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Legislation and rights

Basic rights

All those residing in Finland have statutory rights and obligations. The following rights and obligations also apply to foreigners living in Finland.


  • Everyone has the right to equal treatment. No one must be treated differently based on gender, age, religion or handicap, for example.
  • Everyone has the right to freely express their opinions verbally or in writing.
  • People are allowed to hold meetings and demonstrations and participate in them. The police must be notified of all demonstrations in advance.
  • No one can be sentenced to death or tortured.
  • All people can choose their place of residence and freely travel within the country.
  • Everyone has a right to the protection of their privacy. No one is allowed to read another person’s letters or listen to someone else’s phone calls.
  • Everyone is free to choose their own religion. Should you not want to, you do not need to choose any religion.
  • Those foreigners permanently residing in Finland who are over 18 have a right to vote in municipal elections.
  • Foreigners who have the right to vote in municipal elections are also entitled to stand in the municipal elections.
  • EU citizens with a municipality of residence in Finland can vote in the European Parliament elections in Finland if they have been registered in the voting register.
  • Citizens of an EU country included in the Finnish voting register can also stand in the Finnish European Parliament elections.

Read more about foreigners’ voting rights in Finland on the InfoFinland web page Elections and voting in Finland.


  • All persons living or residing in Finland must adhere to Finnish legislation.
  • People between the ages of approximately 7 and 18 have compulsory education.
  • Often, those working in Finland must pay taxes to Finland from their salary.
  • Everyone is obligated to testify in court should they be summoned to do so.
  • Parents have the responsibility to take care of their children.
  • Everyone is obliged to lend their aid in the event of an accident.

Read more on taxation in Finland on the InfoFinland page Taxation.

The rights and obligations of Finnish citizens

In addition to these, Finnish citizens have a number of rights and obligations that do not apply to foreigners living in Finland. Read more on the rights and obligations of Finnish citizens on the InfoFinland page Finnish citizenship.

Laws in Finland

Finnish society and its workings are governed by laws. The most important of these is the Constitution (perustuslaki). All persons living in Finland must adhere to Finnish legislation. Authorities must also observe the legislation. The laws are enacted by Parliament. Anyone can lodge a complaint with the Chancellor of Justice (oikeuskansleri) or the Parliamentary Ombudsman (eduskunnan oikeusasiamies) if they suspect that an authority has broken the law. Finland and persons residing in Finland must also abide by the laws of the European Union.
Finnish legislationFinnish | Swedish | English

Some laws


The Constitution is the most important piece of legislation in Finland. No other law must be in conflict with it. The Constitution governs the basic rights of Finnish residents and the operations of the Finnish state, for example.
Information on the constitute of FinlandFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian

Non-Discrimination Act

According to the Non-Discrimination Act (yhdenvertaisuuslaki), no one can be discriminated based on ethnic or national origin, nationality, language, religion, beliefs, opinion, medical condition, disability, sexual orientation or other reason connected to a person. More information on non-discrimination is available on the InfoFinland page Equality and non-discrimination.

Equality Act

The Equality Act (tasa-arvolaki) prohibits discrimination based on gender. According to the Equality Act, authorities, employers and educational institutes must promote equality between men and women. More information on equality is available on the InfoFinland page Equality and non-discrimination.

linkkiThe Ombudsman for Equality:
Information on equalityFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian | Estonian | Somali | Sami

Child Welfare Act

The Child Welfare Act (lastensuojelulaki) stipulates that children living in Finland are entitled to care and a safe growing environment. More information on children’s rights in Finland is available on the InfoFinland page Children.
Information on Child Welfare ActFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian | Estonian | French | Somali | Persian | Arabic | Kurdish

Consumer’s rights

Anyone who buys goods or services is a consumer. The Consumer Protection Act (kuluttajansuojalaki) protects the rights of consumers in Finland. You are entitled to compensation, for example, when an item you have purchased has faults that you have not caused yourself. You can receive a flawless item as a replacement or your money back, for example.

If an item you have bought has shortcomings, contact the seller first. If you cannot reach an agreement with the seller, contact the consumer advisory services.

linkkiFinnish Competition and Consumer Authority:
Consumer consultingFinnish | Swedish | English
Information on the rights of the consumerFinnish | Swedish | English