Concepts and definitions

Asylum seeker

A person who seeks protection and right of residence in a foreign state. An asylum seeker is granted refugee status if he or she is granted asylum. (Source: Finnish Immigration Service.) The Finnish Immigration Service compiles statistics on asylum seekers.

Background country

See Origin and background country.

Citizenship/Nationality

Citizenship refers to a person's legal nationality in a certain country. Citizenship is usually determined at birth, but it may be changed upon moving to live in another country. A person may also be a citizen of more than one country (see Nationality Act, 359/2003 and Nationality Decree, 699/1985). Persons with both Finnish and foreign citizenship will be entered in the statistics as Finnish nationals. If a foreign national living in Finland has several nationalities, that person will be entered in the register and statistics as a national of the country on whose passport he or she arrived in the country.

Nationality is determined by the country of issue of passport. A person may have several nationalities or no nationality at all. Possession of an alien's passport is also accepted as a nationality.

Country of birth

All persons entered in the Population Register are indicated a country of birth, which is determined on the basis of the mother's permanent home country at the time of birth. This means, for example, that the country of birth of Estonian immigrants born before Estonian independence is the Soviet Union. Similarly, the country of birth of people who were born in areas that Finland has subsequently ceded is Finland even though the area no longer is Finnish territory. Country of birth is indicated according to the form of government at the time of birth.

(Ethnic) nationality, ethnic origin

Ethnic background. Belonging to a specific nation or a group of people (e.g. Ingrian Finns, Kurds, Roma). Ethnic nationality has a different meaning than citizenship. For instance, a person of Kurdish ethnic origin may hold Finnish citizenship. Cf. citizenship, nationality. (Source: Finnish Immigration Service.) Statistics Finland produces statistics only on citizenship, not ethnic nationality.

Finnish background

All persons who have at least one parent who was born in Finland are considered to be persons with Finnish background. People born in Finland before 1970, whose parents' background is not known, have been concluded to be persons with Finnish background if their native language is a national language (Finnish, Swedish, Sami). The background country for all persons with Finnish background is Finland.

For children adopted from abroad, the adoptive parents are regarded as the biological parents. Thus a child adopted from abroad by persons born in Finland is a person with Finnish background and their background country is Finland.

See a more detailed definition of the origin classification: Origin and background country.

Finnish origin

See Finnish background.

Foreign background

Persons whose both parents or the only known parent have been born abroad are considered to be persons with foreign background. Persons who have been born abroad and whose parents' data are not included in the Population Information System are also considered to be persons with foreign background. Persons born in Finland before 1970, whose native language is a foreign language have been considered to be persons with foreign background, as have persons born in Finland in 1970 or after this, whose parents' data are not included in the Population Information System. Persons, whose mother tongue is not Finnish, Swedish or Sami are regarded as foreign-language speakers.

See a more detailed definition of the origin classification: Origin and background country.

Foreign national

A person who is not a Finnish citizen. In legal language, also the word ‘alien’ is used. (Source: Finnish Immigration Service.)

Foreign origin

See Foreign background.

Immigration

Persons who have moved to Finland and who intend to reside in Finland for more than twelve months or have resided in Finland over three months without interruption must notify the register office of their move (Population Data Act 507/1993). Foreign nationals who intend to live permanently in Finland must have fulfilled during a year the preconditions of residence (EU national) and have a valid residence permit for longer time than one year (see Act 399/2007). In such cases their place of domicile is determined according to the same principles as for Finnish nationals (Municipality of Residence Act 201/1994). The local register office then enters these data to the Population Information System.

Immigrants in usually resident population are not counted diplomats and those involved in development co-operation, etc. (Act on the Municipality of Domicile 201/1994). In accordance with an agreement between the Nordic countries, a period of temporary residence of less than six months is not construed as a move (On the Entry into Force of the Agreement Relating to the Population Registers in the Nordic countries 851/1990, Agreement Series 49 and Statute on the Municipality of Domicile 351/1994).

When a person migrates from one Nordic country to another, the local population register of the country of exit must provide the migrant with a Nordic Certification of Notice of Departure to be delivered to the local population register of the country of arrival (Decree on the Municipality of Domicile 351/1994, 851/1990, Agreement Series 49). The local population register authority of the country of arrival returns the certification to the register centre of the country of departure. The day on which the migrant is entered into the local population register of the country of arrival is recorded as the date of move.

Integration

Definition 1

Authorities' measures to advance individuals' integration by means of increasing their well-being, health, education and employment. (Source: National Institute for Health and Welfare.)

Definition 2

A two-way process where the objective is that an immigrant feels a full member of society. The integration process aims to help immigrants absorb the knowledge and skills needed in the new home country in order that they would have the chance to take part actively in society and find employment, for example. (Source: National Institute for Health and Welfare.)

