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Denmark announces new tightening of citizenship rules

A cross-party parliamentary majority has agreed to back a series of legislation changes on naturalisation of new Danish citizens, the country’s immigration ministry has announced.

Denmark announces new tightening of citizenship rules
A citizenship ceremony in Copenhagen in February 2020. Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

In a statement, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration confirmed an agreement for new citizenship rules had been reached between the Social Democratic government and three conservative parties: the Liberal, Conservative and Liberal Alliance parties.

Under the deal new rules will require citizenship applicants to have been in full time work or self-employment for three and a half of the last four years.

Five questions are to be added to the existing citizenship test, asking applicants about “Danish values”. 

“There is strong agreement amongst the parties that it is crucial an applicant has accepted Danish values,” the ministry statement reads.

Foreign nationals applying to become Danish citizens could also face individual interviews designed to test whether they have “Danish values”. The immigration ministry is to set out a model for the potential future introduction of such interviews.

Both the interviews and additional citizenship questions are in line with a proposal made by the Liberal party in February.

The Liberal party’s citizenship spokesperson Morten Dahlin called Danish nationality “a gift which must be earned”.

“The people whom we welcome into the Danish family must have taken Denmark on board and must stay on the right side of the law,” Dahlin added.


Under Danish law, citizenship can only be granted to foreign nationals via legal nationalisation: applications must actually be voted for by a parliamentary majority.

Accepted applications are normally processed via bills put in front of parliament twice yearly, in April and in October.

The bills will now be organised according to the nationality of applicants, a notable change from the current practice of listing them alphabetically.

As such, it will be easy to see which applicants are in the categories set out in the new agreement: “Nordic countries”, “other Western countries”, “‘Menap’ countries [Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan ed.] plus Turkey”, and “other non-Western countries”.

That appears to fall in with a suggestion made by the extreme right wing Nye Borgerlige (New Right) party during talks over the new rules, although that party is not a signatory to the final agreement.

Theoretically, categorising applications this way could make it easier for parliament to reject, or for individual parties to vote against, otherwise-approved citizenship claims based on the source country of the applicant.

The new rules also clamp down on would-be citizens who have broken Danish laws.

Under the new rules, persons with previous convictions for which they have received conditional or unconditional sentence are permanently barred from being granted Danish citizenship. Current rules allow people with unconditional sentences of up to one year to be granted citizenship following a suspension period.

Additionally, people who have received fines of at least 3,000 kroner for breaching immigration laws, welfare fraud or negative social control will now be required to wait for a suspension period of six months before being acceptable for naturalisation.

The agreement also states parliament will look into the possibility of revoking citizenship entirely from Danish nationals who have committed crimes, according to the ministry statement.

READ ALSO: Which European countries have the tightest rules for gaining citizenship?

The measure should aim to ensure citizenships can be “revoked as broadly as possible” according to the statement.

In the statement, the government also says that “if there is a sharp increase in the number of applicants for Danish naturalisation from applicants from outside of Europe, the government is obliged to summon the agreeing parties. The parties will then consider the need to change the existing rules”.

“We need to draw a line in the sand. People who have had prison sentences will not have Danish citizenship,” immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye said in the press release.

Member comments

  1. absolutely the right way to go. I moved to DK from another EU country last year – and would not expect to be treated any other way. I am guest in this country and if I want the citizenship (which my husband and son have), I need to behave and be relevantly “naturalised” (and that is not something happening in a few years).

    I have done a similar process in Switzerland – where my family moved when I was just a kid – and never felt anything else but being a guest in this country and having to behave accordingly before I could even think of applying for the citizenship (which btw was also an interview process in the commune, being questioned on “Swissness” by 5 people; it was fine). tough luck if you decide to break the law….

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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.