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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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TRAVEL NEWS

Reader question: How to write an invitation letter for visitors to Austria

While anyone coming from the Schengen area will be exempt from any border controls, visitors entering Austria from outside might have to show some documents, including proof of stay. Here's what you need to know.

Reader question: How to write an invitation letter for visitors to Austria

If you have friends or family visiting you in Austria from outside of the Schengen area, then you might be familiar with the “invitation letter” that a host should write, and the traveller may be asked to present at border control.

The actual documents necessary for entry into Austria will mainly depend on the traveller’s citizenship. If they come from a visa-required country, such as India, South Africa, or Bolivia, for example, they might need to show proof of sufficient travel means, including health insurance, proof of stay, and even a return ticket.

The letter of invitation is what would be accepted as proof of a place to stay for cases when the person is staying with friends and family – and cannot show a hotel reservation.

It will need to be presented to Austrian authorities in the country of residence before the travel to issue a visa.

READ ALSO: One day in Vienna: How to spend 24 hours in the Austrian capital

However, even people coming from visa-free countries, including the United States, Brazil, the UK, and Australia, are advised to travel with documents showing their stay’s purpose and duration.

This is because even if you come with a visa or come from a visa-free country, the border control officer is the person to make a final decision on whether or not you are allowed in. On the European Commission’s website, the recommendation is that even those with an approved visa take supporting documents with them.

“At the border or during other controls, you may, for instance, have to provide information on your means of support, how long you intend to stay in the Schengen States, and why you are visiting the Schengen State.”, the website states.

“In some cases, such checks may result in a refusal for the visa holder to enter the Schengen State or the Schengen area.”

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Which Schengen area countries have border controls in place and why?

Carrying documents such as the invitation letter can help “make the border control procedure easier and avoid delays at the border”.

What is the letter of invitation?

There is no official model from the European Union for the invitation letter. Still, it should be written by the host, dated, and signed.

It should state information such as the host’s name, address, relationship to the traveller, reason and purpose of the invitation, dates and duration of stay, and any financial arrangements, such as if you are funding their trip.

The letter could be written in German or English. It is also helpful to attach copies of documents such as the Austrian resident’s Meldezettel (proof of residence) and passport.

It may be that at the border, nobody asks the visitor to show any documents, and more often than not, this is what happens, especially to citizens of visa-free countries.

READ ALSO: How to explore the Austrian mountains in the summer like a local

However, the border officer is entitled to question any person trying to enter the country – in that case, a document such as a letter of the invitation could save your mom or dad a big headache when they are visiting you in Austria.

Is there a model of a letter?

Officially, no. However, there are several models that can be found online. The important thing is for the letter to have the basic information on who is visiting whom, how long, the purpose of stay, and financial means. For example, your letter could look something like this:

Location and date

Re: Invitation Letter for NAME OF TRAVELLER with Passport No. XXX

Dear Sir/Madam,

I, YOUR NAME, currently residing at YOUR ADDRESS, and a citizen of YOUR CITIZENSHIP with residence in Austria, am writing this letter to support the entry application of my RELATIONSHIP (mother/friend/etc.), NAME.

The purpose of the entry of my NAME is to visit me and spend time with me in Austria. She will be visiting me for DURATION OF STAY and then return to COUNTRY OF RESIDENCE, where she/he resides.

NAME will be visiting during the following dates: DATES.

During the specified trip dates above, we will be staying in LOCATION. In addition, NAME will be staying at my house, YOUR ADDRESS. The trip will be funded through their own means/ I will be paying for her/his trip, and she/he won’t pay for accommodation in my house.

If you require any information, please do not hesitate to contact me at PHONE NUMBER or EMAIL.

Kind regards,

NAME
PASSPORT NUMBER
ADDRESS
PHONE NUMBER
EMAIL

READ ALSO: UPDATED: The latest coronavirus restrictions in Austria

With the letter, it is recommended to carry documents such as travel confirmations, other documents stating the purpose of stay, and even the travel insurance.

Again, none of this is mandatory for those who already have a visa or come from visa-free countries. Still, they can save time and avoid complications in case of questions at the border. Especially if mom and dad don’t speak any German – or English.

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