Nationality Definition 1 Definition 2 Citizenship refers to a person's legal nationality in a certain country. Citizenship is usually determined at birth, but it may be changed upon moving to live in another country. A person may also be a citizen of more than one country (see Nationality Act, 359/2003 and Nationality Decree, 699/1985). Persons with both Finnish and foreign citizenship will be entered in the statistics as Finnish nationals. If a foreign national living in Finland has several nationalities, that person will be entered in the register and statistics as a national of the country on whose passport he or she arrived in the country.

Language

Information on language is obtained from the Population Information System. At the same time as parents register the name of their new-born, they also indicate the child's mother tongue. That language is retained in the Population Information System unless it is changed upon separate application.

Languages are classified by the Population Register Centre according to the ISO 639 standard. The future language classification ISO-639-1 was already adopted for the 2000 population census.

Net migration

Net migration is the difference between immigration and emigration. Persons who have moved to Finland and intend to reside or have resided one whole year without interruption in Finland shall inform the register office of their place of residence (Population Data Act 507/1993).

For those who intend to live permanently in Finland and have a valid residence permit for at least one year, the place of domicile is generally determined according to the same principles as with Finnish nationals (Act on the Municipality of Domicile 201/1994). The register office then delivers these data to the Population Information System.

Those emigrating to a place of domicile abroad shall supply a notice of change of address just as do those that migrate within the country (Decree on the Municipality of Domicile 351/1994). Those who intend to leave the country for more than one year are primarily considered emigrants, barring diplomats and those working in development co-operation, etc. (Act on the Municipality of Domicile 201/1994). In accordance with an agreement made between the Nordic countries, generally a period of residence of less than six months is not construed as a move.

Origin and background country

During 2012, Statistics Finland has adopted a new origin classification. A similar classification is already used in the other Nordic countries. The origin and background country are determined based on the country of birth data of the person's parents. Using the origin classification it is easy to distinguish between persons born abroad and born in Finland with a foreign background.

Data on persons that died before 1964 have not been entered into the Population Information System of the Population Register Centre. There are nearly 900,000 persons among the Finnish population who have been born in Finland and both parent's country of birth is unknown because the parents of these persons have died before the Population Information System was established. People born in Finland before 1970, whose parents' background is not known, have been concluded to be persons with Finnish background if their native language is a national language (Finnish, Swedish, Sami). All such persons who have at least one parent who was born in Finland are also considered to be persons with Finnish background. The background country for all persons with Finnish background is Finland.

Persons whose both parents or the only known parent have been born abroad are considered to be persons with foreign background. Persons who have been born abroad and whose parents' data are not included in the Population Information System are also considered to be persons with foreign background. Persons born in Finland before 1970, whose native language is a foreign language have been considered to be persons with foreign background, as have persons born in Finland in 1970 or after this, whose parents' data are not included in the Population Information System.

If both parents of a person have been born abroad, the background country is primarily the country of birth of the biological mother. If a person only has knowledge of a father that was born abroad, the background country is the country of birth of the father. If either parent's country of birth is unknown, the background country for persons born abroad is their own country of birth. For persons born in Finland, whose parents' data are unknown and who have been deducted to be with foreign background, the background country is unknown.

For children adopted from abroad, the adoptive parents are regarded as the biological parents. Thus a child adopted from abroad by persons born in Finland is a person with Finnish background and their background country is Finland.

 

Population

The population refers to the permanent resident population of an area (e.g. entire country, province, municipality). Those persons who according to the Population Information System had a legal domicile in Finland on 31 December belong to the permanent resident population in the country regardless of their nationality, as do Finnish nationals residing temporarily abroad.

Foreign nationals are domiciled in Finland if their stay is intended to last or has lasted at least one year. An asylum-seeker is not granted a legal domicile until his/her application has been approved.

The staff of foreign embassies, trade missions and consulates, their family members and personal employees included, are not counted among the resident population unless they are Finnish citizens. On the other hand, the Finnish staff of Finland´s embassies and trade missions abroad and persons serving in the UN peacekeeping forces are counted among the resident population.

Quota refugee

A person considered a refugee by the UN refugee agency UNHCR who has been granted a residence permit under the refugee quota verified in the Budget. (Source: Finnish Immigration Service.) The Finnish Immigration Service compiles statistics on quota refugees.

Refugee

A foreign national who has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of ethnic origin, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Refugee status is granted to a person who has been granted asylum by a state or who is considered a refugee by UNHCR. See also quota refugee, asylum seeker. (Source: Finnish Immigration Service.)

Returnee

In residence permit matters, a returnee refers to a person moving to Finland who is of Finnish extraction or a person who otherwise has close ties to Finland. (Source: Finnish Immigration Service.) With this definition, statistics on returning migrants are produced by the Finnish Immigration Service. Statistics Finland's statistics do not have a separate definition for returning migrants.