It is not possible to acquire Official Certificates in the United States of America. The equivalent to the Finnish Official Certificate in the United States is an affidavit. Affidavit can be acquired when a relative, friend or an acquaintance of the person in question is known and can be located, and is able and willing to testify to the information needed. In these cases aforementioned relative, friend or an acquaintance is asked to visit a Notary Public to testify to the family tree. Testifying is voluntary, and the person being duly sworn may wish to know how the matter concerns them.
The United States has no centralized Population Registry System, so birth, marriage and death information is state specific, sometimes even place specific. One can order paid birth-, marriage- and death certificates from the local authorities, on the condition that birth, marriage or death has occurred in the United States. When certificates are ordered from the registrars of the state capitals, the assignment needs to include detailed personal data of the person in question, as well as exact information on the location and timeline of the event. Acquiring documents usually takes several weeks, sometimes even several months. Affidavit assignments are placed through the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
Acquiring requested documents or addresses is not always possible due to the data protection regulations of the state in question. Data can also be impossible to acquire if the information of the person being searched for isn't detailed enough. If the assignment is detailed enough, the foreign mission can acquire affidavits or other documents from their jurisdiction. The mission can try to search for the address from public sources or order certificates from the authorities. The foreign mission can also send a contact request to a possible affidavit provider, when their identity and contact details are known, or they are easily obtained through for instance internet or public phonebook.
In order to present a public document for the authorities of another country (eg. for registration), a legalization is required. Legalization of a document is a measure related to the customer´s security right to ensure, that authority is entitled to issue such a document according to the laws of the particular country.
The Countries of Hague Convention of the 5th October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of legalization for foreign Public Documents (incl. Finland and the US) use for legalization this facilitated Apostille procedure. In these Convention countries a public document bearing a certificate of Apostille is recognized in any Convention country and no other measure of legalization is required. As to states other than the Convention countries, the legalization procedure has three stages.
In order to present the US origin document in Finland (e.g. registration of birth, marriage, death or citizenship), the document shall be legalized by Apostille authentication. Apostille authorities in the US are:
Please note that a notarized document by a local US public notary does not qualify as Apostille authentication. Finnish missions in the US may not issue Apostille certificates.
In Finland the Apostille certificate to a Finnish document is issued by the Notary Public at the Local Register Office.
In case a Finnish citizen is arrested, imprisoned or lost his freedom abroad, he has the right to request the police or prison authorities to inform the Finnish Foreign Mission about the incident. The Mission will notify the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which will forward the information to an appointed person in Finland requested by the defendant.
The progress of the case will be observed by the Finnish Mission within the extent its possibilities. The Finnish Mission may enquiry entitlement for a public defender/legal counselor or an interpreter, or may assist to obtain one if requested by the defendant. However the Finnish Mission cannot intervene in a legal process or request a specific court ruling nor affect the release of an arrested or imprisoned person. The Finnish Mission can neither give any judicial advice nor enter plea on behalf of the accused citizen as these assignments inhere within responsibilities of a legal counselor or an attorney.
Questions concerning the import and export of cars shall be addressed to the local authorities in Finland and the US. For further information from Finnish Customs and the corresponding authority in the US (US Customs and Border Protection) as well as the US Embassy in Helsinki.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs provides assistance for the Finnish Social authorities concerning paternity acknowledgement, maintenance agreement, custody, meeting rights and child protection, when one party lives abroad. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs also offers assistance on questions concerning child abduction.
Registration of a birth to Finland: A Finnish citizen born in the United States may be registered directly to the Local Registration office in Finland or via a Finnish mission abroad. There is no registration fee in Finland. Registration takes 2-3 weeks. The following documents are required:
Citizenship of a child: please see Citizenship
Paternity of a child: If the child is born outside of marriage and the father is a Finnish citizen at the time of the child's birth, the paternity needs first to be acknowledged in accordance with the law of the child's country of residence. As a rule, the paternity needs to be acknowledged in the child's country of residence, in accordance with the local law. A foreign paternity acknowledgement as it stands will also be valid in Finland. The competent authority dealing with the child's registration issues is the Local Registration Offices. After the paternity acknowledgement, the child may obtain a Finnish citizenship by declaration (only applies to children born after 1st of June, 2003). The competent authority dealing with the child's citizenship issues is the Finnish Immigration Service.
Custody of a child is actualized as either single parent custody or a joint custody of both parents. Decisions is made in the US regarding custody and meeting rights shall be implemented in Finland as such. District Court of Helsinki may by petition rule if the custody decision of a country in question can be implemented in Finland. The competent authority is the Local Register Office.
