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When a child is born in Finland

When a child is born to a family in Finland, the child is registered in the Population Information System at the hospital. The parents must report the child’s name and native language to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency. The child’s citizenship is dependent on the citizenship of the parents.

A child’s birth is registered at the hospital

The birth of a child is recorded in the Finnish Population Information System at the hospital when the child is born. At the same time, the child is given a personal identity code. This is done if:

If the mother has not been registered in Finland, the hospital cannot register the birth of the child. In this case, request instructions from the Digital and Population Data Services Agency.

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

linkkiDigital and Population Data Services Agency:
Digital and Population Data Services Agency contact informationFinnish | Swedish | English

Notification of a child's information

The child’s information is to be provided on a form. The Digital and Population Data Services Agency will send the form to the mother’s home shortly after the child is born. The form contains the child’s personal identity code.

Use the form to indicate

  • the child’s names and
  • native language.

Please fill in the form carefully and sign it. If the child’s parents are married or parenthood has been confirmed, both guardians must sign the form.

Return the form to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency within three months of the child’s birth. If the child is admitted to a religion, please return the form to that religious group. You can send the form by post or as an email attachment or take it to the nearest Digital and Population Data Services Agency.

The information on the form will be saved in the Population Information System and you will receive a Kela card for the child by post.

linkkiDigital and Population Data Services Agency:
Notification of a child’s informationFinnish | Swedish | English

Child’s name

Finland has a law on names. According to the law, everyone must have a last name and 1–4 first names. The first names must be compliant with Finnish law. For example, siblings may not be given the same first name.

A child receives the last name from his/her parents.

  • When the parents have a common last name or a double last name, that also becomes the child’s last name.
  • If the child has only one parent, the child will be given that parent’s last name.
  • If the parents have previous children together, the underage siblings must have the same last name.
  • 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.

If the parents have different last names, the child’s last name will depend on the situation.

  • If the parents are married, they can choose either last name or a double last name for their child.
  • If the parents are not married, the child can have the last name of either parent if paternity or the maternity of the non-birth mother is confirmed. In the absence of confirmation of parenthood, the child will receive the mother’s last name.
  • The first child of the parents may be given a combination of the parents’ last names or the second name of one parent’s double last name.

Child’s native language

When a child is born, a native language must be registered for him/her. You can only choose one language as your child’s native language. You can change the language later if you wish.

Think about what language you want to register for your child. It may affect what language your child can study at school.

If your child’s native language is something other than Finnish or Swedish, they will study Finnish or Swedish as a foreign language in S2 classes. Your child can also study the language that is marked as his/her native language. Studying the native language is voluntary.

linkkiFinnish National Agency for Education:
Own Language - Own Mind(pdf, 789.88 KB)Finnish

Child’s religion

The child’s religion is a matter to be decided within 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?

A child is granted Finnish citizenship at birth in the following cases:

  • The child’s mother is a Finnish citizen.
  • The child’s father is a Finnish citizen and married to the child’s mother.
  • The child is born in Finland, the father is a Finnish citizen and paternity is confirmed.
  • The child is born in Finland as a result of fertility treatment for a female couple, the non-birth mother is a Finnish citizen, and maternity 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.
  • The child’s father has died before childbirth, the child is born in Finland out of wedlock, and the father’s paternity is confirmed.

The child may 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 InfoFinland page Finnish citizenship.

linkkiFinnish Immigration Service:
Child’s citizenshipFinnish | 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 Digital and Population Data Services Agency for this purpose.

The Digital and Population Data Services Agency needs information on the citizenship of the child for the Population Information System. The Digital and Population Data Agency will, if necessary, determine the child’s citizenship from the Finnish Immigration Service no later than three months after the child’s birth. You can also report the child’s citizenship to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency yourself once you have received the child’s passport.

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, the national health insurance card. Kela will send the card to the child’s home once the child’s data has been stored in the Population Information System.

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

Acknowledgement 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 acknowledgement of paternity is confirmed by the Digital and Population Data Services Agency.

Read on more on the InfoFinland page Common-law relationship.

Acknowledgement of maternity

The Maternity Act is in force in Finland. According to the Act, a child may have two mothers. The woman who gave birth to the child is always the mother of the child. A second mother may be recognised for the child if:

  • the child is born as a result of fertility treatment to the mother and her female partner or spouse,
  • both parents consented to the fertility treatment, and
  • a father cannot be confirmed for the child.

Maternity must also be acknowledged and confirmed when the parents are married.

Maternity can be acknowledged during pregnancy at the maternity clinic or after birth by visiting the municipal child welfare officer. The Digital and Population Data Services Agency is responsible for confirmation of maternity.

Read on more on the InfoFinland page Common-law relationship.

linkkiMinistry of Social Affairs and Health:
Acknowledgement and confirmation of paternity and maternityFinnish | 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.

The guardian is the birth mother if the parents are not married and paternity or maternity has not been acknowledged. In this case, the mother makes the decisions regarding the child alone, even if the parents live together.

The father or other mother receives custody of the child in connection with the confirmation of parenthood if the paternity or maternity is acknowledged at the maternity clinic before the child is born. If paternity or maternity is not acknowledged until after the child is born at the child welfare supervisor’s office, the parents must sign a joint custody agreement so that both parents become guardians of the child. The custody agreement is signed at the child welfare supervisor’s office of your municipality.