I have worked abroad - can I receive a pension?

If you have lived or worked abroad, you have possibly accrued pension rights in the country/countries in question. Pensions from abroad are usually granted only on the basis of employment. It is possible to receive a pension just on the basis of residence from the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia and Israel.

Applying for a pension from another EU or EEA country or Switzerland or a country that has a social security agreement with Finland

If you apply for a benefit for the first time after moving to Finland and your entitlement to benefits provided by Kela has not yet been determined, you should report your move to Finland online. You can also complete the form Moving to Finland Y 77e (pdf) and send the completed form to Kela.

If you have been denied a benefit and your circumstances change, you can apply for the benefit again. Also in this case you should file a notification Moving to Finland online or enclose the form Moving to Finland Y 77e (pdf) with your application.

Read more about the payment of benefits abroad if you receive a benefit from Kela and you are about to move abroad.  

You can apply for a pension from an EU or EEA country, Switzerland or a country that has a social security agreement with Finland by completing the same form with which you apply for pensions from Finland. Please specify in the application from which countries you wish to apply for a pension.

Application forms:

- Old-age pension (ETK/Kela 7001e)
- Disability pension (ETK/Kela 7002e)
- Spouse’s pension (ETK/Kela 7004e)
- Orphan’s pension (ETK/Kela 7005e)

You should also carefully complete Appendix U (Residence and employment abroad) (ETK/Kela 7110e). State all the countries where you have lived or worked.

You do not have to apply for a pension from all the countries where you have lived. Your entitlement to pensions from abroad is determined on the basis of the information provided on the form. If you apply for a disability pension, you should include an up-to-date medical statement B with the application. If you are applying for a survivors’ pension, an Appendix U must also be completed for the deceased.

When you apply for a pension from an EU or EEA country or Switzerland, there are several pension providers involved in the processing of the application. Each pension provider requests necessary further details from the other pension providers and decides on the pension. The pension providers also send details of their pension decisions to the liaison body, which is responsible for forwarding the information to the relevant parties. The liaison body also keeps you informed of how the processing of your pension case progresses. If you live in Finland, the liaison body is the Finnish Centre for Pensions (Eläketurvakeskus).

Applying for a pension from other countries

If you apply for a pension from some other country than an EU or EEA country, Switzerland or a country that has a social security agreement with Finland, you must apply for the pension directly from the pension provider in  the country in question. Information about these pensions and the application procedure is provided by the diplomatic mission in Finland of the country in question.

When to apply for a pension

The pension application process can take a long time, possibly several months. Each pension provider must, for instance, verify all the periods in which you were living or working in another country. The same details must also be verified in respect of a possible deceased person, if you apply for a survivors’ pension.

You can file the pension application about 6–9 months before the planned start date of the pension. However, you should file the application at the latest during the month when payment of the pension is supposed to start.

Taxation of foreign pensions

Always remember to notify the Finnish Tax Administration of any pensions from abroad. You should check the taxation in Finland of any pensions you may receive from abroad with the Finnish Tax Administration.

Appeal procedure

If you wish to appeal against a pension decision, please remember to file the appeal in time. Instructions on how to appeal against a pension decision issued by Kela, an authorised pension provider or a pension provider in another country are enclosed with the pension decision. Every pension decision has to be appealed separately.

Review of EU pension decisions

When all the pension providers in the EU countries have issued their decisions, the Finnish Centre for Pensions can compile a summary decision, if you request this. After that, you can assess your pensions as a whole. If the decisions of the different pension providers have the combined effect of decreasing your pension provision, you can ask each pension provider to review its decision. The time limits for requesting a review are determined in the national legislation of each country. A request to review a pension decision issued by Kela should be submitted to Kela.

Certificate of life

With regular intervals, the foreign pension providers need a certificate stating that the pensioner is still alive. This so-called certificate of life is always issued by the local register office in the country of residence. Send the certificate to the payer of your foreign pension.

If the foreign pension provider has sent you a certificate of life for completion, Kela can also complete it. However, Kela does not issue separate certificates of life, but only supplements forms sent by the payer of the pension.

Further information