Adoption of a child: When a foreign adoption is valid in Finland, the child will obtain Finnish citizenship.
It is recommended to report a crime or an offence to nearest Police Department as soon as possible. The police report is needed e.g. for the insurance company or when applying for a new passport.
Street crime is not common in the US, but it is recommended to follow the usual caution. It is recommended to avoid public demonstrations and dark streets and watch out for pickpockets in crowded tourist areas. Valuables should be kept in a locked place e.g. in the safe deposit box of a hotel and carry only essential belongings. Passport, money or other valuables should never be left inside a car. It is recommended to have a copy of the passport and possible visa, and keep them separate from the originals. Also one payment instrument should be kept apart from the others.
Stolen or missing debit and credit cards may be informed immediately to a blocking service to prevent any misuse. Missing mobile phone may be reported to your own mobile phone operator.
A criminal case is processed according to local legislation. More information is given by a lawyer and he might be able to represent the defendant in the court. Police investigation and court proceedings might endure for a long time. In some cases it might be necessary to reappear in person for court hearing.
Finnish Victim Support provides support services also for the persons who are the victims of the crimes abroad: www.riku.fi.
Information concerning the import and export to/from Finland shall be obtained from the Finnish Customs. Information concerning import and export to/from the US shall be obtained from US Customs and Border Protection.
When a Finnish mission receives notification concerning a deceased Finnish citizen in the US – e.g. from a local authority, honorary consul, guide or other – the incident will immediately be informed to the next of kin of the deceased person through Ministry for Foreign Affairs . If needed, the Finnish mission will assist with issues regarding repatriation, burial or cremation of the deceased person according to the wishes of the next of kin.
Travel Insurance may cover the repatriation of the deceased to Finland or the costs of local burial in the US. If the deceased did not have travel insurance, the relatives are responsible for all costs. The costs of repatriation to Finland may be very high. If the deceased did not have assets or the relatives cannot be responsible for the repatriation nor burial, the deceased is buried in the US according to local legislation.
Repatriation of a funeral urn: A funeral urn may be transferred to Finland by airplane either as hand luggage in the cabin or as cargo by agreeing on the delivery with the airline. The funeral urn may not be sent to Finland by post or by courier (UPS, DHL, FedEx). An airline generally requires the following documents: death certificate with Apostille authentication, cremation certificate and Post Mortem Certificate if available.
Repatriation of a coffin: The practicalities will be taken care of by a local funeral home in the US and the receiving funeral home in Finland. The following document shall be present with the coffin: a death certificate with Apostille authentication, passport and Post Mortem Certificate if available. The local funeral home shall be inquired, if personal belongings of the deceased person are wished to be sent with the coffin.
Death certificate can be ordered via local funeral home or directly from the state/city Health Department Office. The possible inquest is made by Medical Examiner’s Office where a post-mortem certificate can be requested.
The registration of a death to Finland: A deceased Finnish national may be registered directly to the Local Registration office in Finland or via a Finnish mission abroad. There is no registration fee in Finland. Registration takes 2-3 weeks. The following documents are required:
The regulations concerning foreign driving licenses are defined in each state in the USA. It is recommended to hold a translation of the driving license or International Driving Permit (IDP) issued by Automobile and Touring Club of Finland as they might be requested by police, by car rentals or in case of accident. Permanent US residents should obtain a local driving license. Find more information by contacting local authorities or Embassy of the United States in Finland.
The Finnish police can supply a duplicate of driving license to replace a Finnish driving license that has been lost, damaged or stolen, please contact police authority in Finland for application: www.poliisi.fi. The Finnish foreign missions do not issue driving licenses nor receive applications. The signature required for a renewal application can be notarized subject to a fee by Finnish missions (Embassy in Washington D.C., Consulate general in New York/ Los Angeles or honorary consuls). Notarial certificate has to be applied in person with a valid ID and by an appointment. Applicant shall forward an application form, photos, copy of an ID and other required documents (e.g. police report) by oneself to the Finnish police. All the details concerning the renewing of the driving license such as payment, processing and pick-up/delivery must be agreed directly with the Finnish police.
A driving license extract issued by Finnish Transport Safety Agency Trafi is accepted in some cases (e.g. car rentals) as a proof of the right to drive. An English driving license extract request can be performed to a foreign address with a Finnish bank ID from suomi.fi –service (search: driving license extract request). The Finnish Missions have no jurisdiction to prove a license to drive.
Divorce of a Finnish citizen shall be registered at the Finnish Population Information System.
