SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

DANISH CITIZENSHIP

Danish citizenship: Can you be rejected because of a speeding fine?

One of the requirements for fulfilling criteria for Danish citizenship through naturalisation is a clean criminal record. Does this mean fines for traffic offences could disqualify you?

Danish citizenship: Can you be rejected because of a speeding fine?
Can a speeding offence scupper your hopes of becoming a Danish national? File photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark is known for its strict rules on citizenship and a range of criteria must be met before you can become a Danish national.

The requirements fall into several broad categories, one of which being that you must have no criminal convictions.

The other categories relate to employment status, length of residency in Denmark, debt and personal finances and knowledge of language and culture. You can read about them in detail in our guide to applying for Danish citizenship.

In April 2021, the government agreed new citizenship rules, adding new curbs on who can be granted Danish nationality and building on the earlier 2018 citizenship rules.

READ ALSO: Denmark announces new tightening of citizenship rules

Under the April 2021 rules, persons with previous convictions for which they have received conditional or unconditional prison sentences are permanently barred from being granted Danish citizenship.

Additionally, people who have received fines of at least 3,000 kroner for breaking certain laws are required to wait for a suspension period of four years and six months before being acceptable for naturalisation.

On its website, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration states that a condition of a citizenship application making it to parliament – where it is given final approval – is that “you have not committed certain types of acts for which you can be penalised, or that any suspension period related a punishable act has expired”.

This means that if you are fined for breaking certain laws, you can be suspended from applying for citizenship for a given period.

Fines under 3,000 kroner do not generally result in a suspension.

If you have received a fine for “violating the traffic laws, this can… impact your possibility of becoming a Danish citizen. At least for a while,” the ministry states.

For example, a fine of 3,000 kroner or more results in a suspension period of four and a half years from the date the offence is registered. As such, you could not become a Danish citizen until four and a half years after this date, regardless of whether you meet the other criteria.

This includes fines given for all forms of traffic offences, including speeding tickets, the ministry notes.

It should be noted that police speeding fines are often less than 3,000 kroner, depending on the offence.

For example, driving at 59 kilometres per hour in a 50 km/h zone (the speed limit in most urban areas), usually gives a fine of 1,200 kroner. The same fine would be given for driving at 130 km/h on a section of motorway where the speed limit is 110 km/h.

If you drive at 110 km/h where the limit is 80 km/h, you can be fined 2,400 kroner.

Fines go up in certain circumstances: driving over 140 km/h adds an extra 1,200 kroner to the fine, followed by another 600 kroner for each additional 10 km/h.

Additionally, breaking the speed limit by 30 percent or more often results in an additional 1,200 kroner being added to the initial fine.

Speeding in areas where the normal speed limit has been reduced due to roadworks results in the fine being doubled.

Reports in Danish media have described cases of individuals who have lived in Denmark since childhood having their citizenship applications turned down because of speeding fines.

Repeat offences (or other offences for which fines are issued) can result in the suspension period being extended by 3 years for each offence. Only penalties which would have resulted in suspension in isolation – in other words, fines of over 3,000 kroner – can extend the suspension.

There are conditions under which you can apply for dispensation: if your traffic fine is not for driving under the influence of alcohol and is between 3,000 and 3,500 kroner; or if you have been concurrently fined up to 5,000 kroner for several offences which do not give fines over 3,500 kroner in isolation.

However, dispensation would require a member of parliament’s citizenship committee to argue your case for dispensation within the committee, the ministry states. In other words, you’d need an MP to agree to speak on your behalf.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

DANISH CITIZENSHIP

Far-right politician appointed chair of Danish citizenship committee

Mikkel Bjørn, a far-right politician with the Nye Borgerlige party, is the new chairperson of parliament’s citizenship committee.

Far-right politician appointed chair of Danish citizenship committee

The parliamentary citizenship committee – infødsretsudvalg in Danish – is responsible for handling bills by which citizenship applications are approved.

The bills – tabled twice each year – contain the names of applicants who have applied to become naturalised Danish citizens. The final decision to approve the applications is made by voting through the bill in parliament.

This is usually a formality for applications which meet the requirements, meaning the vote is procedural. The committee can approve applications which fail to meet criteria if it decides to grant dispensation.

In a change enacted under the previous single-party Social Democratic government, the bills are now organised according to the nationality of applicants, a notable difference from the former practice of listing them alphabetically.

As such, it is easy to see which applicants are in the categories set out in updated citizenship rules introduced in 2021: “Nordic countries”, “other Western countries”, “‘Menap’ countries [Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan ed.] plus Turkey”, and “other non-Western countries”.

READ ALSO: How to apply for citizenship in Denmark

In comments to news wire Ritzau, Bjørn said that, as a member of the committee, he would look closely at the countries applicants originate from.

“We need to have a justified assumption that the person to whom we give citizenship should benefit Denmark and the Danish public in general,” he said.

“So for me, the country people are applying from is one of the parameters I need to address when I decide whether to give a citizenship,” he said.

Bjørn is vociferously critical of Islam and has previously called the hijab or Muslim headscarf an “instrument of torture”. At the Nye Borgerlige national conference in November, he said the “freedom and the fatherland must be reconquered and given back to the Danes”, Ritzau reported.

In a tweet from September 2022, before he was elected to parliament, the far-right politician claimed that “Danishness is under threat and Danish culture is being replaced”, referencing Danish fertility rates amongst people with immigrant heritage compared to ethnic Danes.

Although Bjørn’s appointment might be perceived a hostile one to people hoping to be granted Danish citizenship, he stressed to Ritzau that, when he stated his own views or spoke for his party, he was doing so as a committee member only, not as chairperson.

“When I speak as chair of the citizenship committee, I do so on behalf of the committee and therefore [express] the opinions that are broadly represented there,” he said.

It should also be noted that the chairperson of a parliamentary committee does not have power independent of the committee, as Aarhus University professor of political science Jørgen Grønnegaard Christensen explained to Ritzau.

“But there is naturally something symbolic and communicative in it, and that’s what has caught attention. But you can’t actually apply any great significance to it,” he said.

A key task of the committee is to decide whether to grant compensation in cases where an applicant does not fulfil one or more of the application criteria. Members vote anonymously.

Bjørn told Ritzau in comments on January 8th that “I think we’ve had markedly worse experiences with giving citizenship to people from Islamic countries than we have with other countries. That shouldn’t be any secret”.

“It is certain that if we had people in for a personal interview, the question of nationality would move much more into the background because there would then be the possibility to look into other things, which unfortunately isn’t an option with the current mass-distribution system,” he said.

Denmark’s citizenship rules are generally regarded to be among the strictest in Europe.

Bjørn noted that current rules already differentiate between applicants’ existing nationalities in some cases – more lenient criteria apply to Nordic nationals, for example.

READ ALSO: How do Denmark’s citizenship rules compare to Sweden and Norway?

The committee has other tasks including handling bills related to proposed citizenship law changes and parliamentary checks on process in which the immigration minister can be called into hearings.

There are 30 different committees in parliament, of which the citizenship committee is one. A representative number of MPs from the 11 parties in parliament sit on the committees. The citizenship committee has 17 members, with Helene Liliendahl Brydensholt of the environmentalist Alternative party the vice-chair.

In general, committees in the Danish parliament are tasked with detailed scrutiny of legislative work, remaining generally oriented on their given areas and keeping checks on the government through hearings when issues are raised.

SHOW COMMENTS