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Maarten Peter Vink and Gerard-René de Groot

5.2 Double ius soli

In some countries, citizenship is attributed ex lege to children whose parent(s) was (were) also born on the territory of the state involved. This ground for the acquisition of citizenship is often described as acquisition by double ius soli and has been ´at the heart of French citizenship law´ since it was introduced for the first time in Europe in 1851 (Weil 2006: 188– 9; see also De Groot 1989: 77, 399). The background to this rule is that the second generation of persons born on the territory of a state (being the third generation living there) are deemed to have such a close link with the state involved that neither the persons involved nor the authorities of the country of birth should have the possibility to prevent the acquisition of the citizenship of the country of birth. The rule is still part of the French Code civil (FRA 19-3) and can also be found in Greece (GRE 1(2)(a), since 2010), Luxembourg (LUX 1(5); since 2009), Portugal (POR 1(1)(d), since 2006) and Spain (SPA 17(1)(b), since 1982).

In the Netherlands a similar, but slightly different provision was introduced in 1953, working retroactively as far back as 1893 (Van Oers et al. 2006: 396). A child shall be a Dutch citizen if it is born to a father or mother who has her or his main habitual residence in the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles or Aruba at the time of its birth, and if this father or mother was born to a father or mother habitually residing in one of these countries at the moment of the birth of her child, provided the child has also her or his main habitual residence in the Netherlands (NET 3(3)). In Belgium a person who is born in Belgium as the child of a foreigner who also was born in Belgium and who had his main habitual residence in Belgium for at least 5 years of the 10 years directly preceding the child’s birth acquires Belgian citizenship ex lege (BEL 11(1)). A similar rule applies in the case of adoption of a child by an adopter born in Belgium (BEL 11(2)).

6 Ius soli after birth (A05)

The extension of ius soli is also visible in a trend to include either an optional provision or a facilitated naturalisation provision to acquire citizenship after birth for persons born in a country to foreign parents. In the Netherlands (since 1985) and Belgium (since 2000), for example, second-generation immigrants can acquire citizenship by declaration from the age of 18 if they have been resident since birth. Denmark, Finland, Italy and the UK already had broadly similar provisions in place before the 1980s, although Italy severely restricted these in 1994 by tightening the residence conditions and Denmark abolished ius soli after birth in 2004 for all second-generation immigrants with non-Nordic parents. Other countries introduced a facilitated naturalisation mechanism, mainly through residence requirements that are lower than for the regular naturalisation procedure.

This section discusses which persons are entitled in the various countries to acquire, under certain conditions, the citizenship of the country involved by lodging a declaration of option (or, in uniquely case of France, acquire citizenship ex lege at the age of majority).

It is important to stress that there are at least two distinct types of options. According to the law of some countries, a declaration of option can be made orally without any formality.12 Of course the declaration has to reach the competent authorities. Normally these authorities will make an official document, which will be signed in order to prove the declaration, but if such a document does not exist, the declaration can be proved by any other


This type of option existed in the Netherlands until it was replaced in 2003 by the second type of option rights.


RSCAS/EUDO-CIT-Comp. 2010/8 - © 2010 Authors

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