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Norwegian Citizenship

Norway troll holding a flag

Is it time to get a second passport? Learn everything you need to know about how you can qualify to become a citizen of Norway.

It is possible for citizens of other countries to become citizens of Norway. However, it is not an easy process!

Generally speaking, you will need to have had legal residency in Norway for at least seven years to be able to apply. But as with all things related to immigration, it is highly dependent on your personal circumstances. Read on for more information.

Why become a citizen?

First things first, do you need to take citizenship? Many foreigners have been living in Norway for most of their adult lives and have not taken citizenship. If you have permanent residence here, the day-to-day differences are marginal. So, why become a Norwegian citizen?

Citizens of Norway can vote in national elections, and receive a Norwegian passport. The latter could be a good enough reason to apply depending on the “quality” of your original passport. What do I mean by that? Well, citizens of many countries face a lengthy visa process to travel to many countries.

According to the Henley visa restrictions index, Norway's passport is one of the best in the world for freedom of movement. Norwegian citizens enjoy visa-free or straightforward visa-on-arrival access to 173 countries and territories. We think that's something worth having!

So, let's take a look at how to do just that.

Marching bands Syttende mai

Double citizenship is on its way

Up until very recently, dual citizenship was not allowed. This meant that most applicants would have to renounce their previous citizenship in order to become a Norwegian citizen. There were some exceptions to this rule, but it stopped many people who qualified from going ahead with the process.

Norway was one of the few countries in Europe to have this restriction. Politicians had long been debating removing the restriction. In December 2018, the plans were finally approved with only minor opposition in Parliament. Opposition centred around issues such as whether people would have divided loyalties in a time of war.

Because the Council of Europe is involved in the law change and processes need to be updated, it will take time before the law comes into action. At the time of writing, applications for citizenship will not be required to renounce their existing citizenship from January 2020 onwards. It's important to note, however, that if you apply before this time, the old rules still apply.

How the process works

How do you become a Norwegian citizen? There is an online application process, but the requirements differ for different groups of people. Some of the factors include the type of residence permit you have, how long you have been in Norway, whether you have family here, and if you have previously been a Norwegian citizen.

The rules typically fall into two broad categories:

  • The length of time you've lived in Norway
  • Your level of documented fluency in Norwegian

Now let's look into more detail at each of these points.

Residency period

Generally speaking, you must have lived in Norway for a total of seven of the past ten years. In addition, you must have held valid residence permits (such as a work permit) that cover that period of time. The rules for residency depend, among other things, on whether you are a citizen of an EU/EEA country or not.

Hiking near Sæbø, Hjørundfjord
Hiking near Sæbø, Hjørundfjord (Photo: Mattias Fredriksson / www.fjordnorway.com)

If you are married to, or are the registered partner or cohabitant of a Norwegian national, the time you have lived in Norway, you must have lived in Norway for a total of at least three years during the past ten years. You must also meet the requirements for permanent residence.

Typically, time spent away from Norway for more than two consecutive months in a calendar year extends the amount of time required for residency by the same amount.

So if you lived overseas for a year in the middle of your seven-year period, the time required extends to eight years. You must also intend to continue to live in Norway once you have been awarded citizenship.

Language ability

Fluency in Norwegian is a non-negotiable when applying for citizenship. Applicants must have completed 250-300 hours (depending on your circumstances) of approved tuition in the Norwegian language or be able to document sufficient skills in Norwegian or Sami languages.

Norwegian idioms

This means you must have passed the Norskprøve written and oral tests (levels 2 or 3), the Bergenstest, or another oral and written Norwegian test. The minimum level you need to have attained is A2 or B1, depending on your current country of citizenship.

Since 2014, applicants for Norwegian citizenship must also pass an exam about Norwegian society, laws and history. This is known by some people as the citizenship test.

Nordic citizens

The biggest exception for citizenship rules is for nationals of the other Nordic countries. The Norwegian Nationality Act of 1950 allows any Nordic citizen who has been legally living in Norway for at least two years and can understand Norwegian to become a citizen upon application.

There are reciprocal rules for Norwegian citizens who are living in other Nordic countries and wish to become a citizen there.

Family immigration

As with almost every country in the world, citizenship by birth is not applicable in Norway, unless the child has a Norwegian parent. This means children of a foreign-born couple do not automatically become Norwegian citizens. However, if you were born in Norway to foreign parents, or moved here as a child, there is a shorter residence period requirement for the citizenship application.

There is also no provision for people with Norwegian heritage to become citizens by heritage. This means that someone identifying as “Norwegian American” is not entitled to Norwegian citizenship because they had a Norwegian grandparent. Individuals in such cases have to meet the criteria for citizenship listed above, including the length of time with permanent residence in Norway and documented fluency in the Norwegian language.

