Country Report: Naturalisation Last updated: 10/07/24


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According to the Act on Swedish Citizenship (2001:82), in order to acquire citizenship in Sweden through application, a person must:

  • Be able to prove their identity;
  • Have reached the age of 18;
  • Have a permanent residence permit, a right of residence or residence card in Sweden;
  • Have fulfilled the requirements for period of residence (lived in Sweden for a specified period, see table above);
  • Have good conduct in Sweden.

To become a Swedish citizen, as a rule a person must have lived in Sweden on a long-term basis for a continuous period of five years. Habitual residence means that the person is a long-term resident and intends to remain in Sweden. Whether it is possible to count all the time spent in Sweden as a period of habitual residence depends on the reason why the person settled and the permit they have had during their time here. The main rule is that time with a residence permit that leads to a permanent residence permit is counted as a period of habitual residence. If the person is stateless or a refugee, they only have to have resided in Sweden for four years.[1]

If a person had a permanent residence permit or a residence permit for settlement when they entered Sweden, they count the duration of stay from the date of arrival. Otherwise, the duration of stay is calculated from the date on which the application for a residence permit was submitted and approved. If the application was initially rejected and the person then submitted a new application, the time is counted from the date on which they received approval.

A child can obtain Swedish citizenship through notification by the parent or guardian, if the child has a permanent residence permit and has been residing in Sweden for three years, or two years if the child is stateless.[2]

If a person is married to a Swedish citizen or living in a registered partnership with or cohabiting with a Swedish citizen, they can apply for Swedish citizenship after three years. In these cases, the couple must have lived together for the past two years. It is not enough to be married to one another; they must also live together.

If the person’s partner used to have a nationality other than Swedish nationality or was stateless, they must have been a Swedish citizen for at least two years. The applicant must also have adapted well to Swedish society during their time in Sweden. Relevant criteria can include the length of the marriage, knowledge of the Swedish language and ability to support oneself.

If the person has previously been in Sweden under an identity that is not their correct identity or if they have impeded the execution of a refusal-of-entry order by, for example, going into hiding, this may hamper possibilities of obtaining citizenship after three years.[3]

The decision is taken by the Migration Agency and can be appealed to the same instances as in the case of applications for protection status and residence permit. Rejection grounds include proving ones’ identity and meeting the requirements of good conduct in Sweden. Matters that are taken into account include inter alia whether the person has been abiding with the law or not, and whether the person has properly managed bank loans well or other finances (personal and other).

An applicant that cannot prove their identity may obtain Swedish citizenship after eight years of habitual residence. This concerns cases where they are not able to get documents that could prove their identity but the identity could at least be assessed as probable. The Migration Agency does not consider that passports issued by Afghan or Somali authorities may prove the identity of the passport holder as regards applications for Swedish Citizenship.[4]

The Migration Court of Appeal published a decision in May 2023 in a case where the Migration Agency had rejected an application for Swedish citizenship. During his asylum procedure, the applicant had first said he was born in 1998, but later in the process said he was born in 1992. The Migration Agency did not find the information credible and registered his year of birth as 1989. When applying for citizenship the applicant handed in a passport with the same date of birth as registered by the Migration Agency. The Migration Court of Appeal found that the passport could prove his identity due to the conflicting information regarding his date of birth. The fact that the applicant himself had provided the inconsistent information regarding his age also led the Court to conclude that he had not made his identity probable and could not be granted Swedish citizenship.[5]

The Migration Court of Appeal published a decision in June 2023, where it found that a person who had been enrolled in unarmed service in the Syrian Army during the armed conflict should be denied Swedish citizenship until a substantial time has elapsed since that service. As he had been active in an organisation that committed systematic and grave violations, the practice of a substantial time shall apply. According to previous rulings, this time is 25 years.[6]

In September 2023 the Government instructed an official report of the Government to suggest new and more restrictive conditions for Swedish citizenship, including a longer habitual residency in Sweden and stricter demands for a good character. The report shall leave its recommendations by latest on 30 September 2024.[7]

In 2023, the SMA registered 71,183 new applications for Swedish citizenship. A total of 72,242 first instance decisions were issued in 2023, out of which 58,215 granted citizenship. The majority of citizenship were granted to applicants from, Syria (11,680), Eritrea (8,964), Afghanistan (3,663), , Somalia (2,950). The SMA had 94,798 requests pending at the end of the year.[8]

The average number of days from application to decision at first instance was 435 in 2023, compared to 452 days in 2022.[9]




[1] Act on Swedish Citizenship, Section 11.

[2] Act on Swedish Citizenship, Section 7.

[3] Act on Citizenship (Medborgarskapslagen) Section 12, see also Migation Court of Appeal case MIG 2007:28

[4] SMA, ‘The Swedish Migration Agency’s assessment of identity documents’, available at:

[5] Migration Court of Appeal case MIG 2023:7, available in Swedish at;

[6] Migration Court of Appeal case MIG 2023:8, available in Swedish at:

[7] Government, ‘Skärpta krav för att förvärva svenskt medborgarskap’, 8 September 2023, available in Swedish at:  

[8] SMA Monthly statistical report December 2023.

[9] SMA Monthly statistical report December 2023.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX – I Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation