Danish Citizenship: Benefits and the Application Process

Danish Citizenship: Benefits and the Application Process

Denmark is a country of islands, dense forests and castles.In recent years, Denmark has become a popular destination for travellers worldwide. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country welcomed around 30 million tourists annually. As of 2022, Denmark is steadily recovering and approaching its pre-crisis levels of tourism.

However, being a tourist in Denmark is distinct from being a Danish citizen. Danish passports are considered among the most difficult to acquire. Statistics substantiate this, revealing that only 65% of individuals residing in Denmark hold Danish citizenship. Acquiring a Danish passport is anticipated to become even more arduous in the coming years. The government implemented amendments to the nationality law in 2021, further complicating the overall process.

If you think you have the determination required to become a Danish citizen, continue reading to explore the benefits of obtaining a Danish passport, understand the process of requiring it, and become acquainted with important considerations.

Advantages of a Danish Passport

  • Visa-free entry: A Danish passport grants visa-free entry to all countries within the European Union (EU), as well as the USA, Australia, Japan, and other developed nations.
  • Smooth border crossings: Possessing a Danish passport allows for seamless travel and unhindered crossing of the Danish border.
  • Inheritance of citizenship: Children of parents who have been naturalised as Danish citizens can also obtain Danish passports.
  • Voting rights: Danish passport holders have the privilege of exercising their right to vote in both local level and parliamentary (Folketing) elections.
  • Dual citizenship: Denmark permits its citizens to retain dual citizenship.

  Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Darth Liu (Unsplash)

How to Become a Citizen of Denmark

By Descent

The good news is that obtaining Danish citizenship has become significantly easier since July 1, 2014. The key requirement is to have at least one Danish parent. If this condition is met, the child will automatically acquire Danish citizenship.

However, unfortunately, individuals born between February 1, 1999 and June 30, 2014 are not eligible for automatic Danish citizenship based on their birthdates alone.

  • For individuals born before July 1, 2014, in addition to having at least one Danish citizen parent, it is required that their parents are also married.
  • If the parents are not married, children receive citizenship only if they were born in Denmark.
  • Children born abroad can become Danish citizens if their parents get married before their children turn 18.
  • Children who are discovered within Danish territory without a declared place of birth are recognised as citizens of the Kingdom of Denmark.

There are also certain older rules in place, such as the “Princess Rule.” Under this rule, individuals born between January 1, 1961 and December 31st, 1978 to a Danish mother and a foreign father did not automatically receive Danish citizenship unless their mother applied for it on their behalf. In cases where the mother did not apply, individuals could make use of the “Princess Rule” to acquire Danish citizenship.

However, it is important to note that the “Princess Rule” has its limitations. It only applies to individuals who have resided in Denmark for a minimum of 12 months before reaching the age of 22. Despite this requirement, the process of obtaining a Danish passport through the “Princess Rule” is relatively straightforward. Applicants can apply from abroad and are not required to undergo any tests. However, having a basic understanding of the Danish language would be beneficial for both the passport application process and communication with embassy personnel.

By Naturalisation

Naturalisation is the primary method for foreigners to obtain Danish citizenship and it is considered the most challenging route. To be eligible for Danish citizenship through naturalisation, foreigners must fulfil certain requirements.

  • Individuals are required to have resided continuously in Denmark for a period of nine years. However, for refugees and stateless individuals, the residency requirement is reduced to eight years.
  • It is necessary to obtain a permanent residence permit and reside in Denmark for a minimum of two years before submitting the application. However, for refugees and stateless individuals, the requirement is reduced to one year of permanent residency.
  • Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in the Danish language up to an upper-intermediate level or pass the Prøve i Dansk 3 examination. Individuals with an intermediate level (Prøve i Dansk 2) can still apply, but only if they have resided in Denmark for a minimum of nine years. Applicants with Prøve i Dansk 2 who have received unemployment benefits must also provide a form indicating the duration of their benefit period. If the period exceeds six months during the nine year residency, the applicants are required to pass the Prøve i Dansk 3 examination.
  • Applicants must have a clean criminal record and not have any outstanding debts exceeding 3,000 krones ($135). This includes debts such as student loans, fines, fees, and court costs.
  • Applicants must have been employed for a minimum of three and a half years out of the last four years in Denmark.
  • Applicants must not have received any welfare for more than four months of the last five years.
  • Applicants must successfully pass the naturalisation test, which consists of 45 questions designed to evaluate their knowledge of Danish culture, society, and history.

