Finnish citizenship can be acquired either by birth, declaration or application. The conditions for citizenship are defined in the Finnish Nationality Act. The acquisition, retention and loss of Finnish citizenship within the meaning of the Act and the determination of citizenship status are decided by the Finnish Immigration Service.
Finnish citizenship for a child
A child automatically acquires Finnish citizenship at birth if either the mother is a Finnish citizen or the father is a Finnish citizen and is married to the child’s mother. A child also acquires Finnish citizenship if the child is born in Finland, his or her father is a Finnish citizen when the child is born and the father’s paternity of the child is established.
Children of a Finnish mother born in hospitals in other Nordic countries are notified directly to the Finnish population register. After this the population register authority sends the information to Kela, who decide whether the child is covered by the Finnish social security system or not. If the decision is affirmative, the child’s Kela card is mailed directly to the address notified to the Finnish population register.
A child born out of wedlock in another country to a foreign mother and a Finnish father acquires Finnish citizenship by declaration on condition that the establishment of paternity done in the other country is directly valid in Finland.
Finnish citizenship for Nordic citizens
A citizen of Denmark, Iceland, Norway or Sweden who has reached the age of 18 is granted Finnish citizenship by citizenship declaration if his or her permanent residence and domicile have been in Finland for the last five years without interruption and he or she has not been sentenced to a penalty involving deprivation of liberty (imprisonment) in this period.
An underage child in your custody acquires Finnish citizenship at the same time as you if he or she is a co-applicant in your declaration. A child under the age of 15 years must live in Finland when the declaration is submitted. If a child has reached the age of 15 years, the condition is that he or she lives in Finland and has lived in Finland for at least the last two years when the declaration is submitted.
If you are a Nordic citizen but you do not meet all the conditions for applying for citizenship by declaration or if you want to acquire Finnish citizenship already after residence in Finland for two years, you can apply for Finnish citizenship by application.
A person who has lost Finnish citizenship can acquire citizenship by a simple declaration procedure, which does not require residence.
Finnish citizenship by application
Finnish citizenship may be granted to a foreign national if the applicant has reached the age of 18 years and his or her permanent residence has been in Finland either for the last five years without interruption or for seven years after reaching the age of 15 years, the last two years of which without interruption. If an applicant demonstrates satisfactory skills in the Finnish or Swedish language, citizenship may be granted already after four years’ residence in Finland.
A further condition is that the person has not committed a punishable act and has not materially failed to provide maintenance or to meet his or her pecuniary obligations under public law. An applicant must moreover be able to provide a reliable account of his or her livelihood, and prove that he or she has satisfactory oral and written skills in Finnish or Swedish or similar skills in Finnish or Finland-Swedish sign language.
Derogations can be made to the general requirements for naturalisation on certain grounds:
Finnish citizenship may be granted to the spouse of a Finnish citizen if the spouses have lived together for at least three years, the applicant’s permanent residence and domicile has been in Finland for the last four years without interruption or for a total of six years after reaching the age of 15 years, the last two years of which without interruption.
Finnish citizenship may be granted to a co-applicant under the age of 15 years, i.e. a child applying for citizenship together with his or her parents, if when the decision is made on the application his or her permanent residence and domicile is in Finland. Finnish citizenship may be granted to a co-applicant who has reached the age of 15 years if when the decision is made on the application his or her permanent residence and domicile have been in Finland for the last four years without interruption or for a total of six years after reaching the age of seven years, the last two years of which without interruption.
Finnish citizenship can be applied for on behalf of a child by his or her guardian. It is generally required that the guardian is a Finnish citizen himself or herself and lives together with the child. An application may also be made on a child’s behalf by his or her representative. A child who has reached the age of 15 years must have lived in Finland for the last 4 years or a total of 6 years after reaching the age of 7 years, the last 2 without interruption.
If a child is a former Finnish citizen or a Nordic citizen, however, the requirement for approval of an application is two years’ residence.
Finnish law permits dual nationality, i.e. a Finnish citizen does not lose his or her Finnish citizenship on acquiring citizenship of another state.
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NB! If you have questions regarding the processing of a specific case or application, or other personal matters, please contact the relevant authority directly.