You Could Be Entitled to a Second Passport

09-Dec-2014

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By Bob Bauman JD, International Living, 

The old saying is: “It’s in your blood.”

Some would argue that it’s an ancient evolutionary tendency of ours to organize into distinct groupings based on an affinity of birth.

This blood birth theory is reflected in one of the two major legal principles of citizenship law used in almost all countries.

The first legal principle is the place of birth, or the principle of jus soli (Latin for “right of soil”). Thus, being born within the geograph¬ic territory over which a country maintains sovereignty automatically makes the newborn child a citizen of that country.

The second is bloodline, or the principle of jus sanguinis (Latin for “right of blood”), which describes citizenship resulting from the nationality of one parent or the other, or from earlier ancestors, usually limited to parents and grandparents.

That means that depending on where your parents or grandparents came from, you could be entitled to citizenship and a second passport.

Some countries extend this blood principle retroactively, granting citizenship and a passport to the children and grandchildren of their citizens, even if these descendants have never lived in the country. This is perhaps the easiest means to obtain a second passport.

For instance, take the example of Ireland.

There, citizenship is governed by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts of 1956 and 1986. These laws confer Irish nationality:

  • By reason of one’s birth in Ireland;

  • By Irish parentage or ancestry, and;

  • By marriage to an Irish citizen.

Automatic citizenship by reason of birth within Ireland was limited in 2004 by a constitutional amendment that restricted that right to a child with at least one Irish citizen as a parent. After January 1, 2005, citizenship and residence history of both parents and all grandparents was thereafter taken into account.

If you were born outside of Ireland, and either your mother or father (or both) was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, then you are entitled to Irish citizenship.

And there are two circumstances under which a great-grandchild is eligible to apply for Irish citizenship by descent:

  • If the parent (the grandchild of the Irish-born person) registered before the great-grandchild was born;

  • If the parent (the grandchild of the Irish born person) registered before June 30, 1986 and the great-grandchild was born after July 17, 1956.

Ireland is just one such country where your ancestry could entitle you to citizenship. Others include Italy, Hungary, Poland, and the U.K.

Maybe it’s time to look at the family tree…

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