4 Ways a Citizenship by Descent Are Granted

Last Updated:  • Published  •

Put very simply, you can obtain a citizenship by descent if you have an ancestor with a citizenship from another country.

But how far back can this go? Would you qualify if it's your great-grandmother who had another citizenship? What about a great-great-grandfather?

Of course, the law varies from country to country, and below are information that should help you research further on your situation.

You might also be interested in this article: What Is a Citizenship by Descent?

4 Ways a Citizenship by Descent Are Granted

Now, please note that this article is not meant to provide the requirements for obtaining citizenship by descent for each and every country, but rather as a starting point so you have a better idea on what you need to research on further for your specific situation.

Here are 4 common ways a citizenship by descent can be granted.

1. The One-Generation Limit

In many countries around the world, children will inherit their parents' citizenship(s) even if they were born abroad.

For example, Canada 🇨🇦 limits the claim to citizenship by one generation for individuals born outside the country.

  • This means that if at least one of your parents is Canadian and you are born in another country, you are a Canadian citizen by descent.
  • But if you (a Canadian citizen by descent) end up having a child outside of Canada, your child would no longer be a Canadian citizen because citizenship by descent is limited to one generation only.

2. The Two-Generation Limit

Some countries like Armenia 🇦🇲 and Latvia 🇱🇻 extend the claim to citizenship to two generations, meaning you can claim citizenship if you have at least one parent or grandparent who is (was) a citizen of those countries.

3. The Three-Generation Limit

Some countries like Ireland 🇮🇪, extend the claim to three generations.

4. No Limit

For some countries like Hungary 🇭🇺, there is technically no limit in terms of how far back you can claim citizenship by descent, as long as you have the paper trail or proof that shows your chain of ancestry.

So, if you are able to prove through birth or marriage records that you are a descendant of a Hungarian citizen, even if it's as far back as in the Kingdom of Hungary, you can claim the citizenship.

5. Variations

Aside from the information above, if you are looking to claim Citizenship by Ancestry or Descent, you need to keep a lookout for specific conditions that may apply. For instance, some countries may impose the following conditions:

  • Citizenship by ancestry is claimable through biological parents only
  • Citizenship by ancestry is claimable through legal parents (either biological or adoptive)
  • Citizenship by ancestry is claimable patrilineally by default (you can claim it if your father or grandfather is a citizen)
  • Citizenship by ancestry is claimable matrilineally by default (you can claim it if your mother or grandmother is a citizen)
  • Citizenship by ancestry is claimable only if you have lived in the country for a period of time
  • Citizenship by ancestry is claimable only before reaching a certain age
  • Citizenship by ancestry is claimable only if a person is born before, during, or after a certain date as stated in the law

Learn More

Back to blog

Hey, Ryan here 🇨🇦


Over the past 10 years, I've lived & worked in 5 cities across 3 countries (Previously in 🇸🇬🇮🇩).

More about me here.

27 years old

12 visas & residence permits granted

18 countries & territories visited

12 houses & apartments lived in