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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: Will my children get an Austrian passport if born in Austria?

Having an Austrian passport can bring many advantages, including rights to stay in the country and to vote in national elections, but are children born and raised here entitled to it?

Austria flag on field
An Austrian flag flies above a green meadow. Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP

Austria is one of the many European countries that adopt citizenship rules based on jus sanguinis, meaning that Austrian nationality is passed on by blood, not by territory.

Other countries also accept citizenship based on territory, so a person born in the United States or Brazil, for example, is considered an US or Brazilian citizen.

Both countries also accept “blood citizenship”, so a child born in New York to Austrian parents will be entitled to both citizenships (American and Austrian) based on US law.

It is not the same in Austrian law. The alpine country does not recognise citizenship jus soli, meaning that being born in Austria does not make a person Austrian.

If none of the parents of this child is an Austrian citizen at the time of birth, the child does not obtain Austrian citizenship either. Instead, they will receive whichever nationality their parents hold, following the parent’s country’s rules.

For example, a child of Turkish immigrants that is born in Austria will be Turkish even if their parents have been legally residing in Austria for years and were born here themselves.

Naturalisation process for people born in Austria

One alternative for people born in Austria to receive an Austrian passport is by going through a naturalisation process.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which EU countries grant citizenship to the most people? 

They will still need to fulfil specific requirements, but many will be easier for children born and raised here. For example, children who have six years of legal and uninterrupted residence in Austria and birth in Austria can already apply for citizenship instead of waiting for 15 or even 30 years of legal residence in some cases.

Many other points, including proof of knowledge of German at level B2 or five years of marriage to an Austrian, will also allow people who have been legally and uninterruptedly living in Austria for six years to apply for citizenship early.

Besides that, children born here have an “easier” path to citizenship in certain requirements. For example, those younger than 14 years old don’t need to submit proof of German language skills.

Kids will likely have less trouble proving they’ve had no problems with the law, administrative violations, and that they are not a threat to Austrian security.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to get Austrian citizenship or stay permanently in Austria

However, they will need to renounce their previous citizenship. If not possible because of the other country, they will be asked to do so, or to “choose a citizenship”, once they turn 18.

Which children born in Austria are automatically Austrians?

Children automatically become Austrian citizens at birth if their mother is an Austrian citizen. The same applies to children whose parents are married if only the father is an Austrian citizen.

In cases where a child’s parents are not married, and only the father is Austrian, the child acquires citizenship by origin if the Austrian father either acknowledges paternity after eight weeks of the baby’s birth or if the paternity is acknowledged or proven by the court.

In these cases, when the child has parents of different citizenships, Austria allows for dual citizenship.

Whereas in a naturalisation process, the child will need to give up their other passports to become Austrian, if they have an Austrian mother and a British father, for example, they can keep both, according to Austrian law.

What can I do if I want my child to be a dual citizen?

One thing many parents do if they want their child to become Austrian and keep another citizenship is naturalising themselves before the baby is born.

The parent who naturalises Austrian will lose his or her previous citizenship, but the child will then be born to an Austrian and a foreign parent and therefore be entitled to inherit and keep both.

READ ALSO: How can I apply for dual citizenship in Austria?

For example, two American parents living in Austria could have an American-Austrian child if one of them naturalises before the baby’s birth. Provided, of course, they themselves fulfil the criteria for naturalisation.

A child could even hold multiple nationalities if they were all “by blood”

The child of a Brazilian-Italian father and an Austrian mother, for example, would be entitled to all three passports. They would not need to lose any citizenship – not even when turning 18.

Austria provides for loss of citizenship in just a few cases, though, including when a person voluntarily joins another country’s military service.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Am I eligible for Austrian citizenship?

How much does it cost?

Austrian citizenship is not easy to get. Besides the difficulty to fulfil criteria, and the need to renounce other citizenships, it is one of the more costly processes in the EU.

The application itself costs around € 130, and you can expect to pay between €1,100 and € 1,500 if you are granted citizenship.

That is only for the process itself, which does not include any legal assistance you might procure or the translation and certification of documents.

READ MORE: How much does it cost to become an Austrian citizen?

Follow-up costs, like for the actual passport, are also not included. Don’t worry, though. For this sort of cash, Austria takes credit cards.

Useful vocabulary

Staatsbürgerschaft – citizenship
minderjährige Personen – minors
Voraussetzungen – prerequisites
bestimmten Zeitraum – specific period of time
Nachweis von DeutschKenntnissen – Proof of knowledge of German

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For members

ECONOMY

EXPLAINED: Is there much poverty in Austria?

