Denmark passes law enabling withdrawal of jihadists’ citizenship

An expedited bill, enabling the immigration minister to revoke the passports of Danes who join foreign militant groups, was passed by parliament on Thursday.

Denmark passes law enabling withdrawal of jihadists' citizenship
Immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye speaks to Nye Borgelige (New Right) leader Pernille Vermund earlier this month. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

The law is aimed primarily at individuals who have fought for the Islamic State (Isis) terror group in Syria and Iraq.

All parties on the right voted in favour of the bill, as did the governing Social Democrats. Left-of-centre parties the Social Liberals, Red Green Alliance and Alternative voted against, while the Socialist People’s Party abstained.

Passing of the bill makes it possible for Minister for Immigration and Integration Mattias Tesfaye to strip individuals termed ‘foreign fighters’ (fremmedkrigere) of citizenship without trial.

READ ALSO: Should Danish parliament have power to revoke passports?

Individuals stripped of their passports under the law will be given a four-week window in which they can appeal against the decision.

A number of objections had been raised over the process the law provides for, including that a person can simply be informed their passport has been withdrawn via Denmark’s secure email system, e-boks, potentially while they are in a conflict zone.

A provision has now been included to enable dispensation to be applied for if the four-week deadline for appeal is not met.

“It will be viewed as being that if you can’t (appeal) on time, you will be able to exceed the four-week deadline and it will ultimately be a judge that decides whether it was out of your control to appeal by the deadline,” Tesfaye said to DR Nyheder on Wednesday.

During the first reading of the bill on Wednesday, a majority emerged in favour of a so-called ‘sundown clause’, which puts an expiration date – summer 2021 – on the law, by which time parliament will have to vote to re-pass it.

“We proposed a bill without a sundown clause but received a large number of responses during the hearing period from organizations that felt it was a good idea,” Tesfaye told Ritzau on Wednesday.

“That’s way I decided to include the clause, so as many as possible can back the bill. That means that, by the end of the next parliamentary period in summer 2021, we must reconfirm the law,” he continued.

“We will then be in a situation whereby we can assess how the law has worked. Perhaps there will be a need to adjust a little,” he said.

READ ALSO: Denmark to strip jihadists of nationality amid fear of returns

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Do you need to get a Danish passport after obtaining citizenship?

In Denmark, obtaining a Danish passport is not legally required after gaining citizenship. However, there are several reasons why getting one is a good idea.

Do you need to get a Danish passport after obtaining citizenship?

When you become a citizen of Denmark, you are eligible to apply for a Danish passport, but it’s not a legal obligation.

READ MORE: How to apply for citizenship in Denmark

This approach offers flexibility for those who may already have a travel document from other nations or do not wish to apply for a Danish passport immediately.

However, while not a legal requirement, there are considerable benefits to holding a Danish passport.

Why it’s a good idea to get a Danish passport

The document allows hassle-free travel across the European Union (EU) and numerous other countries, as it’s a reflection of the country’s strong diplomatic ties worldwide.

While new citizens of Denmark are not restricted to using a Danish passport for international travel travelling with a non-Danish passport might require additional visas or entry permits, depending on the destination.

Therefore, the Danish passport serves as a form of identification, simplifying bureaucratic and ID processes within and outside Denmark.

They also highlight to the Danish border force that you are exempt from any restrictions or requirements when crossing onto Danish soil.   

Consular assistance for passport holders

With a Danish passport, you can access consular services and assistance provided by Danish embassies and consulates worldwide.

They effectively extend the reach of Denmark’s government into foreign territories, offering a broad range of services – including emergency assistance, legal services, passport replacement, travel information, and others – that can be vital to Danish passport holders who encounter challenging situations during their travels abroad.

If you face a medical emergency, the consulate or embassy can help you locate medical facilities, contact your family, and provide guidance on dealing with local authorities.

Furthermore, they also offer notarial services such as document legalisations and certifications, often required for legal proceedings in foreign countries.

You can find the contact information for Danish embassies and consulates on this page of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Dual citizenship and passports

Dual citizenship, which refers to people legally recognized as citizens of two countries simultaneously, makes things somewhat different.

READ MORE: What does gaining Danish citizenship mean to dual nationals?

Until 2015, Denmark’s policy was generally against dual citizenship. It required people to renounce their previous nationality when becoming Danish citizens.

In September 2015, Denmark changed its laws to allow dual citizenship. This means that you can now hold Danish citizenship and another nationality without giving up one of them.

Once your second citizenship is granted, provided it’s Danish, you’ll be eligible (though not obligated, as we’ve already explained) to apply for a Danish passport.

You’ll have to follow the standard application process, which involves applying at a local police station in Denmark or Danish consulates abroad if you’re residing overseas.

Furthermore, you’ll need to hand in the required documentation (proof of citizenship, ID, etc.) and pay a fee.

The Local has a deep-dive explainer on the rules for dual-nationals travelling in Denmark, where you can find more details on the issue.