Due to modifications to Lithuania’s citizenship law that went into effect on July 1, 2016, more people can now get dual Lithuanian citizenship. For Lithuania, only relatives up to the third degree of kinship (great grandparents) are eligible for Lithuanian citizenship by descent.
In general, you can obtain Lithuanian citizenship by descent or restoration if you meet the following criteria:
- At least one of your parents, grandparents, or great ancestors were citizens of the Republic of Lithuania (which existed from 1918 until 1940).
- Your ancestor held Lithuanian citizenship when they departed Lithuania sometime before March 11, 1990, when Lithuania regained its freedom.
- Your Lithuanian ancestors emigrated to any country that was not a member of the former Soviet Union (In case your ancestor left to any of the Soviet Union countries, you might still be eligible to get Lithuanian citizenship depending on the time and leaving circumstances described under Lithuania Nationality Law).
You can acquire lithuanian citizenship through restoration of citizenship, naturalization, birth, and under the terms of Lithuania nationality legislation.
Who is eligible for Lithuanian citizenship by descent?
Until recently, descendants of Lithuanian citizens who left Lithuania before 1940 could only get a single Lithuanian citizenship and had to lose their present one.
Aside from the main regulations, there are several peculiarities to be aware of in order to determine whether you are eligible for Lithuanian citizenship.
One of the cases, for example, is concerned with the problem of country border changes. If a person can demonstrate that they or their ancestors were Lithuanian citizens born in present-day Lithuania after 1918, they can obtain Lithuanian citizenship. If the place where your ancestors were born is no longer a part of Lithuania, you should look for alternative evidence proving your ancestor was a Lithuanian citizen or had Lithuanian citizenship.
If your ancestor left Lithuania before 1918, you are ineligible for Lithuanian citizenship. Lithuania regained its independence in 1918, and only people born after that year are granted Lithuanian citizenship.
Another option for acquiring Lithuanian citizenship is to restore Lithuanian citizenship under the current citizenship law.
If a person was a citizen of Lithuania before 15 June 1940, or if his or her ancestors (parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents) were citizens of Lithuania before 15 June 1940, his or her Lithuanian citizenship may be restored. In such a circumstance, the person’s or his or her ancestors’ citizenship, rather than their origin, is considered.
The following additional conditions must be met in order to restore Lithuanian citizenship upon retention of previous citizenship:
- The individual was deported from occupied Lithuania prior to March 11, 1990.
- The individual had departed Lithuania before March 11, 1990.
- The individual is a descendant (a child, grandchild, or great-grandchild) of the Lithuanian citizen listed above.
- A person deported from occupied Lithuania before 11 March 1990 is a person who was a citizen of Lithuania before 15 June 1940 or a descendant of such a person who was deported from Lithuania under compulsion between 15 June 1940 and 11 March 1990 according to a decision of the occupation regime’s authorities or a court for regime resistance or political, social, or origin-related reasons.
- A person who left Lithuania before 11 March 1990 is a person who was a Lithuanian citizen before 15 June 1940 or a descendant of such a person who left the territory of today Lithuania for permanent residence in another state before 11 March 1990, if their permanent residence was outside of Lithuania on 11 March 1990. This idea does not apply to anyone who left Lithuania after June 15, 1940 for any other area in the former Soviet Union.
Prior to June 2016, the Ministry of Interior’s Migration Department assessed the reasons for departing Lithuania. Such reasons for restoring Lithuanian citizenship after keeping previous citizenship could be historical and political (not social).
Changes in Lithuanian nationality law
Following the ratification of modifications to the Law of the Republic of Lithuania on 23 June 2016, the reasons for leaving Lithuania prior to 11 March 1990 ceased to be a significant criterion in the process of regaining Lithuanian citizenship.
If a person requests to restore Lithuanian citizenship while keeping previous citizenship (granted dual citizenship), he or she must demonstrate the existence of the following critical circumstances:
- Lithuanian citizenship prior to June 15, 1940;
- The fact of leaving Lithuania before March 11, 1990, and establishing permanent residency outside of Lithuania on March 11, 1990, or the fact of deportation;
- The relationship;
- Personal data modification (the first name or the surname).
