Diary – the long road along the path to double citizenship
by Elizabethann Burke
I am British, have lived in Denmark for 40 years and feel
integrated. But I cannot vote where I pay my tax! ’No taxation without
representation! Why should I lose my British passport to be able to
vote where I live? Don’t we have the right to live and work in other EU
For 39 years I have lobbied with The British European Association
for representation. At last the Danish
politicians have been forced to accept that Denmark must follow the
rest of Europe. Only three out of all EU countries still refuse to
accept double citizenship.
The law allowing dual nationality was passed on 1st September 2015.
Many Danes living abroad are expected to apply to get their Danish
citizenship back and there are many others in my situation who
will apply for an extra passport, this one Danish. So the authorities
are expecting a lot of extra work and have employed eighty more staff
to cope with the rush. So I decided to apply in good time.
This is how far I have got:
- b) Late November 2014: Phoned the
language school several times
asking a) where the exam would be held. (Answer: we are waiting to see
how many will sit the exam), b) what aids are allowed? (Answer: none,
not even a dictionary).
c) The week before the exam. A letter
from VUC with the address
of the hall and information I can wait six weeks before the result.
- e) 2nd December 2014. Exam in
Over 300 people sit the exam. I am almost the only woman without a
burka or Moslem head scarf. See the exam on: 141202_Proevesaet_statsborgerskabsproeven.pdf.
We have 45 min. to tick
30 multiple choice questions: 27 concern politics, law, history, EU,
Greenland, traditions, family, geography, royal family, community,
immigration, etc. and 3 questions are on topical subjects. I finish in
10 minutes. Relief!
- f) 4th December. The pass certificate
arrives after only two
days. I got one answer wrong (I think I muddled the name of a minister!)
- g) Normally I would have to take an exam
in written and oral
Danish. It costs 1,200 DKK from Sprogcentret and is held twice a year.
Fortunately I am exempt as I have a higher education taken in Danish
and have passed a 6 hour exam in my field, written in Danish, 38 years
- h) Printed out the 16 page application
from the net: Ansøgningsskema.
Sent one page to Borgerservice, where they have to certify that I have
not received state benefit within the last five years.
- i) 2nd January 2015. The filled 16 page
application and copies of
eight personal documents delivered to the Police at Halmtorvet,
Copenhagen. (Since they died long ago I have trouble remembering the
exact year of my parents’ births and neither could I account for every
holiday over 3 weeks I have taken in the last 40 years!)
- j) 15th January. Receive an e-mail from
the police to meet for an
interview with the original documents on 5th March.
- k) 5th March. Interview with a civil
servant at the police
station. First I paid the 1,000 DKK fee and then we went to an
interview room. All my copies were checked with the originals: my
passport, residence permit (that I had never needed in 40 years),
certificates for Danish exam exemption, the citizenship exam, my
education, and from the Council stating that I was self-supporting. The
interview lasted 30 mins. and the officer wrote on his PC while I told
him my CV: why I moved to Denmark, my lack of criminal record
(including no speeding fines), my lack of attachment to UK, my social
network here, my career in Denmark, hobbies, interests, husband,
economy and housing situation. He was very interested in my volunteer
work. He printed out the five pages he had written for me to read and
sign, but I was not allowed a copy. Received a severe warning about
what could happen if I had given false information! He said the
application would be sent to the Ministry of Justice the same day and I
would hear from them in about a year’s time. Normally it takes 15 to 18
months, but they had employed 80 extra staff to help the work load with
the new law, so he hoped it would now take under a year. I said it
wouldn’t take many seconds to look me up in the criminal data base, and
he agreed, but told me I was at the bottom of the huge pile and it
takes months to investigate e.g. the parents, contacts and brothers of
a Pakistani with a very usual name where all the information has
to be translated, etc.
So now I just have to wait.....
When he read his notes to me I wondered why it started ’the interviewee
arrived alone’. I asked what it meant, should I have had my Danish
husband with me? No, he replied, but many come with translators, social
workers or counsellors. Translators? I thought you had to speak Danish?
’Not always’ !
- l) 2nd April. Letter from the Ministry of
Justice that my
application has been received and is being processed, which will take
over 12 months. (Only four months after the citizenship exam I have
already forgotten how many weeks paternity leave you can hold, how many
EU Commissioners we have, how long the EUX education takes and how many
hectares of forest there are!)
- m) 1st May 2015. Today I have lived and
worked in dear Denmark
for 40 years. I speak Danish and feel I am integrated: I love Denmark.
I never visit England, have no family there, but the first 20 years of
my upbringing mean a lot to me and I think it is wrong I must give up
my British passport to have the vote in Denmark where I pay so much
tax. I know it is just emotion and not logic!
- n) 7th May. General election in England.
The present law removes
your right to vote when you have lived outside the UK for 15 years.
Many ex-pats around the world want to keep their UK vote as they have
property or pensions or pay tax in England and want to influence their
grandchildren’s education and healthcare. But I have no family or
interest left in England and no longer pay tax there, so I have long
ago dropped the interest in an English vote as it has no relevance for
me. I want to vote in Denmark, where I live.
- o) The PM, Helle Torning Schmidt, calls a
general election for
18th June. I hope it will be the last election where I am unable to
- p) 26th June. A new government and a new
PM. The anti-immigration
party received many more votes than previously.
- q) 1st September 2015. The new law on
double nationality was
passed today. Hurrah!
- r) 26th Sept. A national newspaper,
Berlingske Tidende, printed a
3 page article about me applying for a Danish passport. It included
photos of some of the documents I provided for the police, and photos
of me outside the English church. The title concerned it having taken
me 183 days just to get this far, with another 18 months (?) waiting
ahead. See the article "Det tog Elizabethann 183 dage at søge om
statsborgerskab" in politiko.dk.
- s) 29th Oct. A list of about 6,500 names
is published today, of
foreigners about to get Danish citizenship. Not many European names
there! This should be the last batch before those of us lucky enough to
gain double nationality.
- t) October 2015. The government has
altered the rules for
applying for citizenship with RETROGRADE application!
They now want a harder exam in Danish, a more comprehensive exam on
Denmark and citizens’ rights and duties, and longer periods of being
financially independent and of lack of criminality. This applies not
only to new applicants but to all those (like me) who thought they have
been accepted, and are just waiting for confirmation! How will
this affect me? Am I exempted? No-one seems able to give me an answer.
Will I have to go up to new exams and pay again? Will I have to start
all over again? Or are EU citizens in a different pile from the
‘dubious’ foreigners who require months of investigation? Surely
the new rules will delay my application even longer if there are not
extra staff available? So far I have heard nothing officially, so the