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NEWSLETTER

What’s the difference between becoming a permanent resident in Norway and gaining Norwegian citizenship? 

Once you've lived in Norway for a certain amount of time, you'll become eligible for permanent residency and, in many cases, Norwegian citizenship. Either status grants you more security to stay in Norway long-term, but there are some important differences between the two.

What's the difference between becoming a permanent resident in Norway and gaining Norwegian citizenship? 
How much more of an advantage is it to have a Norwegian passport?Photo: Wellingtons Travel/FLickr

What is the permanent residence permit and who is eligible for it?

Permanent residency enables foreign nationals to live and work in Norway indefinitely. It also gives extra protection against expulsion from Norway. 

The rules for permanent residency have a lot to do with individual situations, but they are primarily based heavily on your citizenship and how long you have been living in Norway. 

You are eligible to apply for permanent residence (PR), after you have lived legally in Norway for at least three years.

Obviously nationals from Nordic countries as well as EU/EEA citizens don’t need to apply for a residence permit before moving to Norway, but if you come from outside the EU/ EEA you will have to apply for a permit before travel.

READ MORE: How to apply for permanent residency in Norway

And in order to have been considered a “continuous” three year resident prior to applying, you must not have lived outside the country for more than six months during a year within those three years. Although there are some exceptions worth noting including for pregnancy and illness.

Note that as of December 10th, 2020 the government raised the minimum period to apply for permanent residency from three years to five years for certain individuals such as asylum seekers.

Permanent residency card holders in Norway are entitled to automatic membership of the Norwegian national insurance scheme which will give them access to benefits such as welfare options, health care, and other valuable advantages. In order for a residence card holder to keep this membership they must not leave the country for a longer period than 12 months. 

The fee to apply for permanent residence is 4,700 kroner (471 euros). There is no application fee for those applicants who are younger than 18 years. While work permits allow a foreigner to legally stay and work in Norway, it is often necessary for the individual to keep the specific job the permit was issued for. A foreigner that is the owner of a permanent residence card has a little more flexibility. If they chose to change occupations or take a break to study they can do so freely without having to apply for a different type of residency permit. 

When it comes to voting, a permanent residency card holder is allowed to take part in local and municipal elections. You are eligible to become a voter after you have lived in Norway consecutively for the past three years (via Valg). 

If you decide to travel outside of the country as a permanent residency holder you must have your PR card, or proof of residency, in order to get back inside the country. So keep close track of your PR card at home and most importantly, while abroad. There are cases where passport control will allow you back in with a stern warning. But they are allowed to refuse re-entry or detain you for further investigation. 

What about Norwegian citizenship?

The rules for applying for citizenship in Norway rely heavily on specific factors like your existing nationality, how long you have lived in Norway, when you came to Norway and whether you are married or the partner of a Norwegian. Though time wise, the general rule is that you must have lived in the country for at least seven of the past ten years to be considered eligible. 

READ MORE: How to apply for Norwegian citizenship?

The application to apply for citizenship as an adult is 3,700 kroner (€371) and the fee is waived for anyone applying under the age of 18. 

As with permanent residency, you are allowed to keep and use your native passport. As of January 1st, 2020, it became legal to hold dual citizenship in Norway. This would also allow a dual citizen to receive consular aid from both Norway and their home country if ever needed. 

Traveling as a Norwegian citizen can be easier in comparison to those who have permanent residency. Having a Norwegian passport could eliminate costly and timely visa applications as well as make it easier to re-enter the country after travel.  According to the Passport Index, Norway is ranked at number four on the global passport power ranking list. This high ranking is partially based on the fact that Norwegian passport owners are allowed to freely enter 86 different countries without needing a visa. 

Norwegian citizenship means you can live and study abroad for longer than one year and still be a part of the national insurance scheme. You are also eligible to move to neighbouring Nordic countries without losing your citizenship.

In addition to being able to vote in local and municipal elections, citizenship allows you to take part in national elections as well. This is a huge benefit for foreigners who are deeply interested in taking part in national matters such as introducing new legislation, imposing tax and public spending. 

