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Compared to the number of citizens, the number of associations in Finland is high. According to the law, everyone has the right to participate in association activities. The freedom of association also applies to foreign citizens.

An association can be, for example, a sports club, cultural association, friendship association or a religious association.

Registered associations are non-profit organisations. An association must not be established to conduct business.

In Finland, there are also many associations founded by immigrants. An immigrant association or a friendship association in contact with your home country may help you to maintain and develop your native culture in the new society and collaborate with authorities and other organisations. You can search for different associations at the Finnish Patent and Registration Office’s AssociationNet service.

linkkiFinnish Patent and Registration Office:
AssociationNetFinnish | Swedish | English

National associations for immigrants

Network of Multicultural AssociationsFinnish | English

International English Speakers' Association of FinlandEnglish

linkkiMonika – Multicultural Women’s Association:
Aid and support to immigrant women(pdf, 212kt)Finnish | English | Russian | French | Somali | Arabic | Kurdish | Thai

Finland Russian-language OrganizationFinnish | Russian

Finnish Association of Russian-speaking OrganizationsFinnish | Russian

linkkiFinnish Somali League:
Umbrella organisation for Somali civil society organisations in FinlandFinnish | English | Somali

Africans and African-Europeans AssociationFinnish | English

linkkiLiikkukaa! org:
Sports organisationEnglish

linkkiUnion of Friendship Associations in Finland:
Friendship associationsFinnish

Founding an Association

In practice, the process of founding an association involves three phases:

  1. Making a decision on the founding of an association
  2. Drafting the rules of the association
  3. Registering the association

Registering an Association

It is worthwhile to register an association. This makes the association a legal person whose members are not personally liable for its operations. A registered association may apply for funding and financial assistance and cooperate with other associations and authorities. An association can be registered by submitting a notice to the Finnish Patent and Registration Office.

linkkiNational Board of Patents and Registration of Finland:
Register of AssociationsFinnish | Swedish | English

Founding an Association When the Founders Are Foreigners

Foreigners – i.e. persons without Finnish citizenship – can also establish registered associations. In this case, the chairman and deputy chairman must both reside in Finland.

If the place of residence of the chairman or deputy chairman is in another country, the association can apply for an exemption from the Finnish Patent and Registration Office.

Activities of an Association

Associations usually operate in one year periods. They plan their activities and finances one year at a time. The finances and bookkeeping must be audited at the end of each period.

The members of an association hold all the power. The most important decisions are made in association meetings that are open to all members.

Board of Directors of an Association

The Board of Directors for an association is elected in a meeting to which all members of the association are invited. The Board must include at least a chairperson and two members. The rules of the association can define the size of the Board. It is the duty of the Board to handle matters in compliance with the law and the rules and decisions of the association.

Dissolution of an Association

An association is dissolved when the majority of its members make a decision to that effect in a meeting of the association.

After the dissolution decision and the allocation of the funds, a notice of dissolution must be submitted to the Register of Associations.

linkkiFinnish Refugee Council:
Organization IncubatorFinnish | English