Dual Citizenship Adopted in Norway

Peace in Norway

After many years of campaigning, the Norwegian Government today amends the Citizenship Act to allow for the concept of dual citizenship.

The Parliament of Norway will today approve changes to the Citizenship Act that will allow Norwegians to hold dual citizenship, a move that brings Norway in line with much of the world. The changes will come into force one year after Norway notifies the Council of Europe of the change.

Update: The changes are set to come into force in 2020. Until then, existing rules apply.

“I think this is a joyous day. The law is from 1888. It is ripe for revision and must be adapted to the time we live in,” says Parliamentary representative Ove Trellevik.

Read more: The ultimate guide to moving to Norway

Some opposition parties supported the coalition government, although the Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet) and the Center Party (Senterpartiet) opposed the change.

Becoming a citizen is no easier

The long-awaited changes do not make it easier to obtain Norwegian citizenship. They will allow foreigners who already qualify for Norwegian citizenship to become Norwegian citizens without having to renounce their current citizenship.

Typically, a foreigner needs to be have been living in Norway for seven of the last ten years holding valid residence permits throughout that time. Additional demands include documented fluency in the language, along with an exam about Norwegian society, laws and history.

There is also no provision for people with Norwegian heritage (for example, a grandparent) to become citizens, without meeting the full criteria for citizenship.

With the amendment, people who have previously had to renounce their Norwegian citizenship could apply for its return.

Following a global trend

“As we allow double citizenship, we are ensuring that Norwegian law follows developments in a more globalised world, with more and more connections to more countries,” said Jan Tore Sanner, Minister of Knowledge and Integration, earlier this year.

Linn Helene Løken, Communications Manager of Norwegians Worldwide
Linn Helene Loken, Norwegians Worldwide

“Today there is reason to rejoice for many Norwegian families living abroad. This will make their lives easier and will have great emotional significance,” said Linn Helene Loken, Communications Manager of Norwegians Worldwide.

“Many Norwegians residing abroad because of studies, work and family, but also feel that a strong sense of belonging to Norway. Dual citizenship allows them to retain the connection to Norway.”

“Norway will finally be in line with the rest of the world when we now allow dual citizenship. This helps to recognize Norwegians abroad as an important part of the Norwegian community,” said Loken.

Why the opposition?

While the concept of allowing a person to hold two citizenships has received support from across the political spectrum, not everyone agreed.

One of the loudest critics was Centre Party leader  Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, who questions where a person's loyalties would lie in the event of war:

“If Norway is in conflict with another country, will a person with citizenship from both countries think only of Norwegian interests when they vote is in a Norwegian election?” he said in a Dagbladet article last month.

Stortinget, the Norwegian Parliament, in Oslo
The change was debated in the Norwegian Parliament

The Labour Party opposed the move because, among other things, of the potential to weaken the fight against forced marriage and the practice of sending children out of the country to “raise them”.

Parliamentary spokesperson Ove Trellevik counters that claim, saying it would be easier to follow up such cases when they are Norwegian citizens. “Then we have a legitimate right to enter into dialogue with other countries' authorities about Norwegian citizens,” he says.

Many years of preparation

Proposals to introduce a system of dual citizenship (known as dobbelt statsborgerskap) have been discussed for many years, but took a big step forward one year ago when Norway’s Parliamentary Committee recommended the Government remove the country’s ban, and then Norway's governing Høyre party announced their support.

Up until today, Norway had been the only country in the Nordic region, and one of the few in Europe that did not allow dual citizenship.

Although there were some exceptions, the roadblock had given many people some very difficult decisions to make about their very identity.

The amended law will be celebrated by foreign nationals in Norway who may have been nervous about renouncing their citizenship in order to take Norwegian citizenship.

Not just for foreigners in Norway

But it’s not just foreigners in Norway who stand to benefit. Norwegian families who live all around the world are celebrating too.

Dual citizenship in Norway

“We have been waiting for a long time!” said Hanne K. Aaberg, Secretary General of the organisation Norwegians Worldwide earlier this year:

“We are very pleased that the government will change an outdated and unfair legislation that has major consequences for Norwegian families around the world. This is a highlight for us and we look forward to everyone who is affected by the ban on double citizenship.”

