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Identity Card Act will be amended – in future applicants will be fingerprinted

Ministry of the Interior
Publication date 29.6.2021 14.26
Press release 82/2021
Picture: Helsinki Police Department.

A provision on fingerprinting that supplements the relevant EU Regulation will be added to the Identity Card Act. In future, fingerprints will be taken from any person applying for an identity card, except for a person under the age of 12 or from a person in respect of whom fingerprinting is physically impossible, for example. The President of the Republic approved the amendment on 29 June. The Act will enter into force on 2 August 2021.

The Identity Card Act has been updated to be in line with the EU Regulation on identity cards. Because of the EU Regulation, the information content and appearance of identity cards will also be reformed. 

The aim of the Regulation is to improve the reliability and security of identity cards of EU citizens.

Fingerprints taken for a passport can in future be used to apply for an identity card

The fingerprint is a biometric identifier, and it is a permanent and immutable part of each individual. For such biometric identifiers, specific requirements for data security are needed to ensure the protection of privacy. For this reason, separate provisions on data security related to the chip of an identity card are laid down in the Identity Card Act.

As fingerprints and facial images are particularly sensitive data, they may be accessed by authorities issuing identity cards — police departments, Finnish missions, the police and the Border Guard — and by Customs when it acts as a criminal investigation authority or carries out the duties of a border control authority. 

“In Finland, passport applicants must already have their fingerprints taken and stored in the passport register. Similarly, the Identity Card Act includes a provision on the storage of fingerprints in the identity card register. To make it easier to use the services, every applicant can in future use their fingerprints taken for the passport to apply for an identity card. Fingerprints taken for the identity card can also be used for passport applications in future,” says Marja-Leena Härkönen, Senior Specialist from the Ministry of the Interior. 

The storage of fingerprints in the identity card register will not only protect the rights of the person giving the fingerprint but also the rights of other persons to their personal data and their appropriate use. The storage of fingerprints in the register and the comparison of fingerprint data with the register are aimed at preventing identity misuse.

Parliament passed the government bill for amending the Identity Card Act on 4 June 2021. On Tuesday 29 June 2021, the President of the Republic approved the bill passed by Parliament. 

The Act will enter into force on 2 August 2021, at the same time as the application of the EU Regulation begins. 

Marja-Leena Härkönen, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 297, [email protected]