For members


Do children born in Denmark automatically get Danish citizenship?

A Danish passport comes with many benefits, and the country allows dual citizenship. But what are the rules for the children of foreign nationals born in Denmark?

Newborn baby in mother's arms
Not all newborn babies in Denmark are eligible for Danish citizenship upon birth. Photo: Linda Kastrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark allows dual citizenship, meaning it is possible for foreign residents to gain Danish citizenship without giving up their old citizenship, if their country of origin also permits dual citizenship. There are a few benefits that only Danish citizens have, such as an absolute right to live and work in the country and the right to vote in Danish parliamentary elections.

Some jobs are only open to Danish citizens as well: you must be a Danish citizen if you wish to be elected to parliament or join the police.

In addition to this, Danish nationals hold EU citizenship, which gives them the right to free movement in EU member states, making it easier for them to live and work in other parts of the bloc.

Danish at birth

Unlike in other countries such as the United States, people born in Denmark do not automatically gain Danish citizenship.

Danish citizenship is granted at birth to children who have at least one Danish parent, regardless of whether the child is born in Denmark or not. For children born before July 1st 2014, this depends on the law in force when the child was born and other requirements may need to be fulfilled.


Dual citizenship

On the September 1st 2015, a new Nationality Act meant foreign residents could gain Danish citizenship without giving up their old citizenship.

It also meant that former Danish citizens who lost their Danish nationality by acquiring a foreign nationality could become Danish citizens again by making a declaration to the Ministry of Immigration and Integration. The new timetable to make this declaration is between July 1st 2021 and June 30th 2026.

Children born abroad: The 22-Year Rule 

Children born abroad to a Danish parent but who have never lived in Denmark, or visited for a lengthy period of time (adding up to at least a year which has to be documented) lose their Danish citizenship at the age of 22, unless it means the person becomes stateless.

Danish children born abroad must therefore apply to retain their Danish citizenship before the age of 22. If they are still living abroad at the time, their connection to Denmark will be assessed. This takes into account the number of visits to Denmark and level of Danish.

The Princess Rule

Children born in marriage to a Danish mother and a father of foreign nationality during the period of January 1st 1961 to  December 31st 1978 did not obtain Danish nationality by birth. As an alternative, Danish mothers had the option to make a declaration by which their child obtained Danish nationality.

Children born during this period whose mother did not make a declaration to this effect may apply for Danish nationality by naturalisation according to the “Princess Rule”.

Does a child born to foreigners need a residence permit?

If you are a child born in Denmark by foreign national parents, you need to apply for a residence permit.

The requirements for qualifying for a residence permit are more relaxed than for children born abroad. The child needs to either be registered as a family member to an EU citizen if under the age of 21, or registered under family reunification if the parents are not EU citizens.

The child’s residence permit will expire when the parent’s residence permit expires and can also be extended with the parent’s permit. It may also be possible for the child to obtain a permanent residence permit aged 18 by meeting more lenient requirements.

READ ALSO: What’s the difference between temporary and permanent residency in Denmark?

When can my child gain Danish citizenship?

If your child is born in Denmark but neither parent is Danish, they have to wait until one parent is granted citizenship.

Danish requirements for citizenship are some of the toughest in the world and you must meet a number of closely-defined criteria in order to be eligible for citizenship by naturalisation.

The wish to include a child in the application has to be stated and they must be under the age of 18, have Danish residency, not have committed any crime and be unmarried. No fee is payable for minors. Children aged 12 or over must give their consent to becoming Danish.

READ ALSO: How to apply for citizenship in Denmark

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For members


EXPLAINED: Can children of Danes regain citizenship after EU Court verdict?

Children of Danes who have lost their Danish citizenship because they turned 22 without applying to retain it may now get a second chance following an EU ruling, the country's immigration ministry has said.

EXPLAINED: Can children of Danes regain citizenship after EU Court verdict?

According to the ministry, children of Danes who turned 22 on or after November 1st 1993, but failed to apply to have their Danish citizenship made permanent before the deadline of their 22nd birthday, will now be able to apply to have their application reopened in some cases. 

For the case to reopened, the removal of citizenship will have to have “had effects in relation to EU law”.

For this to be the case, the removal of Danish citizenship will, firsly, also generally have to deprive the person of EU citizenship, and as a result impact “a family or employment connection to an EU member state other than Denmark”, which has been established before the age of 22. 

The ministry will also, in all cases where the loss of Danish citizenship at the age of 22 also means a loss of EU citizenship, from now on automatically consider whether the effects in relation to EU law of the loss of EU citizenship are proportional to the reason for removing citizenship (normally the lack of a demonstrated connection to Denmark). 

What is the reason for the change? 

The EU Court of Justice ruled last September that a Danish law allowing citizenship to be revoked from people born abroad to one Danish parent who have never lived in the country, if they reach the age of 22 without applying to retain it, was acceptable.

The case concerned the daughter of a Danish mother and an American father who has held, since her birth in the United States, Danish and American citizenship. After reaching the age of 22, she applied to retain Danish nationality, but the national authorities told her that she had lost it when she turned 22.

The EU court ruled that anyone facing such a decision “must be given the opportunity to lodge, within a reasonable period, an application for the retroactive retention or recovery of the nationality”.

The decision was a development from a previous ruling from 2019, in which the court had ruled that any decisions to remove Danish citizenship should consider the consequences of a loss of EU citizenship as well as of national citizenship, in cases where EU citizenship was dependent on Danish citizenship.  

The ministry, it ruled, must ensure that any loss of EU citizenship was “in accordance with the the fundamental rights laid down in the EU charter of human rights, including the right to privacy and family life”. 

The ministry in 2019, however, interpreted this as only applying in cases where the application to retain citizenship was submitted before the deadline of the person’s 22nd birthday. 

What are the rules around citizenship for Danes born abroad?

When a child has a Danish parent, they are automatically given Danish citizenship at birth, with some exceptions.

They they have until they are 22 to apply to retain their citizenship, with citizenship normally only granted if the child can demonstrate a strong connection to Denmark, by, for instance, residing in Denmark for at least one year before turning 22 or living in another Nordic country for seven years. 

What do you have to do to regain Danish citizenship? 

You need to submit a request the ministry to resume their application, including documents demonstrating that the revocation of Danish citizenship has had an impact in relation to EU law, by, for instance harming the person’s relationships with family or their work in an EU member state other than Denmark.  

The ministry will not consider any ties to another EU country that arose after the applicant’s 22nd birthday.