“Many Norwegians move in and out of Norway several times throughout their lives, with the consequence that family members may have different citizenship. It creates problems and makes it difficult to move home.”

“Norwegians abroad make up an important and unrecognized resource for Norwegian society. Allowing dual citizenship is a fundamental issue for Norway's relationship with all Norwegians living and working abroad.”

“Norwegians who retain their Norwegian citizenship maintain a strong bond to Norway, and can also participate as full-fledged citizens in the country they work and live in.”

Reclaiming lost Norwegian citizenship

One interesting area in the bill and perhaps the one that caused the most debate was the provision for Norwegians who have previously lost their citizenship to be able to reclaim it.

Map of Europe

What the bill allows: The possibility to reclaim citizenship by notification applies to those who have lost their Norwegian citizenship because they applied and were granted a new, foreign citizenship. Because of the previous principle of only holding one passport, they had to renounce their Norwegian citizenship.

What the bill does not allow: According to Norwegians Worldwide, former Norwegian citizens who automatically lost their Norwegian citizenship because of “absence from the Kingdom” will have to apply for Norwegian citizenship in the regular way in order to reclaim dual citizenship, although the length of residency requirement is reduced.

Absence from the Kingdom means not having lived in Norway for at least two years before turning 22 years of age, or not having applied for retention of the citizenship before turning 22.

A bonus for Brexit-facing Brits

Many Brits living in Norway had been facing the prospect of having to give up their British passport to claim Norwegian citizenship (and therefore access to the EEA) in the event of a hard or “no deal” Brexit. The changes now mean that Brits who qualify can claim citizenship of Norway without having to renounce their British passport.

Read about the current requirements to become a Norwegian citizen.

Norway Weekly Email Newsletter

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.

40 Comments

    1. I am Norwegian by birth and moved to America with my mother in 1950…my father died in WW2.. i currently live in the Seattle WA area..and I am 68 years old.
      I have made a number of inquiries with the Norwegian consultant offices in California and Washington states to determine if I would be able to resecure my Norwegian citizenship…while they indicated they would speed the process toward citizenship I could not retain my US citizenship.. it is a matter of pride for me..
      I would be honored to regain my Norwegian citizenship.
      Einar Gustavson
      Einar [email protected]

      1. Einar- Good luck! Did you present your Norwegian birth certificate – Fødselsattest – to the Embassy? American via “notice of US birth abroad,” provided one of your parents had US Citizenship and gave notice of your birth. A notice is not an application. Technical and important difference. Check with legal professional.

      2. Hei Einar! If you’re 68 years old, I think your mother may have told you a little white lie about your father 🙂
        Good luck with your quest for Norwegian citizenship though, hope it all works out.

  1. I do hope this will pass, I never wanted to give up my Norwegian citizenship, but once my daughter was born it became difficult when we travelled. After 25 years or so in the US, I became an American citizen. It was a difficult decision and I never told my parents in Norway.

    1. Helene,

      I hope it will pass, as well. My story is just like yours, I lived in the US 30 years before deciding, for financial reasons, that I had to become an American citizen.

      Wonder if I can get my Norwegian citizenship back if it becomes law?

    2. I work in the tourism industry. I have been quite angry about people holding dual citizenship illegally when they aren’t supposed to. I have emailed passport details of a person’s dual nationality to governments that do not allow dual citizenship.

      1. She didn’t say she illegally held dual citizenship, she said she didn’t want to give up her Norwegian but that she did so after 25 years to get US citizenship (while not telling her Norwegian parents she is no longer Norwegian). This is presumably why she wants dual citizenship to pass so she so reclaim her Norwegian. Be a little less quick to rage Robert.

      2. Robert seems nice. Your tourism business must benefit greatly from the side job as self-proclaimed informant and wannabe State Dept officer. You do this with the consent of your clients, no doubt.

      3. Illegally Dual Citizenship. Never heard of that one before. There are $50.00 green cards for sale in California, but they look nothing like the real ones.

      4. Robert, you are a d!ck. Messing with others’ lives like this (especially your own clients’) is an unspeakable sin, you turd. (Pardon my language everyone else.)

