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Living and working in Finland after Brexit: the new rules for UK nationals

Written by
Dittmar & Indrenius, a leading Finnish law firm focused on creating exceptional added value to demanding corporate clients.
The UK has left the EU, and new rules now apply to UK nationals wishing to worrk or live in Finland. This article provides details.


1.1 Has any guidance been issued on how UK nationals can obtain settled residence status and permission to work from 1 January 2021 and what proof of residence is needed for current residents to maintain their status?


Finland issued contingency rules that would apply in the event of a no-deal Brexit, approving a special act (370/2019) that entered into force on 30 March 2019 regulating UK citizens’ right of residence in Finland after Brexit. The special act would only have become applicable from the date on which the UK withdraws from the EU without an agreement and expires on 31 December 2020.

At the moment, the Finnish Immigration Service recommends British citizens living in Finland wishing to stay in Finland to:

  • register a right of residence in Finland (if they have not already done so); and

apply for a certificate of the right of permanent residence of an EU citizen at the Finnish Immigration Service. More guidance on this is found below.



2.1 Do UK employees need a business visa from 1 January 2021?  


Regulation (EU) 2019/592 of 10 April 2019 exempts UK citizens from the requirement for a Schengen visa. It applies from the day the UK is no longer subject to EU law.  UK citizens can enter and stay in the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days in any rolling 180-day period.

The Schengen exemption applies from 1 January 2021.

However, even if allowed to enter and stay visa-free they might, depending on the circumstances, need a residence permit for an employed person, at least if they intend to stay and work in Finland for more than 90 days. A residence permit can be granted on the basis of either temporary work or work of a continuous nature. The residence permit is obtained via a single application procedure.

2.2 What documents are needed on arrival for business travel from 1 January 2021?       

As stated above, UK citizens will be able to stay for shorter periods of time in the Schengen area without a visa. However, in all cases, UK citizens will be required to provide a valid passport or travel document. A valid passport must be valid at least three months after the date of departure from Finland.

In addition, the normal conditions for a visa-free entry must be met, such as  having an insurance document for the duration of the stay and certain supporting documents, proof of sufficient funds and no entry ban to the Schengen area. Entry into the country can also be prohibited if they are considered to constitute a danger to the public order and security, public health, or Finland’s relations with other countries,

The Finnish authorities have stated that they will provide additional information when it becomes available.

2.3 Do UK nationals need additional permission to work for business travel from 1 January 2021?        

If UK nationals are in Finland on a business trip, they can spend a maximum of 90 days in Finland without needing to apply for a residence permit, and are considered visitors. If, however, they intend to work in a way which is not considered usual for a business trip, they will need to apply for a residence permit. This is a prerequisite for being allowed to work in Finland.  In section 3, further details on the residence permit are provided.



3.1 Do UK nationals need permission to work and stay in Finland from 1 January 2021? 

Generally, yes. They need a residence permit to work in Finland.

Nevertheless, third-country nationals who have a right to stay in Finland (generally a visa) may have a right to work in Finland without a residence permit if they are employed as, for example, an interpreter, a teacher, a specialist or a sports judge or referee, or a professional artist, coach, athlete, or a member of an assistance or support team for such a person (please note that this is not an exhaustive list). In addition, they must have been invited to work in Finland or have signed a contract to work in Finland and work for a maximum of 90 days.

A third-country national is also allowed to perform certain work tasks in Finland for a period of a maximum of 90 days without a residence permit. This includes, for example the work of a product demonstrator or film worker, a sailor, a permanent employee of a company in another EU/EEA country who comes to Finland to perform temporary acquisition or subcontracting tasks, or a driver of a vehicle whose task is to transport goods across the border. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and further details must be checked with the Finish Immigration Service.

 3.2 If permission to work is needed after 1 January 2021, do any quotas apply to the employment of third-country nationals? 


3.3 If permission to work is needed from 1 January 2021, what categories of permission are commonly granted?         

Please find below the list of application categories for a residence permit:

  • residence permit for an employed person;
  • entrepreneur;
  • start-up entrepreneur;
  • specialist;
  • EU Blue Card;
  • researcher;
  • degree completed in Finland;
  • internship through an exchange programme;
  • internship;
  • seasonal work;
  • employee of a religious community or a non-profit association;
  • working holiday;
  • internal transfer within a company (ICT);
  • intra-corporate transfer (Mobile ICT);
  • volunteering;
  • work in the field of science, culture or arts;
  • work in the field of mass media;
  • international organisations and cooperation between states;
  • preparation for an organisation’s arrival in Finland and supervision of orders;
  • delivery of a machine or a system;
  • athlete, coach or trainer;
  • top and middle management;
  • visiting consultant or instructor;


au pair.

3.4 If permission to work or stay is needed from 1 January 2021, how long does the procedure take?    

As a general rule, the total processing time is about four months. In practice, processing times may be materially longer. There may be delays in processing times as a result of Brexit.

3.5 If permission to work and stay is needed from 1 January 2021, what Government fees are payable?

The Government fees for residence permits varies somewhat between the different categories of the residence permits. An electronic application costs less than a paper application. The fees for a residence permit for work are the following:

  • Electronic application fee: first permit EUR 490 / extended permit EUR 260; and
  • paper application fee: first permit EUR 640 / extended permit EUR 260.



4.1 What formalities apply to UK frontier workers working in Finland but living in another country from 1 January 2021?

The Withdrawal Agreement (WA) protects frontier workers. A frontier worker can apply for a document from the Finnish Immigration Service, which certifies his or her rights as a frontier worker and ensures easy travel between the EU countries. A frontier worker is a person who works, or pursues activities as a self-employed person, in an EU Member State but lives in another EU Member State.



5.1 From what date are third-country nationals entitled to apply for permanent residence?        

As a general rule, third-country nationals may get a permanent residence permit if:

  • they have lived in Finland continuously for four years with a continuous residence permit (the A permit); and
  • the requirements for granting a continuous residence permit still exist.


The continuous residence permit must still be valid when applying for a permanent residence permit.


Securing residence and work status

6.1 What steps could UK nationals take currently to secure their residence and work status?      

The Finnish Immigration Service recommended British citizens who have been living in Finland before the transition period expired on 31 December 2020 to:

  • change their permit type from an EU registration to a right of residence under the WA, or apply for a right of residence under the WA between 1 October 2020 and 30 September 2021;
  • apply for a right of permanent residence under the WA, if the British citizen has lived in Finland for an uninterrupted period of five years; or
  • If the British citizen has been issued a certificate of a right of permanent residence as an EU citizen, to apply for a change of residence status into a permanent residence right under the WA. This change is free of charge.


The application fee for right of residence and right of permanent residence under the withdrawal agreement is EUR 48.

Ricardo Gomes
Dittmar & Indrenius
Suvi Knaapila
Partner - Finland
Dittmar & Indrenius