Danish Citizenship For Members

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

The Local Denmark
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EXPLAINED: Can children of Danes regain citizenship after EU Court verdict?
Danish passports. Photo: Scharvik/Getty Images

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.


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.


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