Citizenship by heritage is very rare and is only really possible in Ireland and Italy. A handful of other countries offer something similar in very specific circumstances, but Norway is not one of those.

Norway immigration guide

How to apply for citizenship

If you hold a valid residence permit in Norway and you live here on a permanent basis, you can apply for Norwegian citizenship. Your residence permit must be valid both when you apply and while your application is being processed.

It's very important to understand that applying for Norwegian citizenship does not mean that you have a valid permit to stay in the country. If you are here on a work permit and apply for citizenship, you must still apply to renew your work permit.

The actual process of starting an application is handled online, although you will have to hand over documents in person. To begin your application, complete the application form on the UDI website. You will be given an appointment to present your papers in person.

There is an application fee, which at the time of writing is 4,200 kroner. This must be paid by debit or credit card during the initial application process. Those under the age of 18 do not pay.

The UDI Office in Oslo, Norway
Norwegian Immigration Office

Items you will need depend on your personal circumstances but will include the following:

  • Birth certificate
  • Certificate of marriage / partnership
  • A full list of entries and departures to Norway, including a copy of all the pages in current and previous passports
  • Tax returns covering the qualification period
  • A police certificate proving good conduct
  • Proof of language competency (exam results)

After becoming a Norwegian citizen, you will be invited to participate in a voluntary citizenship ceremony.

Questions?

Despite the number of people commenting below, please note that I do not work in immigration and cannot help or advise on individual cases. I am just a writer! The information above is a summary of what is available on the UDI website. Questions should be directed there. Thanks!

Citizenship of Norway: How to become a citizen of Norway. Everything you need to know.

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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.

41 Comments

  1. I am a Norwegian citizen. Have lived and studied in Norway before returning to South Africa. In 2003 I went to the Embassy to renew my passport. The documents was taken and I never heard from them. I tried to contact the embassy with no avail. I am still interested to retain my citizenship and go back for some time.
    Please advise

    Regards

  2. Where can I find a job and/or Norwegian husband? My biological family is from Norway. I was given for adoption in America, but my heart is in Norway. I have been there.

  3. hey am Derrick currently living in Kenya…. uhmm which is the easiest way for me to get permanent residence if an uncle of mine is a norweigian citizen and he has agreed to sponsor me

  4. iam from pakistan and have nationlaty iam of 46 2children therefore how i would become a permament resident of norway

  5. If my great grandparents were born in Norway and emigrated to Norway, can I become a Norwegian citizen if I pass the tests?

  6. Hi David,
    Thanks for providing this information about Norway’s immigration policy. I was sorry to read that there is no provision for heritage. My heritage is a hundred percent Norwegian, second generation American on my father’s side, and first generation American on my mother’s side. There’s even an island in northern Norway called Dyro, or Dyroa, which happens to be my last name. LOL, I was hoping that this would count for something, but after reading your information I was saddened to find out I was wrong.

  7. Wonderful informative article. So glad to learn that Norway has the good sense to think carefully and thoroughly about Immigration. I totally support all the restrictions and policies now in place. Wise and intelligent while the rest of most the world is becoming more chaotic moment by moment.

    1. Chaotic for sure. But reactionary and with survival as the goal. It must be so hard to find a safe haven to move towards when home is violent and unsafe. Unpredictable and literally not safe.

    2. This article does not address individuals seeking asylum or those who have refugee status. All nordic countries take in high numbers of refugees per capita.

  8. Hi my dad and his whole family were born and live in norway, my mother is from NZ where i was born. I have been living in australia for the last 10 years and have recently returned from a trip to Norway and was wondering what my chances are of getting citizenship? Thanks.

  9. Hi,

    I was born in the United States to a Norwegian father who was not a US citizen when I was born but he was born in Norway. Later he became a US citizen. Am I eligible for Norwegian citizenship?

  10. My son had Norwegian citizenship through marriage and lived in Norway for several years. He sadly passed away and is buried in Norway.

    Would it be possible for me and my only son left to apply for citizenship in Norway. If so, what is the criteria please?

    I am from South Africa and a pensioner. I want to apply for sole Norwegian citizenship and renounce my South African citizenship.

  11. I think you failed to mention if one of your parents is Norwegian that you must apply for citizenship before you reach age 21. I found this out way too late, sadly.

  12. “Citizenship is not automatically given to individuals born in Norway unless they have a Norwegian parent.” – – – Boy, if only Donald Trump had thought of that we wouldn’t need to build a wall so much.

