EU and EEA nationals and non-EU nationals with a comparable status (EFTA countries) do not need a residence permit before arrival. However, as you will be staying in Finland for over three months, you will have to register your right of residence once you arrive.
Students arriving from all other countries usually need a residence permit for studies in order to stay in Finland for a longer period of time, that is, for 90 days or longer. A residence permit allows you to live, stay and travel in Finland and to leave and re-enter the country during the validity of the permit.
Please note that you should apply for the residence permit for studies and book your appointment with the mission immediately after receiving your Letter of Acceptance. Both missions and Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) are very busy during spring and summer. You can check the expected processing time for electronic application (usually varies from two to three months) from the Residence permit application for studies website.
You must hold a valid passport or other travel document in order to be issued a residence permit. The first residence permit for studies should be applied online and followed by a visit in person to a Finnish mission (embassy, consulate) in your home country or country where you reside legally. Please note that an appointment is mandatory and in most cases you will have to travel outside of your home state / city for submitting your biometric data / fingerprints and for interviewing at the mission.
When applying for a residence permit, a financial statement is also required. You will be requested to show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during the stay in Finland. In addition, you must attach a copy of a comprehensive health insurance coverage to the application.
You must apply for an extended permit before the validity of your first permit expires.
Further information on residence permit for studies is available on the website of the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri). It is a good idea to check also the website of the Finnish mission for any country-specific instructions.