Effects of Brexit on citizens

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the UK) withdrew from the EU on 31 January 2020. The withdrawal agreement provides for a transition period, which ended on 31 December 2020. At the same time, the free movement of labour between the UK and the EU ended. At the same time, the freedom to provide services in the EU and the related temporary posting of workers to Finland also ended.

The withdrawal agreement lays down the rights of citizens. UK citizens and their family members, irrespective of their nationality, who resided in Finland before the end of the transition period and continue to reside in Finland thereafter, had to apply for the right of residence under the withdrawal agreement, in which case the rights are determined according to the provisions of the withdrawal agreement. For information in more detail, see the website of the Prime Minister's OfficeLink to an external website.

With regard to the free mobility of workers, UK citizens became third-country nationals on 1 January 2021, which means that the EU’s legal basis concerning free movement will no longer be applicable; instead, their residence, right to work and equal treatment will be subject to the EU’s immigration directives and national legislation. The free movement of UK entrepreneurs or self-employed persons within the EU also ended on 1 January 2021.

UK citizens living in Finland must apply for a right of residence

The end of the transition period affected approximately 5,000 UK citizens living in Finland. The withdrawal agreement guarantees their rights as long as they apply for the right of residence under the withdrawal agreement. Provisions on the procedure and time limit for applying for the right of residence are laid down in the Act on implementation of certain provisions concerning residence rights under the withdrawal agreement of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (666/2020), which entered into force on 1 October 2020.

The Act lays down that:

  • the right of residence based on Union law will be replaced by an application to the Finnish Immigration Service for the right of residence under the withdrawal agreement, and
  • the application for the right of residence had be submitted by 30 September 2021.

The right of residence under the withdrawal agreement will last for a lifetime. A residence permit, which must be renewed every five years, will be issued as proof of the right of residence. With the right of residence under the withdrawal agreement, UK citizens in Finland can continue to stay, reside, work and study and claim social security benefits in Finland. They are treated equally in the labour market and in employment services.

After the transition period ended, the UK has become a third country and freedom of movement no longer applies. UK citizen are third-country nationals. UK citizens who arrive in Finland need a residence permit if they wish to live and work in Finland, and those wishing to engage in business activities, will need a residence permit for entrepreneurs.

Key points for employers

  • An employer may request a holder of the right of residence under the withdrawal agreement to present the residence permit card that includes an indication of the withdrawal agreement.
  • If an employer wants to ensure a UK citizen has the right to work under the Aliens Act, he or she may request the UK citizen to provide an account of the residence permit on which the right to work is based.

More information: