Welcoming ceremony for all ‘new Swedes’

All new Swedish citizens are to be offered the opportunity to take part in a 'welcoming ceremony', democracy minister Jens Orback has announced.

“It is important that people who become Swedish citizens are also regarded as Swedish and can feel Swedish,” said the minister.

“That’s a question of attitude but also of how, practically, we welcome new citizens.”

A number of authorities across Sweden already offer such ceremonies, which are usually held in the local town hall on June 6th, Sweden’s national day.

But the majority of ‘new Swedes’ simply receive confirmation of their citizenship by registered post.

“To celebrate citizenship is one way for society to show that it is something valuable which strengthens the community,” said Orback.

A couple of years ago the government asked the integration department to look at the experiences of local authorities and report on the best way of applying this to the whole country.

At the moment the number of ceremonies across the country varies wildly. 19 out of 26 local authorities in the Stockholm district offer them, compared to 11 out of 42 in Västra Götaland and just 6 out of 33 in Skåne.

“What’s new is that all new citizens will now be invited to a ceremony,” Gunnar Hermanson, undersecretary to Jens Orback, told The Local.

The task of organising the ceremony will still be the responsibility of the local authority. But if they decide not to mark the occasion, the government will provide new citizens with an alternative event.

But the ceremonies will not be compulsory.

“Many people have reacted very positively to the ceremonies,” said Hermanson.

“Although others choose not to go.”

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Louis Roper