12 Countries with Birthright Citizenship

Go Global By Stefan Zechner June 24, 2016

If you’ve ever dreamed of living in your ancestral homeland, the path to dual citizenship might be easier than you expect. Jus sanguinis, Latin for “right of blood,” grants direct descendants citizenship to a country based on their parent’s or grandparent’s nationality. Read on for a list of countries that grant citizenship by descent, and how to get started.

1. Ireland

A country of scenic landscapes and rich traditions, Ireland may be best known for its craic, or good times. Many of the big tech and pharma companies in the world have their European headquarters in Ireland because of the low tax rates and skilled workforce. Lucky for you, working in Ireland means 20 mandatory vacation days by law and living in one of the friendliest countries in the world.

Cliffs of Moher Ireland

How far back you can get birthright citizenship: one grandparent born in Ireland

If either of your parents is an Irish citizen by birth, marriage, adoption or naturalization by the time of your birth, then you are also an Irish citizen – even if you were born outside the country.

If your parents weren’t born in Ireland, you can still become an Irish citizen as long as one of your grandparents was. You can even continue passing Irish citizenship to successive generations as long as you are registered as a citizen before your children are born.

Learn more about becoming an Irish citizen on the Irish Embassy website and find your local Irish embassy or consulate here.

2. Philippines

Tropical weather, a low cost of living and over 7,000 beach islands make the Philippines a huge draw for visitors around the world. To make a permanent move, look to the growing tourism industry, which employs over 18% of the total workforce.

Philippines scenary

How far back you can get birthright citizenship: One Filipino parent

If you were born after 1935 and either your mother or father is Filipino, you can obtain citizenship regardless of where you were born.

Find your closest Filipino consulate and check out the details of becoming a Filipino citizen on the Philippines Bureau of Immigration if you want to get started.

3. India

The world’s second most populous country is too diverse and far-reaching to explore in one vacation. Now might be a good time to relocate for a longer stay: last year, India surpassed China as the fasted growing economy in the world.

India Mumbai skyline

How far back you can get birthright citizenship: It’s complicated

To acquire citizenship, your birth date matters. You qualify if:
• You were born after 1950 and before December 1992 and your father was an Indian citizen at the time of his birth.
• You were born after December 1992 and before 2004 and either parent was a citizen at the time of their birth.
• You were born after January 2004 and your birth was registered at an Indian consulate within a year of the date of birth.

However, there is another solution for those with Indian ancestors as far as three generations back. If your great grandparents were Indian citizens, you can apply for a Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Card. This grants you the right to live, work, attend school and own property in India. However, you will not have voting power and cannot run for public office in India.

For more tips and information, check out this guide on applying for Indian citizenship online.

4. Israel

Israel is a small country with a big role in the global economy. With growing technology, design and telecommunications industries, Israel offers a lot of job opportunity.

If you are considering making the move, keep in mind that Israel is a nation of compulsory military service for anyone over 18 years.

Israel Sunset

How far back you can get birthright citizenship: One Israeli parent

To qualify for citizenship by descent in Israel, you must prove that one of your parents was born in Israel. But there is a workaround. Israel’s Law of Return of 1950 grants every Jew, no matter where they were born or live, the right to become an Israeli citizen. This applies to anyone with a Jewish mother or who has converted to Judaism and is not a member of any other religion.

Since 1970, this right to immigrate under the Law of Return was extended to include any child or grandchild of a Jew and the spouse of a child or grandchild of a Jew, allowing an even easier path for citizenship.

Learn more about the application process at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

5. France

With famed cuisine, museums, beaches and skiing, it’s easy to see why France is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Pair that with a 35-hour work week, 13 bank holidays and an average of 5 weeks paid leave and moving to France becomes even more tempting.

Paris France

How far back you can get birthright citizenship: one parent with French citizenship

Whether they were born in or out of country, you can become a French citizen so long as one of your parents is as well. All generations before you must have registered birth certificates before you can register your own.

France is a founding member of the European Union and like other countries in the EU, becoming a French citizen gives you the access to live, study and work in any of the 28 EU countries.

