For members


Do children born in Sweden automatically get Swedish citizenship?

A Swedish passport comes with many benefits, and the country allows dual citizenship. But what are the rules for the children of foreign nationals born in Sweden?

Do children born in Sweden automatically get Swedish citizenship?
Not all newborn babies in Sweden are eligible for Swedish citizenship upon birth. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden allows dual citizenship, meaning it is possible for foreign residents to gain Swedish citizenship without giving up their old citizenship, if their country of origin also permits dual citizenship. There are a few benefits that only Swedish citizens have, such as an absolute right to live and work in the country and the right to vote in Swedish parliamentary elections.

Some jobs are only open to Swedish citizens as well: you must be a Swedish citizen if you wish to be elected to parliament or join the police or armed forces.

In addition to this, Swedish citizens hold EU citizenship, which gives them the right to free movement in EU member states, making it easier for them to live and work in other parts of the bloc.

Swedish at birth

Unlike other countries such as the US, people born in Sweden do not automatically gain Swedish citizenship.

Swedish citizenship is granted at birth to children who have at least one Swedish parent, regardless of whether the child is born in Sweden or not. This also applies to the children of deceased Swede. If a child’s deceased parent was a Swedish citizen when they died, the child is also entitled to Swedish citizenship.

Children under the age of 12 who are adopted by a Swedish citizen automatically gain Swedish citizenship if they fulfill the following criteria:

  • the official adoption decision was made in Sweden or another Nordic country
  • the child was adopted through a foreign adoption decision approved by the Family Law and Parental Support Authority (MFoF)
  • the adoption is legally valid in Sweden

This applies to adoptions occurring after June 30th, 1992.

Children over the age of 12 at the time of adoption must apply for Swedish citizenship.

Does a child born to foreigners need a residence permit?

A child of foreign nationals who is born in Sweden will not automatically gain Swedish citizenship upon birth. Depending on their parents’ citizenship, they may need to apply for a residence permit in order to live in Sweden legally.

Children with EU citizenship who have at least one parent with EU right of residence in Sweden (uppehållsrätt) do not need a residence permit to live in Sweden, as they inherit their parent’s right of residence on birth.

A child born in Sweden to non-EU parents will need a residence permit to live in Sweden. The Migration Agency will contact the parents once a non-Swedish child is born in Sweden with information on how to apply for a residence permit on the child’s behalf.

Once granted, the child’s residence permit will be valid for no more than two years, and parents will have to reapply once it runs out.

In order to be granted a temporary residence permit, applicants must have a valid passport, meaning that parents without EU citizenship should apply for a passport on their child’s behalf as soon as possible after the child is born. You don’t need to wait to apply for a residence permit though. The application can still be submitted before the child has a valid passport.

When can my child gain Swedish citizenship?

A child can gain Swedish citizenship after they have had the right of residence, a residence card, or a permanent residence permit in Sweden and once they have lived in Sweden for at least three years (two, if the child is stateless).

Both the child’s guardians (or one guardian, if the child only has one) must apply on their behalf, and the child must sign the application if they are over the age of 12.

Current citizenship application fees for children are 175kr (2022).

Member comments

  1. I’m surprised the Local, a left-wing rag, allows this comment to stand. Suprise suprise.

    Again – all those immigrating to Sweden and struggling with it – should consider Canada. Doors are wide open.

  2. Well well. What do we have here.
    I’m surprised The Local, a left-wing rag at best, would allow such comments to stand.

    And all I’ve ever done is encourage immigrants to consider Canada as another and better option. Especially those struggling to find a permanent place after their Ph.D (which is all but certainly useless).

    Expect to be deleted soon.

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For members


Why does Sweden renew passports so much more slowly than Denmark?

While people in Norway, Sweden and Finland all experience long waits for new passports, Danes usually need no more than a couple of days to obtain their new travel document.

Why does Sweden renew passports so much more slowly than Denmark?

Despite several attempts by police authorities in Sweden to reduce the waiting times for new passports, Swedish nationals in several parts of the Scandinavian country must wait for months in some cases before their application is processed.

The county (län) authority in Stockholm does not have available appointments for passport processing until October, for example, Swedish news wire TT wrote this week.

With pandemic restrictions severely limiting travel through much of 2020 and 2021, many people did not bother to renew their passports as they expired.

As a result, local police passport centres are now having to handle a large backlog of applications, at the same time as the usual applications from people whose passports are expiring this year. 

“Partly it’s because we’re about to go into high season, and partly it’s because people have not renewed their passports during the pandemic, but have waited until restrictions have been lifted,” Linda Ahlén, chief of the unit which handles passports in the Swedish police, told the TT newswire in February. 

READ ALSO: What’s behind the long wait to renew Swedish passports?

In Norway, passport applications are also handled regionally by police, with waiting times dependent on appointment availability.

The appointment system for Oslo shows the next available appointment slot as being in August. According to TT, a Norwegian police estimate has stated that the waiting times are between one and three months, depending on where in the country the applicant lives.

Meanwhile, the company which manufactures Norwegian passports, Thales, is facing government scrutiny over delivery delays on new passports and ID cards. Thales also manufactures passports for both Sweden and Finland.

A global shortage of raw materials due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine is related to the delays, the Norwegian Police Directorate said last month.

Norway has also seen a bottleneck in applications resulting from passports expiring during the pandemic, but the holders not renewing them because they could not travel.

Extended opening times for appointments and hiring of extra staff are amongst measures being taken in Norway to alleviate the issue.

READ ALSO: Long queues for Norwegian passports and ID cards due to production issues

Finland is also seeing congested ID card and passport services, with waiting times for appointments up to around eight weeks according to TT.

This is despite rules in Finland allowing some passport holders to renew their documents without physically attending appointments, for example if they submitted biometric data for their previous passport within the last six years.

“Right now there are many who have not renewed their passports as usual and we do not have enough available appointments,” Hanna Piipponen, head of passport administration with the Finnish police, told TT.

As many as 500,000 people in Finland are reported to be without a passport currently according to TT, with almost as many, 450,000 in the same situation in Norway.

Denmark, however, is not experiencing the same processing and production issues as its neighbours, with people in Copenhagen waiting as little as one or two days to receive new passports.

Municipalities, rather than the police, are responsible for processing new passports in Denmark. That difference is largely credited for the country’s favourable record when it comes to waiting times for renewals.

“It is not complicated to issue a passport and it’s good to have this close to the other citizens’ service,” Jette Bondo, office manager with Copenhagen Municipality’s Borgerservice (Citizens’ Service), told TT.

Danish passports are also valid for longer than Swedish and Finnish ones, with a ten-year expiry on Danish passports compared to five years for Swedes and Finns. Norwegian passports are valid for 10 years.

Bondo said that Copenhagen did experience some backlog in processing during summer 2021 as travel restrictions eased, with around 45,000 passports waiting to be processed at that time. The figure is now 10,000.

Municipalities in Denmark extended opening hours when they experienced a backlog of passport renewals, TT writes.

“We couldn’t sit back and say ‘sorry, but you can’t go to France this summer’,” Bondo told the news wire.