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Integration services

Integration Services guide international degree students in settling into the Centria region, especially in the early stages of their life and studies in Finland.

Group of international students sitting and chatting together around a table

Steps towards moving to Kokkola or Pietarsaari

Make sure to check important information about your studies and how to get them started.

See the checklist for new students before your studies start:

Download and register Centria’s Goin’ app, and be part of our community already before starting your studies with us!

Goin’ is a networking platform for our students to get to know your new study place, other students admitted to Centria and people already studying here. On the platform, you will find students who have similar interests, about to start the same degree programme with you, and come from the same country as you.

Further information and the invitation to the platform is sent to your email when you are offered a study place at Centria.

Apply for a student apartment, a city rental apartment or an open market apartment early enough before your arrival. During the autumn there is a rush with students searching for apartments, so it might take a while to get accommodation. Do notice, that it might be difficult to find an apartment in Kokkola or Pietarsaari during late summer and autumn, so apply for a student apartment as soon as possible!

In Kokkola student apartments are rented by Tankkari Student Housing. Student apartments are easier to rent and more affortable for international students than open market apartments. Shared apartments are furnished.

Tankkari students apartments should be applied two or three months before the estimated time of arrival. Make sure to apply for a right kind of apartment and fill the application correctly. Don’t hesitate to contact the Tankkari office for questions.

Tankkari Student Housing also provides family apartments for students with families, but family apartments are few and therefore harder to get.

If you don’t get a student apartment before your arrival, apply for a Kokkola City Rental Apartment or search for apartments in the open market. If you wish to keep you student apartment application ongoing, remember to inform Tankkari office about your city rental apartment application. You can use the Goin’ app to find roommates, if you wish.

In Pietarsaari apartments are rented by Ebba’s Fastighets (link in Finnish).

Rental homes can also be searched through rental agency sites and local real estate agencies.

See more information about housing in Kokkola and Pietarsaari:

Once you have gotten an apartment:

  • Make a written lease agreement, which contains information about the monthly rent, the rent security deposit and how and when to terminate the agreement.
  • Find out if water and electricity are included in the rent, or if you need to pay extra for the or sign an electricity contract.
  • Home insurances are usually required in the tenancy agreement and recommended for the entire duration of the stay in the apartment. Home insurance covers, for example, damage to your furniture and other articles as well as the apartment itself.

List of insurance companies in Finland:

More information about renting an apartment:

Housing costs in Finland:

Don’t hesitate to contact if you need help with finding an apartment. Contact information at the bottom of the page.

See through that your vaccinations are in order well before arriving to Finland.

Make sure to also take care of your family members’ vaccinations, if you are arriving to Finland with a family.

If you or your family are unable to get all of the necessary vaccinations in your home country, get them in Finland as soon as possible from the Finnish Student Health Services, child health clinics, school health care or at local health centres.

See the necessary vaccinations and more information:

Once in Finland

Municipalities offer various services to the people living in them, such as public healthcare and child daycare. If you have a municipality of residence, you usually have the right to use services provided by this municipality.

The DVV registration is often required for opening a Finnish bank account, for example.

If you haven’t gotten a Finnish personal identity number with your residence permit, you can get from the DVV.

More information and how to register:

Do notice that the DVV registration is different from registering for your studies at Centria’s Student Services.

A bank account is needed in order to handle finances in Finland. Card payment is preferred over cash. In many places only card payments are possible, such as the Sodexo restaurant in the Talonpojankatu Campus in Kokkola.

You need a passport, identity card for foreign citizens or some other official identity card when opening a bank account. You might need to visit the police station for the official identity card. The bank also needs the following information from you: name, personal identity code and address in Finland or abroad.

With online banking credentials you can attend many official matters online.

More information about banking:

List of bank in Finland:

You can take out a telephone subscription to get a Finnish phone number or buy a pre-paid subscription.

To take out a telephone subscription, you must have a Finnish personal identity code and an address in Finland.

Companies that sell telephone subscriptions can be found here:

Pre-paid subscriptions are sold, for example, at R-kiosks, certain supermarkets or online by telephone operators. You don’t need a Finnish personal identity code or a Finnish address to buy a pre-paid subscription.

