Do any of these countries allow repatriation?

My grandfathers were born in Holland and Ireland.
My grandmothers were born in Croatia and Germany.

They all immigrated as kids around 1910, 1920.


If your grandfather was born in Ireland, you can likely get Irish citizenship by descent now, by registering in the Foreign Births Register. Once you get Irish citizenship, you would be able to move to Ireland.

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  • 1
    ...or any other European Union country, with minimal restrictions. – phoog Nov 4 '18 at 20:27
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    ...and also the UK, even after it leaves the EU. – phoog Nov 4 '18 at 20:37

You're asking about what is commonly known as a "Right of Return," which may allow some individuals who left a country (especially under duress) or their descendants to obtain citizenship. This Wikipedia article discusses the subject.

Of the four countries you mention, the only one listed is Germany. The article's discussion, and the other Wikipedia page mentioned therein, suggest that repatriation to Germany is available only to those who left or were forced out in the 1930s or 1940s, and their descendants.

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  • +1, but as other answers note, there are other possibilities, notably citizenship by descent. – phoog Nov 4 '18 at 20:43
  • @phoog I did say *or their descendants." And yes, the Wikipedia article doesn't mention Ireland, which is certainly a possibility. – DavidSupportsMonica Nov 4 '18 at 22:51
  • But "or their descendants" is in the context of the right of return (which "may allow some"), whereas if the person concerned is already a citizen by descent there is no need to consider a right of return; the citizen's right of abode (which does allow all citizens to enter the country of citizenship) is sufficient. – phoog Nov 5 '18 at 3:52
  • @phoog We're having another semantic wrestle. <g> I agree that a citizen's ability to travel to the country of nationality is not an exercise of a "right of return." However, a foreign descendant obtains Irish citizenship by filing with the Irish Foreign Births Register. Until one has done so, i.e. registered and been acknowledged, I'd argue that citizenship is inchoate, not whole or complete. Once registered, one is a citizen and the right of return doesn't apply. – DavidSupportsMonica Nov 5 '18 at 4:28
  • I don't know anything about Irish nationality law, but that is certainly not how it works in the Netherlands, the US, or the UK. If someone meets the requirements to be a citizen from birth, one is, and getting a passport is just a formality. This has practical implications for, notably, the citizenship of one's children. My understanding of German nationality law is by comparison rather tenuous, but I believe it is similar. French nationality law is as well. – phoog Nov 5 '18 at 4:34

It is not particularly likely, but depending on the circumstances, you might be a Dutch citizen. It is somewhat less unlikely that you are a former Dutch citizen. In the first case you can apply for a Dutch passport; in the second case you may have a quicker route to naturalization. There's also a possibility that you can become Dutch through the so-called "option procedure."

Whether any of this is true depends on

  • when your Dutch grandfather was born
  • when he naturalized in the US (or elsewhere), if ever
  • when his child, your parent, was born
  • whether that person was your mother or your father
  • when you were born
  • and probably some other facts besides.

Be careful! If you are Dutch and under 28, you will probably lose your Dutch nationality on your 28th birthday. If your 28th birthday is in the near future, you should act with some urgency.

I'm less familiar with Croatian nationality law, but I will try to remember to check it tomorrow.

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