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What rights do you have in Sweden as a Nordic citizen?

If you are a citizen of Denmark, Finland, Norway or Iceland you are considered both a Nordic citizen and an EU/EEA citizen, meaning you can get some added rights. Here's what rights you gain if you become a citizen of another Nordic country.

What rights do you have in Sweden as a Nordic citizen?
People enjoying the view on Skinnarviksberget in Stockholm. Photo: Naina Helén Jåma / TT

Nordic agreement

Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland make up what’s known as the Nordic countries. These countries have an agreement which states that Nordic citizens have a right to live in whichever Nordic country they choose without the need for permits. The agreement also states that you may only be registered in one Nordic country at a time. 

EU/EEA citizens

As a Nordic citizen you are also considered an EU/EEA citizen. EU/EEA citizens and their families have the right to live and work in an EU/EEA country which is not their country of origin, as long as they meet the requirements for residency permits through work, studies or with sufficient funds. So if you move to an EU/EEA country outside of the Nordics, these rules apply.

Swedish residency from the Nordics

If you are a citizen of a Nordic country, you can freely travel to Sweden to live and work. You do not need a visa, work permit or residence permit.

You can stay in Sweden for up to one year but if you plan to live in Sweden for longer, you need to be registered in the Swedish population register (folkbokföringsregistret) which can be done by notifying the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket).

This can be done by visiting one of the Tax Agency’s offices. All members of the family who are moving to Sweden must visit at the same time.

If you have family members who are citizens outside of a Nordic country and if they are moving together with you, they need to have a residence permit (uppehållstillstånd) or right of residence (uppehållsrätt).

Swedish citizenship from the Nordics

Nordic citizens who have lived in Sweden for at least five years can often become Swedish citizens through notification, which is a simpler and cheaper process than that for EU citizens. 

For that process, the form “anmälan om svenskt medborgarskap för medborgare i Danmark, Finland, Island eller Norge” is filled out here and sent to the local country administrative board, along with a fee of 475 kronor.

The alternative is to submit a standard application for citizenship to the Migration Agency at the standard cost, which Nordic citizens can do after living in Sweden for two years.

If you’re granted Swedish citizenship, you can vote in parliamentary elections, stand for election to parliament, join the Swedish Police and Swedish Armed Forces.

READ MORE: How to get Swedish citizenship or stay permanently in Sweden

Norwegian residency from the Nordics

As a Nordic citizen, you don’t need a residence permit. You just need to book an appointment with the tax administration if you plan on staying in Norway for longer than six months. If you are moving to Norway together with your family, it is important that all family members come with you to the tax office.

You must also register in the National Registry. If you are registered as living in Norway, you are generally a member of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme (folketrygden) which gives you rights from the social insurance authority, the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV).

If you commute between Norway and another Nordic country because of work, you do not need to register in Norway but you need to notify the tax office. On the notification form, you can tick a box to show that you are a commuter. 

Norwegian citizenship from the Nordics

Nordic citizens over the age of 12 can apply for Norwegian citizenship after living in Norway for two years, rather than 6-8 years for EU citizens, and you don’t need to fulfil any further requirements.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to apply for Norwegian citizenship

Danish residency from the Nordics

As a Nordic citizen, you are able to work, live and study in Denmark without a residence permit. You just need to get a CPR (personal registration) number to register for tax and healthcare if you live in Denmark for more than six months.

You apply for a CPR number at the Danish National Register (folkeregistret). To do this you can contact your local municipality’s Citizen Service centre or one of the four International Citizen Service centres in Aalborg, Aarhus, Copenhagen and Odense.

You don’t need a passport to enter Denmark as a Nordic citizen but you need to carry some ID such as a driver’s license or bank card, in case you’re asked for it.

If your family members are not Nordic citizens, they need to either apply for a proof of registration or a residence card under the EU rules.

READ ALSO:

Danish citizenship from the Nordics

As a Nordic citizen, you can get Danish citizenship after living in Denmark for two years, rather than the nine years required for EU and non EU citizens. You still have to fulfil the other criteria for citizenship which includes:

  • Give a declaration of allegiance and loyalty to Denmark
  • Fulfil prior residency criteria
  • Be free of debt to the public sector and be financially self-sufficient
  • Have no criminal convictions
  • Hold a full-time job or have been self-employed for three and a half of the last four years
  • Meet criteria for Danish language skills 
  • Pass a citizenship test and demonstrate knowledge of Danish society and values

If you got Nordic citizenship that wasn’t through naturalisation (for example you got citizenship by birth rather than application) you can become a Danish citizen after living in the country for seven years, if you have not had a prison sentence during this time and are aged 18 or over.

READ ALSO: How do Sweden’s citizenship rules compare to Denmark and Norway?

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COMPARE: Which EU countries grant citizenship to the most people? 

Certain countries in Europe grant citizenship to foreign residents far more than others. Here's a look at the latest numbers.

