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READER QUESTIONS

Do children born in Norway automatically get citizenship?

A Norwegian passport comes with many benefits, and the country allows dual citizenship. So, what are the rules for the children of foreign nationals born in Norway? 

A mother and child in Ålesund, Norway.
Not all children in Norway become citizens automatically. Pictured is a mother and child in Ålesund, Norway. Photo by Andrei Miranchuk on Unsplash

Norway opened the door to dual citizenship two years ago, meaning foreign residents could become citizens of the country without giving up their existing passport. 

Norwegian citizenship comes with a number of benefits, whether it’s the right to vote, being automatically enrolled into the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, or simply having a Norwegian passport, one of the most powerful travel documents available. 

READ MORE: 

Some may assume that because their children were born in Norway, they will be entitled to citizenship automatically. However, this isn’t the case and not all children born in Norway automatically become Norwegian citizens.  

If both parents are foreign nationals

Children who are born to two parents who are foreign nationals and who are not citizens of Norway do not automatically become citizens. 

Instead, parents will need to apply for a residence permit if the parents are from outside the EU or European Economic Area (EEA), register the child as an EU/EEA national if they are nationals from within the EU/EEA, or apply for a residence permit under the family immigration rules

If you are required to apply for residence for the child, you will need to do so before they turn one. 

Those who are adopted, are under 18  and have an adoption licence issued by Norwegian authorities automatically become Norwegian citizens if they were adopted after September 1st 2006. 

To be eligible for citizenship, if both parents are non-Norwegian citizens, the child will need to be over 12, live in Norway and plan on living in the Scandinavian country in the future. They will also need to have lived in Norway for five of the past seven years and held residence permits valid for more than a year each. Those over 15 will need to apply for a criminal record certificate. You must also fulfil all the permanent residency requirements while the UDI process your application. This means you must not have been outside of Norway for a total of ten months in the last five years. 

Children over 16 will need to have completed mandatory training in the Norwegian language and passed the concluding tests, or if they have received a final assessment grade in Norwegian at secondary school or upper secondary school, they can apply to the municipality for an exemption. 

You can apply here. Application fees for children under 18 are waived. There will also be an ID check to confirm your identity. 

As the applicant is under 18 the parent will be applying on the child’s behalf. 

If one parent is a Norwegian citizen

Children with one parent who is a Norwegian citizen and born after September 1st 2006 automatically become Norwegian citizens at birth.

This applies regardless of whether the child was born abroad or if the parents were married at the time. 

The rules are tighter for offspring born before September 1st 2006, though. Those born before this date are Norwegian citizens from birth if their mother was Norwegian, or their father was Norwegian and married to the mother before the birth, or if the father died before birth, was Norwegian and was married to the mother at the time of his death. 

However, those born to a Norwegian father but who aren’t automatically citizens can become citizens relatively easily by handing in a notification of Norwegian citizenship. You can do this in Norway or from abroad. 

Those born before 1979 will need to contact the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI), as per the immigration directorate’s advice

If I become a Norwegian citizen after my child is born, do my children qualify for Norwegian citizenship? 

Children under 18 can also apply for citizenship if their parents have become Norwegian since the child was born or are applying for Norwegian citizenship. 

When the parent is applying for citizenship, the parent’s and child’s applications can be lodged together. Joint applications also require the parent to meet the citizenship requirements that apply to them

Under these circumstances, the child must have resided in Norway for the past two years and held residence permits that were each valid for at least one year. To qualify as having stayed in Norway for two years, the child must not have been abroad for more than two months per calendar year for two years. These rules apply to children aged between two and 18. 

The rules for children younger than two are slightly different

We moved to Norway after our child was born, what are the citizenship rules for them? 

Children under 18 and over 12 can apply for citizenship. They must live in the country full time, have a valid resident permit when they apply and whilst the application is processed.

They must have also been a full time resident of Norway for five of the last seven years. In addition to this, applicants over 15 must submit a criminal record certificate and meet the requirements for permanent residence. 

If one or both of the parents is a Nordic citizen and the child has lived in Norway for two years you can apply once you are over the age of 12.

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NORWEGIAN CITIZENSHIP

How do Norway’s citizenship rules compare to Sweden and Denmark?

With Norway set to tighten its language requirements for becoming a national, we take a look at the country's citizenship requirements compare to other Scandinavian countries.

How do Norway's citizenship rules compare to Sweden and Denmark?

