Danish citizenship by descent

Article Breakdown

Rounded Denmark Flag IconIf one of your parents is a Danish citizen, you are born with Danish citizenship. Children under the age of 12 who are adopted by Danish citizens are also granted citizenship.

Denmark only allows acquiring Danish citizenship through the direct line of Danish parents, so up unto the first generation.

Besides Danish nationality by descent, we will discuss other ways to acquire danish citizenship below. Special rules apply in Danish law, even for current Danish citizens that acquired citizenship by birth.

Danish citizenship via descent

The citizenship of a child at birth is established by the parents’ citizenships and the Danish citizenship legislation in effect at the time of birth.

Children born after July 1, 2014, automatically gain Danish citizenship if they have at least one Danish parent. The citizenship of children born before that date is determined by the rules in place at the time.

For example, the following restrictions apply to children born between February 1, 1999, and June 30, 2014:

  • If the parents are married and one of them is Danish, the child is a Danish citizen.
  • If the parents are not married and only the father is Danish, the child will only be granted Danish citizenship if he or she is born in Denmark.
  • If a child born to a Danish father and a foreign mother does not obtain citizenship at birth, the child will be eligible for citizenship if the parents marry before the child reaches the age of 18.
  • Unless otherwise noted, a child discovered on Danish land is considered a Danish citizen.

The rules governing Danish citizenship by birth can be found on the Ministry of Immigration and Integration’s website. You can also find the restrictions that apply to children born before July 1, 2014, on this page.

The rule of 22 years

According to the Danish Nationality Act, if a child was born abroad who has never been a resident in Denmark or stayed in Denmark under conditions indicating a close association with Denmark loses his or her Danish nationality when he or she reaches the age of 22, unless doing so would render the person stateless.

Danish nationals born abroad and over the age of 22 must present a certificate of citizenship or be able to verify that they have completed the residency requirements for retention when applying for a Danish passport.

All Danish citizens born abroad are strongly encouraged to apply for retention/proof of Danish citizenship in order to minimize delays. They can do so at the Danish embassy. You can find more information on this government website.

Denmark Passport Cover

The Princess rule

Children born in wedlock to a Danish mother and a foreign-national father between January 1, 1961, and December 31, 1978, did not acquire Danish nationality by birth.

As an alternative, Danish women could make a declaration granting their child Danish nationality (see section 2(2) of Act No. 117 of March 29, 1978).

Children born during this period whose mothers did not make this declaration may petition for Danish nationality through naturalization under the “Princess Rule.”

To apply for naturalization under the Princess Rule, you must have either resided in Denmark for a continuous period of three months or visited for a total of twelve months before the age of 22. (see the 22-year rule above).

  • If you are a Nordic citizen interested in becoming a Danish citizen,
  • As a citizen of a Nordic country, you have two options for becoming a Danish citizen: declaration or naturalisation.
  • If you are a Nordic citizen, you can apply to the Danish Immigration service to become a Danish citizen under certain conditions.
  • If you have not obtained Nordic citizenship by naturalisation (i.e. by applying for citizenship), you may become a Danish citizen if you:
  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • Are now residing in Denmark and have resided in Denmark for the past seven years, and have not been sentenced to imprisonment or other measures equivalent to incarceration during this time.

More information about citizenship by declaration can be found on the official website.

Denmark Country Landscape Photo

Danish citizenship through Naturalization

According to Danish law, If you are a Nordic citizen and do not match the requirements for declaring Danish citizenship, you can apply to acquire Danish citizenship through naturalization.

The Ministry of Immigration and Integration handles applications for Danish citizenship. If you meet the requirements for Danish citizenship, your name will be added to a parliamentary bill known as the Act of Notification of Naturalization, which will then be submitted to the Danish Parliament.