Citizenship does have a demand that you learn the Norwegian language and at least have basic knowledge of it. According to UDI, applicants must have passed an A2 oral Norwegian test  in order to apply for citizenship. Citizens from neighbouring Nordic countries are omitted from this rule, as long as they show a demonstrated understanding of the Norwegian language.

Useful vocabulary

statsborgerskapcitizenship

oppholdstillatelse – permanent residency 

søknad – application 

krav – requirements 

valg – vote

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READER QUESTIONS

Do children born in Norway automatically get citizenship?

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

Do children born in Norway automatically get citizenship?

Norway opened the door to dual citizenship two years ago, meaning foreign residents could become citizens of the country without giving up their existing passport. 

Norwegian citizenship comes with a number of benefits, whether it’s the right to vote, being automatically enrolled into the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, or simply having a Norwegian passport, one of the most powerful travel documents available. 

READ MORE: 

Some may assume that because their children were born in Norway, they will be entitled to citizenship automatically. However, this isn’t the case and not all children born in Norway automatically become Norwegian citizens.  

If both parents are foreign nationals

Children who are born to two parents who are foreign nationals and who are not citizens of Norway do not automatically become citizens. 

Instead, parents will need to apply for a residence permit if the parents are from outside the EU or European Economic Area (EEA), register the child as an EU/EEA national if they are nationals from within the EU/EEA, or apply for a residence permit under the family immigration rules

If you are required to apply for residence for the child, you will need to do so before they turn one. 

Those who are adopted, are under 18  and have an adoption licence issued by Norwegian authorities automatically become Norwegian citizens if they were adopted after September 1st 2006. 

To be eligible for citizenship, if both parents are non-Norwegian citizens, the child will need to be over 12, live in Norway and plan on living in the Scandinavian country in the future. They will also need to have lived in Norway for five of the past seven years and held residence permits valid for more than a year each. Those over 15 will need to apply for a criminal record certificate. You must also fulfil all the permanent residency requirements while the UDI process your application. This means you must not have been outside of Norway for a total of ten months in the last five years. 

Children over 16 will need to have completed mandatory training in the Norwegian language and passed the concluding tests, or if they have received a final assessment grade in Norwegian at secondary school or upper secondary school, they can apply to the municipality for an exemption. 

You can apply here. Application fees for children under 18 are waived. There will also be an ID check to confirm your identity. 

As the applicant is under 18 the parent will be applying on the child’s behalf. 

If one parent is a Norwegian citizen

Children with one parent who is a Norwegian citizen and born after September 1st 2006 automatically become Norwegian citizens at birth.

This applies regardless of whether the child was born abroad or if the parents were married at the time. 

The rules are tighter for offspring born before September 1st 2006, though. Those born before this date are Norwegian citizens from birth if their mother was Norwegian, or their father was Norwegian and married to the mother before the birth, or if the father died before birth, was Norwegian and was married to the mother at the time of his death. 

However, those born to a Norwegian father but who aren’t automatically citizens can become citizens relatively easily by handing in a notification of Norwegian citizenship. You can do this in Norway or from abroad. 

Those born before 1979 will need to contact the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI), as per the immigration directorate’s advice

If I become a Norwegian citizen after my child is born, do my children qualify for Norwegian citizenship? 

Children under 18 can also apply for citizenship if their parents have become Norwegian since the child was born or are applying for Norwegian citizenship. 

When the parent is applying for citizenship, the parent’s and child’s applications can be lodged together. Joint applications also require the parent to meet the citizenship requirements that apply to them

Under these circumstances, the child must have resided in Norway for the past two years and held residence permits that were each valid for at least one year. To qualify as having stayed in Norway for two years, the child must not have been abroad for more than two months per calendar year for two years. These rules apply to children aged between two and 18. 

The rules for children younger than two are slightly different

We moved to Norway after our child was born, what are the citizenship rules for them? 

Children under 18 and over 12 can apply for citizenship. They must live in the country full time, have a valid resident permit when they apply and whilst the application is processed.

They must have also been a full time resident of Norway for five of the last seven years. In addition to this, applicants over 15 must submit a criminal record certificate and meet the requirements for permanent residence. 

If one or both of the parents is a Nordic citizen and the child has lived in Norway for two years you can apply once you are over the age of 12.

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