A number of countries' citizenship laws state that a person will lose citizenship if they acquire another citizenship voluntarily. These countries include Austria, Azerbaijan, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Montenegro. (Exceptions exist for a few of these countries but they're generally quite tricky.)

However, I'm curious how an adult would involuntarily acquire a citizenship. There are the obvious ways to get citizenships involuntarily, like by birth on the soil of that nation/jus soli, or by birth to parents of that nation/jus sanguinis, but everything I can think of suggests involuntary citizenship only happens at birth and is not possible for adults.

Thus, Is there any way an adult would gain citizenship involuntarily?

  • 3
    "only happens at birth and is not possible for adults." You left out the case when it happens for children, but after birth.
    – user102008
    Jan 29, 2017 at 4:57
  • @user102008 I'm specifically asking about adults (see the title of the question) partially because the laws regarding minors are a lot fuzzier for a lot of places. May 24, 2017 at 23:33

2 Answers 2


Things I've thought of so far:

  • A non-Iranian woman who marries an Iranian man involuntarily, instantaneously and automatically receives Iranian citizenship [0].

  • An adult adopted by another adult may receive citizenship, although I don't know for which countries this is the case, or if it happens involuntarily. (If you know of any countries that do this, comment please!)

  • Anyone who holds a significant office in the Vatican or works there permanently seems to be granted Vatican City citizenship involuntarily (at least temporarily.) I don't speak Italian (aside from a few words) but this document from the Vatican website seems to confirm this [2].

The other options seem to be all based on naturalization, investment, religion, or marriage, but as far as Google can tell me those all involve a voluntary component.

[0] "Civil Code of Iran (last amended 1985)". United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Retrieved 2007-06-24. "Article 976 - The following persons are considered to be Iranian subjects: [...] (6) Every woman of foreign nationality who marries an Iranian husband."

[1] Citizenship by holding an office (jus oficii). In the case of Vatican City, citizenship is based on holding an office, with Vatican citizenship held by the Pope, cardinals residing in Vatican City, active members of the Holy See's diplomatic service, and other directors of Vatican offices and services. Vatican citizenship is lost when the office term comes to an end, and children cannot inherit it from their parents. Since Vatican citizenship is time-limited, dual citizenship is allowed, and persons who would become stateless because of loss of Vatican citizenship automatically become Italian citizens.

[2] http://www.vatican.va/news_services/press/documentazione/documents/sp_ss_scv/informazione_generale/cittadinanza_it.html

  • 2
    Children under 18 don't have a say when it comes to the decisions of their parents, so it's possible for someone to immigrate with his parents and then involuntarily obtain a different passport. Jan 29, 2017 at 11:25
  • It used to be far more common for women to receive the citizenship of their husbands at marriage. For example, it used to be the case in the Netherlands. Also, further to @JonathanReez's comment, a person may be a minor under one country's laws and an adult under the other's. Such a person's acts will then be voluntary for the second country but may be invalid for the first.
    – phoog
    May 24, 2017 at 13:16
  • In case of the marriage: If you are in the situation and you are a German citizen, you need to protest against getting the new citizenship. Iran doesn't care about your protest, you become Iranian citizen. But Germany cares; the protest means you keep German citizenship.
    – gnasher729
    May 27, 2020 at 23:44

An adult can gain a citizenship involuntarily if his/her hometown is annexed by another country. The most recent example is annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. Ukrainian online newspaper EuroMaidan Press reports that:

According to Article 4 of the Russian law from 23 March 2014 “On the Acceptance of Crimea into the Russian Federation” citizens of Ukraine who were permanently residing in Crimea as of March 18, 2014 are recognized as citizens of Russia, unless they declare within one month (by April 18, 2014) their desire to maintain another citizenship.

Within only a month, Crimeans were forced to make a difficult choice: to take Russian citizenship, granting them their existing rights in Crimea, and a Russian passport, or to refuse a Russian passport and identify as nationally Ukrainian.

Crimeans who have officially renounced Russian citizenship, and those who simply do not ask for a Russian “Crimean” passport have encountered obstacles in daily life. Then, the article lists obstacles:

  • Persecution for a pro-Ukrainian position
  • Restricted access to healthcare
  • Dismissal from work
  • Impossibility to re-register vehicles
  • Refusal to provide banking services
  • Living without a residency permit

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.