Citizenship by Ancestry

What Is The Citizenship by Ancestry Program

Citizenship by ancestry or citizenship by descent allows you to become a citizen of a country by proving that you have ancestors who were citizens of that country. Each country has its own requirements for eligibility, and the process involves completing an application form and providing the necessary supporting documents to the relevant immigration authority.

The Benefits

  • Ability to live, work and study in the destination country without getting a visa.
  • Ability to seek consular assistance and protection from the destination country’s diplomatic authorities.
  • Opportunity to obtain a second passport to enhance one’s global mobility.
  • Opportunity to apply for social securities, healthcare subsidies, and education benefits from the destination country.

The Requirements

  • Each country has its own requirements for eligibility.
  • You may be eligible for citizenship through ancestry if you have ancestors who are/were citizens in the destination country.
  • If you’re eligible, you can enjoy benefits such as the ability to live, work, and study in the destination country without a visa, seek consular assistance and protection, obtain a second passport, and apply for social securities, healthcare subsidies, and education benefits.

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    Countries that allow citizenship by descent or ancestry

    Cape Verde Kenya Nigeria South Africa Tunisia
    Argentina Brazil Canada Chile Columbia
    Costa Rica Dominican Republic Mexico United States of America
    Mongolia Philippines Singapore South Korea Taiwan
    Austria Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland
    France Germany Greece Hungary Ireland
    Italy Lithuania Luxembourg Netherlands Norway
    Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia
    Spain Sweden Switzerland Türkiye United Kingdom
    Middle East
    Bahrain Israel Jordan Kuwait Oman
    Australia Fiji New Zealand


    Cape Verde, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia


    Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Mexico, United States of America


    Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand


    Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Türkiye, United Kingdom

    Middle East

    Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman


    Australia, Fiji, New Zealand

    The Process

    Due Diligence and Application

    • Complete the application form and gather the required supporting documents (e.g. proof of lineage).
    • Submit application to the relevant immigration authority.

    Citizenship by descent Approval

    • Citizenship by descent processing time varies between countries.

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      Frequently Asked Questions

      Citizenship by descent or ancestry refers to a legal principle through which individuals can acquire citizenship in a particular country based on their family lineage or heritage. This means that individuals can claim citizenship in a country by virtue of their parents, grandparents, or sometimes even further back in their family tree, having been citizens of that country.

      The specific requirements and eligibility criteria for citizenship by descent or ancestry vary from country to country. In some cases, individuals may be required to provide documented evidence of their familial connection to a citizen of the country, such as birth certificates, marriage records, or other relevant documentation. Additionally, certain countries may impose limitations on the number of generations or the specific relationships that qualify for citizenship through ancestry or descent.

      Citizenship by ancestry refers to a legal principle through which individuals can acquire citizenship in a particular country based on their family lineage or heritage. Once the ancestral connection is established and the necessary documentation is provided, the individual can typically apply for citizenship by submitting an application to the appropriate government authority or immigration department. The application will be reviewed, and if approved, the individual will be granted citizenship or provided with a pathway to obtain citizenship.

      Countries offer citizenship through ancestry for a variety of reasons. Granting citizenship based on ancestry allows countries to preserve cultural heritage and historical ties, strengthen national identity, attract talent and investment, and facilitate reconnection and reconciliation. By extending citizenship to individuals with ancestral connections, countries can maintain a sense of belonging, foster economic and social development, and acknowledge the significance of familial ties in their nation-building efforts.

      The common eligibility criteria for citizenship by ancestry typically include proving a direct lineage to a qualifying citizen of the country, adhering to generational limitations (if any) set by the country, demonstrating language or cultural proficiency in some cases, and completing the application process, which may involve fees and additional requirements specific to the country. Eligibility criteria can vary among countries. Those interested in this process should therefore reach out to law firms that specialized in immigration and citizenship matters to understand the specific requirements of the citizenship programs they are interested in.

      Specific requirements for eligibility can vary between countries. For example, in Italy, individuals seeking citizenship by ancestry must generally prove that their Italian ancestors did not renounce or lose their Italian citizenship before the birth of the next generation. In France, applicants must demonstrate that they have at least one French parent.

      The restrictions on the number of generations vary by country. Some countries, like France, have limitations that typically allow citizenship to be claimed through parents. Other countries, such as Italy, Slovakia and Spain, may have fewer restrictions and allow citizenship to be claimed through more distant ancestors.

      Citizenship by descent or ancestry offers a straightforward and cost-effective path to second citizenship, distinguishing it from other programs that typically demand physical relocation, employment, or investment in the country of interest. 

