Finland and Estonia sign agreement on the electronic exchange of population data – the reform will particularly facilitate the updating of data for persons moving from one country to the other
On 21 September 2022, Minister of Local Government Affairs Sirpa Paatero and Estonian Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets signed in Helsinki a treaty on the exchange of population data between the two countries. In Finland, the Digital and Population Data Services Agency will be responsible for the practical implementation of the treaty.
When the new treaty comes into force, the information on Finnish citizens living in Estonia and Estonian citizens living in Finland will be updated in the population registers of both countries through a single notification. A similar updating process will apply for people moving from one country to the other.
Population data have been exchanged between Finland and Estonia since 2005. The new treaty will make the exchange of information more regular and comprehensive. There are around 52,000 Estonians living in Finland and over 5,000 Finns living in Estonia.
Procedure for moving from one country to another now similar to the one used between Nordic countries
Through the new treaty, the procedure established between Estonia and Finland for moving from one country to the other will be similar to the one that has been in use between the Nordic countries for over 50 years – and as a digital procedure since 2007. For example, when a person moves from Finland to Estonia, they only need to report the change in Estonia, as the information will be automatically updated in the Finnish Population Information System.
“This way we can ensure that a person moving from Finland to Estonia is domiciled in only one country and not in both at the same time,” explains Timo Salovaara, Director General of the Digital and Population Data Services Agency. “For example, Estonians returning from Finland do not always remember to notify the Finnish authorities of their departure, resulting in distorted population statistics in Finland. From now on, the move will be automatically reported to us from the Estonian population register,” Salovaara continues.
Exchange of information to expand in the future
As the treaty contains provisions that fall with the scope of national legislation, Parliament must approve the treaty before it can enter into force. The first step in the regular exchange of information is to provide information on the death of non-resident citizens. The exchange of information will gradually extend to address changes, name changes and data on marriages and births.
When the practical implementation process is complete, Finnish citizens living in Estonia, for example, will no longer need to notify the Digital and Population Data Services Agency of any changes to their personal data, as the data will be obtained in digital form directly from the Estonian Population Register.
Suomi.fi Data Exchange Layer to be used for information exchange
The electronic exchange of information will use the Suomi.fi Data Exchange Layer and Estonia’s corresponding X-tee system. Both solutions are based on a technology originally developed in Estonia and currently developed and maintained jointly by the two countries.
“The Suomi.fi Data Exchange Layer offers a standardised, reliable and secure way of transferring personal data between different organisations – and in this case also between two countries,” Salovaara concludes.
Additional information: Timo Salovaara, Director General, Digital and Population Data Services Agency, [email protected]