How to get Swedish Citizenship by Descent

Article Breakdown

Rounded Sweden Flag IconDo you have Swedish ancestors? If so, you may be eligible for Swedish citizenship by descent. In this article we will discuss the process of obtaining Swedish citizenship by descent, as well as the benefits of doing so. We will also provide a list of resources that can help you get started on the process.

All the options for obtaining Swedish citizenship

Foreign citizens can obtain Swedish citizenship in a variety of routes. Sweden offers a specific naturalization program for citizens of nearby Nordic countries who can seek citizenship by notifying the Swedish Migration Agency.

Other options of obtaining Swedish citizenship include:

  1. Citizenship by birth or descent is the most common way of obtaining Swedish citizenship;
  2. Citizenship by adoption allows adopted children of Swedish citizens to become citizens of this country;
  3. Citizenship by naturalization or application, which is the primary pathway through which foreign citizens can obtain Swedish passports through residency; and
  4. Citizenship by legitimization, which is an option for foreign citizens who marry Swedish citizens.

Citizenship by descent is the easiest way to obtain a Swedish passport, as it simply requires confirming your ancestral ties to Swedish citizens.

Who is eligible for Swedish citizenship by ancestry?

Swedish nationality legislation governs eligibility for Swedish citizenship. Sweden’s citizenship is essentially founded on the principle of jus sanguinis. In other words, regardless of birthplace, citizenship is granted primarily through birth to a Swedish parent.

In general, children born in Sweden to foreign parents do not obtain Swedish citizenship at birth, however they may become citizens later if they remain in Sweden.

According to the Citizenship Act, not all people in Sweden are automatically granted citizenship by descent. Here are some examples:

  • a person whose mother is a Swedish citizen;
  • a person born in Sweden and whose father is a Swedish citizen and is married to his/her mother (who can be a foreigner);
  • a person born in Sweden and whose father is dead but was a Swedish citizen at the time;
  • a person whose father is dead but was a Swedish citizen and married to his/her mother at the time.

It should be noted that since July 1979, mothers can pass on Swedish citizenship by descent. If you need help applying for Swedish citizenship by birth, there are several legal companies that can help you locate your ancestors and file your request with the Swedish Migration Agency.

Obtaining Swedish citizenship by descent is automatic

The legislation has changed throughout time, and according to the most recent amendments, children born after April 1st, 2015, will automatically be granted Swedish citizenship by descent regardless of their place of birth if either of their parents is a Swedish citizen.

There is a caveat to this rule: a child born abroad before this date with a Swedish father and a foreign mother who are not married will not be recognized as a Swedish citizen automatically.

Persons in this situation, on the other hand, can get citizenship through notification, namely if the father submits a notification for Swedish citizenship. The fundamental requirement for acquiring Swedish citizenship by descent is that the kid has not reached the age of 18.

Documents required to get Swedish citizenship by birth

When applying for Swedish citizenship by descent, the following documents must be submitted:

  • The Swedish Migration Agency’s notification form;
  • A certificate of paternity (if the request is made by the father);
  • Proof of the parent’s Swedish citizenship; and
  • The child’s birth certificate.

Swedish Citizenship Costs

The application fee is €150. (1,500 SEK)

Other Swedish citizenship options (besides Citizenship by ancestry)

Sweden has some of Europe’s most lax citizenship laws, with no language requirements for new Swedes and only a five-year residency requirement to become a Swedish citizen. Dual citizenship is allowed in Sweden.

This can be decreased to three years if you have been married or cohabiting with a Swedish spouse for at least two years, albeit you will be required to demonstrate that you have effectively acclimated to Swedish life (through learning the language, for example, but you could also prove this by showing you can support yourself or through the length of your marriage). Other Nordic citizens will benefit from a shortened procedure as well.

Foreigners from all over the world can relocate to Sweden by applying for various sorts of visas, which can be converted into residence permits and, eventually, Swedish passports. A person must live in Sweden for a specific period of time, which typically depends on his or her present nationality, in order to get citizenship.

Minimal residency requirements

You should also be aware that, while brief vacations abroad are permitted, spending more than six weeks abroad in any one year may cause your application for citizenship to be delayed. Furthermore, only time spent in Sweden while possessing a valid residence permit (for non-EU citizens) counts toward your residence; if you arrived without one and later received one, the time spent without one would be ignored.

While Swedish language skills are currently not required for citizenship, this may change in the future: in January 2021, the Swedish Ministry of Justice and Migration proposed introducing an A2 language exam for would-be Swedes, with exceptions for vulnerable people who have made a reasonable effort to learn the language. These ideas will go through a lengthy political process before becoming law, so all you need to prove for the time being is your identity, length of residency in Sweden, and the absence of any serious criminal offenses or debts.

Length of the Swedish Citizenship application process

It’s also worth mentioning that, while becoming eligible for citizenship is quite easy, obtaining Swedish citizenship is not. According to the Migration Agency, it will take an average of 39 months for applicants to become Swedish after submitting their application. Readers of The Local have noted that the process can take anywhere from a few weeks to over three years.

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