Are you planning to get married in Finland? Lucky you. Not because you get married -nobody can be sure if that is a good idea in your case- but because here you will find everything you need to know to be able to say 'Yes, I will marry you' to the person you love.
Marriage according to the law
The first thing you need to know is that, according to the Finnish law, everyone may get married in Finland if they are at least 18 years old. Marriages between two persons of the same sex are also allowed since March 2017.
Marriage is not allowed if the person is already married or has a registered partnership. Laws do not allow polygamy. Marriage is not allowed between close relatives either.
Marriage in Finland is always a voluntary decision and nobody should be forced into it. Unlike what happens in other cultures, parents are not allowed to pressure or force their child into marriage. In fact, forcing someone to marry is a crime in Finland.
Marriage requirements and impediments
Couples need to follow a few steps in order to be able to get married. First, an examination of impediments to marriage (avioliiton esteiden tutkinta, in Finnish) is carried out for all couples. This ensures that there are no legal or other obstacles referred to in the Finnish Marriage Act.
You should submit your application for an examination of impediments in good time before the day on which you plan to marry. The authority which issues these certificates is the Digital and Population Data Services Agency (Digi- ja väestötietovirasto, in Finnish).
If the Population Information System does not contain information on you or your spouse’s marital status, you must obtain and submit a marital status certificate issued by the relevant authority of your home country.
The marital status certificate must be original and less than four months old, unless another period of validity is stated in the certificate. According to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency, a marital status certificate must not be legalised if it has been issued by an embassy or a consulate of your country of citizenship or an EU Member State.
The certificate can be accepted in Finnish, Swedish and English languages. If necessary, it must be translated into one of these languages. A translation made by an authorised translator in Finland does not have to be legalised, but a translation made abroad must be legalised, unless it has been made by a translator who is qualified for the task under legislation of an EU Member State.
The examination of impediments to marriage takes at least seven days. But authorities warn that if one of the members of the couple is a foreigner, they should allow several weeks for the process. The certificate is valid for four months after the date of issue. You can request an examination of impediments from the Digital and Population Data Services Agency, before known as Maistraatti or the local register offices.
The ceremony and the witnesses
If you wish to have a civil marriage ceremony, you can ask the Digital and Population Data Services Agency to carry out the ceremony.
Officiating a marriage ceremony at a Local Register Office or in a place registered for marriages during office hours is free of charge. The marriage ceremony can take place in the office premises during office hours (weekdays 9:00-16:15) or the officiator of the civil marriage ceremony can come to the marriage celebration venue outside office hours.
The engaged parties have to prove their identity to the officiator before the marriage ceremony (a passport of an ID card of an EU citizen).
At least two witnesses who are 15 years-old or older must be present at the ceremony. The marriage partners must bring the witnesses to the ceremony. However, if they wish that staff members of the office act as witnesses, they contact the office and agree on this beforehand.
Religious ceremonies are determined by every religious community to what stipulations are related to and what kind of an event the wedding ceremony is. People who wish to have a religious marriage ceremony must make the arrangements with the religious community in question.
Choosing the family name
Spouses can change their last name when they get married.
They can adopt the last name of their spouse or combine both last names into a double last name. Last names can also be written separately without a hyphen. Spouses can also apply for a completely new name as their common last name. The new last name must be applied for at the Local Register Office. In this case, the application is subject to a fee.
If your spouse lives permanently in Finland, you could be eligible to receive a residence permit in Finland based on marriage. However, it is really important to understand that marriage does not guarantee a residence permit.
If you live in a common-law relationship (avoliitto) with a Finnish citizen who lives in Finland, you may be eligible to receive a residence permit in Finland based on family ties, if:
- You and your common-law spouse have lived together for at least two years.
- You and your common-law spouse have a child together (in which case you don not need to have lived together for the last two years).
- There is another important reason why you should be granted the permit.
You and your common-law spouse must be able to prove you have lived together for two years, if this is the basis of your permit application.
In the case of a spouse of a foreign resident, in addition to what was said above, to receive a residence permit in Finland, you or your spouse must also have sufficient income to guarantee your livelihood.
Prenuptial agreement, just in case?
The spouses may agree that in case their marriage or registered partnership dissolves, their property is not split in half as laid down in the Marriage Act.
A prenuptial agreement allows to agree that neither of you have marital rights to the property of the other spouse. A prenuptial agreement is not valid until it is registered in the Digital and Population Data Services Agency.