Effects of Brexit on UK citizens in Finland
UK citizens established in Finland before 1 January 2021
The withdrawal agreement guarantees the status and rights of UK citizens living in Finland and their family members under EU law (such as residence, employment and social security) for life if they have settled in Finland before 1 January 2021 and subsequently continue to reside here. Their status and rights will be safeguarded as they were under the key EU legislation as of 31 December 2020.
The residence status provided for in the withdrawal agreement justifies the continuation of residence in Finland. It also allows for stays of up to three months in the rest of the Schengen area. If a person moves from Finland to another EU Member State, they cannot invoke their rights under the withdrawal agreement in that other EU Member State and must apply for a right of residence (usually a residence permit) based on their status as a third-country national. If a person has a permanent right of residence in Finland based on the withdrawal agreement, they will lose that right if they remain outside of Finland for more than five consecutive years.
The withdrawal agreement will not apply to UK citizens who are staying in Finland during the transition period (i.e. in 2020) but will not stay there after it. For example, if a UK citizen is posted to Finland during the transition period but stops working here before 1 January 2021, the withdrawal agreement will not apply to them, nor will the withdrawal agreement apply to UK citizens who enter Finland for the first time on 1 January 2021 or thereafter.
Registration of right of residence
All UK citizens residing in Finland are urged to register their residence as soon as possible if they have not already done so and they intend to continue to stay and live in Finland.
UK citizens living in Finland who also have the citizenship of another EU Member State or EEA country must register their right of residence on the basis of that citizenship.
The Finnish Immigration Service’s website also provides instructions for persons who are unsure of whether or not they have registered their right of residence.
Applying for residence rights under the withdrawal agreement
UK citizens living in Finland must apply separately for their rights under the withdrawal agreement. The purpose of the application procedure is to verify that the applicant has the right of residence under the withdrawal agreement.
Registrations based on the right of residence in the EU must be exchanged for residence rights under the withdrawal agreement by application.
British citizens who have been granted permanent EU residence rights in Finland before 1 January 2021 may change their status to permanent residence rights under the withdrawal agreement. The application is free of charge. The right of permanent EU residence is not considered to be forfeited on the grounds that the rightholder has been absent from Finland for more than five consecutive years before the end of the transition period. If the person has not been staying in the country for an uninterrupted period of five years, which is the requirement for the permanent right of residence, by the end of 2020, they will be entitled to continue accumulating this time after that date and to obtain the permanent right of residence later on. Once the permanent right of residence has been acquired under the withdrawal agreement, it can be lost only if the person is absent from Finland for more than five consecutive years.
The more detailed procedure and timetables are being decided on by an act currently under preparation in Finland. The objective is that applications can be submitted between 1 October 2020 and 30 June 2021. Further information on the timetable and procedure will be provided later on the websites of the Ministry of the Interior and the Finnish Immigration Service.
UK citizens moving or travelling to Finland after 31 December 2020
The entry of UK citizens moving to Finland after 31 December 2020 will be restricted compared to the earlier status of EU citizens. In this case, the provisions on third-country nationals will be applied on entry. The EU directive on free movement will no longer apply to them. The EU and the UK will discuss the arrangements in further detail during 2020. More detailed information will be provided as the situation becomes clearer.
According to the current information, UK citizens will be able to travel to EU Member States for short visits without a visa as of 1 January 2021.