A noncommercial collection of information about citizenship, dual citizenship and multiple citizenship

Selected Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are there detailed examples of people with multiple citizenship?

See Examples of people with more than one citizenship


Does “European Citizenship” exist? Can I get a European passport?

The answer to this is a little hazy: it depends a lot on what you mean by citizenship. Very clear is that the parts of the EU entitled to deal with citizenship and issue passports are individual member states, which they do only for their own citizens.

“European Citizenship” exists as a byproduct of being a citizen of an EU member state, such as Spain or the UK. It is not, as far as we can tell, possible to be just a European Citizen. (Reference link).

Background material is available in an interesting article entitled The architecture of European Union citizenship.

There is no EU issued passport (except possibly EU diplomatic passports). Each EU state issues its own unique and locally designed passport to its citizens. There are (relatively recent) international standards for passports which specifies size, shape, information content and format. The European contribution seems to have been to specify that "the colour of the covers are burgundy red and the passports today contain the words European Union, as well as the name of the state issuing the passport" (Reference link)


How many citizenships can a child have at birth and how?

Best answer so far is 5 citizenships at birth:

If you have a better answer, please let us know and we will include it here. We guess that it is possible for the baby to have 8 or 10 citizenships at birth, in a very mobile family, but do not yet have an example to illustrate it.


Can somebody be a citizen of a country and not know it?

Yes! This can happen easily, and it might even be that most people with dual citizenship are in this situation-- they are citizens of two or more countries and are not aware of it. Citizenship law can be very complex and can change and it is not surprising that many people have, for whatever reason, incorrect or incomplete understanding of the citizenship laws of their main country, much less of other countries they may be a citizen of.

Example: Sometimes laws change retroactively. Somebody who was born as an American and then was naturalized as a citizen of another country at one point was considered to have lost their US citizenship. Based on court rulings, that interpretation of US law is no longer valid. Many of those people now continue to have their US citizenship even if they don't realize it.

Example: A child was recently born in the US. The parents both thought it was only a US citizen. But it turns out that the child is also German because the father is a German citizen. Neither parent realized initially, and the child certainly didn't know.


Why is it that citizenship only passes down from the mother?
or Why is it that citizenship only passes down from the father?
or Why is it that citizenship of the father/mother only passes down when the parents are married?
or Why is it that citizenship is granted to everyone born in the country, even if their parents were only passing through?

Good questions!

Citizenship Laws for a given country seem to develop in spurts of activity over a long period of time. They are patched together from various sources as the country evolves, and are often a strange combination of pragmatic rationality ("we want to integrate this population of people that is living in our country and so we will give them citizenship") and politically or religiously driven policy.

For people who live in the same country as the last ten generations of their ancestors, the details of the law will not usually be of particular interest since whether citizenship comes from your mother or your father or where you were born, the outcome will be the same. For somebody who has moved to another country or married somebody from another country, the details of citizenship law becomes more personally and emotionally important. When a Moroccan woman is married to an American and they are having a baby, she may deeply want the child to be Moroccan in addition to being American, but our reading of Moroccan law says that citizenship comes from the father only.

Citizenship laws do not always seem to make rational sense, be morally correct or even sensible in every situation. Even less so when it has to deal with multiple citizenship, which may not even be explicitly addressed in the law.


My mother was born in France (for example). How do I get my French citizenship?

In many cases you do not need to “apply for”, or “get” your citizenship if you are a citizen by place of birth or by decent. If citizenship law says that you are a citizen, then you will likely have been a citizen since your birth whether you have known it or not. If you are not resident there, some countries may require that you register with them before some deadline (e.g. your 21st birthday) if you want to retain your citizenship -- the embassy of the country you are a citizen of can give you more information.

If you need to show evidence of your citizenship, for instance to enter a country or register for some govenment service, it may be practical to obtain a document that shows you are a citizen, such as a passport or a certificate of citizenship.


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