Austrian Dual Citizenship Law Dual Citizenship Application: An Exception in Austria according to Austrian Citizenship Law

Austrian Dual Citizenship Law – Austrian Nationality Act

Citizenship law assigns a natural person to a specific state and connects this natural person to its legal system. In terms of legal peace, this also results in legal considerations to avoid dual citizenship as far as possible. In addition, citizenship law and the respective citizenship also determine the question of loyalty to a particular country and the place where military service is performed. The principle mentioned is also enshrined in the Council of Europe Convention No. 43 on reducing the number of cases of multiple nationality and on compulsory military service in cases of multiple nationality and there are also corresponding international law obligations.

The acquisition of Austrian citizenship by e.g. Awarding therefore presupposes that people who apply for citizenship leave the previous state association, insofar as this is possible and reasonable for them.

Consequently, Section 27 of the Austrian Citizenship Act stipulates that someone loses their citizenship if they acquire a foreign nationality on the basis of an application, a declaration or their express consent.

A dual citizenship exists if one person is at the same time an Austrian citizen and a citizen of another state. The principle of avoiding dual citizenship is broken in exceptional cases. As stated in Austria, therefore, the person who voluntarily acquires foreign citizenship generally loses Austrian citizenship.

Dual nationality in Austria & Loss of Austrian Citizenship  - Austrian Nationality Act

In principle, the Austrian Nationality Act (Staatsbürgerschaftsgesetz) restricts dual citizenship. This principle is also addressed by the Council of Europe Convention’s Treaty 43, the Convention on the Reduction of Cases of Multiple Nationality and on Military Obligations in Cases of Multiple Nationality (Federal Law Gazette No. 471/1975), to which Austria is a party.

The approval of Austrian citizenship to foreign nationals assumes that the applicants will automatically lose citizenship to their previous nationality. Likewise, if foreign citizenship is acquired voluntarily by an Austrian citizen, Austrian citizenship is lost in accordance with the law (Section 27 StbG 1985 as amended).

The Austrian Citizenship Act is rigorous with regard to mistakes or "errors" regarding dual citizenship or multiple citizenship. It is not for nothing that the Citizenship Act provides for the loss of Austrian citizenship ex lege in the event of dual citizenship is not being granted.

Austrian citizenship is therefore already lost if the citizen acquires the foreign nationality on the basis of his declaration of intent in this regard. The one-time loss of Austrian citizenship is permanent. This means that the subsequent loss or resignation of foreign citizenship does not lead to the revival of Austrian citizenship.

The loss occurs regardless of whether the loss of citizenship was intended. It is therefore irrelevant whether the person concerned wanted to retain Austrian citizenship. An error about the effects of acquiring foreign citizenship is also irrelevant

Exceptions for dual citizenship – Austrian Law

As mentioned, dual citizenship exists when a person is an Austrian citizen and at the same time also a citizen of another country. One of the basic principles of Austrian Nationality Law is the restriction on dual citizenship. Austrian Dual Citizenship may only be granted in special circumstances.

The Austrian government allows exceptions to its restriction on dual citizenship in the following cases:

  • Dual citizenship through birth (or legitimation): The law allows for dual nationality to be acquired at birth in addition to Austrian citizenship, where the law of the foreign state allows for the acquisition of dual citizenship. The same applies to Austrians who acquire citizenship by birth in a foreign country if the nationality is acquired solely from birth in the territory of the said country (jus soli principle).
  • Dual citizenship to illegitimate children of Austrian fathers: If it was not possible to acquire citizenship through natural descent, citizenship can be granted to illegitimate children up to the age of 14 years. As in the case of dual citizenship through birth, illegitimate children can also retain their foreign citizenship(s).
  • Granting dual citizenship to adoptive children: Dual citizenship is permitted in the event of adoption of a child to Austrian parent(s).
  • Special authorization: Where a person wishes to retain Austrian citizenship while in the process of applying for citizenship to a foreign country, a special permit must be applied for and issued, otherwise Austrian citizenship will be automatically lost (Section 28 StbG 1985 as amended).

Application of Austrian dual citizenship: The procedure for the granting of dual citizenship Austria

Since the retention must be approved, an application must be made by the citizen. The request for retention must be submitted in writing.

The subject regulation in Section 28 Austrian Citizenship Act lists the reasons given for the authorization to retain citizenship in the event of acquisition of a foreign nationality. If the conditions specified in section 28 of the Citizenship Act are met, the authority must approve the retention. This means that the applicant is even legally entitled to a license if the requirements are met. If the prerequisites are met, the license must be granted and this is not at the discretion of the authority.

However, since the authority has a relatively wide margin of appreciation when assessing whether the requirements of Section 28 of the Citizenship Act are met, the wording of the application and the corresponding reasons must be carefully observed and the involvement of a specialized lawyer is highly recommended. This is particularly the case because the reasons and facts once formulated in an application cannot be revised or corrected later.

The state whose nationality the Austrian citizen and applicant wishes to acquire must consent to the retention.

In the course of a procedure before the authority, the applicant must then prove what personal reasons or interests exist on the part of the Republic and how serious they are.

If these reasons or the public interest are given, then the applicant is even entitled to retain Austrian citizenship if he acquires further citizenship. However, the competent authorities have a relatively wide margin in assessing the weight of the personal reasons or interests of the Republic of Austria.

In any case, a legal representation by a specialist familiar with this specialty is recommended for such a procedure. Because the conclusive reasoning and exact wording of the application are decisive success factors.

Such a procedure then ends - if successful - with a written notice that the applicant may retain Austrian citizenship, even if he acquires another citizenship.

The retention of citizenship may only be granted on the condition that the foreign nationality is acquired within two years. If this is not the case two years after the approval notice has been issued, the approval notice becomes invalid without further action.

It is imperative to wait for this decision before acquiring additional citizenship, if you do not want to risk losing Austrian citizenship.

The retention of Austrian citizenship (dual citizenship Austria) is then exceptionally granted if this

  • If it is in the interest of the Republic Austria;
  • If it is justified on the basis of extenuating circumstances in the private and family life of the applicant whose Austrian citizenship was acquired upon birth; or
  • In the case of minors, it is in the best interests of the child.

When applying for dual citizenship, also the following conditions must be met:

  • The retention of Austrian citizenship may only be granted upon written request and on the condition that the foreign nationality is acquired within two years (Section 28 Paragraph 3 StbG).
  •  Austrians residing predominantly abroad can either submit their application directly by post, or forward it via a relevant authority in their country of residence. The application can also be submitted personally during a holiday in Austria or through relatives or acquaintances.
  • The application of must be personally signed by the independent applicant. If the citizen is not independent (underage), the application for must be signed on their behalf by either by a legal representative or, if over the age of 14, with written consent by a third party (Section 28 Paragraph 4 StbG).
  • The letter of approval, issued in writing, becomes legally effective only after it has been accepted by the applicant with confirmation of its acceptance by signature. Foreign citizenship may only be accepted after that date, otherwise the loss of Austrian citizenship is maintained, despite the issuance of an approval.

All of this shows how hard the Republic of Austria is trying to limit the possibility of dual citizenship. But there are exceptions, even if they are very narrowly defined. In order to optimize the prospects of success, no solo efforts should be made in matters of citizenship law.