FAQs on how to claim a pension from abroad

Are you going to claim a pension from abroad? Check out our answers to related frequently asked questions.

How do I apply for a pension from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland?

Question: In the 1970s, I worked for a few years in Sweden, and in the 1980s, in Norway. How can I apply for a pension for that work?

Reply: The Finnish Centre for Pensions will forward your application abroad if you live in Finland and you apply for a pension from one or several EU/EEA countries or Switzerland. Your pension application will become pending when you fill out the national application form for a Finnish pension and Appendix U (which includes information on periods during which you have worked and lived abroad).

You can pick up pension application forms from the Finnish Centre for Pensions, the earnings-related pension providers or Kela’s offices. You can also fill out and print the application online at www.etk.fiwww.työelake.fiwww.kela.fi or the website of your own pension provider. You can submit the filled-out forms to any of the above. You can also apply for your old-age pension online via tyoelake.fi, but in that case you have to fill out and submit Appendix U on paper.

Fill out Appendix U carefully. The information you provide on that form serves as the basis when your pension application is processed abroad and your right to a pension abroad is established. You have to provide information on all periods that you have worked and lived abroad since the information may not be available from any other source. Whenever possible, enclose copies of documents relating to your work abroad, such as testimonials of service, employment record books and pay slips.

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How do I apply for a pension from a country with which Finland has a social security agreement (Australia, Canada, Chile, China, India, Israel, Quebec, South Korea or USA)?

Question: I have worked in Finland, Canada and the USA. How do I apply for a pension from all these countries?

Reply: If you have stated on your application for a Finnish pension that you are also applying for a pension from a social security agreement country, the Finnish Centre for Pensions will send you application instructions and an application form in line with the social security agreement. Finland has signed mutual social security agreements with each social security agreement country. The application processes of the different social security agreement countries differ from each other.

To speed up the processing of your application, you can print out the forms via etk.fi or Työeläke.fi under Forms > Pension from social security agreement countries. When you have filled out the application forms, send them to the Finnish Centre for Pensions. The Finnish Centre for Pensions will confirm the agreed data for the pension provider of the social security agreement country and transmit your application to the pension provider of the country in question for processing. Note! If you are applying for a pension from the USA, you will get the country’s application forms from the American embassy in Oslo.

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How do I apply for a pension from a country that does not have a social security agreement with Finland?

Question: I have worked in Russia for a few years. How can I find out if I have a right to a pension from Russia, and how can I apply for that pension?

Reply: Since Finland and Russia do not have a social security agreement, the Finnish Centre for Pensions cannot forward your application to Russia. Instead, you have to find out your right to a pension and how to apply for it from Russia on your own. Työeläke.fi contains a list of countries that pay pensions to Finland under the EU Regulation or a social security agreement. You have to apply for a pension from any other countries on your own. It is also possible that some of the so-called non-agreement countries do not pay pensions to Finland.

The contact information of pension providers of other than EU/EEA and social security agreement countries are listed on the website of the International Social Security Association.

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How do I apply for a supplementary or occupational pension from abroad?

Question: I worked for several years in Sweden in the 1970s and the 1980s. Recently I got a letter from AMF Pension in Sweden in which they urge me to apply for a pension from Sweden. What should I do?

Reply: In many countries the statutory pension provision is supplemented by various supplementary and occupational pensions. AMF Pension is one of Sweden’s largest occupational pension institutions. The Finnish Centre for Pensions does not transmit applications for such pensions abroad since they are not subject to EU’s Regulation on social security. That is why you have to contact the pension provider yourself to find out your right to a supplementary or an occupational pension and how you should apply for it.

In some countries (for example, France and Switzerland), certain supplementary pensions that have been set up in law are covered by the EU Regulation on social security. In that case, you apply for them at the same time as you apply for your basic pension from that country via the Finnish Centre for Pensions. In other words, you do not have to apply for these supplementary pensions separately.

How can I get an estimate of how much pension I will get from abroad?

Question: When I was young, I worked in Germany and Switzerland. I am not about to retire yet, but I would like to know how much pension I will get from these countries. How can I find that out?

Reply: If you want a preliminary estimate of the amount of your pension from abroad, you have to ask for it from the pension authorities in the country in question. They are the only ones who have that information. The easiest and often only way to ask for a preliminary estimate is to send them a freely formulated letter.

