Consultation stage of proposal to amend Municipality of Residence Act
A draft proposal to amend the Municipality of Residence Act is now at the consultation stage. The Ministry of Finance is requesting comments on the proposal. The most significant amendment in the draft proposal concerns the removal of a foreign national’s register entry for municipality of residence if he or she no longer meets the requirements for obtaining a municipality of residence in Finland.
A number of other, less significant changes to the Act are also proposed. The draft amendments are based on the proposals of the working group set up to determine the need for changes to the Municipality of Residence Act. The working group completed its work in spring 2020.
Right to municipality of residence only for people legally resident in Finland
The aim of the draft proposal is to clarify the provisions of the Municipality of Residence Act in situations where a person who has moved to Finland from abroad no longer meets the requirements for obtaining a municipality of residence.
A municipality of residence may be granted to foreign nationals who are citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland or who have a valid residence permit or other right of residence. Under the draft proposal, if such a person no longer meets the requirements for obtaining a municipality of residence, his or her municipality of residence entry in the Population Information System can be removed. In practice, this concerns people who no longer have a legal right of residence in Finland.
Under the draft proposal, the municipality of residence entry could also be removed on the basis of information obtained from someone other than the person involved and other than a family member. This is considered necessary because a person who has lost the right of residence usually does not submit a notice of change of address, leaves the country and is no longer able to be reached. To ensure legal protection for the person, it is proposed that an administrative decision would have to be made on the matter, and this could be appealed against if necessary.
Adjustments are also proposed to the Act's provisions on the right of foreign nationals to obtain a municipality of residence in Finland. The proposed amendments correspond to the provisions of the Aliens Act and to the way in which the Municipality of Residence Act is currently interpreted. Among proposed additions to the Act is a reference to the right of residence under the EU–UK withdrawal agreement, as this also gives the right to a municipality of residence in Finland. The right of a family member to a municipality of residence is clarified in the proposal: only family members who are legally resident in Finland can have a municipality of residence here.
Population Information System more up to date
The purpose of the amendments is to improve the accuracy of the data in the Population Information System and ensure it is kept up to date. The draft proposal also seeks to reinforce the Act's aim of ensuring that only those who are legally resident in the country can have a municipality of residence, along with the various rights and obligations that go with this.
The removal of a municipality of residence entry would not directly affect the person’s right to essential public services or benefits, such as the right to urgent healthcare and social welfare and social assistance. Essential public services and benefits must be arranged for everyone residing in Finland regardless of their municipality of residence. Other key rights and services, such as the right to education and to early childhood education and care, are not tied to a municipality of residence either, and nor are private sector services.
It is also proposed that the right to submit a notice of change of address be extended to the guardian of the person concerned. Even today, guardians often submit such address notices on behalf of their client. However, a notice of change of address may be made only if the guardian has the right to represent his or her client in such matters. If the Digital and Population Data Services Agency were to amend a person's municipality of residence entry in the Population Information System on the basis of such a notice from the person’s guardian, it would not then be necessary to make a separate administrative decision on the matter at a future time.
Consultation period of six weeks
Comments should be submitted through the lausuntopalvelu.fi online service no later than 20 October 2020. The Government proposal is due to be submitted to Parliament at the end of the autumn session, and the amendments could enter into force in the first half of next year.
Ville Koponen, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 530 504, ville.koponen(at)vm.fi
Marja Liukko, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 530 566, marja.liukko(at)vm.fi