Working in a foreign diplomatic mission or in an international organisation – how is your income taxed?

If you work in a foreign diplomatic mission or for a special organisation in Finland, your wages may be exempt from tax in Finland.

You are a citizen of Finland and you work here for a special organisation

If you are a Finnish citizen working in Finland for an international special organisation, it is possible that your wages and salaries are exempt from tax by virtue of an international convention that concerns your employer. If such a convention is in effect, making your wages tax-exempt, the size of your annual wages has no impact on the tax treatment of any other income you might earn. In addition, you do not have to pay the Finnish health insurance contribution although you might be covered by the health insurance system of Finland.

In general, it is standard practice for special organisations to enter into an agreement with the host country regarding the privileges that the organisation can enjoy. Several organisations have set up offices in Finland. Some of them have agreed with Finland on tax-related arrangements, which in some cases provide for special tax treatment of the organisation’s employees.

Examples of those organisations include

  • The HELCOM Commission for Marine Environment Protection in the Baltic Sea
  • The World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER)
  • The International Organization for Migration (IOM)
  • United Nations Technology Innovation Lab (UNTIL).

If the wage you receive from an international special organisation is exempted from taxation in Finland, you are not required to include the wage income in your tax return.

Note: Finland’s Supreme Administrative Court gave its ruling no 2021:54 dated 30 April 2021 on matters relating to employment income from a special organisation. According to the ruling, receipts of wages from such an organisation do not count toward the employee’s progressive income taxation in cases where the individual employee earns other income besides the wages (i.e. no impact on income-tax progression).

The previous practice had been the contrary: if individuals received income from an organisation, it was included in the total on which the progressive income-tax rate depends. In addition, the previous practice also required that the Finnish health insurance contribution be paid if the employee was covered by the Finnish health insurance system.

Check your tax decision for the 2020 taxable year to make sure that your wage income was treated as fully exemptible if you received it from the UN, a special organisation of the UN, or from another organisation or specialised agency. Apply for an adjustment of income taxes if necessary.

You are also entitled to apply for the adjustment in respect of earlier tax years if necessary. Claims for adjustment against income taxes can be made within 3 years from the beginning of the calendar year following the tax year.

Read more: Claim for adjustment of income tax   

For more information, the telephone service can be contacted: International income taxation of individual taxpayers, 029 497 024

You are a citizen of Finland and you work in Finland for a diplomatic mission

If you are a Finnish citizen living in Finland on a permanent basis, you only have to pay taxes to Finland on the wages and salaries you receive from the foreign diplomatic mission. However, there may be a double tax treaty between Finland and your employer’s country, the provisions of which may affect the tax treatment. We recommend that you check the provisions of the treaty.

If you are covered by the Finnish health insurance system, your wage is subject to the Finnish health insurance contribution.

Submit an application for tax prepayments on your wage income.

Read more: Prepayments – individual taxpayers

Pre-completed tax returns are sent to individual taxpayers in spring. After you receive yours, please check all the information carefully. If your Pre-completed tax return does not seem to contain the wages that should be there, you should submit the information on the received income in MyTax or on Form 50A (Earned income and deductions).

If you are not a Finnish citizen

When your country of citizenship is other than Finland and:

  • you work in Finland for the United Nations or for a Special Organization of the United Nations,
  • for the International Atomic Energy Agency or
  • for a foreign country’s diplomatic mission,

you do not have to pay tax to Finland on the wages and salaries you receive for the work. In addition, you do not have to pay the Finnish health insurance contribution although you might be covered by the health insurance system of Finland.

Taxes are due for other categories of income

If you are employed by a foreign diplomatic mission, the UN or its special organisation or the International Atomic Energy Agency, you must pay tax to Finland on the following income only:

  • income from a real estate property located in Finland
  • income from business activities in Finland
  • rental income derived from an apartment that you own as a shareholder of a Finnish:
    • housing company or other limited liability company
    • cooperative society
  • wages and pension income that you receive for your other employment in Finland.

The above limitations extend to:

  • The family members of the foreign nationals referred to above, including their private servants, on the condition that they are not Finnish citizens.
  • People working in a foreign diplomatic mission, even if they are not citizens of the country in question.

Your tax return is only for your income subject to Finnish tax

When you complete your tax return, there is no need to include the part of your income that is non-taxable in Finland. However, you should provide information on such income if the Finnish Tax Administration has asked you to do so.

You work in Finland for the Nordic Investment Bank

If the country where you work is Finland and your employer is the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB), the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) or the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO), you pay 40% tax on your annual wage income. This is a final tax, withheld at source. Alternatively, for each taxable year, you can opt for tax treatment under the progressive schedule.

The final tax withheld at source also covers the employee’s health insurance contribution, so that contribution is not charged to you separately although you are covered by the Finnish health insurance system.

If you have opted for the final tax (40%) and you have no other earned income, there is no need to report your wages on the Finnish pre-completed tax return.

The income you receive from the Nordic Investment Bank has an impact on the progression of your income-tax percentage rate in case you receive other, additional earned income. If you are a recipient of income from the Nordic Investment Bank and from other payors or sources, and full information is missing from the Pre-completed tax return on either one of these two categories of income, you are required to provide information on the income in MyTax or on Form 50A (Earned income and deductions). If you fill in the paper form 50A, pay attention to the following:

  • the Wages, salaries, fees and compensation field is for the amount
  • the Payor's name field is for your employer’s name;
  • type the words "tax 40% withheld at source" into the Type of income field

You work in Finland for ECHA

If you work for ECHA, the European Chemical Agency, you do not have to pay tax to Finland on your wages. The Protocol on the privileges and immunities of the European Union is applied on ECHA employees.

There is no need for you to provide information on your wages from ECHA on the Finnish Pre-completed tax return. Your income from ECHA has no impact on the tax treatment of any of your other earned income.

In addition, your ECHA wages do not give rise to an obligation to pay the Finnish health insurance contribution even if you are covered by the health insurance system of Finland.