You must meet the following requirements:

  • You must make a faithfulness and loyalty declaration.
  • You must be a current resident of Denmark and have been a resident of Denmark for at least two years (official residence card holder). For non-Nordic nationals, the period of permanent residence status is nine years.
  • You must not have been charged with or sentenced for a criminal offense.
  • You must not owe any money to the state.
  • You must be self-sufficient.
  • You must have worked in regular full-time or self-employment for a specified period of time.
  • You must have a certificate from one of the approved tests to prove your Danish language skills. Swedish and Norwegian-speaking applicants having a certificate of a passing grade from a Swedish-language or Norwegian-language primary school may demonstrate their knowledge of Danish.
  • You must have a certificate from a specific citizenship test to prove your understanding of Danish society, culture, and history. This test is waived for Swedish and Norwegian applicants who can provide a certificate of a passing grade from a Swedish or Norwegian-language primary school.
  • You are required to attend a municipal constitution ceremony.

If you want to become a Danish citizen but are not a citizen of a Nordic nation, you can learn about the requirements on the Ministry of Immigration and Integration’s website.

Danish Citizenship for Naturalized Persons’ Children

Denmark Coat of ArmsIf you complete the following requirements, a child can become a Danish national alongside his or her parents:

  • You are not married.
  • You are under the age of 18 years.
  • You have a legal permanent residence in Denmark (valid residence permit or a valid residence registration certificate).
  • You have not been charged with or committed any crime (no criminal record).
  • You will have full or shared custody of the parent with whom you will be admitted.
  • The consent of the other parent has been obtained (for shared custody).
  • If you are not admitted as an accompanying (secondary) person to your parent, you may be admitted as a main candidate if you meet the following criteria:
  • Danish parents choose to adopt you.
  • You were born between 11 October 1993 and 30 June 2014 as the result of a marriage between a foreign mother and a Danish father.
  • Due to the end of your cohabitation, you were unable to obtain Danish citizenship.
  • In Denmark, you were born stateless.

Dual citizenship

Danish nationals who become citizens of other countries through application or declaration can keep their Danish citizenship.

Nationals of a foreign country can also keep their original citizenship if they become Danish citizens.

It should be noted, however, that some nations outside the Nordic region may force you to renounce your citizenship in order to seek citizenship in that country, if they do not allow dual citizenship.

  • If you were born outside of Denmark and are a citizen of at least one other nation.
  • If you were born outside of Denmark and have never lived in Denmark or resided in Denmark under conditions that show cohesiveness with Denmark, you will lose your Danish citizenship when you reach the age of 22, unless you become stateless.
  • If you have not retained your Danish citizenship through domicile or residency, Danish authorities may give you a dispensation based on an overall specific assessment. However, the Ministry does not have the option of granting you a dispensation to keep your Danish citizenship if you petition beyond the age of 22.

As a result, Denmark advises you to apply for Danish citizenship before the age of 22.

The Ministry of Immigration and Integration’s website has further information and instructions on how foreign nationals can apply.

Danish citizenship can be reclaimed

If you were previously a Danish citizen, you can reclaim your Danish citizenship under certain conditions. In general, you must meet certain residency requirements.

If you have been a citizen of Finland, Iceland, Norway, or Sweden after losing your Danish citizenship, special criteria apply. On the website of the Ministry of Immigration and Integration, you can learn about your options for regaining Danish citizenship if you meet the residency requirements.

Even if you do not match the residency requirements, you may be able to regain Danish citizenship. You must have lost your Danish citizenship as a result of obtaining citizenship of another country, and you must not have been sentenced to an unconditional prison term since losing your Danish citizenship. This is a temporary arrangement that will be in effect from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022.

June 2026. More information regarding the criteria under the transitional rules can be found on the Ministry of Immigration and Integration’s website.

Denmark Citizenship Advantages

Denmark citizenship comes with numerous advantages:

  • You can now live, work, and study in Denmark and other European Union nations.
  • You can enter and exit Denmark whenever you please.
  • You have the right to become a citizen of another country.
  • Your children will be granted Danish citizenship automatically.
  • Education and healthcare are both free.
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