Citizenship by birth in Latvia. Comparative review

17.11.2016 Irina Stromberga, lawyer

The place where we were born can have a crucial meaning in our lives. The obligation to defend the country, to pay taxes, abide the certain laws – these all are obligations which people do not choose, they have them by birth.

For more than 20-year history of the practice of our Law Office INLAT PLUS in the field of immigration and citizenship, we have identified those aspects of the acquisition of citizenship, in which our clients are often interested. As it turned out, among other reasons of obtaining Latvian citizenship, exactly the citizenship by birth – this complex multifaceted process – causes the greatest number of questions, confusion of ideas, and difficulties in collecting evidence.

The citizenship by birth (filiation) is divided into three subspecies:

  • Right of blood (Jus sanguinis) or citizenship through marriage of the parents – the child acquires the citizenship if the parents (or one parent) has the citizenship of that state. This kind of citizenship in one form or another is present in the legislation of almost all countries. E.g., The Institute for Israel citizenship is based on the right of blood. At the same time, the Israeli approach to the definition of this right is more fundamental than in European legislation, which is expressed primarily in the “Law of Return.” This law has no analogues in the world. Under this law, every Jew is entitled to repatriate to Israel. The right to repatriation and citizenship is also applied to the spouses, children and grandchildren of Jews, all of them are considered citizens of their arrival in Israel without passing the qualification period.
  • Right of the soil (land) (Jus soli) – the child acquires the citizenship of the state in the territory of which he was born. The birth certificate practically guarantees the acquisition of certificate of citizenship. Among the countries providing the citizenship by right of the soil, are the USA, Canada, Brazil, Panama, Barbados. As for France, Germany, Italy and other European countries – the acquisition of citizenship by birth is possible there, but under condition that the child for a long time is legally living in the country. E.g., a child born in France has the right to obtain the citizenship:
    1) at the age of 18, under condition being in the country at least from the age of 11 years;
    2) upon reaching the age of 16, under condition that the family permanently resides in the territory of France;
    3) upon reaching the age of 13, at the request of parents under condition of permanent residence in the territory of France.
  • Inheritance – persons, who were citizens of the state or who had the right to a citizenship, pass their citizenship rights to descendants. The difference of citizenship by right of blood from citizenship by right of inheritance is that the citizenship of the testator may die long before the birth of an heir; the testator of citizenship may be an ancestor and grand ancestor. This is a very rare form of citizenship that exists in Latvia and Romania. Many people know German program on granting the citizenship of Germany for descendants of Germans living in the territory of former Soviet Union.

How and in what form these types of citizenship are embodied in legislative enactments of the Republic of Latvia. Of course, the most important legislative enactment of the Republic of Latvia, governing the acquisition of citizenship issues – is the Citizenship Law. According to this law, our government provides citizenship by birth in the following cases: 

Right of blood:

A citizen of Latvia is a person, whose both parents at the time of his birth were the citizens of Latvia. As well, a citizen of Latvia is a person, whose one parent at the time of his birth was a citizen of Latvia, under condition that he will not have a dual citizenship with an unauthorized country (authorized countries – members of the EU, NATO, Australia, Brazil, and New Zealand).

The right to receive a citizenship of Latvia have the Latvians, whose parents or ancestors were Latvians and resided in 1881 and later in the territory of Latvia, which existed on June17, 1940. 

Right of the soil:

A citizen of Latvia is a child being found in the territory of Latvia, whose parents are unknown, as well as orphans being under family care.

A child born in Latvia after August 21, 1991, whose parents are non-citizens or stateless persons, is also entitled to obtain Latvian citizenship under the following conditions:

  1. simultaneously with the registration of the fact of birth on the application of one of the parents, if the permanent residence of the parent is Latvia; if the parent has arrived in Latvia after July 1, 1992, he should have a permanent residence permit.
  2. upon reaching the age of 15 on the application of one of the parents, if the child all this time was a non-citizen or a person without citizenship, a permanent residence of the child and the parent-applicant is Latvia.
  3. at the age from 15 to 18 years a child of the above mentioned the parents also has the right to acquire Latvian citizenship, but here the additional certificate of good conduct for grave and especially grave crimes is necessary, as well it is obligatory to confirm the knowledge of the Latvian language. 


A citizenship of Latvia are entitled to receive direct descendants of persons who were citizens of Latvia on June 17, 1940. Of course, there are some nuances, too: an applicant of Latvian citizenship must not have citizenship of another country. However, if his ancestors in the period from June 17, 1940 until May 4, 1990 left Latvia to escape from the Soviet or Nazi occupation regime, or were deported, then the presence of citizenship of another state for the applicant would no longer be an obstacle, because citizenship under this ground permits the formation of dual citizenship with any country.

Currently, more and more parents are thinking, in what country to have children, study the migration legislation, weigh the advantages and possible disadvantages, realizing that by this decision they determine the fate of their child in many ways.

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