The World's Weirdest Citizenship Tests
Posted by Dannielle Noonan
Are you a long-term expat who is considering applying to become a citizen of your host country?
Perhaps your adopted country has come to feel like home, and you’d like to make that official with a resident visa. Being recognised as a national citizen may entitle you to things like public healthcare or another passport.
However, to be acknowledged as a citizen of certain nations, you must jump through a series of hoops… and some countries’ application process for naturalisation pander to cultural quirks while others are just plain crazy.
Governments are keen to protect their nation’s heritage and try not to compromise this by letting people in without putting them through their paces. Will you fit in with the country’s attitudes and values? The citizen test is designed to determine this.
To become a South Korea citizen
There are three paths to citizenship through naturalization, but the most typical for a foreigner is “General naturalization”. To qualify, you must have lived in the country for five consecutive years for the greater part of the year, which means no skipping home for the summer months. You must also understand the culture. To test this awareness, prospective citizens are required to sing the first four verses of the country’s national anthem, “Aegukga”, before a panel of justice ministry officials.
The Swiss citizenship system is complicated; you must first become a citizen of a town and its relevant canton. The catch? The locals have a say in whether you are accepted, though this system is being phased out.
You’ll also be evaluated on your language and cultural knowledge, and you may even be quizzed on the ingredients of certain local dishes!
In October 2014, the naturalization commission of the town of Einsiedeln rejected the application of a 75-year-old former professor at the Swiss Polytechnical University who had lived in Einsiedeln for 39 years. Even though the man spoke German, was financially secure, and passed his written test about Switzerland in general, his application was denied because the commission felt that he didn't have a good enough understanding of the local community.
Wannabe Dutch citizens must be prepared to renounce their current nationality. You must also show you are sufficiently integrated in Dutch society and are able to read, write, speak and understand Dutch. You can prove this by taking a civic integration examination, and must pass the A2-level.
The Netherlands’ cultural-practices test presents you with hypothetical scenarios, such as the most appropriate action for a Dutch citizens when neighbours they don’t know well get married: should you send a postcard, bring a present or give flowers?
While the old citizenship test asked applicants about the farmers’ co-operative movement of the 1800s and which type of lamp was designed by Poul Henningsen, the new version features questions on Eurovision, the Church of Denmark and paternity leave.
While the old test asked how many MPs the Faroe Islands and Greenland send to Christiansborg, the new one merely asks whether the two autonomous members of the Kingdom of Denmark are represented in parliament. Easy.
Norway does not allow dual citizenship which deters many foreigners applying. All those applying for citizenship who are between the ages of 18 and 55 must pass a test, administered in the Norwegian language, that evaluates would-be citizens’ knowledge of both the language and Norwegian society – each of which require at least 50 hours of training.
In Spain, the citizenship process consists of an interview with a local judge who evaluates a candidate’s Spanish language proficiency. In some regions, the judge will test the person. The tests are not standardized, which means people can be asked questions of wildly varying difficulty and relevance to their citizenship application, on subjects that are likely to stump even Spaniards such as, ‘Who is the secretary general of Spain's Podemos Party?’ and ‘Can you name five Spanish islands?’
Single applicants will need to have lived in the country for 7 years. If you want access to Iceland’s perks you will need two character references from respected Icelandic citizens to show that you’re of “good reputation” and won’t let the nation down with a poor work ethic. You will also need to take a citizenship exam that tests knowledge of Icelandic. The test consists of assessment of your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills and only takes place twice per year.
You must display a ‘positive attitude’ towards the Republic of Austria, proof of German language skills and knowledge of the democratic system. Prospective Austrian citizens must also pass a test that includes questions on Austrian history dating back to Roman settlement.
Applicants for Australian residency visas must take a multiple choice test and score over 75%. Sample questions include "What are the colours of the Australian Aboriginal Flag?", "What happened in Australia on 1 January 1901?” and "What is a referendum?"
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