Before June 15, 1940, the following documents were required to prove Lithuanian citizenship:
- Lithuanian passports (government-issued or travel passports) issued prior to June 15, 1940;
- Lithuanian passports for travel abroad issued by Lithuanian diplomatic missions or consular entities after June 15, 1940;
- Documents attesting to the person’s military service in the Lithuanian Army or civil service;
- Birth certificates or other documents indicating the person’s Lithuanian citizenship;
- Identification documents issued in Lithuania prior to June 15, 1940, or identification documents prepared based on documents issued in Lithuania prior to June 15, 1940.
If the above-mentioned documents are not available, documents regarding learning, working, or dwelling in Lithuania issued before 15 June 1940, as well as a passport from another country, may be submitted.
Lithuanian Citizenship Procedure Simplified
For those who want to claim Lithuanian citizenship and renounce their current citizenship, there is a streamlined method.
In that instance, you’ll only need proof of your Lithuanian descent, which is commonly a birth certificate or baptism documents establishing the Lithuanian ethnicity specified.
To take advantage of the expedited procedure, you must have a clean criminal record and an affidavit indicating that you are a Lithuanian citizen.
Furthermore, you will need to obtain a resident permit in Lithuania first, and then apply for Lithuanian citizenship while residing in the country.
This is certainly a way for someone with Lithuanian ancestors to return and permanently stay in the country, which you may or may not wish to do.
Because of Lithuanian immigration, hundreds of thousands of people with Lithuanian heritage now live outside of Lithuania.
During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, massive waves of Lithuanian migration occurred, the most of whom were Lithuanian Jews.
Communities in the United States make up the majority of this diaspora, with as many as one million Americans claiming Lithuanian ancestry and the greatest concentrations of Lithuanian Americans residing in the Great Lakes region and the Northeast.
Before and during WWII, Lithuanian populations flourished in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay, and many Lithuanian residents relocated to Israel, which now has a sizable Lithuanian/Jewish community.
People with Lithuanian ancestors who wish to immigrate to Lithuania need demonstrate their Lithuanian ancestry in order to reclaim their lost citizenship in the Republic of Lithuania.
Because of varied eras and reasons for immigration, we can claim that practically all Lithuanian Australians can gain dual citizenship, although Lithuanian Americans, Canadians, and Brazilians have a mixed picture.
Today, up to 70% of South African Jews may trace their ancestors back to Lithuania, and the majority of them can obtain Lithuanian citizenship.
There are numerous advantages to obtaining dual Lithuanian citizenship or immigrating to Lithuania. However, only relatives up to the third degree of kinship are eligible. And if you don’t, your children may be unable to take advantage of this chance in the future. As a result, don’t put off researching your Lithuanian ancestors and apply to see whether you qualify for Lithuanian citizenship.
Lithuania and dual citizenship
Because of Lithuania’s proximity to both Germany and the former Soviet Union, the Lithuanian Citizenship Law takes on some unique twists.
If your Lithuanian ancestors fled the country before the Soviet occupation in 1940, you must demonstrate that they did so for political reasons, such as fleeing persecution. This rule does not apply to persons who fled Lithuania with their families during the occupation (1940-1990), because the government recognizes that leaving was a fair option.
If your ancestors departed before the occupation, you may still be eligible for citizenship, but only as a single Lithuanian citizen, and you will be unable to keep dual citizenship. While Lithuania is exploring various exceptions to this legislation, you will usually be required to renounce your former citizenship.
Indeed, the Lithuanian government has wavered in recent years over allowing dual Lithuanian citizenship.
They have also wavered on whether to allow cases involving ancestral citizenship at all. However, if your ancestors fled for political reasons, it is far easier to argue that you should be permitted to preserve dual nationality.
After all, if the occupation had not occurred, your family would not have departed, and you could have been born in Lithuania.
The Lithuanian passport
The Lithuanian passport is presently ranked 11th on our SovSpot passport index, which is very high.
It allows anyone to travel to 185 countries without needing a visa. It is one of the best-ranked passports in the world, with a high mobility score. Visa-free travel and visa-on-arrival are available to Lithuanian passport holders in countries such as the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Japan, and the European Union as a whole.
Of course a Lithuanian passport will also allow you to live and work anywhere in the European Union.