Lithuanian nationality law

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Lithuania Citizenship Act
Coat of arms of Lithuania.svg
Parliament of Lithuania
An Act relating to Lithuanian citizenship
Enacted by Government of Lithuania
Status: Current legislation

Lithuanian nationality law automatically grants citizenship to persons born within the current borders of Lithuania. Citizenship may also be granted by naturalization. Naturalization requires a residency period, an examination in the Lithuanian language, examination results demonstrating familiarity with the Lithuanian Constitution, a demonstrated means of support, and an oath of loyalty. A right of return clause was included in the 1991 constitution for persons who left Lithuania after its occupation by the Soviet Union in 1940 and their descendants. Lithuanian citizens are also citizens of the European Union and thus enjoy rights of free movement and have the right to vote in elections for the European Parliament.

Post-Soviet implementation[edit]

In 1989, the legislature passed a nationality act granting automatic citizenship to those persons who could establish their own birth, or that of a parent or grandparent, within Lithuanian borders.[1] Permanent residents not covered by these criteria were granted citizenship upon signing a loyalty oath.[1] Language proficiency was not required.[1] A 1991 treaty with Russia extended the definition of residency to those who had immigrated to Lithuania from Russia between 1989 and the ratification of the treaty.[1] Subsequent applicants for citizenship were required to meet a set of naturalization standards, including Lithuanian language testing.[1]

The citizenship requirements were the most liberal of those in the newly independent Baltic states. This is usually attributed to a relatively low level of immigration from other areas within the Soviet Union, resulting in a more ethnically homogenous population.[2]

Dual citizenship[edit]

In November 2006, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania ruled that the Law on Citizenship (wording of 17 September 2002 with subsequent amendments and supplements) was "controversial, inconsistent and confusing".[3] At issue was the possession of dual citizenship; the provision extended the right of citizenship, and hence the right to vote, to members of the post-Soviet Lithuanian diaspora, which was concentrated in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Argentina, and their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The most notable member of this diaspora was Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus, who had become a United States citizen; he formally renounced US citizenship before taking the oath of office.

The petitioners held that basing citizenship on ethnic origin or nationality of the person violated the equality of persons and was discriminatory. The use and meaning of the term "repatriated" was especially controversial. The Lithuanian Seimas (parliament) passed a temporary law, expiring in 2010, that granted dual citizenship in exceptional cases, most notably to those who were Lithuanian citizens prior to 1940 and who fled during the Soviet occupations, as well as to their children and grandchildren. The text of the law, as of July 15, 2008, is listed at the Seimas website: Lithuanian citizenship laws (English translation).

During November 2010 the Seimas passed a law liberalizing dual citizenship requirements. President Dalia Grybauskaite vetoed it, stating that: "According to the Constitution, dual citizenship is a rare exception, not a common case."[4]

On June 23, 2016, the Seimas passed a law further liberalizing dual citizenship requirements.[5] It went into effect on July 6, 2016, amending the Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Lithuania (Law XI-1196 Dec 2, 2010).[6] In general, a person is eligible for dual citizenship if:[7][8]

  1. They are a 'person absent from Lithuania on March 11, 1990'. This is defined as:
    • at least one of their ancestors (parents, grandparents or great grandparents) was a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania (which existed from 1918 to 1940);
    • the ancestor left Lithuania (the law changed the former 'fled' requirement) some time before Lithuania restored its independence on March 11, 1990;
    • the ancestor did not depart to the former Soviet Union after June 15, 1940.
  2. They are a 'person deported from the occupied Republic of Lithuania before March 11, 1990'.
    • They are a person, or their descendants, who until June 15, 1940 had Lithuanian citizenship and was forcibly deported from Lithuania before March 11, 1990, because of political, social, or ethnic persecution by Soviet and Nazi occupation regimes.

Citizenship of the European Union[edit]

Because Lithuania forms part of the European Union, Lithuanian citizens are also citizens of the European Union under European Union law and thus enjoy rights of free movement and have the right to vote in elections for the European Parliament.[9] When in a non-EU country where there is no Lithuanian embassy, Lithuanian citizens have the right to get consular protection from the embassy of any other EU country present in that country.[10][11] Lithuanian citizens can live and work in any country within the EU as a result of the right of free movement and residence granted in Article 21 of the EU Treaty.[12]

Travel freedom of Lithuanian citizens[edit]

Visa requirements for Lithuanian citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states placed on citizens of Lithuania. In 2015, Lithuanian citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 159 countries and territories, ranking the Lithuanian passport 13th in the world according to the Visa Restrictions Index.


  1. ^ a b c d e Roger Dale Petersen (2002). Understanding ethnic violence: fear, hatred, and resentment in twentieth-century Eastern Europe. Cambridge University Press. pp. 150–151. ISBN 978-0-521-00774-0. Retrieved 9 February 2011. 
  2. ^ Dovile Budryte (2005). Taming nationalism?: political community building in the post-Soviet Baltic States. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-7546-4281-7. Retrieved 11 February 2011. 
  3. ^ Lithuanian Constitutional Court ruling on the Law of Citizenship
  4. ^ "News & Events - Lithuania: Dual Citizenship Law Vetoed". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  5. ^ "XII-2473 Lietuvos Respublikos pilietybės įstatymo Nr. XI-1196 2 ir 7 straipsnių pakeitimo įstatymas". Retrieved 2016-09-01. 
  6. ^ "XI-1196 Lietuvos Respublikos pilietybės įstatymas". Retrieved 2016-09-01. 
  7. ^ "lithuanian". lithuanian. Retrieved 2016-09-01. 
  8. ^ "The Jews (Litvaks) and other emigrants who left Lithuania during the interwar period and their descendants will be able to reinstate Lithuanian citizenship or acquire double citizenship without bureaucratic obstacles". June 23, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Lithuania". European Union. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  10. ^ Article 20(2)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
  11. ^ Rights abroad: Right to consular protection: a right to protection by the diplomatic or consular authorities of other Member States when in a non-EU Member State, if there are no diplomatic or consular authorities from the citizen's own state (Article 23): this is due to the fact that not all member states maintain embassies in every country in the world (14 countries have only one embassy from an EU state). Antigua and Barbuda (UK), Barbados (UK), Belize (UK), Central African Republic (France), Comoros (France), Gambia (UK), Guyana (UK), Liberia (Germany), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (UK), San Marino (Italy), São Tomé and Príncipe (Portugal), Solomon Islands (UK), Timor-Leste (Portugal), Vanuatu (France)
  12. ^ "Treaty on the Function of the European Union (consolidated version)" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-07-10. 

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