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Finland – Brexit and the Right of Residence for U.K. Citizens in Finland

Finland–Brexit & the Res. Right for U.K. Citizens in Fi

A new law in Finland stipulates the terms and conditions for U.K. nationals to travel to and stay in Finland. U.K. citizens living in Finland, for example, must apply to exchange their previous registration based on the right of residence as a European Union (EU) citizen for the right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement. Moreover, from January 2021 onwards, all the same provisions pertaining to third-country nationals will be applied to U.K. citizens on entry, and the EU directive on free movement will no longer apply.

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Following Brexit and the law (666/2020) approved by the Finnish government1, U.K. citizens living in Finland have to apply to exchange their previous registration based on the right of residence as a European Union (EU) citizen for the right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement2.  In the event U.K. citizens are moving to Finland after the transition period has ended, they must apply for a residence permit, similar to non-EU citizens2.  (For prior coverage of this issue, see GMS Flash Alert 2019-045, 15 March 2019.)

As the U.K. withdrew from the European Union on 31 January 2020, the Withdrawal Agreement between the U.K. and the EU entered into force on 1 February 2020, and the transition period started.  During the transition period, the current rules, including the free movement of citizens, continue to be in place as if the U.K. were still a member of the EU.

WHY THIS MATTERS

The new law that entered into force on 1 October 2020, will affect approximately 5,000 U.K. citizens living in Finland.  After having been granted a right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement, U.K. citizens may continue their residency in Finland after the transitional period ends at the end of 20203.  

This will have a direct impact on multinational companies intending to post their employees with U.K. citizenship to Finland or to other EU member states.  From January 2021 onwards, all the same provisions on third-country nationals will be applied on entry, and the EU directive on free movement will no longer apply.  This must be considered when planning and scheduling the posting and relocation of British employees to the EU. 

Impacts on U.K. Citizens Staying in Finland

U.K. citizens and their family members who either already live in Finland or move to Finland by 31 December 2020 and register their residence, may continue to reside in Finland under the same conditions as during the period of the U.K.'s EU membership.  However, the right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement must be applied for at the latest on 30 September 20214.

The application for a right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement for U.K. citizens applies as noted below5:

  • Those who have previously registered their EU right of residence must change their EU registration to a right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement between 1 October 2020 and 30 September 2021.
  • Those who have previously received a permanent EU right of residence: A permanent EU right of residence requires that a person has legally resided in Finland for a period of five years.  U.K. citizens who have been granted permanent EU residence rights in Finland before 1 January 2021, and who have a certificate demonstrating this, will be able to apply to change their status to the permanent right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement.  However, for this group, the application is not mandatory but strongly recommended.
  • Those who are accumulating time to apply for a permanent EU right of residence: if the applicant has not resided in Finland for the required period of time by the end of 2020, one must apply for the right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement, but will be entitled to continue accumulating this time after that date and to obtain the permanent right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement later on.
  • Those who are moving to Finland from 1 October 2020, can no longer be registered as EU citizens, but can apply directly for a right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement by 31 December 2020.

If a U.K. citizen is also a citizen of another EU or European Economic Community (EEC) country, a new application for an EU citizen to register the citizenship of the other country or apply for a right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement is not needed.  However, in such cases the individual must make sure that the Digital and Population Data Services Agency has registered the other citizenship correctly.  After this, a general notification to the Finnish Immigration Service must be made6

Future Impacts on U.K. Citizens Moving or Travelling to Finland

The entry of U.K. citizens to Finland after 31 December 2020, will be restricted.  As of 1 January 2021, U.K. citizens will be treated the same as any other non-EU citizens at the time of the entry, and the EU directive on free movement as well as the right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement will no longer apply to them.  In such cases, the U.K. citizen must apply for a residence permit.  However, those family members of a British citizen whose family ties to the British citizen have been established before the end of the transitional period have the right to move to Finland later and still be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.7

According to the current information, U.K. citizens will not be required to have a visa for stays in the EU, including Finland, of up to 90 days over any 180-day period as of 1 January 2021.  Before travelling to the EU, passengers are advised to check the validity of their travel documents and make sure that they meet the conditions for entry.  Failure to comply with one of the conditions of entry may result in a refusal of entry into the EU8.

KPMG NOTE

The residence status provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement justifies the continuation of residence in Finland.  It also allows for a stay of up to 90 days during any 180-day period elsewhere in the Schengen area.  If a U.K. citizen moves from Finland to another EU member state, he or she must apply for a right of residence (usually a residence permit) based on his or her status as a third-country national.

FOOTNOTES

1  Law (666/2020) approved by the Finnish government (in Finnish), click here .

2  For more information about the government’s bill on the right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement (in English), click here .

3  For more information about the details of a right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement (in English), click here .

4  For more information on a right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement on the Finnish Immigration Service website (in English), click here .

5  For more information about the consequences of Brexit in Finland, click here .

6  For more information on a right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement on the Finnish Immigration Service website (in English), click here .

7   For more information about the consequences of Brexit in Finland, click here .

8  Ibid. 

*  Please note that KPMG LLP (U.S.) does not offer immigration services or labour law services. However, KPMG Law LLP in Canada can assist clients with U.S. immigration matters.

 

The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in Finland.

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