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What are the rules for the police certificate when applying for Norwegian citizenship?

When applying for Norwegian citizenship, you will need to submit a certificate from the police. So, what is the certificate and what are the rules for submitting one? 

Pictured is a Norwegian flag.
Here's what you need to know about the criminal record certificate when applying for citizenship. Pictured is a Norwegian flag.Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

Norwegian citizenship comes with a lot of great perks and benefits. The downside is that there are also a lot of rules and requirements that can make the whole process completely overwhelming. 

Failure to meet all the requirements can lead to the application being turned down, which in addition to coming as a blow to your plans, hopes and ambitions, means you lose the rather steep application fee too. 

Being rejected for failing to meet some specific requirements is far more common than others. Previously, the Norwegian Immigration Directorate (UDI) has told The Local failing to meet the police certificate requirements was a common reason applications were denied. 

READ MORE: Why your Norwegian citizenship application might be rejected and how to avoid it

So, what is the police certificate? 

police certificate of conduct verifies that you haven’t been convicted or fined by the police. All applicants over the age of 15 are required to submit one with their other documents. 

If you have been convicted of a crime or received a criminal fine- parking tickets and the like don’t count- you will be disqualified from applying for citizenship

Those who work in specific sectors, such as with children or vulnerable people, will be required to have a police certificate too for work. 

They may also be required when heading up volunteer groups, similar to a CBS check in the UK or a criminal background check in the USA. 

You can apply for a police certificate from, you guessed it, the police. If you have a digital mailbox, the police will send you the certificate two weeks from the day the police receive your request. 

The process will likely take longer if you apply via post, according to the police’s website. 

What are the rules for submitting one? 

Essentially, to be eligible for the certificate, you will need to have not been convicted for any crimes or waited until the disqualification period to end if you have. 

However, there are specific rules when applying for citizenship. Firstly, the certificate cannot be more than three months old when you submit your citizenship application to your nearest Norwegian police station. 

Therefore, if you have had one done for work, or another reason, previously, you will not be able to use it for your citizenship application. 

The UDI advises that you should not submit the certificate until you have booked an appointment with the police to hand in all your other documents. This reduces the likelihood of your certificate expiring before you hand in your documents. 

Even if everything else is in order, your application can be turned down for not having an up-to-date police certificate. 

When applying, you should collate all your paperwork, excluding the certificate for the application, book an appointment and then order the certificate. 

Given it only takes a couple of weeks, sometimes more, you shouldn’t have to fret too much about your certificate arriving in time for your appointment. 

This will be submitted along with all your other documents to the police. After this, you will receive an answer (don’t expect a brisk turnaround) to find out whether you have obtained citizenship or not. 

What if you think there has been a mistake

You can appeal the UDI’s decision if you believe there has been a mix-up or that their rejecting your case was wrong or unfair. 

When turned down for citizenship, you will be given a deadline to appeal. You will likely need to have received new documentation or information, or your appeal will also be rejected, according to the UDI.

Appeals cost nothing and can be submitted in English or Norwegian. You can read more here

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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.