Liechtenstein is a small country with one of the hardest passports to obtain without going through the citizenship by descent route (it can take up to 30! years to naturalize as a Liechtenstein citizen).
Liechtenstein follows the fundamental premise of ius sanguinis. Until 1996, this was a pure ius sanguinis a patre situation, which meant that citizenship could only be passed down through the paternal line.
Liechtenstein citizenship through the maternal line was available exclusively to offspring of single mothers.
Liechtenstein has practiced ius sanguinis a patre et a matre since establishing equal rights to men and women in 1996.
Who can apply for Liechtenstein citizenship by ancestry?
The list is short for Liechtenstein. In the following cases you can apply to become a Liechtenstein citizen:
- Every child born to at least one parent who is a Liechtenstein citizen, is born with Liechtenstein citizenship.
- Children born out of wedlock to a Liechtenstein father gain citizenship retroactively at birth.
- A child born in Liechtenstein to Liechtenstein parents who live in another nation instantly becomes a Liechtenstein citizen. Since equal rights for men and women were granted in 1996, children of Liechtenstein parents have been granted dual citizenship, when this is earned by descent.
- Adopted children and orphans are immediately granted Liechtenstein citizenship.
Becoming a naturalized citizen in Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein, together with Vatican City, is actually one of the hardest European countries for foreign nationals to apply for citizenship.
To become a Liechtenstein citizen and receive Liechtenstein citizenship, you must have lived in Liechtenstein as a legal resident for at least 30 years, with each year before the age of 20 serving as two years. In other countries this process is a lot faster, like Portugal (5 years) or Spain (6 years). Other countries usually have a naturalization rule that will grant citizenship after holding a residence permit for 10 years.
If you are married to a Liechtenstein citizen and already live in the country, the time limit for years spent in Liechtenstein is reduced to five years.
If you want to avoid the 30-year residency requirement, you can request that your community vote you in after 10 years.
Dual citizenship in Liechtenstein?
You can also give up on any hopes for dual nationality. You must give up your current foreign citizenship regardless of what method you choose to become a Liechtenstein citizen, since Liechtenstein does not permit dual citizenship.
Liechtenstein allows its residents to hold dual citizenship only if a Liechtenstein citizen obtains dual citizenship in another country, that individual is eligible for Liechtenstein dual citizenship, if the second country likewise allows dual citizenship.
Those who seek to naturalize as Liechtenstein citizens must, however, renounce their original citizenship in order to become Liechtenstein citizens.
In 2020, the Liechtenstein Parliament approved modifications to the country’s citizenship law that would allow citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens to preserve their nationality of origin after naturalizing in this country. Members of Parliament, on the other hand, voted for amendments to citizenship legislation to be adopted by popular vote.
The referendum on dual citizenship was held on August 30, 2020, along with public votes on gender parity in parliamentary representation and the railway connection. Dual nationality was rejected by 61.5% of voters, while 38.5% supported it.
One of the numerous reasons cited by legislators objecting to the referendum was that legislative changes would exclusively benefit Swiss nationals, because Austrians and Germans (as groups often naturalizing in Liechtenstein) would lose it by force of law if they obtained Liechtenstein citizenship.
The Liechtenstein passport
Liechtenstein citizens enjoyed visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 179 countries and territories as of March 2020, putting the Liechtenstein passport 12th in terms of overall travel freedom and the lowest of the EFTA member nations.