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A question of identity— London

Preface

Taking a national citizenship test can pose far more questions than just those that appear on the paper. Monocle’s Marcus Hippi reports.

Citizenship, Identity, Migration, Nationality, Passport

23 September 2014

The other day I did an online British citizenship test. No need to panic people of the UK – it was just for fun!

It seems that all my years living in the country have paid off - I scored 80 per cent without too much effort, which means that – had this been the real test – I would have passed pretty easily. Among my few mistakes, I did not know outright how many members a jury has in Scotland and I did not understand exactly when I would need to get an MOT certificate for my vehicle.

After the test I started thinking about how we define nationality in a world where ever more people move overseas to live and work.

Should people seeking to adopt a nationality be expected to demonstrate a deep connection to their prospective country? And even if there are screening tests to prove a person’s understanding of the country in which they wish to reside - does a higher score truly mean that this person cares more than someone else?

I already have a Finnish passi, so frankly there are not too many perks that owning another from the UK would grant me.

It has been suggested in the Russian Duma that people from the countries of the former empire should be granted a passport automatically; coming from Finland, that would include me, too. I don’t really think that I want this citizenship if I’m honest; after all, there may be a conflict of how I see the world compared to the Kremlin.

What about an American passport? They are like gold dust, right? Well I might be interested, but given that I would probably need to get married to secure one I think I’ll shelve that plan for now as well.

So, on the whole, the only realistic option for me would be to get a British citizenship. And this is where I realise how patriotic I still am.

I remember when I first received a British Airways loyalty card. It was surprisingly emotional for me to adopt that at the time, while retiring my well-worn Finnair card to a drawer at home. It felt like a change of allegiance.

If switching from one airline to another gets this emotional I can only imagine what it’s like if I was to apply for a whole new citizenship. On the whole, I feel happy as 100 per cent Finnish: learning when I need to get an MOT certificate for my vehicle in the UK can wait until another day.

Marcus Hippi is a producer for Monocle 24

Monocle 24

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