Two thirds of males serve the military service.

  Conscientious objection:


First recognised by Alternative Service Act, 4th June.





or ~8.5 or ~11.5




Minimum age




In case of partial compulsory mobilization minimum age is 18 years. In case of general compulsory mobilization also those who are not yet served in military but turn 18 years that year can be called for service. So minimum age for general compulsory mobilization is 17 years. This includes war time.

Voluntary enlistment:




Finland has a conscription system for males. The conscripts have to serve 165, 255 or 347 days. A bit less than 20000 men do the military service annually (about 65% of each male age class). The conscripts can apply for alternative service anytime before or during the military service. Every application is accepted automatically. About 2000 persons are accepted for alternative service annually. The service lasts 347 days. It’s also possible to apply after the military service. These "reserve objectors" must serve a five days long "supplementary service". During the last decade there has been about 30-60 total objectors annually. They are normally sentenced to home arrest (max. 173 days). Prison sentences are possible, but quite rare. Over 25% of conscripts are exempted from service because of health reasons or because they have dual citizenship and they live permanently outside Finland. Women are not conscripted but there is a voluntary military service for them. About 700-800 persons do it annually. There has been a discussion about extending the conscription to women. However, so far no one has been able to figure out how to do it, as increasing the number of those who do the military is out of the question.

In March 2020 Finland launched a parliamentary committee “to look into ways to develop general conscription and to meet national defence obligations.” The committee’s aim is “to maintain a high level of defence will and to strengthen social equity among citizens”. General conscription is maintained in the committee’s appointment decision. The term of the committee continues until October 31 of 2021. There is also a civil servant membered section in the committee to examine non-military service development for the needs of comprehensive security and to examine the possibility for implementing universal national service. This section is appointed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. [1]

The Union of Conscientious Objectors (AKL) has pointed out that the committee’s task description is missing the human rights violations towards conscientious objectors. It has criticized development ideas to convert non-military service into more of a comprehensive security service and pointed out that by doing so it might endanger the conviction of the non-military servicemen. It is already possible for Finnish non-military servicemen to serve in the comprehensive security sectors. [2]

There were 2400 applications to perform non-military service in 2020. There were 46 reports of an offence of refusal to perform non-military service in 2020. 16 of them objected the second time from non-military service (see lower). In addition, there have been several reports of an offence of refusing military service. Most total objectors apply first to non-military service but some refuse directly from the military service. This is why there are two different offences for total conscientious objection. There were a few conscientious objectors imprisoned during 2020.

There are dozens of open cases for total objectors. Almost a hundred total objectors got acquittals from district courts in the period of 23 February 2018 and 1 April 2019 while adjudication was seen discriminatory compared to Jehovah’s Witnesses who were exempted from conscription. Under the Non-military Service Law the non-military serviceman who has refused to perform non-military service but has not been sentenced to imprisonment, will be called again to serve his non-military service.

In 2020 at least 19 total objectors who already got acquittals were sentenced to imprisonments in the district courts. Time of the imprisonment is half of the unperformed non-military service time. At least 16 of them have appealed to the Court of Appeal because the procedure seemed to be against ne bis in idem principle. Their punishments have not been executed, and three of them have been freed from charge in Court of Appeal in January 2021, due to the ne bis in idem principle. Dozens of total objectors who are in the same situation are still subpoenaed or will be subpoenaed this year.

The Human Rights Committee was supposed to examine Finland’s seventh periodic report on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on its 130th session in October 2020. The handling was postponed to the 131st session which will be held in March 2021.

According to the reply of the Ministry of Defence of Finland to the Questionnaire about EBCO’s Annual Report 2020 (e-mail on 21/01/2021):

The military service period is 165 days, 255 days, or 347 days for the rank and file conscripts and 347 days for conscripts trained as NCOs or reserve officers. The length of social civilian service (non-military service) is 347.

Community service/Civil Service for the Conscientious Objectors is based on the national defence obligation and also on the freedom of religion and conscience set out in the Constitution of Finland, art 127 § and 11 §. A person liable for military service can, on serious grounds of conscience founded on religious or ethical conviction, be exempted from military service upon application, at which time he is ordered into non-military service, which is a substitute for military service in peacetime under the Finnish Conscription Act (1438/2007).

The Finnish Conscription Act (1438/2007), Section 6, regulates the human right to conscientious objection to military service, and how all the conscripts are officially informed about. The Civilian Service Advisory Board has members from the Ministry of Defense, the General Headquarters and the Union Of Conscripts. There is also the Civilian Service Act (1446/2007) regulating the Civilian Service for the Conscientious Objectors.

If conviction-related reasons prevent conscript from performing the military service, conscript may apply for social civilian service (non-military service). The period of non-military service is 347 days and the service begins with a four-week training period at the Civilian Service Centre. The rest of the service is performed in work service at a service location which is useful to society and which you obtain.

After accepting the non-military service application, conscript will be called to service during the year when the application is approved or during the two years following the year of approval, unless you are granted a deferment. You can affect the time of performing the non-military service.

Conscript can submit the non-military service application in the call-up at the earliest. Conscript`s application is processed by the Defence Forces regional office. There are several ways to submit the filled and signed non-military service application:

  • to the call-up board if you apply for non-military service in the call-up
  • to the Defence Forces regional office if you have already been to a call-up and have not yet started the military service
  • to the commander of the concerned military unit if you apply for non-military service during the military service
  • to a Finnish embassy or consulate if you live abroad

Conscript can apply for non-military service:

  • if you are an under 31-year-old person liable for military service and have been to a call-up
  • if you have performed more than 45 days of women’s voluntary military service.
  • The service is free of charge.

The application to non-military service must be made at the latest during the year when you turn 30. *

When you have been approved as a person liable for non-military service, the liability to perform the non-military service will end at the end of the year during which you turn 30. After that, you belong to the civil reserve until the year when you turn 50.

Every conscript can apply for non-military service for conviction-related reasons. This right cannot be denied.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland, directs, manages and develops the social civilian service system.

Every male Finnish citizen is conscript from the beginning of the year in which he reaches the age of 18. Conscripts also become liable for call-up and thus liable for participating in the call-up event in the year they turn 18. The military service starts after call-up year so conscripts are minimum of 18 years old.

Finnish women may undertake the voluntary military service. The requirements for the women’s voluntary military service include Finnish citizenship, 18-29 years of age at the service start and a state of health and personal suitability for military service. So minimum age for voluntary women is also 18 years.

In case of partial compulsory mobilization minimum age is 18 years.

In case of general compulsory mobilization also those who are not yet served in military but turn 18 years that year can be called for service. So minimum age for general compulsory mobilization is 17 years. This includes war time.

The professional members of the military have legal possibility to end their military career and seek job opportunities from the civilian society according to the Act on Public Officials (750/1994).

In the near future there are no plans to suspend or abolish conscription in Finland.

* Note by EBCO: There is also a possibility to apply to non-military supplementary service always for those who have served in the army and belong to the military reserve.