Working group proposes changes to Municipality of Residence Act
The working group set up to determine the need for changes to the Municipality of Residence Act proposes that the Act should specify the criteria by which a person’s municipality of residence entry can be removed from the Population Information System if he or she no longer meets the statutory requirements for obtaining a municipality of residence in Finland. The working group also proposes other, less significant amendments to the Municipality of Residence Act. The working group submitted its final report to Minister of Local Government Sirpa Paatero on 27 May 2020.
The proposed amendment would apply to immigrants in Finland who are foreign nationals in cases, where, for example, their Finnish residence permit has not been extended. Such cases mostly concern citizens of non-EU countries. To ensure legal protection, the person in question would have to be consulted before a decision is made and would have to be given the chance to request a review of the official decision.
The question of the right to a municipality of residence is also relevant for citizens of the United Kingdom who are resident in Finland but lose their EU citizenship as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union; in most cases, this EU citizenship has been the reason for having a municipality of residence in Finland.
The conditions under which UK citizens and their family members can obtain right of residence in Finland are set out in the EU–UK withdrawal agreement. Such individuals also have the right to a municipality of residence in Finland. The working group proposes that a provision on the right of residence under the withdrawal agreement be added to the Municipality of Residence Act.
Losing right to municipality of residence would also mean removal of register entry for municipality of residence
The Municipality of Residence Act sets out the requirements that someone moving to Finland from abroad needs to meet to obtain a municipality of residence in Finland. These include citizenship of Finland or of another Nordic country or EU Member State, a valid residence permit or having a family member with a municipality of residence in Finland.
The Act does not, however, contain provisions on how to proceed when the requirements for obtaining a municipality of residence are no longer met. The proposed amendment would improve the accuracy of the data in the Population Information System and would serve the needs of the central and local government authorities that utilise the system.
Working group’s other proposals
The working group also proposes improvements in the exchange of information between authorities, and the launch of a full reform of the Municipality of Residence Act. The present Act was adopted in 1994. The reform would need to take into account the provisions of other legislation passed since then, the requirements and opportunities presented by digitalisation, the practices of the authorities and courts over the years, and other factors.
Bill drafting to begin on basis of working group’s proposals
The Ministry of Finance will begin the preparation and drafting of legislative amendments to the Municipality of Residence Act on the basis of the working group’s proposals. The intention is to circulate a draft government proposal for comments in early autumn.
The working group was set up by the Ministry of Finance on 24 January 2020 and included representatives of the ministries, authorities and organisations that are of key importance in the application of the Municipality of Residence Act.
Ville Koponen, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 530 504, ville.koponen(at)vm.fi (not available 1–12 June)
Marja Liukko, Associate Lawyer, tel. +358 295 530 566, marja.liukko(at)vm.fi
Valtteri Aaltonen, Special Adviser to Minister Paatero, tel. +358 295 530 399, valtteri.aaltonen(at)vm.fi