The new Nationality Act enables dual nationality

The new Nationality Act came into force on 1 June 2003. According to the Act, a Finn who acquires a foreign nationality will not lose his/her nationality, nor will a foreigner who acquires Finnish nationality be obliged to renounce his/her current nationality.

At a press conference on Wednesday the new Act was applauded as a welcome reform. The former Nationality Act from 1968 was badly outdated. Pekka Hyvönen, head of consular services, said that the biggest challenge for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs was to reach former Finnish citizens who, due to the new Act, are now entitled to get their Finnish nationality back.

Declarations made abroad are submitted to a Finnish diplomatic mission, consulate or honorary consulate. At present it seems that the rush to consulates is yet to come. The Finnish consulate in Stockholm, where the greatest piles of declarations are expected, had received three declarations by Wednesday. However, there have been a considerate number of inquiries concerning the new Act.

The Finnish consulate and the Finnish media in Sweden participated in the press conference through a video connection in Stockholm. The audience criticised the citizenship fee as too high. "For retirees this is too expensive. It feels that the state of Finland doesn't want us back anymore", a commentator remarked in Stockholm.

Ambassador Pertti Torstila from Stockholm agreed that criticism against the high cost of the procedure was a widely-spread notion among the former Finns living in Sweden. The Finnish fee is 300 euros, which is six times more than what Sweden charges. Pekka Hyvönen agreed and said he felt the Act would not serve its purpose if Finns living abroad could not afford the fee. It is interesting to see what is the response to the cricism, he said.

Director Tiina Suominen from the Directorate of Immigration said that the hands of civil servants are bound, as the fee is based on legislation. Actual costs of processing declarations are even higher, 540 euros.

Each country has its own laws on acquiring, renouncing or losing citizenship. More information on individual countries can be found on the websites of various Finnish embassies. Finnish Diplomatic Missions

Forms and more information(Linkki toiselle web-sivustolle.)