A personal Finnish phone number is needed when calling to certain services, such as the:

As a degree student, you are entitled to use the Finnish Student Healthcare Services (FSHS or YTHS in Finnish).

Do notice, that degree students in Finland are required to pay the student healthcare fee each term on their own initiative. More information about who has to pay the fee, deadlines of the payment and the amount of the fee can be found here: 

If you are registered to the Digital and Data Population Services (DVV), you can also use the public healthcare services in the city.

Public healthcare in Kokkola:

Public healthcare in Pietarsaari:

There are also many private healthcare centers and clinics in Kokkola and Pietarsaari. Make sure to check the possibility to use them from your health insurance company.

It is important to keep the health insurance required for your residence permit valid for the entire duration of your stay in Finland

For emergencies, make sure to locate the closest emergency clinic and public healthcare center. The emergency number in Finland is 112. Download the 112 app in your phone for emergencies.

Depending on your country of origin and whether your residence is considered temporary or permanent, you may be able to receive a Kela card and certain benefits, such as reimbursements for medicine costs.

Living in Kokkola or Pietarsaari

Get to know your new home town by joining events and activities, as well as being active with volunteer work and participation. Being active is important for wellbeing, meeting other people and integrating to Finland. You might also create networks that will help you build a career in Finland.

Follow Centria’s Instagram @centriaamk for the Weekly Schedule, Student Union COPSA‘s events @opiskelijakuntacopsa and Integration Services’ Newsletters in your Centria email for current information, events and activities.

Get to know Kokkola and its events and activities:

Get to know organizations and activities in Kokkola:

Get to know your new home town by joining events and activities, as well as being active with volunteer work and participation. Being active is important for wellbeing, meeting other people and integrating to Finland. You might also create networks that will help you build a career in Finland.

Follow Centria’s Instagram @centriaamk for the Weekly Schedule, Student Union COPSA‘s events @opiskelijakuntacopsa and Integration Services’ Newsletters in your Centria email.

Get to know Pietarsaari and its events and activities:

Get to know organizations and activities in Pietarsaari:

Once you have adjusted to Finland, it is time to start building your career.

Join events and activities, do volunteer work, meet people and get networks. Follow local media to keep track what is happening and start learning Finnish.

Centria’s career and work-life services are a place for students to stop and consider their dreams, goals and competencies and what direction they want to take in their career path. Career and work-life services also provide concrete guidance and advice on job search matters.

Do notice that if you are in Finland with a residence permit based on studying, you are only allowed to work approximately 30 hours a week.

More information:

Learning Finnish is important in integration and finding work in Finland.

You can study Finnish at Centria, in Haji’s Finnish drop-in workshop, in courses in Kokkola or Pietarsaari – or online.

More information about studying Finnish or Swedish in Kokkola:

Learn Finnish online:

Blogs and podcasts are a great way to get to know Finland and Finnish, even before arriving to Finland.

Blogs and podcasts:

Instagram or TikTok:






Family life and services

If you are moving to Kokkola or Pietarsaari with a family, contact Sofia Behluli (contact information at the bottom of the page).

Every child in Finland has the right to early childhood education and care. Early childhood education is for children 1‒5 years old, and pre-primary education (pre-school) for children 6‒7 years old.

In Kokkola, early childhood education and daycare is in Finnish or Swedish, but non-Finnish or Swedish speaking children are well taken into consideration.

It is advised to apply for early childhood education four months before the need for daycare. The minimum time to apply is two weeks, but in this case guardians need to be studying or working.

For applying, you need to have an address in Kokkola and to know a desired location for the daycare unit and the amount hours you need daycare for your child. You can either apply for daycare for office hours or round the clock care, depending on your study and work schedule.

Apply as soon as you have an address in Kokkola. Please, do notice that you don’t necessarily get the desired daycare unit location, especially if you apply to early childhood education less than 4 months prior. There is a monthly fee for early childhood education.

When you find a suitable daycare unit, you can also contact the manager of the unit for information about available places in the unit and additional support for children who don’t know Finnish or Swedish yet. For receiving early childhood education, you still need to apply.

More information:

Guidance is also given in English. Calling hours are on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9.00–11.00.

Only in Finnish, but you are able to see addresses, the size of the daycare unit, the possibility of pre-primary education in the unit as well as contact information for the staff.