    1. I agree 100%. I live in Norway but would never renounce my
      American citizenship. Being legally part of both countries
      would be a dream come through

    1. Short answer: it depends. I had dual citizenship because my mother was Norwegian, but I had to re-apply to keep it before I turned 22 (it was approved so I am currently a lifetime dual citizen of both the USA and Norway) . Here is more info from the UDI:

      If you were born before 1 September 2006, you became a Norwegian citizen at birth if:
      – your mother was Norwegian, or
      – your father was Norwegian and was married to your mother when you were born, or
      – your father died before you were born, but was a Norwegian citizen and married to your mother at the time of his death.

      If your father was Norwegian, but he was not married to your mother, you did not automatically become a Norwegian citizen. However, if you are under the age of 18, you can easily become a Norwegian citizen by handing in a notification of Norwegian citizenship.

      1. I was wondering about this since my mother is still a Norwegian citizen living in America – with a big family & half sister from my fathers side too- My fathers parents were Norwegian Citizens also- for heritage & family reasons I am hoping to be granted dual citizenship- though my skills st the language need improvement. TY

  2. I look forward to duel citizenship for Norway. My parents were born and raised there and I would like to apply for this privilege.

  3. Jeg har ventet i over 32 lange år på dette. Har fremeles mitt norske statsborgerskap. Snart kan jeg forhåpentligvis søke om amerikansk satsborgerskap og beholde mitt norske.

    Tusen takk til alle some har jobbet med saken.

    Med Vennlig Hilsen Roy Torgeirson

    1. Hei Roy,
      Denne saken gjelder hva Norge anerkjenner som statsborgerskap – ikke hva USA godkjenne. Hvis du ikke allerede er en amerikansk statsborger, må du navigere i labyrinten av USAs regler for å bli en. Det betyr lite om hva Norge aksepterer i den forbindelse med “Dual Citizenship.”
      Du kan godt søke om amerikansk statsborgerskap og men USA har litt vanskelig og komplisert godkjenning hvis du også ønsker å beholde norsk statsborgerskap –

      https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/travel-legal-considerations/Advice-about-Possible-Loss-of-US-Nationality-Dual-Nationality.html

      USA må også endre policy slik at den muligheten er to-veis.

      1. Den eneste grunnen til at jeg har beholdt mitt norske statsborgerskap er om jeg en dag jeg vil flytte tilbake til Norge. Jeg kunne hatt mitt amerikanske i 1989, men da ville jag ha mistet det norske. Problemet er ikke USA, de har ikke problemer med to statsborgerskap. Kjenner flere med to satsborgerskap som kom her med utvandrervisa i fra Europa. Problemet har vaert Norge hele tiden.

  4. Norwegian expats will not like to hear this, but as a Belgian citizen I find dual citizenship not a good idea. Dual citizenship has blocked the integration of new people coming into Belgium already for many decades.

    1. I live in Norway. Have done for 10 years. I haven’t integrated. I don’t speak the language & I hold strong to my home traditions. I will more than likely live in Norway for years to come. Will I ever give up my own citizenship for integration??? NEVER!!!

      1. Then why are you here? Why don’t you go back “home” instead of living in a country where you have no intentions of integrating?

  5. Hello. I was born on Askoy near Bergen in 1948 and my mother is Norwegian born. I still have aunts uncles and many couisins there as well. My father was with the British forces and then the Canadian and we apparently had to give up out Norwegian citizenship to be able to live here and also to be Canadian citizens. I am thinking I might like to retire in Norway. I will have a good pension from Canada so will be finicially okay. Would I still be considered a dual citizen or remain with my Norwegian one?

  6. Outstanding!! Will the same rules apply in the opposite, possibly?! As you know, my interests are for buying property in the Bergen area after retiring from the U.S.

  7. I would welcome dual citizenship. I have lived and worked in Norway for nearly 40 years, speak Norwegian fluently, though listening to tapes of my voice, still with a British accent. The recent brexit crisis means that I have been seriously contemplating applying for Norwegian citizenship to ensure I can stay here with my wife (Dutch). Also after 40 years I cant really think of leaving Norway. Dual citizenship would help greatly! I live in hope!

