have to remove you from the Prepayment Register.The final year for employer payroll reports is 2018.

When you have paid your workers on 1 January 2019 and later, report the pay and withholding to the Incomes Register by 5 days after payday. If you file a report after the date when it is due, you must pay a late-filing penalty charge. If you neglect the reporting obligation, we will impose a punitive tax increase.

If you do not withhold tax on wages you pay out to your employees, we may later have to collect the taxes from you and remove you from the Prepayment Register.