Divorce in Finland:
A divorce may be initiated at a District Court by joint application or by one party: application form (only in Finnish or Swedish). Custody, child support, visiting rights and cohabiting as well as distribution of property may be settled in connection with the divorce.
In principle a divorce performed abroad is applicable in Finland without a separate confirmation. If needed, the Helsinki District Court may decide if the foreign divorce is applicable in Finland.
Divorce decision granted in the U.S. shall be presented either as original or a notarial copy. The divorce decision shall be legalized (= Apostille authentication). The divorce decision shall be translated into Finnish, Swedish or English. Translation done in Finland by authorize translator is valid as such, but translations done abroad shall be legalized.
Divorce decision granted in the EU area accompanied by a certificate issued in accordance with the EU provisions, are recognized as such in Finland. The certificate can be obtained from the authority that has granted the divorce and need no translation.
The divorce decision can be sent directly to the Registry Office in Länsi-Suomi/Pietarsaari (PL 26, 68601 Pietarsaari) or the local registry office of the last place of domicile, or via a Finnish mission.
The Mission informs the Ministry for Foreign Affairs about matters concerning the estate of persons who have died, in case beneficiaries are presumed to live in Finland. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs communicates this information to beneficiaries whose identity and whereabouts can reasonably easily be clarified. The mission does not, however, provide any information regarding the estate if an heir having a right to the estate has assumed responsibility for it.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs can, upon request, assist the heirs to obtain an administrator for an estate located within its consular district for the purpose of administering the estate. A court appointed Public Administrator may handle the estate, willing and able to act as such. If problems arise contact the local authorities.
The Foreign Missions cannot act as an attorney or as legal counsel (provide legal advise). Estate matters are handled by a local executor, a court of law or an administrator hired by the decedent's next of kin. The beneficiaries must contact the administrator directly and provide the required documents, proving the right of inheritance, together with their translations. The kinship between beneficiaries living in Finland and the decedent with an estate can be verified by means of an extract from the population register (genealogy together with an Apostille Certificate).
US genealogical research offices may offer their research services to Finnish beneficiaries, but their fee rates based on a percentage of costs may be considerable, in some cases even out of proportion.
A will cannot be served from Finland to the United States via the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or its mission. A will can be served either in the form of a service of notice by mail or through the public authorities. A request for a service of notice through the public authorities is addressed to any District Court in Finland, which transmits it to the Ministry of Justice of Finland which, for its turn, sends it to the recipient central public authority in the country in question.
A fine or ticket, received in the US, is recommended to be paid to avoid any possible consequences (e.g. next entry to the US). Usually there is contact information of the Court at the payment order of the fine, whether it can be paid online, by credit card or by phone. Acceptable methods of payment may vary by state. The Finnish foreign missions cannot assist with payments for tickets or fines.
A Finnish citizen may prove his identity abroad with a passport or in the European Union and Schengen area with a Finnish identity card, which has been issued after March 1st 1999. Holders of Finnish identity card can travel within the EU and Schengen area without a passport. Finnish citizens residing abroad can apply for an identity card at any police station in Finland. From beginning of 2017 Finnish missions which also serve as application points for passports may issue identity cards to Finnish citizens. Identity cards are valid travel documents in 28 European countries.
The missions may issue standard identity cards only. Temporary identity cards, identity cards for minors or foreigners may not be applied for from the missions.
More information: Finnish police
When traveling to the United States it is recommended to have a comprehensive passenger- and luggage insurance as well as liability insurance and legal expenses insurance as e.g. the expenses of health care and repatriation are very high in the United States.
In the US
The foreign missions have no legal obligation to act for lost property. Items that were lost on airplanes, trains or busses shall be inquired for directly from one´s lost and found offices. Valid official Finnish documents such passports, ID-cards and driving licenses are sent back to the authorities that have granted the documents. In general other lost goods are not delivered.
For information regarding the requirements and necessary documents for getting married in the US, please contact the appropriate authority: information concerning civil ceremony can be obtained from the local City Hall, Marriage Bureau and information concerning a religious ceremony can be obtained from the religious community in question.
Information regarding Finnish Lutheran church pastors abroad to solemnize marriages is available at www.evl.fi. Common information regarding solemnizing marriage abroad or in Finland is available at www.maistraatti.fi. Marriage ceremonies are not performed at the Finnish missions abroad.
The certificate of “non-impediment to marriage” is issued by the Local Register Office in the last place of residence in Finland.
