Austrian citizenship For Members

EXPLAINED: What is the '2-year rule' for new Austrian citizens?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: What is the '2-year rule' for new Austrian citizens?
A child with Austrian flag painted on her face. (Photo by SAMUEL KUBANI / AFP)

If you're applying for Austrian citizenship, you may have heard of the 'two-year' rule that affects the period immediately after you become an Austrian national. But what does it mean?


Foreigners have the right to apply to become Austrian citizens if they meet certain conditions, but Austria is one of the strictest countries for naturalisation in Europe. 

The most common grounds for citizenship are through residency (after ten years of continuous residency in Austria, falling to six years if you meet specific integration requirements, such as being married to an Austrian citizen).

The application process itself is lengthy and requires putting together an extensive dossier of paperwork and, in general, undergoing interviews and taking an integration exam that tests your knowledge of Austrian history and culture (in German, of course).

Overall, few people naturalise every year - the numbers rose once Austria approved dual citizenship for Nazi victims and their decedents, but they are slowly falling again. In 2023, Austrian citizenship was granted to 19,939 persons (over 40 percent of them lived abroad, and most were from Israel), a 3.2 percent drop from the year before. 

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One of the main deterrents to naturalising Austrian is the fact that, in general, a person who takes on Austrian nationality through residence years will have to give up their original citizenship.

There are few exceptions to this rule, including for Nazi victims and their descendants, and in extraordinary cases with the authorisation of the Austrian government. In general, though, if you take on Austrian citizenship (rather than being entitled to it by blood), you need to give up your previous citizenship.

This is when the two-year rule comes in.


What is the two-year rule?

Foreign citizens naturalising Austrians need to show proof that they have given up any other nationalities in order to receive Austrian citizenship through naturalisation.

However, international treaties exist to prevent people from becoming stateless - meaning that you effectively cannot give up your citizenship and then receive Austrian nationality because that would mean you would have no citizenship in the meantime.

Because of that, Austria has a 'two-year rule' in place. 

People who are granted Austrian citizenship via a naturalisation process - and are not within the few exceptions that allow them to keep other citizenships - have two years to renounce any other nationalities. 

READ ALSO: When is dual citizenship allowed in Austria?

After that period, they need to show official confirmation to the Austrian government that they have given up their other nationalities. Only then will the Austrian citizenship be confirmed. 

If the person fails to show proof of the renunciation, the Austrian government can revoke Austrian citizenship. In fact, this is one of the only six cases when Austrian citizenship can be revoked


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