Living in Finland

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When a child is born in Finland

A child’s birth is registered at the hospital

When a child is born, the hospital registers the birth in the Finnish Population Information System and the child receives a temporary personal identity number. This is done if:

  • the child’s mother has a right of residence in Finland.
  • the mother’s municipality of residence is in Finland,
  • and the mother has a Finnish personnel identification number.

If the mother has not been registered in Finland, the hospital cannot register the birth and the local register office will not send the appropriate form to the mother. If this is the case, please contact the local register office and ask for instructions on how to register your child.

Read more about the mother’s registration on the Infopankki page Registering as a resident.

linkkiLocal Register Office:
Contact information for Local Register OfficesFinnish | Swedish | English

Child’s registration in the Population Information System

The local register office will send a form to the mother’s home within two weeks of the birth registration. This form is used to inform the authorities of the following:

  • the child’s registration in the Population Information System
  • the child’s names
  • native language
  • religion

Please fill in the form carefully and sign it. If the child’s parents are married, both parents must sign the form.

Return the form to the local register office within two months of the child’s birth. You can send the form by post or take it to the local register office of your area of residence in person. You child will not be registered in the Population Information System before this.

Child’s name

According to the Names Act, all persons with a place of residence in Finland must have a last name and 1–3 first names. The first names must be compliant with the Finnish Names Act. For example, siblings may not be given the same first name.

A child can only be given the last name of one parent. If the parents have different last names, the child’s last name will depend on the situation. If the parents are married and the child is the first they have had together, the parents can choose to give the child either the mother’s or father’s last name.

If the parents have previous children together, the underage siblings must have the same last name.

If the parents are not married, the child can be given

  • the mother’s last name, or
  • the father’s last name if paternity has been confirmed. Read more about the confirmation of paternity in Section “Recognition of paternity” on this page.

If the parents are divorced, the child’s guardian will decide the last name.

In the event that the parents fail to agree upon the child’s last name, the child will receive the mother’s last name.

linkkiMinistry of Justice:
The brochure "Spouse's Surname and Child's Surname"Finnish | Swedish

linkkiFinlex:
Names ActFinnish | Swedish

Child’s native language

You can choose only one language as your child’s native language. You can change the language later if you wish.

It is important to register the language, because it is used as a basis for planning suitable services for people speaking different languages. If you want your child to have the right to attend school classes teaching his or her native tongue, register the language your family speaks at home as the child’s native language. For example, if Finnish is registered as the native language of a child of a Finnish-Russian family, the municipality is not obliged to organise Russian-language education for the child.

In Finland, children also study the country’s other official language in school. Finnish-speaking pupils study Swedish, and Swedish-speaking pupils study Finnish. Children whose registered native language is not Finnish or Swedish may be exempt from the courses teaching the second official language.

linkkiFinnish National Board of Education:
Own Language - Own MindFinnish | English | Russian | Estonian | Somali | Chinese | Persian | Arabic | Kurdish | Albanian | German | Burmese | Bosnian

Child’s religion

The child’s religion is a matter to be decided inside the family. You have the right to decide the religion to which the child belongs. Registering a religion is not mandatory. If one of the parents is the child’s sole guardian, he or she can decide the child’s religion.

linkkiMinistry of Education and Culture:
Freedom of religionFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiAssociation of Freethinkers:
Children and youth's freedom of religionFinnish

What citizenship does the child gain?

The child’s citizenship is dependent on the citizenship of the parents. A newborn child is granted Finnish citizenship if:

  • the child’s mother is a Finnish citizen;
  • the child’s father is a Finnish citizen and the parents are married;
  • the child’s father is a Finnish citizen, the child is born in Finland out of wedlock, and the father’s paternity is confirmed;
  • the child’s father has died before childbirth, but he was a Finnish citizen and married to the child’s mother upon his death; or
  • the child’s father has died before childbirth, the child is born in Finland out of wedlock, and the father’s paternity has been confirmed;

The child will also be granted Finnish citizenship if he or she is born in Finland and does not gain the citizenship of any other state from the parents. In these cases, the Finnish Immigration Service determines the child’s citizenship.

A child may be a Finnish citizen and the citizen of another country at the same time. This depends on whether or not the other country in question accepts multinationality. Ask the diplomatic mission of your country about the matter.

Read more about Finnish citizenship on the Infopankki page Finnish citizenship.

linkkiFinnish Immigration Service:
Finnish citizenship for the child of a Finnish manFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiFinnish Immigration Service:
Applying for Finnish citizenshipFinnish | Swedish | English

If the child is not granted Finnish citizenship

If your child is not granted Finnish citizenship upon birth, obtain a passport for him or her from the diplomatic mission of your native country. You will need the child’s birth certificate from the local register office for this purpose.

Read more about the diplomatic missions of other countries in Finland on the Infopankki page Embassies in Finland.

After this, your child will require a residence permit or registration of an EU citizen’s right of residence.

  • If the child is granted the citizenship of an EU country, apply for a registration of an EU citizen’s right of residence for him or her through the Finnish Immigration Service’s digital Enter Finland service or by visiting a service point of the Finnish Immigration Service.
  • If the child is granted the citizenship of some other country, apply for a residence permit for him or her through the Finnish Immigration Service’s digital Enter Finland service or by visiting a service point of the Finnish Immigration Service.

linkkiEnterfinland.fi:
Electronic applicationFinnish | Swedish | English

Child’s social security

Children who are covered by Finnish social security will receive a Kela card, i.e. a national health insurance card. Kela will send the card to the child’s home once he or she has been provided with a personal identity number and name.

You must apply for family benefits from Kela separately. Read more about the subject on the Infopankki pages Support for pregnant women and Benefits for a family after a child is born.

Recognition of paternity

If the parents are married, paternity does not need to be separately recognised.

If the child’s mother and father are not married and paternity is not recognised, the child will be deemed fatherless for official purposes.

Fatherhood can be recognised during pregnancy at the maternity and child health clinic or after birth by visiting the municipal child welfare officer. If the paternity is recognised before birth, the processing of the matter will not begin until 30 days have passed from the child’s birth. The recognition of paternity will be confirmed by the local register office.

Read more on the Infopankki page Children of parents who are in a common-law relationship.

linkkiMinistry of Social Affairs and Health:
Acknowledging and confirming paternityFinnish | Swedish

A child must have a guardian

In Finland, a person under the age of 18 is legally a child. Persons under 18 years of age must always have at least one guardian. Usually, the child’s parents are the guardians.

Both parents of a child born in wedlock are regarded as the guardians.

If the parents are not married and paternity has not been recognised, the child’s guardian is the mother, who is the sole decider of the child’s affairs. In other words, the mother makes the decisions regarding the child even if the parents live together. The father will be granted custody if the parents agree upon joint custody and the paternity has been recognised.

The custody agreement is completed before the child’s birth at the maternity and child health clinic or, after birth, by visiting the municipal child welfare officer.