Information about Brexit

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, together with other authorities and actors, has prepared for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (or Brexit). In a vote held on 15 January, the British Parliament rejected the UK withdrawal agreement from the European Union. The result of the vote does not mean an immediate withdrawal without any agreement. However, the UK has not yet decided what will happen next. If the UK is no longer an EU member state after 30 March 2019, this may have effects on areas such as social security and medicines.

Pharmaceutical service

Brexit may affect the availability of some medicines in the EU. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, together with pharmaceutical sector’s authorities and stakeholders, has explored the potential abnormal situations and the related risks. Steps have been taken to prepare for various scenarios.

In order to be granted marketing authorisation in the EU, medicines must meet the standards specified by the EU. If marketing authorisation has been granted in the UK, the pharmaceutical company in question must take steps to transfer the authorisation to another EU country. According to the Finnish Medicines Agency, the majority of pharmaceutical companies have transferred their marketing authorisations or activities to an EU or EEA country to make sure their operations can continue normally after Brexit. The Finnish Medicines Agency has issued guidelines to marketing authorisation holders and other organisations on how take the necessary action to prevent supply failures.

Situation updates will be provided, and cooperation with other actors in the pharmaceutical industry will continue in order to effectively manage the availability of medicines. If any problems arise, pharmaceutical companies, pharmaceutical wholesalers and pharmacies will work with health care professionals to identify substituting products in order to ensure uninterrupted care to patients.

The Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare has looked into the availability of vaccinations and established that, according to the information the Institute has received, availability problems will not occur.

Social security

The right to social security is not based on citizenship but on whether you are staying or working in Finland and resident here legally. With regard to Kela’s benefits, residence in Finland is usually determined in accordance with social welfare legislation. In other words, Kela decides whether you are entitled to social security because you live in Finland.

If you live in Finland or are moving here, first your municipality of residence is determined under the Municipality of Residence Act. The Registry Office enters the information about your municipality in the Population Information System. Then, because you have a municipality of residence in Finland, you have the right to access the municipal health and social services. Similarly, some Kela benefits are only available to those who have a municipality of residence in Finland. However, anybody staying in Finland will have access to urgent medical treatment and the basic social services.

If you are a British national living in Finland

You will receive benefits if you are legally resident in Finland and living or working here permanently.

The Ministry of the Interior is drawing up a separate act to secure British nationals’ right to reside in Finland until 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a Brexit deal. According to the separate act, all British nationals who have registered their stay in Finland by 29 March 2019 would retain their right of residence. The continued right of residence would also secure British nationals’ right to social security because residence-based social security is only available to people who are staying in Finland legally.

A municipality’s resident has the right to access the municipal health and social services. Therefore, if you are a British national, you should contact your Local Register Office before Brexit and check that your municipality of residence, which has been determined on the basis of an EU citizen’s right of residence, has been entered in the Population Information System.

If you are living or staying in the UK

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, if you are a beneficiary living in the UK, you will continue to receive your earnings-related pension and any benefits based on accidents and occupational diseases. If you live in the UK, you can also apply for these Finnish benefits if you have been subject to the Finnish legislation on the basis of your work.

If you have left Finland to go to the UK to look for work, your right to receive unemployment allowance from Finland will end on the date when the UK leaves the EU.

On 30 January 2019, the European Commission submitted a proposal for a Regulation establishing contingency measures in the field of social security coordination following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The Regulation would ensure that the principles of EU law would apply for the benefit of those who, for example, have worked both in the UK and in an EU member state.

Industrial products

The Ministry is the competent market surveillance authority for personal protective equipment, machinery and cableways. These products are subject to European Union (EU) common product legislation.

If the UK leaves the European Union, it becomes a third country and such industrial products could no longer be imported freely to the EU market. British companies exporting products to the EU have been regarded as distributors. In the event of the UK’s exit from the EU, British companies would be regarded as importers and would have more extensive responsibilities than distributors.

Notified bodies (NB) are institutions that carry out the procedures for conformity assessment. Information about them is published in the European Commission’s NANDO system. If the UK leaves the EU, the British notified bodies will lose their right to act as notified bodies in the EU. This will not affect the products that have been placed on the market or put into service in the EU earlier and carry a type examination certificate or another conformity assessment document issued by a British notified body.

After Brexit, products will need a new conformity assessment document if conformity was assessed before Brexit by an institution located in the UK.

Market surveillance will not be affected whether or not the UK leaves the EU without a deal. The authority will continue to monitor that products are safe to use and that their documents and markings conform to the legal requirements.

The European Commission has published guidance for economic operators on Brexit.


Elina Asola, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 163 437, (Pharmaceutical service)

Marja-Terttu Mäkiranta, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Legal Affairs, tel. +358 295 163 170, (EU social welfare legislation)

Pirje Lankinen, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 488, (Industrial products)

Further information