[en] N-Higgs-doublet models (NHDM) are a popular framework to construct electroweak symmetry breaking mechanisms beyond the Standard model. Usually, one builds an NHDM scalar sector which is invariant under a certain symmetry group. Although several such groups have been used, no general analysis of symmetries possible in the NHDM scalar sector exists. Here, we describe a strategy that identifies all abelian groups which are realizable as symmetry groups of the NHDM Higgs potential. We consider both the groups of Higgs-family transformations only and the groups which also contain generalized CP transformations. We illustrate this strategy with the examples of 3HDM and 4HDM and prove several statements for arbitrary N.