HELSINKI, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) — From 2020, foreigners will need a permission to buy property in Finland, the country’s public broadcaster Yle reported on Wednesday.
The new legislation approved in March 2019 stipulates that a permission is needed for people from outside the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) to purchase real estate in Finland, according to the Finnish Ministry of Defense.
“The legislation has been put in place to protect national security,” Matias Warsta, director of real estate and environment at the Ministry of Defense, was quoted by Yle as saying.
Warsta explained that the security environment in the Baltic region has deteriorated over the last decade. Finland wanted to create a system that can monitor and control real estate purchases in the country.
The new legislation applies to properties located throughout Finland, except the Aland Islands, which is an autonomous province of Finland. It relates only to real estate deals closed after Jan. 1, 2020.
Private individuals, companies or other entities from outside EU and EEA must submit applications to the Finnish Ministry of Defence electronically to obtain the permit.
The permit is estimated to cost a couple hundred euros, and the fee will not be refunded if permission is rejected, Warsta told Yle.
Applications can be submitted in Finnish or Swedish and the process will take about three months. In the application, buyers should declare, for example, how they intend to use the real estate, said the ministry.
According to Yle, the background of the new legislation is that a Russian-owned firm has been suspected of money laundering in Turku, southwest Finland.
Public records showed that the Russian firm, Airiston Helmi, either bought or sold 9.2 million euros (10.23 million U.S. dollars) worth of real estate in the Turku archipelago between 2007 and 2014. The properties were reputedly located in strategically important areas.
In September 2018, former Defense Minister Jussi Niinisto said that the legislation under preparation would allow the government to intervene in real estate transactions that could endanger the national security of Finland.