Norwegians shocked to learn they're really Swedes
Paul O'Mahony · 3 Aug 2007, 11:58
Published: 03 Aug 2007 11:58 GMT+02:00
Malin Aass was looking forward to a holiday in France with her mother when a shock decision from the passport office suddenly prevented her from travelling.
"My mother is Swedish but my father is Norwegian and I have lived in Norway my whole life. I want to be Norwegian," she told The Local.
Until recently she did not believe her Norwegian citizenship to be in any doubt.
"She automatically became a Swedish citizen when she was born because her mother is from Sweden," Malin's father, Lars Aass, explained.
"But in 1999 we put in an application for a Norwegian passport. She was given a three-year passport, which we had no problem renewing in 2002," he added.
Unbeknownst to the Aass family however, the Oslo passport office had in fact made a mistake. Since the girl's parents were not married at the time of her birth, Malin was not entitled to dual citizenship.
The error was discovered this summer when the time had come to once more renew her passport.
Tormod Ødegård, head of the Oslo passport office, told The Local that he could not comment on this particular case.
He did however explain that the law has been changed in recent years.
"It is now sufficient for one of the parents to come from Norway for citizenship to be granted," he said.
But technological advances at the passport office have now led to the detection of errors that were made prior to the change in legislation. As a result, the Swedish Embassy in Oslo has had to deal with a number of people who had long believed themselves to be Norwegians.
"Some of the people who come to us are really shocked," Lena Blombergsson, Counsellor at the embassy, told The Local.
"We have had an average of two or three cases a week for the last few months," she added.
Although Malin Aass does not want a Swedish passport, Blombergsson reckoned that emergency documentation could be rushed through in "a couple of days" should she change her mind.
An exasperated Lars Aass had been hoping for a similar response from the Norwegian authorities.
"They have said it will take ten months for her citizenship application to be processed.
"I wanted them to say: 'we made a mistake, now let's help you sort this out'. But they are bureaucrats and they just say that the mistake happened a long time ago and was not their fault.
"What really annoys me is that I pay their salary, yet they would not even write a letter to the UDI [Norwegian Directorate of Immigration] to help speed up the application," he said.
Without a Norwegian passport or Swedish ID number, Malin Aass is effectively stateless.
"I can't understand that this is happening. I want Norwegian citizenship but now I can't go anywhere," she said.