Quick Answer

EU citizenship by birthright: is it granted automatically?

The principle of obtaining citizenship “by right of blood” applies in the European Union. This means that a child born in the EU receives their parents’ citizenship.

The “right of soil" or automatically granting citizenship of the country of birth also applies in some countries, albeit, with restrictions. In Europe, the easiest way to obtain citizenship by right of soil is in Portugal.

obtaining EU citizenship by birthright

In which EU countries can citizenship be obtained by birthright

A child born in an EU country automatically acquires the right to citizenship of the country in which they were born in the following cases:

  • at least one parent is a citizen of this country;
  • their parents are unknown;
  • they cannot inherit the citizenship of either parent.

Citizenship by birthright can only be acquired in 10 of the 27 countries in the EU, although it does not happen automatically in any of these countries. In order for a child to become a citizen of one of these countries, certain requirements must be met and each country sets its own requirements.

EU countries in which a child can get citizenship by right of soil

CountryConditions for obtaining citizenship
BelgiumOne of the foreign parents was born in Belgium and lived there for 5 years in the 10 year period immediately preceding the birth of their child

The child’s foreign parents were not born in Belgium, but have legally lived there for 10 years
GermanyAt least one parent has permanent residence and has lived there for more than 8 years before the birth of the child
GreeceThe parents have lived in Greece for at least five years before the birth of the child
IrelandAt least one parent has permanent residence in Ireland or Northern Ireland

At least one parent has lived in Ireland or Northern Ireland for more than 3 years in the 4 years preceding the birth of the child
SpainAt least one parent was born in Spain
LuxembourgAt least one parent was born in Luxembourg
NetherlandsAt least one parent lives permanently in the Netherlands, and at least one parent was also living there when the child was born
PortugalAt least one parent was born in Portugal and was living there at the time of the birth of the child

At least one parent has been a residence permit holder for a year or actually lived in Portugal, even illegally, for more than a year before the birth of the child
FranceAt least one parent was born in France
Czech RepublicAt least one parent has permanent residence in the Czech Republic
The complete guide on obtaining residence permit in Portugal

How to get citizenship for children under a simplified procedure

If a child was born in the European Union, but did not receive the citizenship of the country by right of soil, they may in some cases apply for citizenship by naturalization under a simplified procedure. This is permitted in 6 European countries.

How children can get citizenship by naturalization under a simplified procedure

CountryConditions for obtaining citizenship
HungaryThe child has lived there for 5 years
Denmark The child has lived there for 9 years
SpainThe child has lived there for 1 year
Luxembourg The child can acquire citizenship at 18 years of age if the following two conditions are met:
- they lived in Luxembourg for more than 5 consecutive years before turning 18;
- at least one parent lived in Luxembourg for at least 12 consecutive months immediately prior to their birth
SloveniaA child can acquire citizenship at 18 as long as they have lived in Slovenia from birth to adulthood
FranceA child can acquire citizenship at the age of 16 to 18 years, if from the age of 11 to 18 years old they lived in France for at least 5 years

A child can obtain citizenship at the age of 13 to 16 years old if they have permanently lived in France from the age of 8

How to obtain Portuguese citizenship by birthright

If a child is born to foreign parents in Portugal, they can apply for Portuguese citizenship if at least one parent meets the following requirements:

  • was born in Portugal and was living there at the time of the birth of the child;
  • actually lived in Portugal (even illegally) for more than a year before the birth of the child;
  • has held a Portuguese residence permit for more than a year.

A Portuguese residence permit can be granted to those who find a job there or enroll at a Portuguese university. In addition, applicants with a proven income of €635 per month who have rented or bought residential property in Portugal are eligible to apply for a residence permit for financially independent persons.

These types of residence permit cards are issued for 1 year. In order to maintain them, the holder must spend at least 183 days a year in the country, which is sufficient for their newborn child to get Portuguese citizenship. 

A Portuguese residence permit by investment can be obtained in 4 to 8 months. The minimum investment amount under the residence permit program is €250,000. In exchange for a residence permit, applicants can invest in real estate, securities, business, science or cultural heritage. These residence permit cards are issued for 2 years.

7 days a year
the minimum time a parent with a residence permit by investment needs to spend in Portugal for their newborn child to become eligible for citizenship

For investors, the conditions that must be met are not as strict: it is sufficient for them to spend at least 7 days a year there and maintain their initial investment for their child to become a citizen of Portugal by birthright.

After 5 years as Portuguese residence permit holders, the child’s parents can also apply for Portuguese citizenship.

Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Portugal

How to register the birth of a child abroad

A child has the right to obtain citizenship of an EU country. We consider the registration of the birth of a child, for example, in Portugal. 

Portugal allows 20 days for a birth to be registered at the registry office, at Citizen Birth points in maternity hospitals and online. The parents of the newborn infant have to show their EU ID cards or Portuguese residence permits and foreign passports, as well as the certificate issued at the maternity hospital when their child was born.

After registration, they receive the “official” birth certificate for their child. The service costs €20. The birth certificate can be obtained at the registry office, also known as the Citizen Shop, or at the Institute of Registries and Notary.

The newborn infant receives, for example, Russian citizenship. There are situations when a child is born in the European Union, but receives, for example, Russian citizenship. In this case, the parents need to contact the Russian consulate in the country of birth.

When a child is bo , the parents are given a certificate by the hospital confirming the birth of their child. Based on this certificate, they must first obtain the “official” birth certificate. There are two ways to do this. 

They can translate the certificate issued by the hospital into Russian, notarize it and receive a birth certificate at the Russian consulate. Alternatively, they can use the certificate issued by the hospital to get an “official” birth certificate at the local registry office or its equivalent, translate this certificate into Russian, and then notarize and apostille it at the Russian consulate.

In order to obtain citizenship for a child, the parents need to again apply to the Russian consulate, fill out an application and submit the child’s birth certificate and either both the parents’ passports or a single parent’s passport.

Frequently asked questions

Will a child born in the EU automatically acquire EU citizenship?

No. Such a law existed in the past, but it no longer applies in any EU country. Top-10 myths about EU citizenship. A child born in an EU country will receive citizenship unconditionally only if at least one parent is a citizen of that country. A child born to foreign parents will only be eligible for citizenship by birthright in 10 EU countries, subject to strict requirements.

In which EU country is it easiest to obtain citizenship by birthright?

Portugal. A child born in Portugal will be eligible to obtain Portuguese citizenship if at least one of their parents lived in Portugal (even illegally) before the child’s birth for more than a year. If the parents received arnPortuguese residence permit by investment, the minimal period of residence in the country before the birth of the child can be reduced.

Does a child born in Cyprus automatically receive Cypriot citizenship?

No, Cyprus does not grant citizenship based on birthright. A child can get Cypriot citizenship only if at least one of their parents is a Cypriot citizen, regardless of whether they were born in Cyprus or abroad. If the parents have Cypriot permanent residence, their child also inherits it, even if born in another country.

Which EU countries do not grant citizenship by right of soil?

The 14 EU countries listed below do not grant citizenship to foreign children born on their territory by birthright. However, children born in these countries can still become citizens on other grounds: by naturalization, by descent and through marriage. 

  • Austria
  • Bulgaria
  • Italy
  • Cyprus
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Malta
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Finland
  • Croatia
  • Sweden
  • Estonia
Please confirm subscription and get the first later soon
Sign up for the weekly digest and receive the best offers
Get second citizenship or residence fast and efficient
Sign up for emails on new Golden Visa & Citizenship by investment articles

EU citizenship by birthright: is it granted automatically?