The information needed for the request varies from one country to another, but your letter must at least include your

  • personal data,
  • contact information,
  • foreign ID number (if you have it),
  • insurance number of the country in question (if you have it), and
  • as detailed information as possible about the periods during which you have lived and worked in the country.

When you ask for an estimate from an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or a country with which Finland has signed a social security agreement, you can write your request in English or in any other official EU language. Some countries have a form for this purpose. You can print it out via the website of the country’s pension authority.

Most foreign pension providers will send you the pension estimate to your home address. Others may send you log in details with which you can check your own pension information directly via their online services. Some countries cannot give a preliminary estimate, but they can send you an employment record of the insurance periods that have been registered in your name in the country in question. To get the contact information of pension authorities in the various countries, contact the Finnish Centre for Pensions.

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As of when should I apply for an old-age pension from abroad?

Question: I turn 63 this year and am about to retire in Finland. I have also worked in Germany and would like to apply for the pension funds I have accrued there at the same time. Can I apply for a pension from Germany already at age 63?

Reply: Yes, under certain conditions you may be granted an early pension from Germany at age 63 although the general retirement age in that country is higher. The Finnish Centre for Pensions cannot know if you meet the requirements for early retirement, so you should either contact the pension provider in Germany in advance or apply for the pension yourself.

When you apply for a foreign pension, you should always check what the retirement age is in the country in question. In many countries, such as Germany, the retirement age has recently risen. Your retirement age may depend on in which year you were born or in which year you apply for the pension.  In some cases, you may be granted early retirement in exchange for a cut in your pension. In some countries, it is not possible to retire early.

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I am getting an unemployment allowance in Finland - can I still apply for a pension from abroad?

Question: I became unemployed about a year ago and am still being paid an unemployment allowance. I have also worked in Estonia, from where I would have the right to get a pension already. Can I apply for a pension from Estonia although I am getting an unemployment allowance in Finland?

Reply: Yes, you can apply for a pension from Estonia although you are getting an unemployment allowance or other social benefits in Finland. Note, however, that the pension you get from a foreign country may reduce the amount of or cancel your Finnish unemployment allowance or other social benefit that you are getting. Before you apply for the pension from abroad, you should contact the institution that pays out your social benefit in Finland to find out how the pension from abroad will affect the benefit amount you are getting here.

Foreign pensions set up in law also affect the Finnish pension benefits. For example, if you get an earnings-related pension from abroad, you cannot be granted or get a partial pension in Finland. If you get a foreign pension that is based on residence or work, you cannot be paid Kela’s pension assistance.

If you are self-employed, your obligation to take out insurance ends when you start to get a pension set up in law (also a foreign one). After that, you can take out voluntary pension insurance for your self-employment.

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How do I get a pension decision from abroad?

Question: I applied for a pension from Norway a couple of months ago. How can I find out if Norway will grant me the pension or not?

Reply: The foreign pension provider will send a written pension decision directly to you. As a rule, the pension decision is issued in the national language of the country. It will tell you if the pension you have applied for has been denied (and reason for denial) or granted (and date as of which the pension will be paid).

The pension provider that has issued your pension decision will give you more information on the decision.

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Who will pay my pension from abroad?

Question: I recently applied for an earnings-related pension from Finland and Spain. Will my pension from Spain be paid in connection with my earnings-related pension from Finland?

Reply: No. Your pension from abroad will be paid by the pension provider that grants you the pension. That is why it is important that you state your bank account in the IBAN form and reply to any questions the foreign pension provider may send you about your banking information.

The pension from abroad is paid in the currency of the country in question. The fees for international transactions vary per bank and country. For more information on handling fees, contact your own bank.

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How long does it take to get a pension decision from abroad?

Question: I plan to claim a pension from Sweden and Norway and wonder how long the application processes will be?

Reply: As a rule, the processing of pension applications takes longer abroad than in Finland. Among other things, the processing time depends on what type of pension you are applying for and from which country, as well as what information the pension provider in that country will need in order to be able to process your application. For example, in 2016, the average processing time for old-age pensions was 4 months in Sweden and 6 months in Norway.

You can contact the foreign pension provider for more information on how your application is progressing. You will get the contact information of the pension provider in writing from the Finnish Centre for Pensions at the latest when your pension application has been forwarded to the relevant country.

You should submit your application for a pension from abroad about 6-9 months before the date on which you wish the pension to begin. You have to submit your application at the latest in the month during which you would like your pension to begin.

How can I follow the processing of my application for a pension from abroad?