Gaining citizenship of one Nordic country grants you rights in the others, such as making it easier to move there, work there, and even become a citizen. So, where is it easiest to become a citizen, and where will you be waiting the longest?

Norway

Length of stay: 6-8 years

EU and non EU citizens can apply for Norwegian citizenship after living in Norway for eight years out of the past eleven years and if they have held residence permits that were each valid for at least one year during that time.

A new rule, which came into effect in January 2022, means that if you have sufficient income, you can apply after six years rather than eight. Currently sufficient income is 319,997 kroner (~€30,520), but this can change annually.

Those with Norwegian spouses, registered partners, or cohabitants can apply after living in Norway for three of the last ten years. 

Nordic citizens over the age of 12 can apply for Norwegian citizenship after two years living in Norway and do not need to fulfil any further requirements below.

Language test

EU and non EU citizens have to pass an oral Norwegian language test at either A2 or B1 level. A2 refers to an elementary level of Norwegian, and B1 is considered semi-fluent. 

The change to the language requirement from A2 to B1 will apply from autumn 2022 at the earliest, according to the UDI

Citizenship test

Applicants must pass a citizenship test (statsborgerprøve), or a social studies test if aged between 18 and 67. The tests must be taken in Norwegian, either Bokmål or Nynorsk.

For the citizenship test, applicants need to answer at least 24 of 36 multiple choice questions correctly to pass. Topics included in the test are history, geography, democracy, welfare, education, health and working life in Norway.

Other requirements

After filling in an online application, applicants have to deliver a series of documents in person, including birth certificates, marriage certificates (if applicable), a full list of entries into and departures from Norway, at least seven years of tax returns, and a police report certifying “good conduct”.

Processing time and fees

It costs 6,500 kroner to apply if you are over 18. However, the fee is cheaper or completely waived if you are a Nordic citizen, previously held Norwegian citizenship, or are under 18 years of age. 

Applications take around 16 months to process but this can vary.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to apply for Norwegian citizenship

Sweden

Pictured is the Swedish flag.

Sweden’s flag. Photo by Mark König on Unsplash

Length of stay: 2-5 years

EU and non EU citizens can apply for Swedish citizenship after living in Sweden for five continuous years with right of residence. 

In some cases, this period can be even shorter.

Nordic citizens who have lived in Sweden for at least five years can become Swedish citizens through notification. This involves filling out a form and sending it to the local country administrative board, with a fee of 475 kronor.

The alternative is to submit an application for citizenship to the Migration Agency, which Nordic citizens can do after living in Sweden for two years. No other requirements below are needed for Nordic citizens.

EU and non-EU citizens who have lived with a Swedish citizen for at least two years can apply for citizenship earlier, after three continuous years in Sweden. However applicants will be asked to show that they have adapted well to Swedish life. This could be shown through learning the language, proving you can support yourself, or through the length of your marriage.

The requirement for continuous residency in Sweden means that if you spend more than six weeks abroad in any given year, it will extend the period of time until you can apply for citizenship.

For non-EU citizens, the process for getting citizenship is just the same as for EU citizens, except there is an additional requirement for a permanent residence permit. Permanent residency for non EU citizens is usually granted after four years of living in Sweden.

Other requirements: No outstanding debts or recent crimes

In addition to length of stay, EU and non EU citizens must have “conducted themselves well in Sweden”, and the Migration Agency will request information on whether you have debts or have committed crimes in the country.

An application can be rejected if a person has unpaid taxes, fines, or other charges. Debts to private companies passed on to the Swedish Enforcement Authority could also impact the application, even if they are paid, as two years must pass after payment to prove you’re debt-free. If you’ve committed a crime, there’s also a qualifying period before citizenship can be granted which depends on the sentence. 

An automated test (in Swedish) can be filled in here to see if you meet those requirements. 

Language and citizenship test: May soon be required

While Swedish language skills and knowledge of Swedish society are not currently a requirement for citizenship, this could change in the future. In January 2021, the Swedish Ministry of Justice and Migration put forward proposals to introduce an A2 language exam for would-be Swedes, with exceptions for vulnerable individuals who have made a reasonable effort to learn the language. There are also proposals for a knowledge test about Swedish society.

These proposals will be subject to a long political process before they can be put into law, so at present the requirements are proof of identity, duration of residency in Sweden, and no record of serious criminal offences or debts.

Processing time and fees

The Migration Agency says applicants should expect an average of 39 months between submitting their application and becoming Swedish. Readers of The Local have reported the process taking anywhere between a couple of weeks to over three years. The application costs 1,500 SEK (~€150).

