Finland is showing another symptom of its fear of foreigners.
A few months ago, the Government announced a new law to prohibit the access of citizens with dual nationality to officer posts in the Armed Forces. Now, authorities say they will require people from outside the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) a special permit if they want to buy real estate in the country.
Winter war syndrome? The fact that it is the Ministry of Defence (and not that of Finance or Economic Affairs), the department promoting the decision, confirms that this is not handled as an economic issue, but as a matter of national security.
The Ministry of Defence said on Monday that "a comprehensive package of legislation will enter into force at the beginning of 2020, they key element of which is that buyers outside the EU and EEA need a permission to buy real estate in Finland".
Furthermore, the new law allows the state "to intervene if necessary, in the procurement of real estate when this is considered to be a threat to national security".
As formulated in the previous sentence, it might seem that permits would be only necessary when acquiring real estate in security sensitive places, for example in border areas. But no, the Ministry of Defence specifies that non-Europeans will need permits to buy real estate in any case throughout Finland, with the exception of the Åland archipelago, which already has its own land acquisition legislation.
The permission authority
As of 1 January 2020, "the Ministry of Defence will become the permission authority. It will process permission applications and make decisions on permissions in entire Finland with the exception of Åland Islands", says the Government's release.
Buyers from outside the European Union and the EEA will have to apply for a permission before a real estate transaction or within two months after it. In the initial phase, buyers will need a form to submit their applications. Later, an electronic service system will be launched, the Ministry of Defence says.
Applications will also be subject to payment of an upfront processing fee, the amount of which will be confirmed at the end of 2019. The fee will be charged irrespective of the outcome of the application and will not be refunded if the permission is refused.
Obliged to specify the use
Applicants shall indicate in their applications the intended use of the real estate. The Ministry of Defence will be entitled to request further information from the applicant if considers it necessary. Appeals against negative decisions may be made to and administrative court.
People with dual nationality will not need to obtain a permission if one of the nationalities is an EU or EEA country.
The Finnish Ministry of Defence has compiled the key information on this reform witch is available at the moment on its website.
If you want to know more details about it, you can find them HERE
If you want to read the press release published by the Government, you can find it HERE