Austrian citizenship For Members

Five surprising Austrian citizenship rules you should know about

Aaron Burnett
Aaron Burnett - [email protected]
Five surprising Austrian citizenship rules you should know about
An Austrian passport. Photo: Wikicommons

Getting - and sometimes even keeping - Austrian citizenship is not always so easy to figure out. Here are five interesting facts you might not yet know about becoming Austrian.


If you're a foreigner living in Austria and looking to one day take citizenship, you may have done some homework about all the citizenship laws  - ranging from residency and language requirements to the costs of applying.

If you haven’t, you can check out our collection of articles on Austrian citizenship.

But even if you are well-versed in what it takes to become Austrian, you may still be surprised to learn about some of the rules, regulations, and exceptions in Austrian citizenship law - one of Europe's more complex and restrictive nationality legislations.

Birth in Austria doesn't confer citizenship - but it may help in some cases

Austrian nationality law generally operates by the principle of jus sanguinis - or bloodline - rather than jus soli, which confers citizenship by being born in a country. Thus, Austrian citizenship is typically gained through birth or naturalisation.

But birth in Austria can play a factor in certain cases.

First of all, if someone isn't Austrian but they were born in Austria, their residence requirement before being able to apply for citizenship is cut in half. That means that while most foreigners have to have been legally resident in Austria for ten years before they're eligible to apply for citizenship, foreigners born in Austria can apply after five years of legal residence.

austria flag austrian flag austria

Austrian flag: Birth in Austria doesn't give citizenship, but it can help. (Photo by Sandra Grünewald on Unsplash)

Next, stateless people (those without any nationality) who were born in Austria can apply to become Austrian between the ages of 18 and 21, provided they have lived in Austria for at least ten years, five of which need to be in the years immediately before the application.

Finally, foundlings (abandoned babies where parentage can't be traced) who are six months or younger in Austria are presumed to be Austrian citizens.

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


You don’t need to speak any German to become Austrian (in some cases)

As a rule, an intermediate level of German (or B1 in the European Framework of Languages) is required in order to become a naturalised Austrian citizen. But if you already have an Austrian parent you automatically qualify for a Austrian passport, even if you yourself don't speak a word of German and have never set foot in Austria.

Although Austria heavily restricts dual citizenship in most cases, those born to an Austrian citizen and foreign parent can automatically hold two or more passports if the other country allows it.

Another case where someone can become Austrian without having been to Austria or speaking German involves those who are descendants of people who were stripped of Austrian citizenship under Nazi rule.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Who is entitled to Austrian citizenship by descent and how to apply for it


Austrian citizenship can be restored to those who've lost it (in some cases)

As of September 1st, 2020, those who were persecuted under National Socialism and left Austria before May 15th, 1955 are able to apply to have their citizenship restored - while keeping any other citizenship they may have. This rule also applies to their descendants and is one of the few cases under Austrian law where dual citizenship is allowed.

This provision applies to Austrian Jews, people who were stateless, and people who were citizens of successor states of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire who were resident in Austria at the time of the Nazis. While those applying to restore their Austrian citizenship under this provision may often be Jewish - or had Jewish ancestors - others who were persecuted under the Nazis may also apply.

Documents belonging to Noah Rohrlich's grandfather, Fritz Rohrlich who fled Nazism in Austria. Photo: OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP

They may have been targeted for other reasons, including political ones such as their support for democracy in Austria.

People who can also apply to have their Austrian citizenship restored include former Austrian citizens - as long as they weren't deprived of it or explicitly renounced it. Deprivation typically only occurs if the citizen was found to have participated in terrorist acts.


A former Austrian citizen can reapply as long as they had citizenship for at least ten years before losing it, after being legally resident in Austria for at least a year.

Children who lost Austrian citizenship but weren't deprived if it can typically reapply to become Austrian again if they do it between the ages of 18 and 20.

READ ALSO: How powerful is the Austrian passport?


Wedlock matters (for Dads anyway)

If a child is born to an Austrian mother, the child is an Austrian national. Full stop.

It's a bit more complicated if the children are born to an Austrian father and the mother isn't Austrian.

In cases where an Austrian father and a non-Austrian mother are married, the child is automatically considered Austrian.

Austrian Dads who aren't married to their children's Moms need to acknowledge paternity to pass on citizenship. (Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash)

If a child has an Austrian father and a non-Austrian mother and those parents aren't married, the couple needs to go through an extra hoop to make sure the children are entitled to Austrian citizenship. The Austrian father will need to acknowledge that he is the parent of the child within eight weeks of birth.

Alternatively, a court can determine paternity. If the court's determination comes more than eight weeks after birth, the child can apply for Austrian citizenship under a simplified procedure.


READ ALSO: Can children under the age of 18 be naturalised in Austria?

You can shorten the ten-year wait time in some cases

While the required ten years of residence in Austria before being able to apply for citizenship is long by European standards, you can shorten it in certain cases.

As mentioned before, people who have lost previously held Austrian citizenship can apply again after one year of residence in Austria, while non-Austrians born in Austria can apply after five years.

If you're married to an Austrian, you can become Austrian after six years of legal residence in Austria - provided that your marriage has lasted for at least five years.

Other EU or EEA nationals can also apply to become Austrian after six years of residence.

But what if you're not a former Austrian national, an EU/EEA national or married to an Austrian? You can still shorten the wait time to six years if you can pass a B2 German language test, or prove substantial integration into Austrian public life. With B2 German being only one level above what you need for permanent residence or citizenship with the normal wait of ten years, it might be an attractive option for those willing to go just a little bit further with German learning.

READ ALSO: Austria: Just how good does your German have to be to gain residence and citizenship?



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