Question: I sent in my application for a pension from Sweden a month ago. How can I check if the Swedish pension provider has received my application?

Reply: The Finnish centre for Pensions will notify you when it has forwarded your pension application abroad to an EU/EEA country or Switzerland. The letter will also include the contact information of the foreign pension provider. You can contact them directly by phone, e-mail or letter and ask them for more details on how your case is progressing with them.

Some foreign pension providers also have online services, such as the Mypension service in Belgium, that you can log into in order to follow the processing of your pension application. Many countries have online services that you can use to check your own pension data but not the progress of your pension application. As a rule, the web services are designed for national use, but people living abroad can order a username and a password or code to the service and check their information that way. You will get the necessary log in information by contacting the foreign pension provider.

Who will handle my pension application in Finland?

Question: I am not quite sure who will process my pension application here in Finland?

Reply: Several parties will process your pension application, depending on what type of pension you are applying for. Your earnings-related pension provider will process your application for a Finnish earnings-related pension, while the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) will handle your application of a national pension. If you have applied for a pension from abroad with the same form as your pension from Finland, the Finnish Centre for Pensions will transfer your application for the foreign pension to EU/EEA countries and countries with which Finland has signed a social security agreement.

If you do not know which pension provider handles your pension, you can find that out by clicking the box “Find your pension provider” on the homepage of Työeläke.fi.

The Finnish Centre for Pensions will also transfer the data and pension decisions it gets from abroad to your pension provider and to Kela.

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Can I cancel my application for a pension from abroad?

Question: I have applied for a pension from Sweden, but I’d like to cancel my application. How can I do that? Miten peruminen tehdään?

Reply: If your application is still being processed in Finland and the Finnish Centre for Pensions has not yet informed you that it has forwarded your application abroad, you can cancel your application by calling the Finnish Centre for Pensions.

When your application has been forwarded abroad and is processed there, you can cancel your application by sending a freely formulated letter via the Finnish Centre for Pensions to the foreign pension provider that handles your application. You can write the cancellation letter in English or in any other official EU language.

As a rule, if the foreign pension provider has already issued its decision, it is more difficult to cancel the application. For more information, contact the foreign pension provider that has issued your pension decision.

How do I reply to questions sent from a foreign pension provider?

Question: I have applied for a pension from Germany. The German pension authority has asked me to supplement my application with a lot more information. I’m not sure about all the things they want to know. Can the Finnish Centre for Pensions reply to the German pension authority on my behalf?

Reply: No, unfortunately the Finnish Centre For Pensions cannot reply to the questions you have got on your behalf. Nor will it provide translations in writing of the documents you have been sent. But the Finnish Centre for Pensions can help you answer the questions.

A foreign pension authority may ask you for more detailed information when it establishes your right to a pension. It is very important that you answer their questions. If you don’t, the processing of your pension application can be delayed or, at worst, your application may be rejected. The questions are usually written in the official language of the country in questions, but you have the right to answer them in English or in any other official EU language.

Return your answers directly to the foreign pension authority within the notified deadline. If necessary, you can also send your reply to the Finnish Centre for Pensions, your earnings-related pension provider or Kela. They will forward it abroad on your behalf.

Why do I get questions from a foreign pension provider even when I haven’t applied for a pension from abroad?

Question: I have applied for a disability pension from Finland. I have also worked in Estonia, but I have not applied for a pension from that country. Why does the pension provider in Estonia ask me for more information?

Reply: When you have worked or been self-employed in Finland and another EU/EEA country or in Switzerland, your Finnish earnings-related pension provider needs a certificate of the periods you have lived and worked (your insurance periods) in another EU country. For example, the foreign pension provider may need more information about your work abroad in order to be able to establish your insurance periods in the country in question. In addition, Kela needs information and a certificate on the periods you have lived abroad in order to be able to process your application for a national pension.

It is important that you reply to the questions that the foreign pension provider has sent you. If you don’t, your pension application in Finland may be delayed or even rejected.

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I am not pleased with the pension decision I got from abroad – what can I do?

Question: I applied for a pension from France, but I am not happy with the decision they sent me. In my opinion, France has not taken all my periods of work in France into account. What can I do?

Reply: If you are unhappy about a decision that a foreign pension authority has issued, you can appeal it once you have got the decision. Follow the appeal instructions that come with the decision. Send your written appeal within the deadline directly to the pension provider who has issued the decision or to the address stated in the appeal instructions. You can also send the appeal to the Finnish Centre for Pensions, your earnings-related pension provider or Kela. They will forward it to the right institution.

