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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.

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For members


Could Denmark’s election result affect work permit and citizenship rules?

Business organisations in Denmark have urged work permit rules to be eased to help address a labour shortage, while the country’s citizenship rules are amongst Europe’s tightest. Does the upcoming election bring any potential for change?

Could Denmark’s election result affect work permit and citizenship rules?

This summer saw Denmark approve, after protracted negotiations, a reform to its Pay Limit Scheme, a criteria system used to grant work permits to non-EU nationals.

The agreement means that Danish companies can now hire skilled foreign staff on contracts paying an annual salary of 375,000 kroner, and that the foreign employees can be granted work and residence permits on that basis. The new pay limit is a 16 percent decrease from the previous 448,000 kroner.

The Pay Limit Scheme is one of a number of business schemes used to grant work permits for non-EU and EEA nationals who are unable to move to Denmark under the EU’s right to free movement.

READ ALSO: How can you get a work permit in Denmark if you are not an EU national? 

While business organisations welcomed the deal at the time (and trade unions criticised it for potentially impacting Danish wages), they later said it did not go far enough to alleviate the country’s labour shortage.

“In the wider perspective, too little has been done for years. During the last two government administrations no honest reform was implemented which would have increased the labour supply. That won’t do [if it continues] in a third successive government,” political director Emil Fannikke Kiær of the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri, DI) said last month.

Some parties – particularly pro-business ones on the right wing – have expressed a will to find solutions to the labour shortage by increasing access to skilled foreign labour.

But the issue must be disconnected from immigration before voters accept a change to work permit rules, according to Professor in Political Science Kasper Møller Hansen of the University of Copenhagen.

“This is related to the consensus of a strict immigration policy,” Hansen told The Local at an election briefing.

The governing Social Democrats have pursued strict immigration rules, a policy that is also firmly established amongst opposition conservative parties.

“Even though Liberal Alliance, and sometimes the Conservatives talk about us needing labour, I don’t think they would touch [work permits] because of the connection with the immigration discussion,” he said.

“Immigration, historically, has played this huge role in politics. Somehow, they have to lift this discussion out of politics and make it more of a ‘green card’ discussion,” he said.

“I think you need to lift it out and say ‘this is not really a discussion about immigrants and refugees, it’s about labour shortages and having qualified labour’.

“All the companies are screaming for employment at the moment. I think you have to manage to disconnect it and that doesn’t seem to happen at the moment, and it’s definitely not happening in the (election) campaign,” he said.

Another area in which foreign residents in Denmark might hope an election will bring a fresh political approach is citizenship.

However, the likelihood of changes to Denmark’s citizenship rules – which are among the strictest in Europe – is marginal for similar reasons, Hansen said.

The proportion of Denmark’s adult population which cannot vote in parliamentary elections has grown from 2 percent in the 1980s to 10 percent now. Experts have cited strict citizenship rules as the primary reason for this because foreign nationals who live in Denmark long-term are increasingly unable to meet citizenship criteria.


Left wing party Independent Greens said in November last year that it wants to allow persons who have legally resided in Denmark for at least four years to be allowed to vote in elections.

A similar stance was pronounced by the Alternative party in 2018.

Both of these parties are at the fringes of parliamentary influence, however.

poll this week gave the Independent Greens a 0.6 percent share of the vote, which would not see it over the threshold of 2 percent needed to be allocated parliamentary representation. Alternative is at 2.0 percent, its strongest poll showing since early 2020.

“At the moment Denmark is probably the strictest place to get citizenship in the world, more or less, and it doesn’t seem to be changing” Hansen said.

“Some parties [on the left wing, ed.] might want to open up [for reform] but the (governing) Social Democrats definitely would not,” he said.

If the government eased its position on citizenship, it would be attacked by opposition parties, he said.

READ ALSO: Who are Denmark’s 13 political parties and what election pledges have they made?