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Citizenship by Descent

Depending on your family history, you may be eligible to apply for alternative citizenship based on your ancestry and experience all the business and lifestyle opportunities afforded by a stronger passport. Citizenship by descent allows you to claim the citizenship of your ancestors as a birthright. Make the most out of your ancestry by acquiring an alternative passport.


Citizenship by Descent

An Overview of Citizenship by Descent

The centuries-old phenomenon of people moving across the globe means that our ancestry may span much further than we think. Citizenship by descent, also known as citizenship by ancestry, is the process whereby individuals may apply for and acquire an alternative citizenship based on their family ties, if they can demonstrate a sufficient connection to their ancestors.

Unlike citizenship by marriage, where you can obtain an additional citizenship by marrying a local citizen, or citizenship by naturalization, where you can acquire citizenship by being a resident of a country for a specified time (such as by spending five years in Portugal as a resident), citizenship by descent is a birthright. In these cases, you technically bear this citizenship from birth but need to activate it by applying for it through the government, which may legally recognize your citizenship status after receiving proven documentation.

Depending on the country whose citizenship is applied for, you may claim an ancestral passport by documenting your ties to the parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or even more distant relatives who were citizens of that country, regardless of which country you were born in.

Countries that offer citizenship by ancestry

There are several countries around the world that allow individuals to obtain citizenship based on their family history. Their governments generally apply the law of jure sanguinis (Latin for ‘by right of bloodline’). Depending on your ancestry, click below to find out if you qualify for citizenship by descent:

Contact Henley & Partners to find out which other countries recognize and grant citizenship by descent.

The benefits of citizenship by descent

Making the most of your family history by acquiring citizenship by descent is by far the easiest and most cost-effective route to a second (or third) passport. Obtaining an additional citizenship offers you greater optionality when it comes to where you and your family can live, work, invest, study, and retire. The other benefits of receiving a passport by descent include:

  • Expanding your global footprint
  • Increasing your economic mobility by reaching new investment markets
  • Diversifying your assets and investment portfolio
  • Accessing a higher quality of life, healthcare, and education

How to apply for citizenship by descent

Each country has its own criteria and application process for establishing eligibility and granting ancestral citizenship such as how far back your ancestry must go and any language proficiency required. Henley & Partners can help you navigate this process.

Depending on the country in which you’re applying to become a citizen, you will need to provide documents that clearly demonstrate your lineage. These documents include birth and death certificates, passports, marriage certificates, address registers, naturalization documents, and anything else that can legally support your ancestry claim.

Applicants follow the following process:

1. Finding out if you are eligible for citizenship by descent

This process is often time-consuming and involves determining which of your ancestors’ citizenship you would be applying for and finding the necessary documentation. Applicants who are ineligible include, for example, those whose ancestor renounced or lost their citizenship before the applicant’s birth.

You also need to consider if dual citizenship is permitted by the desired government, otherwise you might have to renounce your birth citizenship.

2. Preparing your application

The necessary documents may need to be apostilled and translated. Government archives confirming citizenship may also need to be thoroughly assessed.

3. Waiting for the government’s decision

The waiting period varies according to the relevant government department.

Our citizenship by descent service

Henley & Partners can seamlessly manage the entire citizenship by descent application process for you, from exploring your ancestral citizenship to helping you prove your lineage, to you receiving your new passport in hand.

Contact us today

For more information on how we can help you secure your future by connecting with your family’s legacy, please complete the citizenship by descent enquiry form below.

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