Your appeal must include

  • information on which decision you are appealing,
  • what the appeal concerns, and
  • your justifications for the appeal.

Attach documents that support your justifications and that the foreign pension provider may not have had when they processed your pension application:

  • testimonials of service,
  • pay slips, or
  • new medical statements.

Remember to also include your own contact information and to sign and date the letter. You can write the appeal in English or in any other official EU language or the official language of the country with which Finland has a social security agreement.

When you have got the pension decisions from all the EU/EEA countries from which you have applied for a pension, you can examine their combined effect on your right to a pension. If you think that the pension decisions issued by the different countries have a negative combined effect on your right to a pension in one or several EU/EEA countries, you can contact the pension provider that has issued the decision and request them to recheck the decisions. To request a recheck, you must ask the Finnish Centre for Pensions for a summary of the EU pension decisions.

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Why has the payment of my foreign pension been interrupted?

Question: I have been granted a pension from Estonia, but it has not been paid to me since March. Why is that?

Reply: The pension providers in several countries send a personal data form to their customers each year. The purpose of the form is to check that the personal data is correct. The form is also called a certificate of life. Fill out the form and return it according to instructions to the foreign authority. As a rule, if you don’t, your pension payments will stop. In most cases you will need an authority or other such party to confirm (sign and stamp) the form to prove that you are still alive.

Some pension providers do not remind their customers separately to return the form. Instead, they expect you to send it to them each year on your own initiative.

Another reason why your pension payments have stopped may be that you were getting a fixed-term pension. If you were getting a disability pension, the pension payments may be stopped because you have reached the retirement age in that country and you have not yet applied for or got a pension decision on your old-age pension from that country.

In your case, the pension from Estonia has stopped most likely because Estonian pension providers stop paying out pensions as of 1 April if they have not received the certificate of life by 1 March.

I have moved. How will the foreign pension provider know of my new address?

Question: I am paid a pension from Denmark. I will move at the beginning of next month. Will my new address be automatically forwarded to Denmark via the Finnish authorities?

Reply: No. As a pensioner, you have to inform the foreign pension provider yourself and as soon as possible of any changes to your circumstances. Significant changes in circumstances include changes in your

  • address,
  • marital status,
  • bank account number.

In addition, you should always inform the pension provide if you start a new employment or self-employment.

The pensioner has died. How will the foreign pension provider find out about that?

Question: My husband died recently. He was paid a pension from Sweden. What should I do so that the pension is not paid from Sweden anymore?

Reply: If your next-of-kin dies, you should inform the foreign pension provider as soon as possible so that it does not make any extra pension payments. If the next of kin do not know which pension provider or from which country the pensioner was being paid a pension, they can contact the Finnish Centre for Pensions.

The Finnish Centre for Pensions will get information about the death of a pensioner with a slight delay after the Population register has been updated. Once the Finnish Centre for Pensions has been informed that the pensioner has died, it transmits the information to the foreign pension providers from which the pensioner, according to the registers of the Finnish Centre for Pensions, was getting a pension

How is a pension from abroad taxed?

Question: I got a pension decision from Great Britain. How will they tax my pension? Will I have to pay taxes on my pension to both Finland and Great Britain?

Reply: The country that grants you a pension will withhold tax from your pension according to the country’s own taxation rules. For more information on the taxation of your pension from abroad, see the pension decision you got from abroad or contact the foreign pension provider or tax authorities. Whether your pension will be taxed in Finland depends on the tax agreement Finland has with the country in question. For more information on the effects of a foreign pension on your taxation in Finland, call the Finnish Tax Administration’s tax service for specific international tax situations.

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Who should I contact for an up-to-date estimate of how large my foreign pension will be?

Question: I need to inform X of the amount of pension I am getting from Norway. Can I get up-to-date information on the amount of pension I get from Norway from the Finnish Centre for Pensions?

Reply: No, unfortunately not. The Finnish Centre for Pensions does not maintain a register of the pension amounts paid from abroad. To find out how much pension you are getting, contact the foreign pension provider that is paying out your pension.

If the Finnish Centre For Pensions, your pension provider or Kela needs to know the amount of your foreign pension, it has the right to get the information directly from the foreign pension provider. If another authority asks for your pension amount from abroad on your behalf, you have to issue that authority a proxy to do so.