My relationship with Norway has always had its complexities but because of my father, I was given Norwegian citizenship at birth. I travelled the globe on my Norwegian passport despite only living there for a year and a half (when I was 16).
It was while living in Canada (age 20) that I first realised it wasn't so simple. I was trying to renew my passport at the Norwegian consulate but they would only give me a year's extension. I learnt that for Norwegians born abroad (like me), there was an application process that needed to be done before turning 21 to keep your citizenship.
The summer before I turned 21, I visited my parents (who were living in Norway at the time) and slightly nervously went to the passport office. No questions were asked and they issued me a new 10 year passport immediately, a very good thing since otherwise I would have been stateless!
I completely forgot about the episode but decided to apply for dual citizenship while living in London a few years later. Mostly, I thought it would be cool (and useful) to hold two passports and I'd always felt more British than Norwegian. I got my UK passport without a hitch and life continued.
In 2011, however, my Norwegian passport was up for renewal again. Early one morning, I went to the Norwegian consulate in Knightsbridge thinking it would be plain sailing. How wrong was I?! I suppose it didn't help that I chose to speak English (a trait I've possessed since childhood, much to the dismay of my Norwegian relatives!) but the women were rude and hostile and continued to speak to me in Norwegian. I had my photo taken, finger print scanned, handed over the money and went on my merry way.
It was only when I returned to pick up my new passport that I realised those early complications of my transient upbringing were back. The lady told me that they were trying to contact the head of police in Stavanger (where my last passport was issued) to confirm whether I had applied for the right to keep my Norwegian citizenship. This all was news to me! Apparently I was supposed to have applied for the right to remain Norwegian before I turned 19 - during which, I was living in North America and my parents in India.
She asked if I had applied and I told her I think my dad did it for me but I couldn't remember. She asked me for the paperwork to prove it which I said I couldn't provide. She told me to get it from my parents, at which point I gave her a little breakdown of the complications of locating a piece of paper while most of your possessions are in boxes scattered around the world! She told me that unless the proof could be found, I would lose my Norwegian citizenship. I could not believe it. That a nation could take away your nationality! That you had to apply to keep your citizenship and that they PUNISHED people for being raised abroad! I was gobsmacked. I always had my British passport to fall back on but I was quite hurt with the way I was treated by my fathers homeland. And their inability and lack of desire to understand a TCK/global upbringing. It was as though I'd betrayed Norway by growing up somewhere else - a decision of course, that was out of my hands.
Luckily for me, the chief of police in Stavanger came through and for some reason confirmed that I was living in Norway when I turned 19 (not entirely true but I did spend my birthday there!) and all was well. So my Norwegian citizen status remains intact and I have my shiny new passport...although for some strange reason, I haven't used it since...
Note: This drama occurred a few months before the Oslo terror attacks, which helped soften my heart to Norway considerably. You can read that entry here (it was actually published by The Telegraph).