How Norway is changing the rules for becoming a Norwegian citizen

Norway is making some significant changes to its citizenship rules including raising the language skills threshold and altering the amount of time it takes to become eligible for citizenship. Here's what you need to know. 

How Norway is changing the rules for becoming a Norwegian citizen
How will the changes to the citizenship rules affect you? Photo by Nicolai Berntsen on Unsplash

Norway will be making a few big changes to its citizenship rules that will make it more difficult for would-be Norwegians to obtain nationality and change the time it takes for most to become eligible to apply for citizenship.

From next year, Norway will make the language demands stricter by raising the threshold of language skills required to pass the citizenship test. In addition, the amount of time required to become eligible to apply will either increase or decrease depending on your earnings from next year also.

Below we’ll break down the changes and how they will affect you, and if you want to read more on who can become a citizen and how to apply, you can click here

Language skills threshold raised 

From January 1st 2022, the required level of Norwegian will be raised from A2 to B1 using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

A2 refers to an elementary level of Norwegian, and B1 is considered fluent or semi-fluent.

Meanwhile, mandatory Norwegian and social studies lessons will be removed as a requirement.

Exemption from the new language requirements will be granted if, for personal circumstances or health reasons, applicants are unable to reach level B1 in spoken Norwegian.

You can read the updated requirements on the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) website here.

If you applied for citizenship before January 2022, then the new requirements will not apply to your application. 

READ MORE: Citizenship: Norway to introduce stricter language requirements 

Changes to years of residence required for citizenship

From January 2022, the number of years you’ve spent in Norway in order to be able to apply for Norwegian citizenship will increase or decrease depending on how much you earn.

Potential applicants who earn more than 319,997 kroner per year, or what the government refers to as a “sufficient income,” will receive a boost to their hopes of becoming a Norwegian citizen, as the residence period will be lowered to six years out of ten years rather than seven. 

However, it will now take longer for those without a “sufficient” income to become eligible for citizenship. 

This is because the government is increasing the residence period needed for those with an annual income of lower than 319,997 kroner. 

Prospective citizens who do not earn a sufficient income will need to have been a resident of Norway for eight out of the past 11 years under the new rules; the current rules are that a would-be citizen will need to have been a resident for seven out of the last ten years. 

These change will not be applied retroactively, meaning as long as you apply before the rules come into effect, then they will not affect your application.

However, it does mean that if you are not eligible for citizenship under the new rules, you will need to apply before the regulations come into effect.  

You can read more about the change here on UDI’s website here

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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. 


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.