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DANISH CITIZENSHIP

Fewer pass Danish citizenship test after new questions added

The pass rate for Denmark’s citizenship test fell from 66 percent to 41 percent after five new questions on Danish values were added.

The pass rate for the Danish citizenship test fell significantly in November 2021, the first cycle with an additional set of questions on Danish values.
The pass rate for the Danish citizenship test fell significantly in November 2021, the first cycle with an additional set of questions on Danish values. Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

The latest edition of the test, held on November 24th, resulted in a notably lower pass rate than than in the previous cycle, when the old format was used, according to a report by national broadcaster DR.

Of the 3,228 people who took the citizenship test last month, 1,314 passed, around 41 percent. That is significantly fewer than normal according to figures from the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (Styrelsen for International Rekruttering og Integration, SIRI).

The Danish citizenship test is held twice yearly, normally at the end of June and the end of November.

A political agreement earlier this year expanded the test from 40 to 45 questions with a new set of questions aimed at assessing the ‘Danish values’ of would-be new citizens.

The government, which introduced the new questions with the backing of parliament has argued that the additional questions do not make the citizenship test harder.

Since 2015, the Danish citizenship test (indfødsretsprøven), held twice annually, has consisted of 40 multiple choice questions on Danish culture, history and society. The pass mark for the old version of the test was 32.

With the extra questions on Danish values added to the test, the pass mark is 36 out of 45. Additionally, at least 4 of the 5 Danish values questions must be answered correctly in order for the applicant to pass.

The November 2021 tests were the first with the new questions.

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At the last citizenship test to have the old format, in June this year, 66.5 percent passed. The pass rate has since 2016 varied between 48.9 percent and 67.5 percent, DR writes.

But the new questions are not in themselves responsible for the lower pass rate on the first cycle in which the new format was used, SIRI told DR.

The agency said that the questions on Danish values had a “neutral or very limited effect” on the number of people who failed the test, because 77.3 percent of those who took the test answered correctly on at least four of the five questions related to Danish values, which is a new criterion for passing the exam overall.

Additionally, SIRI said that it had found via spot checks that only two percent of tests met the general pass mark of 36 correct answers but failed because not enough of the Danish values questions were answered correctly.

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DANISH CITIZENSHIP

Why does Denmark renew passports faster than Sweden and Norway?

While people in Norway, Sweden and Finland all experience long waits for new passports, Danes usually need no more than a couple of days to obtain their new travel document.

Why does Denmark renew passports faster than Sweden and Norway?

Despite several attempts by police authorities in Sweden to reduce the waiting times for new passports, Swedish nationals in several parts of the Scandinavian country must wait for months in some cases before their application is processed.

The county (län) authority in Stockholm does not have available appointments for passport processing until October, for example, Swedish news wire TT wrote this week.

With pandemic restrictions severely limiting travel through much of 2020 and 2021, many people did not bother to renew their passports as they expired.

As a result, local police passport centres are now having to handle a large backlog of applications, at the same time as the usual applications from people whose passports are expiring this year. 

“Partly it’s because we’re about to go into high season, and partly it’s because people have not renewed their passports during the pandemic, but have waited until restrictions have been lifted,” Linda Ahlén, chief of the unit which handles passports in the Swedish police, told the TT newswire in February. 

READ ALSO: What’s behind the long wait to renew Swedish passports?

In Norway, passport applications are also handled regionally by police, with waiting times dependent on appointment availability.

The appointment system for Oslo shows the next available appointment slot as being in August. According to TT, a Norwegian police estimate has stated that the waiting times are between one and three months, depending on where in the country the applicant lives.

Meanwhile, the company which manufactures Norwegian passports, Thales, is facing government scrutiny over delivery delays on new passports and ID cards. Thales also manufactures passports for both Sweden and Finland.

A global shortage of raw materials due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine is related to the delays, the Norwegian Police Directorate said last month.

Norway has also seen a bottleneck in applications resulting from passports expiring during the pandemic, but the holders not renewing them because they could not travel.

Extended opening times for appointments and hiring of extra staff are amongst measures being taken in Norway to alleviate the issue.

READ ALSO: Long queues for Norwegian passports and ID cards due to production issues

Finland is also seeing congested ID card and passport services, with waiting times for appointments up to around eight weeks according to TT.

This is despite rules in Finland allowing some passport holders to renew their documents without physically attending appointments, for example if they submitted biometric data for their previous passport within the last six years.

“Right now there are many who have not renewed their passports as usual and we do not have enough available appointments,” Hanna Piipponen, head of passport administration with the Finnish police, told TT.

As many as 500,000 people in Finland are reported to be without a passport currently according to TT, with almost as many, 450,000 in the same situation in Norway.

Denmark, however, is not experiencing the same processing and production issues as its neighbours, with people in Copenhagen waiting as little as one or two days to receive new passports.

Municipalities, rather than the police, are responsible for processing new passports in Denmark. That difference is largely credited for the country’s favourable record when it comes to waiting times for renewals.

“It is not complicated to issue a passport and it’s good to have this close to the other citizens’ service,” Jette Bondo, office manager with Copenhagen Municipality’s Borgerservice (Citizens’ Service), told TT.

Danish passports are also valid for longer than Swedish and Finnish ones, with a ten-year expiry on Danish passports compared to five years for Swedes and Finns. Norwegian passports are valid for 10 years.

Bondo said that Copenhagen did experience some backlog in processing during summer 2021 as travel restrictions eased, with around 45,000 passports waiting to be processed at that time. The figure is now 10,000.

Municipalities in Denmark extended opening hours when they experienced a backlog of passport renewals, TT writes.

“We couldn’t sit back and say ‘sorry, but you can’t go to France this summer’,” Bondo told the news wire.

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