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Can driving offences prevent you from getting Norwegian citizenship? 

When applying for Norwegian citizenship, you’ll need to obtain a good conduct certificate from the police. But could driving offences and fines block you from becoming a citizen of Norway? 

Pictured is a Norwegian flag.
Could a speeding ticket block you from becoming a Norwegian citizen? Here's what you need to know. Pictured is a Norwegian flag.

It is common for drivers in Norway to pick up minor driving offences at some point. Especially foreign drivers not used to the rules or changing speed limits. 

Whether you are caught speeding, haven’t stopped at a stop sign, or have forgotten to change to winter tyres in time, these offences can lead to fines or points on your licence. 

But could these driving offences stand in your way of becoming a Norwegian citizen? 

The answer, in short, is probably not. However, there are some caveats to the rule.  

Even though applicants for Norwegian citizenship are required to submit a certificate of good conduct from the police with their application, and some nationals see their bid to become Norwegian rejected because they don’t meet this requirement– minor driving offences are unlikely to prove a substantial roadblock. 

To explain why we’ll need to go a little bit into detail on the police certificate requirement. When applying for Norwegian citizenship, you’ll need a criminal record certificate. This will inform the authorities that you haven’t been convicted or fined for a criminal offence. 

If you have been convicted or fined for a criminal offence, you will be barred from obtaining citizenship for several years. This disqualification period can range from 2.5 years up to 39 years, depending on the severity of your punishment. You can get an overview of the waiting times here.

However, you will not be disqualified from becoming a Norwegian citizen if you have only been issued a fixed penalty notice, a parking ticket or have had a charge or suspected case dropped.

The difference between a fixed penalty notice and a criminal fine is that the fixed penalty notice doesn’t come with a conviction or affects your criminal record. An example of a fixed penalty notice would be a fine for minor or moderate speeding. 

A criminal fine, which is typically accompanied by the option of an alternative prison sentence if the penalty can’t be paid or if the recipient fails to pay, will disqualify you from obtaining Norwegian citizenship. 

Examples of driving offences that would lead to this kind of punishment would be drink-driving and serious traffic violations that lead to serious personal injury or death. 

Extreme speeding can also see foreigners blocked from citizenship, as, under the Road Traffic Act, speeding can land drivers in prison for a year. 

A more recent and perhaps left-field example will be if you are caught drunk driving on an electric scooter as they are classed as a motorised vehicle under a rule change earlier this year. Courts have handed hefty fines and suspended sentences in instances where people have been caught over the limit. 

If you commit driving offences after being granted citizenship or are convicted of other crimes, it is unlikely that your Norwegian citizenship will be revoked. According to the Norwegian Immigration Directorate (UDI), citizenship is typically only revoked when it is granted on false pretences. 

This means the information you provided was false or misleading. 

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For members


Why do some Norwegian citizenship applications take much longer than others?

Becoming eligible for Norwegian citizenship is a process which takes years. When you finally submit your documents, you could find out whether you have been successful in a couple of months or up to two years.

Why do some Norwegian citizenship applications take much longer than others?

Language tests, citizenship and social studies tests, residency requirements and a good conduct certificate are just some of the key criteria you will need to meet to be granted Norwegian citizenship.

Meeting these requirements and being granted citizenship means such benefits as having the same rights as Norwegian and EEA citizens, being able to vote in general elections and staying in Norway for as long as you like or returning after a lengthy absence with virtually no paperwork.

Once you’ve checked all the boxes that apply to you and handed your documents to the police, your paperwork will be forwarded to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

Per-Jan Brekke, a senior press advisor for the UDI, has told The Local that citizenship applications can take up to two years to process.

However, some cases receive a decision in a much shorter time, while others can take longer than two years to process.

One factor which affects how long an application will take is the applicant’s existing citizenship. Brekke used the example of applications from Syrian nationals taking longer to process.

“One of the reasons for long waiting times is that it is a challenge for Norwegian authorities to confirm the identity of persons from Syria. It has been difficult to determine the authenticity of Syrian passports since the civil war began in 2012. Consequently, the UDI has to confirm identities in other ways. Carrying out these alternative activities requires a case officer to evaluate your application,” he said.

Currently, the UDI website says that applications for citizens from (as an example) the UK, the US and Italy take 22 months to process. Meanwhile, applications for a national from Syria take 26 months.

One of the reasons citizenship cases take so long to process in the first place is that the UDI has received a large volume of applications.

“The main reason for the current long waiting times in citizenship cases is the large volume of cases that we have been unable to process quicker,” Thomas Theis-Haugan, a senior advisor to the press at the UDI, told The Local.

However, The Local has heard of citizenship cases processed in just a few months rather than up to 22 months. This is because the UDI can automatically process some applications, meaning a decision is made much quicker.

“Although some citizenship cases have much shorter waiting times since they can be automated (approximately one-third of all citizenship cases),” Theis-Haugan said.

Essentially, those who have their case processed can expect a significantly shorter wait for a decision.

On its website, the UDI states that those who do not receive an answer to their application within two months are probably not having their cases processed automatically. Applications that aren’t processed automatically are handled by a caseworker.

Those having a caseworker look over their application typically have nothing to fear or worry about, but it does mean it will take longer to receive a decision.

Unfortunately, the UDI or the police cannot tell you whether your application will be processed automatically. Additionally, you won’t receive any heads-up as to whether your case is or isn’t being processed automatically. If your request to become a Norwegian citizen is handled by a caseworker, the immigration directorate won’t be able to tell you why either.