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Basic social assistance in international situations

The idea is that also foreigners are primarily liable to provide for themselves. Foreigners who are living in Finland permanently have the right to basic social assistance and are subject to same eligibility conditions which apply to citizens of Finland. Read more about the eligibility conditions.

Kela will make a case-by-case assessment of the nature of their residence in Finland. However, persons residing in Finland are, regardless of the nature of their residence, entitled to necessary emergency financial support.

As for basic social assistance, the general rule is that the amount of assistance you could potentially get depends on your available income and assets. 

Asylum seekers

If you are an asylum seeker and within the scope of immigrant reception services, you cannot get basic social assistance. Your livelihood and access to other services is secured in the form of the immigrant reception services. For more information, see the Finnish Immigration Service website (

Temporary residence in Finland

If you live in Finland temporarily, you will usually only be entitled to necessary emergency social assistance (e.g. food and necessary prescription medicines). The assistance is awarded in the form of vouchers. However, you must first check whether you can receive help with your finances and the return home in some other way. Such assistance can come, for instance, through a money transfer, through an insurance policy or via the diplomatic mission of your home country. The social welfare authorities of the wellbeing services county assist with the arranging of temporary emergency lodging. 

If you need basic social assistance urgently, you can contact a Kela customer service point or call our customer service number.

Residence both in Finland and abroad

If you live in Finland on a permanent basis and you receive basic social assistance, you can maintain your full entitlement to social assistance also during short trips of up to seven days abroad. You must tell Kela immediately if you will be staying abroad longer than seven days. Expenses incurred abroad are not compensated when assessing the right to basic social assistance. If the stay abroad is temporary, reasonable housing costs incurred in Finland can be taken into account for a maximum of three months.

If you live partly in Finland and partly abroad, you can get basic social assistance only for allowable expenses you incur while in Finland.

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Last modified 25/1/2024

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