READ MORE: How to get Swedish citizenship or stay permanently in Sweden

Denmark

Pictured is a Danish flag.

The Danish flag. Photo by Palle Knudsen on Unsplash

Length of stay: 9 years

Normally, you must have lived in Denmark for nine consecutive years (without living elsewhere for more than three months) in order to qualify for Danish citizenship.

This period is reduced in some cases: for refugees it becomes eight years, citizens of Nordic countries need a two-year stay and people married to Danes qualify after 6-8 years, depending on the length of the marriage.

Other exceptions are made for those who have taken a significant portion of their education in Denmark, who may qualify after five years. If you moved to Denmark before your 15th birthday, you can become nationalised after you turn 18.

EU and non EU citizens must have a permit for permanent residency in Denmark for a minimum of two years before applying for citizenship.

Language test

Applicants must have passed the national Prøve i Dansk 3 language test, the final exam in the national Danish language school system. This involves a reading, writing, speaking and listening test which equates to B2 Danish.

There are certain exemptions from the language requirements. Residents of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, as well as Swedish and Norwegian speakers, do not need to document Danish proficiency. Dispensation can be given for applicants with certain types of illnesses and disabilities, and different rules apply to children.

Citizenship test

A condition of getting Danish citizenship is to demonstrate knowledge of Danish society, culture and history, by having passed a citizenship test (indfødsretsprøve).

In April 2021, the existing citizenship test, consisting of 40 multiple choice questions, was supplemented with five extra questions about “Danish values” such as equality, freedom of speech and the relation between legislation and religion. 

The pass mark is 36/45 and at least four of the five Danish values questions must be answered correctly. 

Children under 12, Swedish and Norwegian citizens, and people from the Danish minority in German region Schleswig-Holstein do not need to take the citizenship test.

Other requirements

  • Sign a declaration pledging allegiance and loyalty to Denmark and Danish society and promising to abide by its laws.
  • Be free of debt to the public sector and be financially self-sufficient.
  • Have no criminal convictions.
  • Hold a full-time job or been self-employed for three and a half of the last four years. 
  • Attend a ceremony, declare you will uphold Denmark’s laws, values and principles and shake hands with an official.

You also need to submit paperwork to prove your identity, current nationality, residency and economic activity in Denmark.

Processing time and fees

At the end of 2021, the processing time for applications was approximately 14 months, according to the immigration ministry. The fee is 4,000 Danish kroner (~€537).

After this time, you receive a letter notifying you that you can expect to be accepted for citizenship at the next round of parliamentary procedure (which happens twice yearly), provided you still fulfil the requirements at that time.

Once the new law making you a citizen comes into force, you will be sent a declaration that you have been accepted for citizenship with one final condition: you attend a ceremony, declare that you will uphold Denmark’s laws, values and principles, shake hands with an official and become a citizen.

Roundup

Even if Sweden decides to include a language and citizenship test in their application process, the country will still remain the easiest and cheapest in Scandinavia in which to become a citizen, although there’s a downside – it also has the longest processing time for citizenship applications.

Here’s the roundup.

Swedish citizenship

Application Fee: ~€150 (1,500 Swedish kronor) 

Length of time living in country: 3-5 years 

Language level needed: None, but this may change

Citizenship test: None, but this may change

Other requirements: No record of serious criminal offences or debts

Dual nationality allowed: Yes

Processing time: Around 39 months

Norwegian Citizenship 

Application Fee: ~€250 (2,500 Norwegian kroner)

Length of time living in country: 6-8 of the past 11 years

Language level needed: A2 Norwegian, soon to change to the more difficult B1 Norwegian

Citizenship test: Yes

Other requirements: A full list of entries into and departures from Norway, at least seven years of tax returns, and a police report certifying “good conduct”.

Dual nationality allowed: Yes thanks to a law change in 2020 

Processing time: Around 16 months

Danish citizenship

Application Fee: ~€537 (4,000 Danish kroner)

Length of time living in country: 9 years

Language level needed: B2 Danish

Citizenship test: Yes

Other requirements: No record of serious criminal offences or debts and be financially self-sufficient; sign a declaration pledging allegiance and loyalty to Denmark and its laws; hold a full-time job or been self-employed for three and a half of the last four years; attend a ceremony.

Dual nationality allowed: Yes 

Processing time: 14 months – 2 years

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