COMPARE: Which EU countries grant citizenship to the most people? 

The number of people who were granted citizenship in a European Union country has risen and fallen in the past few years, a flux often driven by global events. 

Brexit, for instance, is likely to have played a role when the 27 EU countries recorded 844,000  ‘new citizens’ in 2016, a number that reached almost a million if the applications for UK citizenship are taken into account. 

The pandemic might have had an impact too, as fewer people were able to move across borders compared to the past.

According to the latest data by the EU statistical office Eurostat, in 2020 EU member states granted citizenship to 729,000 people, an increase from 706,400 in 2019 and 607,113 ten years earlier (2011).

The vast majority, around 620,600 or 85 percent, were previously citizens of a non-EU country, while 92,200 (13%) were nationals of another EU member state. Only Hungary and Luxembourg granted a majority of new citizenships to other EU nationals (67% and 63% respectively). Some 7.9 percent of people acquiring citizenship in the EU in 2020 were previously stateless.

Which countries grant most new citizenships? 

Each country has different rules about naturalisation, for example with regard to residence requirements, dual citizenship or family ties. 

Five countries account for almost three quarters (74%) of new citizenships granted in 2020: Italy, Spain, Germany, France and Sweden. 

Italy granted citizenship to 131,800 individuals, some 18 percent of the EU’s total. The Italian statistical office Istat noted that 80 percent were resident in Italy, an increase by 26% compared to 2019, while citizenships by marriage declined by 16.5 percent. The biggest proportion of ‘new citizens’ were from Albania, Morocco and Brazil, while Romanians were the largest group among EU nationals, followed by Polish and Bulgarians. 

Spain granted citizenship to 126,300 people, or 17 percent of the EU’s total, an increase by 27,300 – the largest in Europe – over 2019. Romanians were again the largest group of new Spanish passport holders among other EU nationals, followed by Italians and Bulgarians. The largest groups of new citizens were from Morocco, Colombia and Ecuador. 

Third in the ranking, Germany granted citizenship to 111,200 people, some 15 percent of the EU’s total, but 20,900 fewer than the previous year. The three largest groups acquiring German passport among non-EU nationals were from Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Britons were fourth.

Germany usually does not allow dual citizenship for non-EU nationals, but made an exception for British citizens until 31st December 2020, the end of the post-Brexit transition period. Although Germany’s new government is to change the law to allow for dual citizenship for third-country nationals.

Romanians, Polish and Italians were the largest groups of EU citizens naturalised in Germany in 2020. 

France granted 12 percent of new citizenships in the EU: 86,500 people in 2020.

In absolute terms, this was the largest decrease in the EU, with 23,300 fewer people naturalising as French than in 2019.

Among non-EU nationals, Moroccans, Algerians and Tunisians were the largest groups acquiring French citizenship. Britons were fifth. Romanians, Portuguese and Italians were the biggest groups from the EU. France, together with Germany, has a lower naturalisation rate of foreigners than the EU average (1.7 and 1.1  per 100 foreign citizens respectively compared to the EU average of 2). 

With 80,200 new citizenships, or 11 percent of the EU’s total, Sweden recorded a growth of 16,000 compared to 2019 and was the country with the highest number of new citizens in relation to the total population.

Sweden is also the country with the highest naturalisation rate (8.6 per hundred foreign nationals compared to 2/100 across the EU). People from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan were the largest groups naturalizing in Sweden among non-EU nationals, and Britons were fifth. Polish, Finnish and Romanians were the largest groups among EU citizens. 

As for the other countries covered by The Local, Denmark granted citizenship to more than 7,000 people, quadrupling the number who became Danish in 2019. The largest groups of new citizens originally from outside the EU were from the UK, Pakistan and Ukraine and, within the EU, from Poland, Germany and Romania. 

Austria, which allows dual citizenship in rare circumstances, recorded 9,000 new citizens, with the largest groups from Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia and Turkey (non-EU) and Romania, Germany and Hungary (EU). 

Overall, the largest groups acquitting citizenship in EU countries in 2020 were Moroccans (68,900 persons), Syrians (50,200), Albanians (40,500), Romanians (28,700) and Brazilians (24,100). 

Britons were the first non-EU group acquiring citizenship in Denmark, Ireland and Luxembourg and among the top three in Cyprus and Latvia. However the number of Britons acquiring citizenship of an EU country decreased by 13,900 compared to the previous year.

Naturalisation in an EU member state automatically grants EU citizenship and therefore rights such as free movement and the ability to vote in that country as well as in local and European elections around the bloc.

In terms of gender, women were more likely than men to acquire citizenship (51 percent versus 49 percent), except for Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania, Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Sweden. 

The median age of persons acquiring citizenship was 33 years. 36 percent of ‘new citizens’ were younger than 25, 42 percent were aged 25 to 44, and 23 % were children below the age of 15.

This article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK. 

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