Brexit may have some effects on benefits provided by Kela
The social security coverage for UK citizens will not change significantly for those who have lived and worked in Finland for many years even with a no-deal Brexit. However, in order to ensure the receipt of benefits from Kela it is important to follow the instructions of the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri). Kela is following the preparations for Brexit and will provide more information about the effects when more information is available.
When the UK leaves the EU it may affect Kela benefits in some situations where there are no special arrangements agreed between the UK and the EU or no Finnish legislation. In such cases, the procedure is the same as if there were no agreement. The situation will become clearer when the negotiations proceed, and Kela will tell more as soon as there is more information available.
If there is a Brexit without any special arrangements, people who move between the UK and the EU countries will no longer be covered by the EU legislation on the free movement of persons and on the coordination of social security systems. The payment of benefits to persons who move between the UK and Finland will thus no longer be based on EU rules, which means that the obligation to pay benefits from one country to another will no longer apply. However, the payment of some benefits may continue on the basis of national legislation.
When the EU legislation on social security is no longer applied, the use of for instance the European Health Insurance Card, the A1 certificate and other EU certificates between the UK and the EU countries will also end, unless some other arrangement is agreed on.
Social security coverage is not dependent on citizenship
The entitlement to benefits provided by Kela is not based on citizenship; instead it is based on residence and employment in Finland. However, one precondition for the granting of benefits from Kela is usually that the applicant resides legally in Finland, and thus it is important to follow the instructions of the immigration authorities. The Finnish Immigration Service recommends that UK citizens who live in Finland register their right of residence in Finland.
In addition to legal residence in Finland, another precondition for the granting of benefits from Kela is usually also that the applicant either works in Finland to such an extent that it meets the minimum requirements or is resident in Finland on a permanent basis. Thus the starting point is that UK citizens who are permanently resident in Finland or are employed here to a sufficient extent are still covered by the Finnish social security system and there will be no changes to their entitlement to benefits. In the case of a no-deal Brexit, the entitlement to for instance public healthcare services or child home care allowance will be based on whether the person has a municipality of residence in Finland or not. More information on the right to a municipality of residence is provided by the local register office. The situation for certain individual benefits is to some extent unresolved, however. Kela will provide more details at a later date.
Kela will inform its customers about the changes
If a person who has moved from Finland to the UK has received a decision from Kela on coverage under the Finnish social security system, this coverage according to the decision will, as a rule, continue as before. Also in these cases Brexit may affect the payment of certain individual benefits, however.
If payment of a benefit changes or ends, or if there are changes to the responsibility for the payment of medical care costs or the grounds for this responsibility, Kela will send the customer a decision about this. Kela will also contact the customer if more details are needed for the amendment of a decision.
Kela’s customer service
Kela’s customer service number for international matters is open from 9 am to 4 pm (Finnish time) at 020 634 0200 (in Finnish) and 020 634 0300 (in Swedish). Both customer service numbers also provide service in English.
The part of the discussion forum Kysy Kelasta that concerns international matters is scheduled to be launched on 18 February 2019. The discussion forum as such is not available in English, only in Finnish and Swedish, but answers in English are provided on both the Finnish-language and the Swedish-language discussion forum.