Applying for French Citizenship

• Learn how to apply for citizenship on the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs site.
Find your local French consulate to get started.

6. Australia

Australia is a multicultural society with a year-round temperate climate and laid-back lifestyle. The population, economy and middle class are all growing, meaning more opportunities for work, service and fun.

Sydney Australia skyline

How far back you can get birthright citizenship: one parent with Australian citizenship

If you were born after 1949 to a parent who held Australian citizenship at the time of your birth, you qualify for birthright citizenship. If your parent also obtained citizenship by descent, you can still become an Australian citizen, so long as your parent lived in Australia for a total of two years at some point in their life.

Find more details about the application process for Australian birthright citizenship on the Australian Department of Immigration website.

7. Hungary

With beautiful architecture and a convenient location, Hungary is a great starting point to explore the rest of the continent from. Since its transition to a market economy in the 1990’s, Hungary has experienced rapid growth, especially in the automotive, renewable energy and information technology industries.

Budapest Hungary view

How far back you can get birthright citizenship: any traceable ancestor with Hungarian citizenship

While most people that apply for Hungarian birthright citizenship attain citizenship from their parents, grandparents or great grandparents, you can try tracing back further with the right paper trail. Hungarian legislation was updated in 1993 to allow more opportunity for Hungarian descendants to return to their homeland.

Applying for Hungarian Citizenship

• Find information on whether you qualify for obtaining citizenship from the US embassy.
• Note that the application form is only available in Hungarian and all documents (marriage, birth certificates, etc.) not issued by Hungarian government must be translated into Hungarian.

8. UK

England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each have their own laws and parliament, but they make up one nation on the global stage, with the same queen, currency and passport. The UK has a steady economy, and shared language with the U.S., making it an ideal home away from home for Americans.

London UK Big Ben

How far back you can get birthright citizenship: One British parent by birth and not descent

The UK is known for its strict immigration policies, but they allow a path to citizenship for those who can prove that one of their parents was born in the UK.

This online quiz will reveal whether you qualify.

9. Italy

With world-famous foods, beautiful scenery and a rich history, the allure of relocating to Italy is easy to see. And while finding a job isn’t easy right now due to high unemployment, skills and experience in the services industry can go a long way in Italy.

Tuscany Italy nature

How far back you can get birthright citizenship: great-great-grandfather from Italy

Italian citizenship is passed on from parent to child without limitation of generation. You only need to produce evidence that everyone in your direct line of ascendants has maintained their Italian citizenship without interruption since 1861.

Read the government statement on Italian nationality law here.

10. Argentina

Often described as a slice of Europe in South America, Argentina offers a low cost of living coupled with beautiful, historic architecture and scenery. Argentina also boasts a booming banking and real estate market.

Argentina colorful architecture

How far back you can get birthright citizenship: One Argentine parent

You only need to prove that one of your parents was an Argentinian citizen at the time of his birth to qualify for citizenship by descent.

11. Turkey

With a warm climate and bustling, ancient cities, Turkey offers something for the curious history buff and snow bird in all of us. The economy is growing steadily and migrants often find work in the tourism, teaching, real estate, finance, engineering, and information technology fields.

Istanbul Turkey Hagia Sophia

How far back you can get birthright citizenship: One Turkish parent

To qualify for birthright citizenship, one of your parents must have been a citizen of Turkey at the time you were born. The only exception to this rule is if your mother is foreign, your father is Turkish and you were born out of wedlock.

Applying for Turkish Citizenship

• To apply in the US, contact your local consulate.
• To apply in Turkey, you need to work with the Birth Registration and Citizenship office.

12. South Africa

South Africa is an English speaking country with strong opportunity for people with architecture, engineering, information technology, and economics backgrounds. There are also outposts from many major American companies in Cape Town, from accounting firms and banks to advertising and entertainment.

South Africa

How far back you can get birthright citizenship: one South African parent

If you were born out of the country and at least one of your parents was a South African citizen at the time of their birth, you qualify for birthright citizenship. The same applies for those adopted by a South African citizen, so long as your birth was properly registered.

Contact the South African Department of Home Affairs if you have any questions your consulate cannot help with.