We live in an increasingly internationally-focused world. The rise of the internet has allowed us to become closer to people from distant geographical locations and of more diverse cultures. But there are also a growing number of people that want to go further than reaching out to people online, and just visiting the Scandinavian countries that you love might not be enough. Is dual citizenship in Scandinavia right for you? The Challenges of Being Multinational.
In this case, the best way to experience the region to its fullest is to actually live there. Your approach to this really depends on what your goals are. If you want to stay for a few years in Norway or perhaps buy a home in Sweden, temporary residency might be enough for you. However, if you want to fully engage politically and culturally, it can be worth considering the possibility of dual citizenship.
This is, of course, a big step and not one that is right or even possible for everyone. There are also some significant challenges involved in being a multinational citizen. So, let’s take a closer look at some of the key issues in establishing whether this could be a good and practical pathway for you, and how you could overcome the difficulties involved.
The Terms of Duality
The first thing you have to understand is that gaining dual citizenship is generally not an easy process. There are a lot of prerequisites as to who is eligible for dual citizenship in Scandinavian countries. Indeed, it’s only been possible to obtain dual citizenship in Norway since 2020. Therefore you need to first establish what the terms of dual citizenship are and whether you’re willing to abide by the limits imposed.
- Residence Period
All Scandinavian countries require that you are a legal resident for a minimum period before you can apply for citizenship. You can’t just decide you want to be a dual citizen of Denmark having spent your whole life living in Wisconsin, and just send off the application. This varies from country to country. Norway requires you to have been resident for 7 of the last 10 years.
It is possible to get by in most Scandinavian countries if you only speak English while you’re visiting, but if you plan on gaining citizenship, this is a whole different matter. After all, it’s only natural for the government and its people to expect those who wish to be citizens to have a certain level of linguistic fluency in the nation’s first language.
In Denmark, for instance, you need to pass a level 3 examination in Danish. This requires significant study and practice, which can be a gradual process during your required years of residence. While you have to pass exams, you don’t necessarily have to learn entirely through a traditional language school. Start small by using apps such as Duolingo and Rosetta Stone and grow through having conversations with locals.
Finances and Property
One aspect that frequently trips up those planning residence or dual citizenship is taxation. If you intend to hold dual Scandinavian and U.S. citizenship, you need to be aware that you will also be expected to pay taxes and file returns in the U.S., even if you spend most of your time in the Scandinavian country. This can be a source of stress and confusion, particularly if you earn money from employment or stocks and shares in both countries. However, teaming up with a skilled international tax accountant can help here, and due to laws to avoid double taxation, you can get tax credits in the U.S. on contributions you’ve made in Scandinavia.
Housing is likely to be your most significant investment. While you can still attend open house viewings in Sweden much as you would in the U.S., it’s important to understand where the differences in the process lie. There are certain questions you might have asked yourself before buying a house in a U.S. territory — how much you’re able to afford, what type of home you want to live in, whether you should engage a realtor — and these questions are largely likely to be the same in Scandinavia. However, you need to take into account aspects such as the down payment, which in Sweden is usually around 15%, compared to the usual U.S. rate of about 6%. If the type of home you preferred in the U.S. happened to be an apartment, bear in mind that in Finland you’re unlikely to buy an apartment outright but rather shares in a housing company. Take the time to make adjustments to your review process, and it makes it easier for you in the long run.
It’s also important that you give serious consideration to how you plan to support yourself through your dual citizenship. Most Scandinavian countries have requirements for self-sufficiency. For instance, you should be able to demonstrate that you have been able to maintain solid finances without the need for state assistance.
Applying for a job in Scandinavian countries is much the same as it is anywhere else in the world. However, it’s best to stick to some job search best practices to make a good impression on companies in this part of the world. Simplifying your resume is always wise; make it easy to read, choose a few keywords, and tailor it to best present the skills and experiences valued in the industry you’re applying for. Take time to speak to locals, too, to understand the kinds of questions you’re likely to be asked in your interview so that you can adequately prepare.
However, if you are planning to spend the time of your dual citizenship living between the two countries, employment can be challenging. In this case, it can be valuable to consider a freelance career that you can engage in wherever you happen to be in the world. However, be sure to review how this affects your tax and social security responsibilities.
Is Dual Citizenship in Scandinavia Right for You? The Challenges of Being Multinational – Conclusion
Becoming a dual citizen in a Scandinavian country can be a life-enriching experience. However, you need to gain a full understanding of what your residence, financial, and employment responsibilities are before proceeding. There are always ways to overcome challenges, but you must be prepared to put in the work.
Is Dual Citizenship in Scandinavia Right for You? The Challenges of Being Multinational, written exclusively for Daily Scandinavian by Ainsley Lawrence. Ainsley is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She is interested in better living through technology and education. She is frequently lost in a good book.
Feature image (on top): Photo Americansabroad.org