Social security coverage for students and researchers

Persons who stay abroad for a short time can usually receive Kela benefits if the stay abroad lasts a maximum of 6 months. However, as a student or researcher staying abroad you are entitled to Kela benefits for a longer period. One requirement is that you have been entitled to Kela benefits even before your studies or research work abroad. You must study full time in a programme which leads to the attainment of a degree or professional qualifications and which is organized by a state-accredited educational institution. Notify Kela of your move abroad.

Example

Finnish Nelli, who studies at the University of Helsinki, goes to San Francisco in the United States for 9 months as an exchange student. As a student, Nelli is entitled to the residence-based benefits provided by Kela. Full-time students may be entitled to social security benefits administrated by Kela even while studying abroad for more than six months.

In this context, research means post-doctoral work supported by grants. If a researcher finances their research or artistic work in some other way than through a grant and is not insured under the Farmers’ Pensions Act (MYEL), the research or artistic work abroad must be conducted on a full-time basis in order for the researcher to retain entitlement to Kela benefits during the stay abroad.

Persons who work alongside their studies in an EU or EEA country, Switzerland or the United Kingdom are usually entitled to social security coverage in their country of employment. Usually they cannot receive benefits from Kela at the same time. Always remember to notify Kela about work in an EU or EEA country or Switzerland.

If you work alongside your studies or research work in a country other than an EU or EEA country, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, you are usually entitled to Kela benefits.

You can receive Kela benefits as long as your studies, research work or artistic work abroad are conducted on a full-time basis.

Grant recipients

If you receive a Finnish grant for research work or postgraduate studies in an EU or EEA country, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, or you are insured under the Farmers’ Pensions Act (MYEL), you must apply to the Finnish Centre for Pensions (Eläketurvakeskus) for a certificate A1 and a decision on entitlement to social security coverage in Finland for the period of work that is financed through the grant.

Entitlement to social security coverage in Finland for persons who pursue research work or postgraduate studies in a country that has a social security agreement with Finland requires consent from the authorities of the country of employment.

Notify Kela if you have a grant from Finland or if you conduct research or artistic work for more than 6 months in a country other than an EU or EEA country, Switzerland or the United Kingdom. You must take out insurance under the Farmers’ Pensions Act (MYEL) for the period of work that is financed through a grant.

Example

Miika is a researcher at a Finnish university. He receives a grant of 8,000 euros for 12 months from a private Finnish foundation to work on his doctoral thesis in Buenos Aires in Argentina. As a recipient of a grant, Miika must apply for insurance under the Farmers’ Pensions Act (MYEL) from the Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution (MELA). Then Miika is also entitled to the residence-based social security benefits provided by Kela while doing work that is supported by the grant. Miika must inform Kela of work abroad that is supported by a grant and lasts more than six months when the work is performed in a non-EU country. As for research work or other work that is supported by a grant in a country that has a social security agreement with Finland (e.g. the United States, Canada, South Korea, Israel), the rules and procedures differ from country to country.

Further information