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

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
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 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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