In Finland basic education and school starts at the age of 7. Education is compulsory for 7‒18 year old children.

Elementary school is for approximately 7-12 year old children and classes 1-6. Upper secondary school is for approximately 13-15 year old children and classes 7-9.

The school location is usually determined by your address in Kokkola and the need for preparatory education, which you are entitled to, if your child doesn’t speak Finnish or Swedish.

Schools and locations that offer preparatory education:

For classes 1-6: Hollihaka school, Koivuhaka school and Ykspihlaja school. For classes 7-9 Kiviniitty school and Torkinmäki school. Addresses can be found here: Schools – Kokkola.

If you don’t have an address in Kokkola yet, you can use the Centria UAS address when enrolling to basic education and preparatory education.

Contact Annika Liiti or Sanni Tajakka once you know you are moving to Kokkola with a child aged 7-15. Contact information: Annika Liiti ( or Sanni Tajakka ( Do notice that they are out of office during summertime, until August.

More information: 

  • Do notice, that when filling the application for enrolment to basic education, is it important to add “the pupil requires preparatory education” in the additional information, if the child doesn’t speak Finnish or Swedish.
  • You can apply with Centria UAS address, if you don’t yet have an address in Kokkola.

Upper secondary school and vocational education is only in Finnish or Swedish, so it is suggested to enrol for preparatory education also with children over 15 years old, if they don’t know Finnish yet. In this case apply for basic education with a preparatory education need, and you will be guided further.

More information:

Welcome Office in Kokkola guides international students’ spouses with integration, services and employment.

Welcome Office Kokkola also guides with family services, early childhood education, basic education and filling in applications.

Their contact information and opening hours:

Kokkola is a child-friendly city with many activities and services for families.

In Kokkola:


Koivutupa is a meeting place for families in Koivuhaka. You can meet other families, get peer support and professional support for parenting, child growth and development. Children have a possibility to play and craft. Opening hours and weekly schedules in Finnish: Koivutupa | Kokkola | Facebook.

Download and register to the Goin’ app and connect with other students with families in Kokkola or Pietarsaari. More information about the Goin’ can be found on top of the page and in your Centria email.

Join Facebook group “Mammat” for support and information from other families in Kokkola as well as “Kokkolan ja lähialueen perhekirppis” for second hand family clothes and houseware.

In Pietarsaari:

Information, support and services families:

Public Healthcare in Kokkola for families:

More information about services for families and children:

Public Healthcare in Pietarsaari for families:

Support for families in different situations:

Mother and Child Homes and Shelter is a nationwide child welfare organization that helps children and families in difficult and insecure situations and prevents violence against women and domestic violence. Provides information and support to parents to benefit the entire family.

Ehjä ry. is a national child protection organization that offers supported housing services, professional support person services for young immigrants as well as open group activities for young international people.

Outreach Youth Work helps 15‒28 year old people with different life situations, for example in wellbeing, studying, work and finances. Confidential and free of charge.

In Kokkola:

In Pietarsaari:

More information and help on different topics:

Support for facing violence:

Nollalinja is against domestic violence and violence against women.

Women’s Line offers services to people who identify themselves as girls or women and have experienced violence or abuse, or threat of violence or abuse, and to those close to them.

Maria Akatemia Open Line for women who use, or are afraid that they might use violence.

Online Shelter helps all parties involved in violent relationships, victims, perpetrators, those exposed to violence and the people close to them by offering them information, support in the form of conversations, as well as stories about domestic violence and intimate partner violence and how to pull through. The website also helps children and young people who have been witnesses or victims of violence.

More helpful information

Finding housing

All three of our campuses are located in the town centres or very close to the centre. Living in these towns is cozy and distances are short.


Support with studies

Skills Centria is designed to support students in their studies while also offering low-threshold activities related to well-being and the fluency of studies.

Skills Centria

Help with career planning

Career and work-life services are a place for students to stop and consider their dreams, goals and competencies and what direction they want to take in their career path.

Student’s career and work-life services

Frequently asked questions

We have compiled answers to frequently asked questions.

Frequently asked questions

Who to contact

You can contact Sofia Behluli with matters concerning arrival, integration, housing, living and building your life in Finland.

Sofia Behluli