Half of those granted Norwegian citizenship held a European citizenship. There were especially many transitions among persons from the Nordic countries and other countries in the EU/EEA area (including the United Kingdom). The largest number of transitions happened among those with Swedish (4 600), Eritrean (3 600) and Russian (3 200) citizenship.

Increase in naturalisations after legalisation of dual citizenship

There has been a significant increase in the number of naturalisations in the latter two years compared to the previous years. This is related to the legal change that came into force 01.01.2020, which made holding one or more other citizenships in addition to Norwegian citizenship legal. After this change to the law on citizenship the number of persons being granted Norwegian citizenship has grown, from an annual typical size of between ten and fifteen thousand during the preceding decade to 19 700 and 41 100 in 2020 and 2021 (figure 1).

Figure 1. Number of naturalisations. 1977-2021

It is important to remember that the numbers reflect the year in which the Norwegian citizenship was granted and not the year in which the application for citizenship was submitted. Variation in the annual number of naturalisations may be related to issues regarding processing capacity and - time of applications, as well as application volumes. At the end of 2020 the number of pending cases was unusually large (see UDI's annual report for 2020 (PDF). The increase in naturalisations from 2020 to 2021 should therefore not be interpreted as reflecting differences in the number of applications from one year to another.

The number of transitions was record high also from a historical perspective. Directly comparable numbers exist back to 1977. SSB has also done analyses with older data, spanning back to 1967. In no single year since this has the number of naturalisations exceeded the one of 2021.

Most naturalisations among Swedes

In addition to a general increase in the number of transitions to Norwegian citizenship, we also see a change in terms of which citizenships are most common among those being granted Norwegian citizenship.

In previous years, a majority of those granted Norwegian citizenship have been from countries outside Europe. In 2019 nine out of ten naturalisations were among persons from countries outside this continent. Many of these had citizenship from Asian and African countries. After the legalisation of dual citizenship the number of naturalisations among Nordic citizens and citizens of other countries in the EU/EEA-area has increased. In 2021 50 percent of those granted Norwegian citizenship were from a European country. A large proportion of these persons (seven out of ten) were from countries in the EU/EEA-area (including the United Kingdom).

There were the most naturalisations among Swedish, Eritrean and Russian citizens. As we can see from figure 2, there was an increase in the number of transitions to Norwegian citizenship in all of the ten largest groups, apart from Somalis, compared with the average for the years 2017 to 2019. However, the increase was largest among citizens from the European countries.

Figure 2. Number of naturalisations in 2021 and average 2017-2019, ten largest groups

More with long duration of residence

Up to and including 2021, the main rule was that one had to have resided in Norway seven out of the last ten years to obtain Norwegian citizenship. In recent years, the proportion who have lived in Norway for more than eight years when they were granted Norwegian citizenship has increased. In the last three years before the legal changes in 2020, a clear majority (eight out of ten) of those who received Norwegian citizenship had a duration of residence corresponding to eight years or less. There was in other words a tendency toward not waiting longer than was generally necessary.

However, after the legalisation of dual citizenship a higher proportion of those acquiring citizenship have had a longer duration of residence. In 2020, three out of ten of those who were granted citizenship had eight years of residence or longer. In 2021, as many as half of those naturalised had this.

There are however considerable varation between different citizenships with regard to duration of residence (figure 3). Only 1 percent of Syrians, 5 percent of Eritreans and 14 percent of Somalis had duration of residence of eight year or longer when granted Norwegian citizenship. Just under eighty percent or more of the citizens from countries such as Russia, Sweden, Poland, Denmark and United Kingdom had long duration of residence.¹

Figure 3. Percent share with more than eight years of residence, by citizenship. 2021¹

¹ Corrected 12 October 2022.

This shows that many European citizens probably have waited to apply for Norwegian citizenship until the introduction of the legal changes that allowed dual citizenship. Another possible indication of this is the proportion of adults among those granted citizenship. In 2019, people of the age of 18 or more accounted for two thirds (66 percent) of those who were granted citizenship. In comparison, as many as eight out of ten (79 percent) of those who were granted citizenship in 2021 were 18 years or more of age.

¹ Corrected 12 October 2022