Honorary citizenship

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A certificate of honorary citizenship.

Honorary citizenship is a status bestowed by a country on a foreign individual whom it considers to be especially admirable or otherwise worthy of the distinction.

Historically, many states limited citizenship to only a proportion of their population, thereby creating a citizen class with political rights superior to other sections of the population, but equal with each other.[citation needed] The classical example of a limited citizenry was Athens where slaves, women, and resident foreigners (called metics) were excluded from political rights. The Roman Republic forms another example (see Roman citizenship).

North America[edit]

By act of United States Congress and presidential assent, honorary United States citizenship has been awarded to only eight individuals.

Honorary Canadian citizenship requires the unanimous approval of Parliament. The only people to ever receive honorary Canadian citizenship are Raoul Wallenberg posthumously in 1985, Nelson Mandela in 2001, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso in 2006, Aung San Suu Kyi in 2007 Prince Karim Aga Khan in 2009 and Malala Yousafzai in 2014.


In Germany honorary citizenship is awarded by cities, towns and sometimes federal states. The honorary citizenship ends with the death of the honoured, or, in exceptional cases, when it is taken away by the council or parliament of the city, town, or state. In the case of war criminals, all such honours were taken away by "Article VIII, section II, letter i of the directive 38 of the Allied Control Council for Germany" on October 12, 1946. In some cases, honorary citizenship was taken away from members of the former GDR regime, e.g. Erich Honecker, after the collapse of the GDR in 1989/90.[citation needed]

In Ireland, honorary citizenship bestowed on a foreigner is full legal citizenship including the right to reside and vote.[1]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956 Section 12
  2. ^ Berliner Ehrenbürger: Lucius Dubignon Clay on the website of the Abgeordnetenhaus of Berlin.
  3. ^ Berliner Ehrenbürger: Michael Sergejewitsch Gorbatschow on the website of the Abgeordnetenhaus of Berlin.
  4. ^ "Che's Farewell Letter". History of Cuba (historyofcuba.com). 1965. Retrieved 2009-09-22. 
  5. ^ Mountaineering Great Edmund Hillary passes away[dead link] 12 January 2008 The Rising Nepal
  6. ^ "Holocaust hero named Australia's first honorary citizen", The Australian, 15 April 2013; Retrieved 6 May 2013
  7. ^ Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, Media Advisory: Governor-General to confer Honorary Australian Citizenship, 1 May 2013; Retrieved 6 May 2013
  8. ^ Gerard Depardieu throws house-warming barbecue in Belgium. BBC News. Retrieved 24 August 2013
  9. ^ "Pékerman podrá tener la nacionalidad colombiana cuando quiera: Santos", Caracol Radio, 11 October 2013; Retrieved 13 October 2013