Austria is known for being a rich country, but there is a considerable part of its population with significant material and social disadvantage.

EXPLAINED: Is there much poverty in Austria?

Austria is generally seen as a rich country, and its cities often rank top in quality of life. According to data from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Austria’s gross domestic product (GDP) is on par with the OECD’s best performing countries, and inequality is lower than in most advanced countries.

Several other indicators also show how rich the country is – including the fact that about 72 percent of people aged 15 to 64 in Austria have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 66 percent.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why is Austria so rich?

However obviously not every household enjoys the same standard of living in Austria. Austrian authorities are very clear when they say, “yes, poverty also exists in Austria”.

According to the country’s data agency Statistik Austria, about 17.3 percent of the people in private households (around 1.5 million people) are at risk of poverty or exclusion.

This means people who are in “significant material and social disadvantage” have a low household income relative to the median of the population or have no or very low “labour intensity” – meaning that they are unemployed or marginally employed.

What is considered poverty?

Poverty always means a lack of opportunities, according to the Austrian Die Armutskonferenz, a network association that fights poverty and social exclusion in Austria.

A “significant material deprivation”, the term for manifested poverty, happens when low incomes are associated with restrictions in central areas of life. For example, not being able to replace worn clothes, eat healthily, not being able to keep a home properly warm or cover unexpected expenses.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new finance measures could benefit you

“Poverty is not only affected by those who sleep on the street or in cardboard boxes. In rich countries such as Austria, poverty is often only visible at second glance.”, Armutskonferenz says.

Those who live in poverty in Austria often experience exclusion, loneliness, and isolation – they can no longer afford to invite friends and family to dinner or occasionally go to the cinema, for example.

poverty austria

A man begs for money on the Ring street near the Hofburg palace in Vienna, Austria on April 8, 2021. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Who are the people at risk of poverty?

Children, women in old age, single parents, the long-term unemployed, and people without Austrian citizenship are particularly at risk, according to Statistik Austria.

A quarter of those affected by poverty in Austria are younger than 26 years old and dependent on their parents, who are most likely immigrants, unemployed, single parents or have jobs that cannot support a family.

READ ALSO: Cost of living: Where are rents rising fastest in Austria?

Women are particularly affected because they often are the primary (if not sole) carers in a family, staying at home or taking minor jobs instead of searching for full-time employment.

Moreover, since Austria’s welfare state is strongly linked to the labour market, women are often marginalised.

Where in Austria are those at risk of poverty?

A federal study shows that Vienna has the highest percentage of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion, 27 percent. While in Austria, the rate of people at risk is approximately 17 percent, in Vorarlberg, that number reaches 24 percent.

In Carinthia, 17 percent of the population is considered at risk, followed by Tyrol (16) and Styria (15). Salzburg and Burgenland have 13 percent of the people just within the threshold, and Lower Austria and Upper Austria have the lowest rates, at 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

Statistik: Quote der Armuts- oder Ausgrenzungsgefährdung in Österreich nach Bundesländern im Dreijahresdurchschnitt 2019 bis 2021 | Statista
Mehr Statistiken finden Sie bei Statista

What does Austria do to prevent poverty?

Austria has a strong welfare state which reduces the risk of poverty and protects most of the population from it – especially during crises such as the Covid pandemic.

Social benefits reduce the risk of poverty from 45 percent to 14.7 percent in adverse situations, according to Armutskonferenz. Unemployment benefits, emergency and minimum security, and housing and long-term care allowance have the most significant impact.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to claim your €150 energy discount in Austria

However, associations call on the government to implement further measures to combat and prevent poverty. For example, they ask for awareness-raising regarding approaches to minorities and marginalised people, improvement of allowances and family schemes, and more offers of free activities.

Social and care groups also ask for measures to reduce educational inequality, saying it is necessary to ensure education completion for all children – which will help prevent child poverty.

For young people, they claim it is necessary to fight unemployment and offer diversified education and training options.

How can I help reduce poverty in Austria?

There are several known and renowned associations that fight poverty in Austria. Armutskonferenz is one, but Caritas is also a very well-known organisation.

You can also get involved politically and voice demands for better policies and government assistance. It is also essential, the organisations say, to help ensure that prejudices and stereotypes concerning poverty experiences are not spread so that people in this situation can still have opportunities in life.

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