When a close family member dies in Finland
Report of death
If a person dies outside the care of a hospital, for example in their own home, immediately notify the police or a doctor. Call the emergency number 112. The police are responsible for establishing the cause of death and for passing on the information to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency. When a person dies in a hospital or nursing institution, the staff will report the death to the population data system. Information about the death is automatically passed on to Kela, pension institutions and banks.
The deceased’s family member must report the death to the employer, building management company, lessor, the Post Office and insurance companies. A report must also be made to the authorities of the country of origin of the deceased if, for example, he has received pension from abroad.
Help and support
When a person close to you dies, you can seek help and support for the grief from health stations (terveysasema), family counselling centres (perheneuvola), the crisis service for foreigners of the Finnish Association for Mental Health (Suomen Mielenterveysseuran ulkomaalaisten kriisipalvelu), and from parishes. Help is available in Finnish, Swedish and, in most places, in English too. If necessary, an interpreter can be requested. After the death of a close relative, it is possible to get a short sick leave from work.
Burial permit and death certificate
A burial permit is needed for a deceased person to be buried. The funeral home will take care of the burial permit. Family members can, however, start to organise the burial before the burial permit has been issued.
The burial permit is one part of the death certificate. The death certificate is needed if the deceased had life insurance and the insurance company asks for the cause of death. In addition, family members will receive more detailed information about the cause of death. Family members may request the death certificate from a doctor who treated the deceased. If the police have established the cause of death, the certificate can be requested from the police.
Foreign citizen who died in Finland
When a foreign citizen dies in Finland, the cause of death is determined according to Finnish law. The authorities or hospital will report the death to the diplomatic mission of the country of origin of the deceased. The diplomatic mission or the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the home country of the deceased will forward the information to the relatives of the deceased.
The cause of death documents are provided in Finnish or Swedish. If the documents are needed in other languages, a family member must pay for the translation work. The diplomatic mission can help a family member to obtain the death certificate or report on the cause of death.
The deceased may be transported away from Finland once the cause of death has been established and a funeral permit has been issued. The deceased can be transported abroad in a coffin, or they can be cremated in Finland and their ashes can then be transported abroad. Family members can organise the funeral themselves or purchase the service wholly or partly from a funeral home. The burial permit is given to a person responsible for transporting the deceased. A family member may ask the diplomatic mission to advise on the arrangements.
If the next of kin of the deceased does not arrange the burial, cremation or repatriation of the deceased, the diplomatic mission may contact the local authorities. In such a case, the deceased will be buried or cremated in accordance with Finnish practices.
Advice on various issues relating to death can be requested from the diplomatic mission of the deceased’s country of origin.
Ministry for Foreign AffairsForeign diplomatic missions in FinlandLink redirects to another website
Funeral in Finland
You can receive help for organising a funeral from religious communities. For more information, contact your community. The website of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland contains information on the church’s services. It is also possible to hold a civil funeral, which does not include religious ceremonies. Funeral homes advise on all services. More information on civil funerals is also available from the Pro-Ceremonies (Pro-Seremoniat) service centres.
The services provided by funeral homes are subject to a fee. These establishments take care of the funeral arrangements, such as the transport of the deceased. Funeral homes also sell coffins and, upon agreement, handle all other funeral matters requested by the family. Information on funeral homes can be obtained, for example, from the Finnish Association of Funeral Homes (Suomen Hautaustoimistojen Liitto). Many funeral homes also provide their services in English.
Pro-Ceremonies service centreCivil funeralLink redirects to another website
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of FinlandInformation on church funeralsLink redirects to another website
Nearly all Finnish cemeteries are owned by Evangelical Lutheran parishes, but a grave can be obtained even if you do not belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Graves are subject to a charge, and more information is available from the parishes. If the deceased person did not belong to a church and did not want a religious burial, such a ceremony will not be arranged. Deceased persons can be buried in coffins or cremated. Many municipalities also include cemeteries of other religions. For example, Orthodox, Islamic and Jewish cemeteries are available in the largest cities. In addition, many municipalities have grave sites for deceased persons who did not belong to any religion. Cremated ashes can also be sprinkled on land or into a body of water if this is permitted by the land owner.
Sometimes the deceased is entitled to funeral allowance (hautausavustus) due to his or her final employment or membership of a trade union. To find out more, contact the employer or the trade union. It is possible to apply for financial assistance from Kela and the social office (sosiaalitoimisto) of the place of domicile if the deceased was without financial means.
Family pension (perhe-eläke) can be paid to the spouse or children of the deceased after his or her death. The purpose of the pension is to ensure the livelihood of the widow and children. Two family pension schemes are in place in Finland: Kela’s (the Social Insurance institution of Finland) family pension and the employment pension system’s family pension. If the deceased person was employed or ran a business in Finland, the widow and children may be eligible for a family pension provided by the employment pension system. Both pensions can be applied for at Kela.
If a person has lived or worked in another country for an extended period of time before moving to Finland, the spouse or children may also be entitled to receive a family pension from this country. Establish what conditions there are for receiving a family pension from Finland or the country of origin.
The law dictates who inherits the property of a deceased person. You can also have a say in to whom your property will be distributed. You can prepare a will (testamentti), i.e. a written clarification of who will inherit your property after your death. The will must contain specific things and must always bear the signatures of two competent witnesses, otherwise it has no legal standing. It is therefore recommended to use the services of a lawyer when preparing a will.
An estate inventory deed is a written report on the deceased person’s property, belongings and debts. The estate inventory must be held within three months of the death. If the estate inventory is not completed in time, detrimental effects such as increased inheritance tax may result.
For the estate inventory, a detailed family history must be compiled of the deceased from the age of 15 to his or her death. Extracts from the population register, which can be obtained from the Digital and Population Data Services Agency or parish office, are also required. In addition, information is required on the persons who will inherit the property of the deceased. They are called estate beneficiaries.
The estate inventory is arranged by the person who is most intimately familiar with the deceased person’s property and debts. It is advisable to employ a lawyer or some other expert for the process.
The estate inventory deed is signed by the person reporting the estate and the joint-owners of the estate present at the event. In addition, it is signed by two trustees who help to assess the assets of the deceased. An estate inventory deed (perukirja) must be submitted to the tax office no later than one month from the reading of the will.
More information on estate inventory is available from the judicial system and Tax Administration. If you need help with the estate inventory, funeral homes can also be of assistance.
If you inherit the property of a deceased person, you are liable to pay inheritance tax (perintövero). The amount of the tax depends on the amount of the property and how close a relative you are. Tax does not need to be paid for inheritance totalling less than €20,000.
Tax AdministrationInformation on estate inventoryLink redirects to another website
Tax AdministrationInformation on inheritance taxLink redirects to another website
Death and residence permit
If you have a fixed-term residence permit that has been granted based on family ties, the death of a loved one may affect your residence permit. You can find more information on the InfoFinland web page Can I lose my residence permit?