Finland is a highly racialized country

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Racialization, or ethnicization, is a sociological concept that ascribes racial or ethnic identities to a relationship. In simple terms it is the way that a dominant group ascribes an identity on minorities in order to dominate them. In Finland this is so common that our nationality is mentioned on our drivers license even if we’re Finnish citizens. 


On the third line of my drivers license after name and surname, there’s my date of birth and place of birth. In my case it’s ARG, or Argentina.

I was born in Argentina but grew up in California and lived in cities like London and Helsinki when I was a minor. Why aren’t these reflected on my drivers license?

This practice smells of Helena Eronen’s suggestion that immigrants should start wearing sleeve badges and what the Nazis did when they obliged Jews to sew the Star of David on their clothing.

The question is why do we have to have this information on our drivers license?

Does the information give the police who stop you more information about your background? Does it encourage ethnic profiling and make the difference whether you’ll get off with a warning or a ticket?

Why is it anyone’s business to know where I’m from? What about if I show my drivers license to a shop keeper as ID? Why should he or she know where I was born?

The Finnish state and its employees like the police, who are paid to serve us, appear to be obsessed by race and blood as well as ethnicity. Since this information appears to be crucial to them, why not include sexual preference? Why not classify Finns according to the region they were born or which ethnic group they belong to?

Instead of encouraging inclusiveness, these types of practices are one of many ways that the Finnish state continues to remind you that you aren’t an equal member of this society.





  1. JusticeDemon

    Point 3 on a Finnish driving licence indicates the holder’s date and place of birth, pursuant to paragraph 3 of subsection 1 of section 1 of this statutory instrument. The code indicating place of birth is a territorial designation that has nothing to do with citizenship or ethnic extraction as such. An individual who acquired Finnish citizenship at birth will also have a territorial designation corresponding to the place of birth, which will be ARG if the holder was born in Argentina.

    The licensing information system presently used in Finland is based on Directive 91/439/EEC on driving licences. Annex I to this Directive specifies the information that must be included in a driving licence, which includes the date and place of birth of the holder.

    A quick Google image search revealed that UK driving licences appear to have been issued to people born in the United Kingdom not only with the territorial designation UK, but also with such designations as Wales, Scotland and London.

  2. PS voter

    There have been many things on sleepy Migrant Tales that I have wanted to comment as I have disagreed with them, but I have been too busy. However, this is so urgent that it cannot wait:

    Enrique, you may not have realized that the barcode at the bottom of your drivers license is your social identity code in machine readable form. It is trivial to translate it to text for example by using a simple phone app. You seem to have scratched away your social identity code in text form, but the same information is on that barcode. I recommend that you remove that barcode as well, as showing it publicly can increase your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.