Lebanese nationality law

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Lebanese nationality law is the law governing the acquisition, transmission and loss of Lebanese citizenship. The law is based primarily on the principle of Jus sanguinis, transmitted by paternity (father). Therefore, a Lebanese man who holds Lebanese citizenship can confer citizenship to his children (and wife, if she is a foreign citizen), but only if entered in the Civil Acts Register in the Republic of Lebanon.

Under the current law, descendent of Lebanese emigrants can only receive citizenship from their father and women cannot pass on citizenship to their spouse or children.[1] There is also no right of return for the millions of people of Lebanese ancestry worldwide. However, on 12 November 2015, the Parliament of Lebanon approved a draft law that would allow "foreigners of Lebanese origin to get citizenship"[2] as the previous law stipulated that only those whose fathers hold the Lebanese citizenship are eligible for it.

Rights and responsibilities of Lebanese citizens[edit]

Rights of citizens[edit]

Adult citizens of the Republic of Lebanon have the right to participate in the Lebanese political system and be protected abroad by the Republic of Lebanon through Lebanese embassies and consulates abroad, and to live in the Republic of Lebanon without any immigration requirements.

Citizens of the Republic of Lebanon by law have the legal right to:

  • Live freely in the Republic of Lebanon without any immigration requirements.
  • Gain access to free education covering primary, secondary and university education.
  • Receive all health-care benefits at any public health institution.
  • Participate in the Lebanese political system.
  • Benefit from the privileges of the free trade market agreements between the Republic of Lebanon and many Arab countries.
  • Get exempted from taxes with no condition of reciprocity.
  • Own and Inherit property and values in the Republic of Lebanon.
  • Enter to and exit from the Republic of Lebanon through any port.
  • Travel to and from other countries in accordance with visa requirements.
  • Seek consular assistance and protection abroad by the Republic of Lebanon through Lebanese embassies and consulates abroad.

Responsibilities of citizens[edit]

All Lebanese citizens are required by law, when forced by the Lebanese government, to bear arms on behalf of the Republic of Lebanon, to perform noncombatant service in the Lebanese Armed Forces, and to perform work of national importance under civilian direction.

The code[edit]

The code covering the Lebanese nationality was issued in 1926.

Dual nationality[edit]

A person having a dual nationality does not lose Lebanese nationality according to the 1926 constitution.

Acquisition of Lebanese Citizenship[edit]

Jus sanguinis[edit]

A child is Lebanese at birth if:

  • He/She is the child of a married couple of whom the father is a Lebanese citizen.
  • A child of a Lebanese father not married to the mother is considered Lebanese by birth when a link of paternity is declared.

Citizenship requirements[edit]

  • Children born to Lebanese fathers are entitled to Lebanese citizenship only if entered in the Civil Acts Register in Lebanon.
  • Lebanon accepts the principle of dual citizenship. Acquiring another nationality does not result in losing the original Lebanese citizenship.
  • Foreign wives of Lebanese husbands may apply and obtain Lebanese citizenship. They will become entitled to it one year after the marriage has been entered in the Civil Acts Register in Lebanon, provided they apply for it with their husband's approval.[3]

Simplified naturalisation by virtue of marriage[edit]

A foreign wife married to a Lebanese citizen may apply for Lebanese citizenship by facilitated naturalization after having been married for at least one year. No language test is required, but one must show the following:

  • Integration into the Lebanese way of life;
  • Compliance with the Lebanese rule of law;
  • No danger to the Republic of Lebanon's internal or external security.

It is also possible for the foreign wife of a Lebanese citizen to apply for facilitated naturalization while resident overseas after the following:

  • One year of marriage to a husband who is a Lebanese citizen; and
  • Close ties to The Republic of Lebanon.

Birth in the Republic of Lebanon[edit]

Birth in the Republic of Lebanon (Jus soli) does not in itself confer Lebanese citizenship. It could lead to Lebanese citizenship only in the case if the father is a Lebanese citizen.

Therefore, Jus soli does not apply. This means that Lebanese-born Palestinians, Lebanese-born Syrians, Lebanese-born Iraqis, Lebanese-born Kurds, Lebanese-born Assyrians, Lebanese-born Indians, Lebanese-born Turks, Lebanese-born Iranians, etc. do not receive automatic citizenship.