Registration of a marriage to Finland: Marriages that were solemnized abroad are considered valid in Finland if the marriage is applicable in the country it was performed in, however only after it has been registered to the Finnish Population Register. The registration may be done directly to the Local Registration office in Finland or via a Finnish mission abroad. There is no registration fee in Finland. Registration takes 2-3 weeks. The following documents are required:
According to Finnish law, all Finnish men are liable for military service. According to the conscription act §1 this duty takes effect when a man turns 18 years and is in effect until the age of 60. Military service is carried out at the age of 18-29. Women may also complete a voluntary military service.
The call-ups will be held yearly between August and November for Finnish males who turn 18 years in that particular year. It is required for a conscript to keep his population register data up-to-date regarding citizenships and addresses, as every conscript will be sent a guide book and a letter concerning the place and time for the call-up. Failure to report at the call-up, without a legitimate reason is a criminal offence punishable according to the Finnish Conscript Act. Permission for absence or deferment may be granted only at a Regional Office of the Finnish Defence Forces. The call-up duty can be processed either directly to a Regional Office in Finland or via a Finnish foreign mission.
Multinationals can be exempted from military service. According to a bilateral agreement (25/1939) between Finland and the US, a dual citizen is not liable for military service in Finland as long as he permanently resides in the US. An exempted multinational conscript can be ordered into service if he moves to Finland before the end of the year in which he turns 30 (Conscription Act 75§). One should, however, verify that the dual citizenship and address information is properly registered in Finnish Population System. More information from the Local Registration Office.
More information: The Finnish Defence Forces
A Finnish mission can assist a next of kin of a Finnish citizen who is living temporary in the United States if suspected to be missing or a victim of a crime – e.g. if the person has not returned from his journey abroad or a frequent communication has suddenly terminated. It is also possible to submit a disappearance announcement to Finnish police.
Next of kin of a person living permanently abroad, shall contact the local authorities to locate the missing person and to determine his conditions.
Address or other document inquiries of a person living in the US can be sent to the Unit for Consular Assistance of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland: firstname.lastname@example.org or address: Ulkoasiainministeriö, PL 176, 00023 Valtioneuvosto. Fees apply. Inquiry shall consist of the following information:
Addresses of permanent residents of Finland can be inquired for from the following address service: www.osoitepalvelu.net. There is also information on the address of Finns living abroad, if they have updated their information to the Finnish Local Register Office. More information from the Helsinki Register Office: www.maistraatti.fi/en. Fees apply.
The quickest and easiest way to transfer money to the US is to request a relative or a friend to transfer assets abroad via Money Transfer Companies both operating in several cities and various locations. In principle money transfer companies require an identity document when withdrawing assets. It is recommended to inform a code or tracking number of the money transfer to the receiver.
If a distressed Finnish citizen or a foreigner permanently living in Finland is not able to receive assets via money transfer companies, the Finnish foreign missions may assist with money transfers via the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. A money transfer is done directly from person´s own account or against the deposit of the relatives (the fee is 40 Euros). The assistance for a money transfer may only be done the office hours of the mission and Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Law on Population Information Centre´s certificate services (661/2009) obligates Finnish citizens to notify the Population Information System immediately of any changes to their personal data (including address change). The address change shall be done to the Local Registration Office within one week of the move each time when changing residence permanently or temporarily (incl. abroad) for more than three months. Notification of an address change is to be submitted to the Local Register office or to a Finnish foreign mission by filling out the following form: “Change of address notification form for a person living abroad when registered in the Finnish Population Information System”. Address change may be informed to local register office by email: email@example.com
If a foreigner aims to stay in Finland permanently or for more than 90 days, a residence permit is required (more information from the Finnish Immigration Service: www.migri.fi). There is a guide to social security rights when migrating to Finland by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (KELA) “Moving to Finland”. Also a website www.suomi.fi offers information on public services in everyday life. Information concerning importing removal goods to Finland may be obtained from the website of the Finnish Customs.
With issues concerning immigration to the US, please contact the US authorities. Prior to the journey or moving to the US, it is recommended to check up-dated regulations either from local authority ''US. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ” www.uscis.gov or the US Embassy in Helsinki. General information in Finnish also:”Yhdysvallat: matkustusohjeita”.
Finnish foreign missions and Honorary Consuls may provide certain public notary actions as following:
In addition the Embassies and Consulates General may receive and confirm documents incl. a paternity acknowledgement. Notarial services carry a service fee. Appointment is required and a notarial act is not generally done while waiting.
Apostille authentication for Finnish and US public documents is sufficient and no other measure of legalization is required (see: Apostille). In Finland the Apostille certificate is issued by the Notary Public at the Local Register Office.