      Obtaining citizenship by descent also brings various advantages. Firstly, it grants improved travel mobility and expanded opportunities through the newly acquired citizenship’s passport. Secondly, successful applicants gain the freedom to live, study, and work in the country of citizenship without restrictions. Additionally, citizenship by ancestry provides access to potential social benefits, healthcare systems, and other support programs available to citizens. Moreover, there may be potential educational benefits, such as reduced tuition fees or scholarships, associated with the country of citizenship. Another notable advantage is the potential ability to pass on the acquired citizenship to future generations, thereby allowing the children or even more distant descendants of successful applicants to enjoy the rights, privileges, and opportunities associated with the citizenship obtained through ancestry.

      The application process for citizenship by ancestry typically involves gathering the necessary documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, to prove ancestry, and submitting them to the appropriate government agency or embassy/consulate. The specific requirements and application forms can vary by country, and it is important to consult an immigration lawyer experienced in these matters to obtain accurate and up-to-date information for each specific country.

      Proof of lineage is generally crucial in the application process for citizenship by ancestry. Commonly required documents include birth certificates that establish the chain of ancestry from the applicant to the ancestor who holds or held the citizenship of the country in question. Certain countries may also accept DNA test results to establish the legitimacy of the ancestral connection.

      The processing time for citizenship by ancestry applications can significantly differ depending on the country and its administrative procedures. For instance, in Austria, the citizenship by ancestry process may be completed in approximately 6 months. On the other hand, the average processing time for ancestral citizenship applications in Slovakia can take up to 2 years. To obtain an estimate of the expected processing time for the citizenship program of interest, it is advisable to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer who can provide accurate information based on their knowledge and expertise.

      Citizenship by ancestry programs can be found in various continents and regions. Some countries in Europe, such as France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Slovakia, are known for offering citizenship by ancestry. Additionally, countries in the Americas, such as the United States, Canada, also have provisions for citizenship by ancestry.

      Obtaining citizenship by ancestry can enhance global mobility by providing individuals with the opportunity to secure a second passport that grants them visa-free travel or visa-on-arrival privileges to other countries. It also grants individuals the ability to live, work, and travel freely in the country of citizenship.

      Having a second passport through citizenship by ancestry can contribute to increased global mobility by providing individuals with an additional travel document and nationality. This can enable them to bypass visa requirements or obtain visas more easily, as they have the option to travel using the passport that offers the most favorable visa policies for a specific destination. It can also serve as a backup in case of issues with the primary passport.

      The favorability of conditions for citizenship by ancestry can vary depending on individual circumstances and preferences. However, some countries are generally known for having more flexible and favorable provisions, such as Italy and Slovakia. It is important to speak to an experienced immigration lawyer to understand the specific requirements and benefits offered by each country to determine which is most suitable for an individual’s situation.

      Popular choices among individuals seeking citizenship through ancestry often include countries with relatively straightforward eligibility criteria and favorable benefits and rights. Italy, France, Slovakia and Spain are commonly sought after due to their relatively accessible programs for many people around the world. The French citizenship by ancestry program is particularly popular in recent years due to the simplicity in its application process. The French citizenship by ancestry program, in particular, has gained popularity in recent years, as applicants with eligible French lineage may apply for French citizenship without embarking on a journey to France, undergoing tedious immigration interviews, or demonstrating proficiency in the French culture or language.

      There has been a recent surge in the demand for citizenship by ancestry in the European Union (EU). This increase in demand can be attributed to the growing recognition of the value associated with holding an EU passport. The acquisition of EU citizenship offers individuals not only a highly regarded passport that significantly enhances their global mobility but also grants them the privilege to reside, work, and study anywhere within the EU. Furthermore, EU citizens can seek consular assistance and protection from any EU embassy during emergencies and are eligible to apply for social security benefits, healthcare subsidies, and educational advantages in any EU member state. As a result of these appealing benefits, countries such as France, Slovakia, Spain, Italy, and Portugal have become popular destinations for individuals pursuing citizenship by descent.

      Working with experienced lawyers when preparing a citizenship by descent application is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, these professionals can also conduct a thorough assessment of your eligibility, identify potential issues, and help compile and review the necessary documentation. Secondly, they can help you ensure your application is carefully and efficiently prepared. They can help review all the required forms, supporting documents, and evidence to ensure that nothing is missing or incomplete. This attention to detail significantly reduces the risk of your application being returned or refused due to incompleteness, saving you time and potential frustration. Finally, they may help develop a tailored application strategy based on your unique circumstances and the requirements of the citizenship by ancestry program. They may also guide you through each step in the application process and keep you informed of any changes to the processing standards and timelines by the relevant authority, providing peace of mind throughout the process.