Children born to foreign parents can only obtain citizenship by naturalisation. Citizens of the Nordic countries have the advantage of a simplified process for naturalisation through a special declaration signed between these nations. Under this arrangement, citizens of Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, as well as residents of Denmark’s autonomous regions, the Faroes Islands and Greenland, can obtain Danish citizenship after residing continuously in Denmark for seven years. To be eligible, individuals must be over 18 years old and have a clean criminal record.

 Bellevue Strand, Denmark. Photo by Casper Folsing (Unsplash)

By Marriage

Spouses of Danish citizens are also eligible to obtain Danish citizenship. To do so, they must reside in Denmark for a minimum of six years without leaving the country. The exact duration of continuous residence depends on the length of their marriage.

However, it’s important to note that Denmark does not grant citizenship based on investments. Businessmen seeking citizenship can instead renew their startup visa every two years and become eligible for naturalisation after residing in Denmark for nine years.

The Steps to Becoming a Danish Citizen:

  • Pass the naturalisation test, which consists of 45 questions about the culture, society, and history of Denmark. Most questions are based on study materials, while 10 questions are randomly selected. Five of these questions cover current events in Denmark, and the other five assess knowledge of Danish values such as freedom of speech, equality, and the relationship between religion and legislation.
  • Pass the language test, demonstrating proficiency at either the Prøve i Dansk 2 or Prøve i Dansk 3 level of the Danish language.
  • Submit your application through the Ministry of Immigration and Integration, NemID, or MitID. The application package should include copies of your passport, permanent residence permit, language proficiency certificate and a certificate confirming your successful completion of the naturalisation test. If you are applying as your child's guardian, you must also provide a document proving your custody.
  • Sign a declaration of loyalty to Denmark.
  • Pay a fee of 4,000 kroner ($180). Online payment is available, but only with a Dankort card.
  • Attend an interview at a local police station. During the interview, an officer will complete a personal questionnaire and briefly inquire about your reasons for seeking Danish citizenship and your plans as a new citizen. 
  • Participate in the citizenship ceremony. If the police interview goes well and your documents are accepted by the Ministry, you can anticipate receiving your new citizenship. The final step is attending the citizenship ceremony, where you will shake hands with local authorities and receive your long-awaited passport as the national anthem plays.

  Aarhus, Denmark. Photo by Stephan Mahlke (Unsplash)

Loss of Danish Citizenship

Denmark rarely revokes its citizenship. However, citizenship can be revoked if it was obtained through fraudulent means, such as a fictitious marriage, or if a citizen is accused of a crime against Denmark’s national security.

Another circumstance that can lead to  loss of Danish citizenship is the "22-year rule.” If a passport holder acquired citizenship abroad and had never been to Denmark before turning 22 years old, their citizenship may be revoked. To prevent this, Danish citizens living abroad must regularly request to retain their citizenship.

If an individual wishes to renounce their Danish citizenship, they can do so by submitting an application to the Minister for Refugees, Immigrants and Integration.

 Odense, Denmark. Photo by Lasse Jensen (Unsplash)

In a Nutshell

The Danish passport is highly regarded as one of the most powerful passports globally. However, the process of obtaining it for foreign expats can be lengthy, often taking up to 10 years. Even having a Danish parent does not guarantee automatic citizenship. If you are resolute in your desire to become a Danish national, it is crucial to exercise patience, meticulously study the requirements, and pursue your dream diligently.

Cover photo: Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark. Peter Lloyd (Unsplash)

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