Social security rights of persons arriving in Finland in the wake of the war in Ukraine

Most of the social security benefits provided by Kela are available only to those who expect to stay in Finland permanently, but eligibility for benefits can also be based on employment. Further, there are situations where there is a right to indispensable subsistence. Everyone in Finland has the right to receive urgent medical care. Reception centres are responsible for the economic security of asylum seekers and their access to health services.

Kela has been asked about the social protection of persons who have come to Finland as a consequence of the war in Ukraine. Individuals from Ukraine can currently stay in Finland for example as asylum seekers or 3 months without a visa if they choose not to apply for asylum. Some have arrived to stay with their family members or friends.

The right to social security requires a residence permit. Persons who are granted asylum or a residence permit in Finland on other grounds are eligible for social security benefits from Kela if they intend to stay in Finland permanently. Eligibility for social security can also be based on employment in Finland if the amount of pay earned is at least EUR 741.75 per month.

Basic social assistance may also be available to those without a residence permit

Basic social assistance can also be provided to those who do not have a residence permit.

Persons who arrive in Finland and apply for asylum come within the scope of the so-called reception services. The reception system guarantees their economic security and their access to other services while their residence permit application is being reviewed. Therefore, asylum seekers usually cannot get basic social assistance.

If someone has not applied for asylum and therefore cannot secure a livelihood with the help of the reception services, they have a right to at least the essential part of basic social assistance should they need financial support. The essential part of basic social assistance covers food and necessary prescription medicines, which are made available on a voucher. However, they must first explore other possibilities for securing a livelihood, such as using their savings or money transfers.

Persons with an urgent need of social assistance should visit a Kela service point or contact Kela by phone.

Everyone in Finland has the right to urgent medical care

As a general rule, the right to use public health services is linked to one's residence in a specific municipality (“home municipality”). Persons with a home municipality can get all public health services by paying a client fee. The registrations are handled by the Digital and Population Data Services Agency.

Access to public health services can also be granted to those who do not have a home municipality but who work in Finland. Kela can provide them with a certificate of entitlement medical care in Finland, which allows them to use public health services under the same terms as the local residents. Persons who are covered under the Finnish National Health Insurance on account of employment in Finland can also get from Kela reimbursements for private medical services, medicines and treatment-related travel costs.

Asylum seekers get access to health services through the reception centre.

Those who do not have a Finnish home municipality, do not work in Finland, and have not applied for asylum are only entitled to urgent medical care from the Finnish public healthcare system. They will be charged for any treatment given to them.

Temporary Protection Directive

The Temporary Protection Directive is currently being discussed by the EU. We will provide updates on its implications for social security at a later time.

Contact Kela's Centre for International Affairs for advice

Kela’s Centre for International Affairs can help anyone arriving in Finland with Kela-related issues. Persons arriving in Finland can also authorise someone to contact Kela on their behalf.

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