  13. I was born in Oslo –my mom and dad was born in Norway –all my family on both sides were born and lived in Norway till they passed away -I have several first cousins born and lives in Norway –my family goes back centuries all born in Norway –I went to school in Norway as a child — my mom and dad immigrated to the USA when I was 11 my brother 15 -I became a US citizen when I was19–I been back to Norway many times over the years to visit my family–I speak Norwegian– am I eligible to get a dualNorwegian citizenship

  14. Hi, thanx for your informations.
    I and my husband are Italian citizens but we got married in Norway: this circumstance could be condition to get easier Norwegian citizenship?
    Thank in advance for your answer.
    Daniela

  15. I am a Norwegian citizen living in the US for 30+ years. My son is 32 – born in the US, and we applied for and had both Norwegian and US passports for him. These were renewed through the age of 21. We have gone to Norway with him at least once a year and have strong family ties there. However, as I understand it he automatically lost his Norwegian citizenship at 21 unless he gave up his US citizenship. While I am happy to be able to gain US citizenship and retain my Norwegian one, would it be possible for my son to regain his Norwegian citizenship without moving there and passing language and other tests?

  16. Are there any changes for children of dual citizenship in law amendment approved by parliament in November? I am Norwegian and my children are Norwegian and British. However, they have never lived in Britain or Norway and I am curious if the minimum living in Norway period will remain 2 years before age of 22 in order to retain Norwegian citizenship. They all speak Norwegian and have visited Norway all their lives.

  17. I was born in Norway and emigrated to the USA at a young age on a U.S. Greencard (Permanent Resident Alien). Held a Norwegian Passport until I was 22 years old, when I took out my US citizenship and was issued a US Passport. I still have my expired Norwegian Passport and Norwegian Birth Certificate. My Norwegian language skills are still pretty good. What is the best way to proceed to obtain dual citizenship?

    1. If I understand your circumstances right, you can reclaim your Norwegian passport if you were forced to give it up, when the new double citizenship rules come in from January 2020.

  18. It is ashame that Norway do not recognise Norwegian blood-line heritage in some way. I live in Australia and my grandfather (Lars Larsgaard) came here as a child with his parents. Naturally, my mother (86) has 50% and I (63) have 25% Norwegian blood line heritage.

    Australia is a multi-cultural country and people from all around the world can obtain Australian Citizenship or Residency after passing the necessary conditions. Depending on the country they come from many can hold duel passports. I can understand that it shouldn’t be easy to qualify for duel passports, but I am like a lot of other people are very proud of my Norwegian heritage and it would be great if the Norwegian government would recognise it for non residence.

    Even now because of multiculturalism people have to do DNA testing to find out their heritage, which is sad if a living generation of people know their heritage but that government will not recognise it.

    1. But as one parliamentarian made the point about war: Whose side would you chose? Denouncing your citizenship to one country is not as easy mentally as one thinks. Many people up here write their heart is in Norway, what about their allegiance to their home country? I can see the point. This is why UDI handles such matters.

    2. Dual citizenship and allowing citizenship by heritage are two completely different things. Norway allows dual citizenship from January 2020. And anyway, there’s an almighty difference between “recognising” heritage and handing out passports, which give full access to the welfare system for people who have never paid in anything…

  19. Hello David,

    I find your article very informative. However, I would just like to clarify something.

    1. At the time that a person applies for Norwegian citizenship are they allowed to visit their home country on a yearly basis?

    2. If you are in Norway through marriage, and is currently working on the citizenship will divorcing your partner who is a Norwegian national affect your application?

    I hope you will answer.

  20. Reading these comments makes me realize that, for some incomprehensible reason, people ask questions that were explicitly addressed in the article. It pains me. Read the article.

  21. I am Norwegian born and my mother is Norwegian as well though we both now are Canadian citizens. Can we get dual citizenship when it goes thru parliament? also I only lived in Norway for 2or 3 years when I was young and have not lived there since nor worked there.. I am I eligible for a pension of any kind? The embassy gave me a link to check but they did not clarify whether I could get it without going thru the whole process. Is it worth my pursuing or not/ Any info would be helpful. Thanks

  22. So..I wanted to move to Oslo, Norway someday. I want my career and life to be there. I am not Norwegian tho and I know it’s gonna be rough for me. I thought it was gonna be easy, but when I looked as read all of this…it seems hard. Is there any easier way? Tbh with you, I’m dumb. I feel like I wouldn’t even pass the exam. (I forget things to quickly!) I love someone over there and promised to one another that we’ll have the best life. I’m losing hope…WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE SO DIFFICULT?! *cries*

    1. This article is about citizenship – you don’t need to be a citizen to travel to Norway or start working here. Citizenship is the very last step in a long process that takes many years.

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