Swedish nationality law

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Swedish citizenship ceremony inside Stockholm City Hall on 6 June 2011.

Swedish nationality law determines entitlement to Swedish citizenship. Citizenship of Sweden is based primarily on the principle of jus sanguinis. In other words, citizenship is conferred primarily by birth to a Swedish parent, irrespective of place of birth.

In general, children born in Sweden to foreign parents do not acquire Swedish citizenship at birth, although if they remain resident in Sweden they may become Swedish later on.

Swedish law was significantly amended with effect from 1 July 2001 and from that date, dual citizenship is permitted without restriction.


A child born after 1 April 2015 acquires Swedish citizenship automatically if:

  • one of the parents is a Swedish citizen at the time of the child's birth
  • a deceased parent of the child was a Swedish citizen upon their death

A child born before 1 April 2015 acquires Swedish citizenship at birth if:

  • the child's mother is a Swedish citizen (Swedish mothers have only been able to pass on their citizenship since 1 July 1979); or -
  • the child's father is a Swedish citizen and is married to the child's mother; or -
  • the child's father is a Swedish citizen, the child is born out of wedlock, and the child is born in Sweden.

For example, a child born to a Swedish father and a non-Swedish mother will not be Swedish if either: its parents are not married to each other or if they were not married when it was conceived and it was born outside of Sweden, unless the father sends notification to an embassy or consulate with the child's passport, birth certificate, proof of his own citizenship at the time of the birth, and a certificate of paternity. A child who is born abroad and whose father is a Swedish citizen (not married to the child's mother, and the mother is not Swedish) will acquire Swedish citizenship when the parents get married, provided the child is aged under 18.


A child who is aged under 12 and who has been adopted by a Swedish citizen automatically receives Swedish citizenship upon adoption if

  • the child has been adopted as the result of a decision taken in Sweden or in another Nordic Council country
  • the child has been adopted as the result of a decision taken abroad and approved in Sweden by the Swedish Intercountry Adoptions Authority
  • the adoption is valid under Swedish law.

The adoption must have been officially decided or approved after 30 June 1992.

A child aged 12 or more at the time of adoption may acquire Swedish citizenship by application.

Naturalization as a Swedish citizen[edit]

Swedish citizenship can be acquired by naturalization, also known as citizenship by application.

A foreigner may be granted Swedish citizenship upon meeting certain requirements, including:

  • holding a permanent residence permit, unless a citizen of a Nordic Council country. For citizens of European Economic Area nations, limited residence permits for five years equate to a permanent residence permit.

A number of exemptions apply to the residence period:

  • the residence period is reduced to 4 years for recognised refugees and stateless persons.
  • citizens of other Nordic Council countries are only required to have two years' residence in Sweden.
  • former Swedish citizens
  • those employed on Swedish ships
  • persons employed abroad by Swedish corporations
  • a person with previous long residence in Sweden

For those married to, living in a registered partnership with or cohabiting with a Swedish citizen, he/she can apply for Swedish citizenship after three years. In these cases, he/she must have been living together for the past two years. It is not enough to be married to one another, he/she must also live together.[1]

Sweden imposes no requirements on Swedish language abilities or knowledge about Swedish history or culture, the only other countries in Europe without these requirements are Belgium, Ireland and Italy.[2]

Citizenship by notification[edit]

Notification is a simpler method of acquiring Swedish citizenship (i.e. simplified naturalisation). Those not eligible for notification may still be eligible for naturalisation by application.

Categories of persons eligible for citizenship by notification include:

Stateless persons[edit]

A stateless person may acquire Swedish citizenship by notification if that person has a permanent resident permit and falls into one of the following categories:

  • born in Sweden and aged less than five;
  • aged under 18 and in the custody of a Swedish citizen;
  • aged 18 or 19 and resident in Sweden since age 15.

Young persons resident in Sweden[edit]

Swedish citizenship may be acquired by notification by young persons who hold a permanent resident permit in the following cases:

  • aged under 18 and resident in Sweden for three years
  • aged 18 or 19, where the person has been resident in Sweden since turning 15.

Former Swedish citizens[edit]

Former Swedish citizens who hold permanent resident permits may acquire Swedish citizenship by notification if the following conditions are fulfilled:

  • aged 18 or over
  • resident in Sweden for 10 years preceding age 18.
  • resident in Sweden for the 2 years preceding the application

Those former Swedish citizens who are citizens of other Nordic countries may acquire Swedish citizenship by notification immediately upon resuming residence in Sweden.

Citizens of Nordic countries[edit]

Citizens of other Nordic Council countries (Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Finland) may be eligible for Swedish citizenship by notification in the following cases:

  • aged 18 or over
  • the other Nordic citizenship has been acquired other than by naturalisation
  • 2 years' residence in Sweden
  • And a person who has lived in Sweden for 5 years, who can speak and write Swedish, can be qualified to obtain citizenship provided there is no criminal history.

Dual citizenship[edit]

With effect from 1 July 2001, a Swedish citizen acquiring a foreign citizenship does not lose Swedish citizenship.

Former Swedish citizens who lost Swedish citizenship prior to this date (upon naturalisation in another country) were given a two-year period to re-acquire Swedish citizenship by declaration. Children of former Swedish citizens were also eligible to acquire Swedish citizenship by declaration. The deadline for submission of applications was 30 June 2003.

The changes to the law also mean that foreigners seeking naturalisation as a Swedish citizen do not need to renounce their former citizenship. They may retain it if the law of the other country permits them to do so. Swedish citizens who nonetheless hold Japanese citizenship must normally, under the East Asian country's nationality law, notify the East Asian country's Ministry of Justice, before turning 22, whether to keep their Swedish or Japanese citizenship.

Prior to 1 July 2001, Swedish citizens were still able to legally hold dual citizenship in certain circumstances, for example, if the other citizenship was acquired automatically at birth.

Citizenship of the European Union[edit]

Swedish citizens are also citizens of the European Union and thus enjoy rights of free movement and have the right to vote in elections for the European Parliament.

Loss of Swedish citizenship[edit]

Although dual citizenship is permitted, a Swedish citizen who was born outside Sweden between ages 18-21 and is a citizen of another country will lose Swedish citizenship at age 22 unless he or she is granted approval to retain Swedish citizenship. However, approval is not required if:

  • the person has ever been domiciled in Sweden; or
  • the person has ever been in Sweden under circumstances that indicate a link with Sweden.[3]

In such cases the Swedish citizenship is retained.

Visa free travel[edit]

Visa requirements for Swedish citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states placed on citizens of Sweden. In 2017, Swedish citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 175 countries and territories, ranking the Swedish passport second in the world according to the Visa Restrictions Index.


  1. ^ "You must have lived in Sweden for a certain period of time". Swedish Migration Agency. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  2. ^ Rooth; Strömblad. "(sv) Underlagsrapport nr 14 till Globaliseringsrådet: Språk, krav och medborgarskap". regeringen.se. Swedish cabinet / Globaliseringsrådet 5 June 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2017. 
  3. ^ "Please note: this translation is not an official, legally binding document" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-11-12. 

External links[edit]