Loss of Lebanese citizenship[edit]

Loss due to cessation of paternity[edit]

A child whose Lebanese citizenship depends on paternal links loses citizenship when those are cut.

Dual Citizenship[edit]

Even though Lebanese nationality law permits multiple citizenship, a Lebanese national who also holds another country's citizenship may be required to renounce the foreign citizenship, under the foreign country's nationality law. A dual Lebanese-Japanese national must, for instance, make a declaration of choice, to the Japanese Ministry of Justice, before turning 22, as to whether he or she wants to keep the Lebanese or Japanese citizenship.


There is a public demand for giving the opportunity for Lebanese women to transmit their Lebanese nationality to their children and also to their husbands.[4][5] Moreover, the Lebanese citizenship to be given to the 8-14 million diaspora of Lebanese living all over the world.[6][7]

Currently, Lebanon provides no automatic right to Lebanese citizenship for emigrants who lost their citizenship upon acquiring the citizenship of their host country, nor for the descendants of emigrants born abroad. Recently, the Maronite Institution of Emigrants called for the establishment of an avenue by which emigrants who lost their citizenship may regain it, or their overseas-born descendants may acquire it if they want to.[8]

On 7 November 2015, Gebran Bassil, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, "refused to compromise on a draft law that would grant citizenship to the descendants of Lebanese expatriates by expanding it to include the foreign spouses and children of Lebanese women."[9]

On 11 November 2015, the Lebanese Parliament and Free Patriotic Movement member Ibrahim Kanaan stated that the ministers have agreed to pass a "10-article draft law titled “The Reacquisition of Lebanese Citizenship to the Descendants of Lebanese Emigrants,” to grant those of Lebanese origin the nationality on the basis of certain procedures and legal pathways.[10][11]

On 12 November 2015, the Lebanese Parliament "approved a raft of draft laws Thursday, including a law allowing foreigners of Lebanese origin to get citizenship."[12]

Draft Law for descendants of Lebanese[edit]

Article I: Every natural person who meets one of the two eligibility requirements has the right to reclaim his/her Lebanese nationality.

  • 1- If the records of the 1921 census at the Ministry of the Interior and Municipalities, and the records of emigration clearly indicate that he/she or any direct paternal ancestral/predecessors or next of kin to the fourth degree were present in Lebanon, as registered by the 1921 census.
  • 2- If he/she or the above mentioned ancestral predecessors or next of kin were naturalized as Lebanese citizens according to the law of naturalization promulgated in January 19, 1925, and has neglected to claim or reclaim his/her citizenship. [13][14]

"According to the proposed legislation’s article 1, “Every natural person who meets one of the two eligibility requirements has the right to reclaim his/her Lebanese nationality,” either if one can demonstrate an association with the 1921 census records at the Ministry of the Interior and Municipalities (that will prove the emigration to a direct paternal/ancestral predecessor, or a next of kin to the fourth degree); and if such ancestral predecessors or next of kin were naturalised as Lebanese citizens according to the law of naturalisation promulgated on January 19, 1925. In other words, most emigrants required little more than their emigration papers that listed origins, which luckily were preserved in Beirut."[15]

"Article 2 of the draft intends to verify the “actual presence of Lebanese relatives in the town, village or neighbourhood,” which an individual would claim, including the degree of kinship, along with any ownership/holding of rights to real property that may have been “devised, bequeathed, or inherited from a Lebanese citizen.”"[16]

"Although bureaucratic in nature, this aspect of the proposed law was meant to encourage associations with the land, a defining feature of Lebanese nationality. Where one traced his/her roots were deemed vital that, again, added a specific feature to the proposed law."[17]

"Once approved, and according to article 8, a successful candidate for citizenship would take an oath of allegiance before an ambassador or Consul-General (if overseas), or before the court of competent jurisdiction where his/her records are present in Lebanon."[18]

"The required oath was short but meaningful: “I swear by Almighty God that I have decided to reclaim my Lebanese nationality entirely of my own free will” that was elegant and meaningful."[19]

The draft law would allow grandchildren of Lebanese paternal grandfathers to apply for citizenship. The latest draft law would help Lebanese expatriates take part in future Lebanese parliamentary elections by voting at Lebanese embassies abroad. The number of Lebanese living outside the country is thought to at least double the number of citizens living inside,[20] which means at least 8 million people.[21]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]