Permits to persons living permanently outside the EEA

If you have no permanent place of residence within the European Economic Area (EEA), you will in some cases need a permit from the Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH) to hold a managerial position or other position of responsibility in a company entered in the Finnish Trade Register. You may need a permit for example to operate as a member of the board of directors or as the managing director.

Your citizenship does not determine whether you need a permit or not.

Find out more about the following:

Who needs a permit?

Ordinary members and deputy members of the board of directors

We always make a separate assessment of the need for a permit for the ordinary members and deputy members of the board of directors respectively.

No permit is needed if at least one of the ordinary board members is resident within the EEA. Otherwise all the ordinary members will need a permit from the PRH.

No permit is needed if at least one of the deputy board members is resident within the EEA. Otherwise all the deputy members will need a permit from the PRH.

Example: The board of directors of a company consists of two ordinary members, one of them resident in Sweden and the other in Japan, and a deputy member resident in Germany. No permit from the PRH is needed, as both one ordinary member and one deputy member have a place of residence within the EEA.

This also applies to liquidators and members of the supervisory board (if any).

Managing director

The managing director and their substitute (if any) must have a place of residence within the EEA. Otherwise they will need to apply for a permit from the PRH.

What is the PRH’s permit procedure?

The following examples illustrate our permit procedure.

Example 1: Ordinary members of the board of directors
We have granted permits to persons living permanently in countries that have acceded to the Lugano Convention. In practice, this means persons who live permanently in Switzerland. Switzerland is not a part of the EEA, but persons living permanently in Switzerland get a permit under the Lugano Convention. US citizens resident in the United States get a permit under a consular treaty (Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Consular Rights between Finland and the United States of America). In practice, we have also granted permits to Finnish citizens living permanently in the US.

Example 2: Managing director
We have granted a permit if at least one of the ordinary members of the board of directors is resident within the EEA. We have granted permits to persons living permanently in countries that have acceded to the Lugano Convention. In practice, this means persons who live permanently in Switzerland. We have also granted permits to US citizens living permanently in the United States. This is based on the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Consular Rights between Finland and the United States of America.

For persons other than those who live in Switzerland, or who are US or Finnish citizens living in the United States, we grant conditional permits so that the permit is valid as long as at least one of the ordinary members of the board of directors lives within the EEA or in Switzerland, or is a US or Finnish citizen living in the United States.

Example 3: Members of the board of directors
The board of directors consists of three members, two of whom live in Brazil and one in Switzerland.
We grant a permit to the member living in Switzerland under the Lugano Convention, and to the other two on the condition that they may operate as ordinary members until further notice if at least one of the ordinary board members lives in Switzerland or within the EEA.

Example 4: Members of the board of directors
The board of directors consists of three members, where one is a Finnish citizen living in the United States, one lives in Switzerland and one in Taiwan.
We grant a permit to each of them separately: Those living in Switzerland and the US get a permit without conditions under the Lugano Convention and the Consular Treaty respectively, and the one living in Taiwan gets a permit on condition that at least one of the ordinary board members lives in Switzerland or within the EEA.

Example 5: Members of the board of directors
The board of directors consists of three members, where two are Finnish citizens living in the United States and the third lives in Russia.
We grant a permit to each of them separately: Those living in the US get a permit without conditions, and the one living in Russia gets a permit on condition that at least one of the ordinary board members lives in Switzerland or within the EEA or is a US or Finnish citizen living in the United States.

Example 6: Members of the board of directors
The board of directors consists of three members, where one is a Finnish or US citizen living in the United States, one lives in Russia and one in China. We grant a permit to each of them separately: The one living in the US gets a permit without conditions, and those living in Russia and China get a permit on condition that at least one of the ordinary board members lives in Switzerland or within the EEA or is a US or Finnish citizen living in the United States.

Example 7: Members of the board of directors
The board of directors consists of two ordinary members, one of them resident in Russia and the other in Finland, and a deputy member resident in Russia. We grant a permit to the deputy member on condition that if the deputy member substitutes for an ordinary member, the board must still include a member resident within the EEA.

We cannot grant any permits in situations like the following:

  • All members of the board of directors live, for example, in Russia or Australia.
  • The board of directors consists of an ordinary member and a deputy member, both of whom are Finnish citizens living permanently in Thailand.
  • The board of directors consists of an ordinary member resident in Australia and a deputy member resident in Finland. (The deputy member will not need a permit, and the ordinary member will not be granted a permit.)
  • You apply for a permit for a board member and the managing director in a situation where the board of directors consists of an ordinary member and a deputy member, and the ordinary board member is the same person as the managing director and lives, for example, in Kuwait.

We will not assess or resolve any permit matter before processing the application.

How to apply

Apply for a permit in an informal letter written either in Finnish or in Swedish. You can apply for a permit for both the members of the board of directors and the managing director using the same application.

Provide the following information in the application:

  • applicant’s name, citizenship, place of residence, and country where the place of residence is located;
  • type of permit(s) you are applying for (for example, permit to operate as a board member in a limited liability company);
  • name, and Finnish Business ID if already acquired, of the limited liability company connected with the application;
  • reason why the permit is needed;
  • mailing address to the applicant or their representative, and other contact details.


Remember to date the application. The application must be signed by each applicant, or by a person authorised by the applicant. If an authorised person signs the application, enclose the original general power of attorney or a certified copy of a special power of attorney.

Documents to be enclosed with the application

If the applicant has no Finnish personal identity code, enclose a copy of their passport or other identification document with the application.

Enclose a translation into Finnish or Swedish of any document written in a foreign language.

When starting a company, enclose certified copies of the memorandum of association and the articles of association. If you are applying for a permit for the managing director, enclose a copy of the election decision, i.e. the board meeting minutes, or the memorandum of association.

When changing the board of directors or the managing director, enclose a certified copy of the minutes of the meeting in which the election was made. Please note that the board of directors is usually elected by the general meeting. In ordinary companies, the managing director is elected by the board of directors.

Send your application by post to:

Finnish Patent and Registration Office
Trade Register
FI-00091 PRH
FINLAND

What does it cost?

The application fee is 120 euros for every resolved permit matter. If you apply for a permit for three board members, we charge a fee for each member (360 euros in total). A delivery and invoicing charge of 12 euros will be added to the fee. We will charge the fees afterwards.

Representative in Finland

A limited liability company must have a representative who is entitled to receive summons and other notifications on behalf of the company. The representative must have a place of residence in Finland and is entered in the Trade Register.

No separate representative needs to be elected, however, if the company has a member or deputy member of the board of directors, a managing director, a person authorised to sign for the company, or a holder of procuration who has been entered in the Trade Register and is resident within the EEA.

Provisions on the notification of a representative to the Trade Register are laid down in section 6(3) of the Finnish Act on the Right to Carry on a Trade. Read more in the reference database of Finnish legislation Finlex in Finnish or in Swedish.

What to do with the permit

Once you have the permit, enclose a certified copy of the PRH’s permit decision with your Trade Register notification.

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Latest update 06.08.2018