Expanding your eBusiness to the Finnish market – facts and figures for Finland
Written by Kirsti Earl - Mar 14, 2013
When expanding into another market it's always necessary to consider the laws of the land and get some background information about the consumers and their buying culture. In this last post in my series about Expanding your eBusiness to the Finnish market I will share useful information about the laws and regulations, marketing, and facts and figures about Finland. Enjoy!
Laws and Regulations
The EU Distance Selling Directive offers the minimum provisions for distance selling so it is important to check out each EU country’s provisions separately. For example the directive states that there should be at least a 7 days return period given to consumers to return products. In Finland, the minimum return period is 14 days. To learn more about consumer and business affairs, check out the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority website.
Under same directive, a EU company can sell to consumers across the EU using their own national VAT rates until they reach the threshold of any particular country. So a Swedish company applies the Swedish VAT of 25% on all its sales to consumers in Finland. However once the Swedish company has sent 35K Euros worth of goods per year into Finland, the Swedish company must then register for VAT in Finland and begin charging Finnish consumers the relevant Finnish VAT rate. This is designed to prevent companies in countries with lower VAT rates from competing unfairly with local companies. For additional information about VAT in Finland, visit the Finnish Tax Administration website.
Another point, companies who wish to expand into the Finnish market may be required to register their company in Finland. Find out more at the National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland. If you wish to have a .fi domain, your company must be registered in Finland with the National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland. For more info check out the FICORA's (Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority) website.
Worth mentioning is that Åland Islands which is a part of Finland, is not part of the EU tax territory. For this reason, companies that base their logistics centers there can sell their products VAT-free within certain limits. However, it may be the case that Finnish consumers will be required to pay customs duty, depending on the price of the product. Find out more at the Finnish Tax Administration and Finnish Customs.
Tip: If you are a Finnish company wanting to expand your business to the Swedish market it would be useful to check out the Starting Up a Business brochure provided by the Swedish Taxation office, Skatteverket.
Lastly, check that your bookkeeping/accounting agency is familiar with Finnish tax legislation. Important issues to take into account:
different rates of VAT
a different currency (the euro)
In Finland, certain business areas have restrictions when it comes to selling and marketing of these products:
Gaming and Betting operations: Requires a license and currently only three companies: Veikkaus Oy, RAY and Fintoto Oy hold such a license. Learn more at the Ministry of Interior's website.
Pharmaceuticals: Non prescription, self-care medicines can be marketed to consumers. The Supervisory Commission for the Marketing of Medicinal Products has a brochure that provides practical advice about the marketing of non prescription medicines. If you are interested in selling prescription medicine please read more about the Supervisory Commission of the Marketing of Medical Products' website.
There's a great deal of information out there about the online purchasing habits of Finns and it varies greatly depending on the source. When expanding to Finland or any new market, it's normal to check the statistics of purchasing habits of the market. If you use information provided by a payment service provider it's worth your while to see what payment methods they provide and understand that information they provide will most likely reflect the customer base they have.
Having said that the information provided here will not be our statistics but will come from Statistics Finland, which is the only Finnish public authority specifically established for statistics. According the their research:
Two-thirds of Finns purchased something online during 2012
67% of Finns aged 25-34 and 61% of Finns aged 35-44 bought something online in the past 3 months (report published in November 2012)
98% of Finns aged 25-34 and 96% of Finns aged 35-44 used internet banking in the past 3 months (report published in November 2012)
Additionally, Finnfacts, an independent media service, shared in March 2012 that Finnish eCommerce topped 10 billion euros so Finns are buying online and there is a market here. Read more at Finnfacts' Good News website.
Invest in Finland is a government agency that assists with foreign investments in Finland. Read more about their services and success stories at Invest in Finland's website.
With some research and the right tools, you can attract Finnish consumers, establish yourself as a trusted company and boost your bottom line. Would you like to share your success story with our readers? Email it to me (email@example.com).