  8. My grandparents on my mother’s and father’s sides all emigrated from Norway to the US in the early 1900’s .Would I be able to apply for Norwegian citizenship and keep my US citizenship? Or would it be more reasonable to just apply for a Norwegian passport or would it be a visa? I guess I don’t really understand how these things work. What if I wanted to emigrate to Norway to live a more peaceful life? You know, escape the politics here in the US? It really is my ancestral home, after all! Too bad they left Norway back then but I know it was for economic reasons.

    1. Citizenship is the very last step for anyone moving to Norway, and something you can usually only apply for after seven years of full residency. There’s lots of articles under ‘relocation’ in the website menu’ that outline the various options for moving to Norway.

  9. My father who was born in Norway was still a citizen when I was born. At that time, the only way to claim Norwegian citizenship was if I was willing to give up my U.S. citizenship. I have close ties to Norway which I have maintained all these years. I speak the language and have close family member on both sides of my family who live there. Would it still be possible to claim Norwegian citizenship if this goes through and would my age be a problem (currently 69). I go back and forth to Norway every two years to visit with family and friends, and at this point would there be any advantage to doing so?

    1. All this change means is that people who successfully claim Norwegian citizenship wouldn’t have to renounce their previous citizenship. The citizenship process stays exactly the same.

  10. Would this also extend to tri-nationality? I am already a dual national but would be interested in Naturalizing. Am I right in assuming that the legislation will basically just remove the revocation requirement? So theoretically you could be a tri or quad national too (assuming your other countries do not revoke your citizenship for naturalizing as a Norwegian)?

  11. We immigrated to the U.S. when I was five years old in 1952. My parents kept their Norwegian citizen status. I had to give mine up as my work required American citizenship. I would really look forward to duel. My mother loved to keep up on politics. Too bad she could not vote .

  12. I got my US passport years ago, and i never gave up my Norwegian one, i just renewed on one of my trips back. JA, i am a bit nervous traveling in and out, i suppose custom would react if they found two of them?? SO I can’t wait for this to move onwards and we can have 2 passports. IT is simply a modern convenience this days.
    for now i stay anonymous !!

  13. im born and raised in Norway but had to become a US citizen because of I was a boat captain on a coastguard registered boat, I arrived to USA 25 year old, can i get dual citizen ship

  14. I am very happy about this decision. I am an American and not crazy about having to give up my citizenship and all the years I paid into Social Security in order to become a Norwegian citizen. I can now keep my SSI and still live in Norway. I will be able to be a citizen in less than 2 years thanks to the family reunion visa, as I have married a Norwegian native. We are both very glad it worked out.

  15. David Nikel said it best and most clearly. Thank you, David!

    All this change means is that people who can successfully claim Norwegian citizenship won’t have to renounce their previous citizenship. The citizenship process stays exactly the same.
    Citizenship is the very last step for anyone moving to Norway, and something you can usually only apply for after seven years of full residency. There’s lots of articles under ‘relocation’ in the website menu’ that outline the various options for moving to Norway.
    Thank you, David.
    Peter
    P.S. from Peter
    Born in Oslo in 1946, I was “naturalized” as a Canadian once my parents and I had been here 5 years. In my late-teens I worked on 3 Norwegian freighters; in my mid-twenties I went to Nansenskolen, (den Norsk Humanistisk Akadamie in Lillehammer and when I was thirty, I married a Norwegian.
    Naively thinking getting my Norwegian citizenship re-instated was a birthright, in my mid-thirties, I inquired how to go about it and was told, quite frankly, “The earlier you are in your twenties when you apply, the better your chances are of getting your citizenship back. After your twenties, you can pretty well forget it.”
    I don’t think that’s changed; I don’t blame them and; I’m still in love with Norway!

  16. Very well and concisely jotted down an important issue pending for long in Norway.
    I am Norwegian national living in Pakistan with my family and doing job here. I have been facing lot of difficulties here due to the status of foreign nationality. This is a very good news followed by The next step which would be signing MoU with the other countries like Pakistan to allow the dual citizenship.
    Comments in this regard be appreciated..

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