In 2023, the Norwegian passport was ranked as the seventh most powerful passport in the world by the international organisation Henley & Partners. This high ranking is attributed to the extensive travel opportunities it offers. Norwegian citizens enjoy visa-free travel to 187 countries worldwide. However, obtaining a Norwegian passport is not an easy process. Despite approximately one-quarter of Norway’s population being immigrants and their descendants, the government strictly monitors the grounds for issuing passports.
Norway has never had any “Golden Visas” or citizenship programs that allow individuals to acquire citizenship through large financial investments. The only pathways to becoming a Norwegian citizen are through kinship, birth, or naturalisation.
Norwegian Citizenship by Kinship or Birth
The easiest way to obtain a Norwegian passport is through kinship ties. Since 1 September 2006, all children born to at least one Norwegian citizen automatically receive Norwegian citizenship. For those born before this date with at least one Norwegian parent, it is recommended to contact the Norwegian Immigration Office. There is a possibility that citizenship can be granted in such cases.
Hovedoya, Oslo, Norway. Photo by Oscar van Gend on (Unsplash)
Norwegian citizens living abroad have the option to obtain citizenship for their children as well. To do so, they should contact the Norwegian embassy in their country of residence. It is important to note that only one parent needs to be a Norwegian citizen for this process.
Please note that the rule allowing citizenship for children with only one Norwegian parent applies specifically to officially registered marriages. It is important to keep this in mind, since it is common for Norwegians to live together, have children, and officially register their marriage only years later. In cases where children are born out of wedlock, they will only be eligible for citizenship if their mother is a native Norwegian. Therefore, if you are a couple of mixed nationality, it is advisable to register your relationship before having children to ensure their eligibility for citizenship.
Second Citizenship For Those Who Already Have Nordic Citizenship
In Norway, there is a program that offers a second citizenship to individuals who already hold a passport from another Nordic country. However, it’s important to note that obtaining this second citizenship is not immediate. Like the standard naturalisation program, applicants must fulfill a residency requirement of seven years of continuous living in Norway.
This is a separate program in Norway specifically designed for citizens of Northern countries. The citizenship procedure for individuals from these countries is simplified, requiring only the submission of an application along with a police clearance certificate. This streamlined process aims to facilitate and expedite the acquisition of citizenship for eligible individuals.
Norwegian Citizenship Through Naturalisation
If you are applying for a Norwegian passport based on residency and not by birthright, you are required to have legally resided in the country for a certain duration. Typically, this duration is seven years of permanent residence within the last 10 years. However, if you are married to a Norwegian citizen, this residency requirement is reduced to five years.
The period of permanent residence in Norway includes all years when you stayed out of the country for no more than two months at a time. For example, if you went on vacation for a month and a half, the entire year would still count towards the required duration. Once you have accumulated a total of seven years of permanent residence in this manner, you are eligible to apply for Norwegian citizenship.
If you are absent from the country for an extended period, such as the entire summer, that period will be subtracted from your total duration of residence in Norway. For example, if you were away for three months, only nine months would count towards the required period of residence instead of a full year. It’s important to note that if you consistently have prolonged absences like this over multiple years, it may delay your eligibility to obtain a passport. In such cases, the total duration of your residence may extend beyond the initial seven-year timeframe.
Stavanger, Norway. Photo by Vlad Kiselov (Unsplash)
The period of residence for obtaining Norwegian citizenship does not include years spent studying or residing in Norway on a student residence permit. Only certain grounds for stay are considered, such as official employment in the country, refugee status, or a residence permit granted for some other valid reason. One example would be if an individual obtains a PhD and engages in research work or if a residence permit was issued to a dependent spouse accompanying the main applicant. In such cases, after seven years of fulfilling the required criteria, both the primary applicant and their spouse can apply for Norwegian citizenship. It’s important to note that each residence permit taken into account during the application process must have a minimum duration of one year.
To obtain Norwegian citizenship through naturalisation, the following requirements must be met:
- A sufficient period of permanent residence in the country, which is either five or seven years depending on your circumstances.
- No criminal record or legal issues, as you will need to obtain a certificate from the local police station.
- No significant outstanding debts.
- Willingness to renounce your other citizenship if the country of the primary residence does not allow dual citizenship.
- Proficiency in the Norwegian language, along with knowledge of local history and traditions. This includes taking a special course in social sciences and passing an examination.
- Possessing a valid permanent residence permit.
Reine, Norway. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen (Unsplash)
In order to apply for Norwegian citizenship, it is essential that your residence permit remains valid throughout the entire processing period of your application. If you have resided in Norway for almost seven years and are planning to obtain citizenship but your permanent residence card is close to expiration, it is advisable to prioritise the renewal of your permanent residence status first. Once you have successfully renewed your permanent residence card, you can proceed with the application for a Norwegian passport. This ensures that you have the necessary legal documentation in place to support your citizenship application.
In addition, it is important to demonstrate to the officials reviewing your documents that you have not only fulfilled the required residency period, but also intend to continue residing in the country in the future. Providing evidence such as permanent employment contracts and property ownership can be particularly persuasive in this regard.
Unlike other Nordic countries, Norway introduced dual citizenship in 2020, allowing individuals to hold Norwegian citizenship without renouncing their citizenship from another country. However, it is crucial to consider how dual citizenship is viewed by your country of origin. When uncertain, it is advisable to seek guidance from lawyers and immigration specialists in both countries to ensure a clear understanding of the implications and requirements.
Obtaining Citizenship For Children
When applying for Norwegian citizenship and seeking passports for your children, it is important to understand the specific procedures involved. The required documents will vary depending on the age of the child. You have the option to apply for citizenship for your son or daughter simultaneously with the main application or separately after the main application has been approved. Familiarising yourself with the specific requirements and procedures will ensure a smooth process for obtaining citizenship for your children.
To apply for Norwegian citizenship for a child under two years old, you will need to provide the following:
- A valid residence permit or a document confirming that you have applied for it (this applies in cases where the residence permit has expired or the child has just been born).
- Confirmation that the child is currently living in Norway at the time of application and will continue to reside here in the future.
For children aged 2 to 18, the required documents are as follows:
- Proof of residence in the country for a minimum of the past two years.
- Previous residence permits covering a period of one year or longer.
- A police clearance certificate for children aged 15 or older.
- Consent to apply from children aged 12 or older.
Trondheim, Norway. Photo by Louis Droege (Unsplash)
Rights and Obligations After Becoming a Norwegian Citizen
After acquiring Norwegian citizenship, you will enjoy certain rights and obligations as a citizen. Here are some key aspects:
- Political Participation: As a Norwegian citizen, you have the right to participate in elections both as a voter and as a candidate. This means you can exercise your democratic right to vote for representatives and actively engage in the political process.
- Legal Protection: Upon becoming a Norwegian citizen, you are entitled to the full protection of the state. This includes the safeguarding of your fundamental rights and freedoms under Norwegian law.
Additionally, Norwegian citizens are obligated to serve in the Norwegian military. Citizens who have obtained their Norwegian citizenship through naturalisation, however, cannot serve in local police departments nor can they hold high administrative posts.
In A Nutshell
Obtaining Norwegian citizenship is a process that requires effort and commitment. You must fulfill a residency requirement of living in the country for more than five years, learn the Norwegian language, and prepare for the exam demonstrating your integration into Norwegian society and your understanding of the country’s language, customs and traditions. Once you become a Norwegian citizen, you gain the privilege of holding a Norwegian passport and may enjoy freedom of travel worldwide. Additionally, you will have the right to participate in local elections.