US J-1 Visa holders: no-objection statement can be obtained from the Embassy of Finland in Washington D.C. as a notarial certificate (fee applies). On the statement it can be stated, that Finland does not object releasing a visa applicant of a two-year foreign residence requirement of Section 212 (e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The following documents are required for a statement: a notarized copy of the person's passport ID page, a notarized copy of the person's US visa (J1), address of the applicant, a letter explaining why she/he is requesting a waiver for the 2-year requirement to return home (=statement of reason), case file number acquired from the State Department, and a service fee. The Embassy sends the statement to the Waiver Review Division of the Visa Services of the US State Department which sends the references directly to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the decision making. USCIS informs the applicant in writing. More information: US Department of State
In Finland, pension provision consists of the employment-based earnings-related pension and the residence-based national pension. The employment-based pension is achieved during the time of active participation in working life. The residence- based pension provides minimum security for those, who do not receive employment-based pension or whose pension is very low.
Further information on earnings-related pension can be obtained from the Central Pension Security Institute www.etk.fi or www.tyoelake.fi. Further information on the national pension can be obtained from the Social Insurance Institution (KELA): www.kela.fi.
Information on importing pets to Finland can be found on the webpage of Evira (Finnish Food Safety Authority). There is information concerning the requirements for the EU-pet passport as well as what is needed for the identification mark, rabies vaccination, echinococcosis medication and what are the accepted border crossing points.
The export regulations are always within the jurisdiction of the destination country, more information concerning the US regulations can be obtained from the local authority ‘’U.S. Department of Agriculture’’ or the Embassy of the USA in Finland. Finland is not subject to any specific requirements regarding to export of animals.
Population Information Act (661/2009) obligates Finnish citizens to notify the Population Information System immediately of any changes to their personal data (including address change) during their residence abroad. Several rights and obligations concerning passport, military service, citizenship, pension, estate, tax and voting are determine according to the Population Information.
All documents concerning the Population Information (e.g. marriage/birth/death abroad) are required to present with Apostille authentication. There is no fee. Population information may be submitted either to the Local Register Office of the latest residence in Finland or to the Finnish foreign mission abroad. Registration forms are available at the missions or website: http://www.maistraatti.fi/fi/lomakkeet/.
Instruction to register marriage, birth, citizenship, death and address change in Finland:
The legislation concerning the population information data, gives the following rights through the local register office:
- The right of access: Own personal data can be checked free of charge once a year: Check Your Registered Data.
- The right of rectification: Own personal data can be requested to be corrected or completed based on legalized documents.
- The right to prohibit processing: Own personal data can be prohibited to be submitted for marketing or address inquiry purposes.
The Public Service Info is an information point of the Finnish public services. The aim of the service is to direct citizens to the right service to find a correct an authority, support for e-services and answer general questions about public services in Finland. Contact information: www.kansalaisneuvonta.fi.
A Finnish mission, the insurance company and a travel agency may assist in the case of an illness or accident with hospital care and receiving other immediate help required by the incident e.g. providing contact information of doctors or hospitals. In case of an emergency, call the US emergency number 911. Assistance may also be requested from the reception of the hotel. Finnish foreign mission may assist contacting the next of kin residing in Finland.
In the case of a sickness or accident, it is recommended to contact with the insurance company to receive instructions contacting a doctor and arranging a possible repatriation. In case a local physician does not accept a financial obligation of medical expenses of a foreign insurance company, the fees shall be paid first by the patent himself.
In Finland the social security is residence-based. To be eligible for social security benefits, it is usually required, that the applicant lives in Finland. According to Finnish legislation the social security benefits are not citizenship related. More information can be obtained from the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (KELA).
“In To Finland” is the common service point of the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) and Finnish Tax Administration for foreigners (employees/students) moving to and from Finland: www.intofinland.fi
Information concerning the Finnish tax system can be obtained from the Finnish Tax Administration.
The Finnish Foreign Missions do not generally do translations or act as an interpreter. The Embassy nor the Consulates General are responsible for external services.
People travelling to the United States are recommended to take travel and baggage insurance as well as liability and legal expenses insurance. Travel insurance enables more extensive health care and depending on the terms and conditions of the insurance, it also provides repatriation. In the absence of travel insurance, hospital care in the United States can become very expensive. Finnish missions are not liable for treatment or repatriation costs.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is responsible for organizing an absentee voting abroad. Every elector has the right to vote abroad in the absentee voting at the predetermined polling stations. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice will publish a list of the absentee polling stations as well as their business hours once the elections are nearing. The Ministry of Justice has the general responsibility for organizing elections as it is the highest electoral authority in Finland. More information can be obtained from: www.vaalit.fi