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  • NicoleDeRosa

How To Get A Second Passport Based On Your Family's Roots

I'm looking forward to the day when exploring this beautiful world and getting to know more people from other cultures can resume in a safe fashion. Until then, I've put together this blog post for you!

It's always exciting to get a new stamp in your passport! And while you may already have a passport from the country you were born in, I've been researching how you can also get another — if you have a grandparent (or in some cases even a great-grandparent) who was born out of the country.

Your family ancestry is more than just interesting dinner conversation, it’s a way to open the door to new places around the globe. So whether you want to explore with fewer visa worries, take advantage of shorter customs lines, or simply feel more worldly the next time you’re at the airport, it may be worth your time to look into your right to obtain a different passport.

Your ability to obtain a second passport and citizenship is an important benefit, thanks to your family tree and recent ancestors. So-called “citizenship by descent” laws in your ancestors’ country of origin may qualify you for a second citizenship and a passport as a matter of right. A second passport also grants the right to live, work, and do business in the country. It might be the ideal place for a second or retirement home.

The easiest and quickest way to acquire second citizenship is through your bloodline: citizenship resulting from the nationality of your father, mother, or grandparents. Most countries go back only one generation, meaning at least one of your parents must be from the country in question to be eligible for citizenship. But in a few countries, grandchildren can qualify.

Genealogical research and a search of your own family records can open the door to a past that can influence your future. Information about ancestry citizenship laws can be found on the internet at the official websites of one of the country’s embassies. (Beware of the frauds rampant in this area.)

Nations that grant citizenship based on a blood ancestry basis, if your parent or grandparent was a citizen, include Ireland, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, Luxembourg, Hungary, Greece and Armenia. Six of the named countries are European Union member states, so their citizenship gives the freedom to live and work in all the member states of the EU. For Jews, religion under Israel’s Law of Return permits citizenship in Israel.

Below are several countries in which you’re in luck if you have a grandparent — or in some cases, any ancestors — who came from there.


If you have a parent or grandparent that was born in Greece, then you may be able to claim Greek citizenship through descent. Article 10 of the Code of Greek Citizenship states that any Greek- born in another country can apply for Greek citizenship. To obtain your Greek citizenship by descent, you’ll have to prove your direct lineage to a Greek ancestor.

The first critical document you’ll need is a birth certificate of your ancestor that was registered with the local authority (either a Municipal Register or the Male Register of Greece).

It is important to note that the Greek government is very strict about documentation. Only certificates issued by Greek municipal authorities are accepted. This means your ancestor must have been registered at the municipality of a town or village in Greece. This certificate needs to include a municipality number, and will be proof that your ancestor is Greek by birth. Next, you’ll need birth, death, and marriage certificates for all subsequent ancestors, whether in Greece or abroad. Any foreign certificates must be translated and certified by an Apostille.


Even if you were not born in Ireland, you are eligible for Irish citizenship if one of your grandparents was born on the island or was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, according to the Irish Foreign Ministry. In order to get a passport, you have to apply for Foreign Birth Registration, which can take up to a year to process.

United Kingdom

Applying for British citizenship through a grandparent is a three-step process that takes several years. If you can prove one of your grandparents was born in the U.K., you first have to apply for a U.K. Ancestry visa, which allows you to stay in the country for five years. After those five years, you can then apply for permanent settlement, or indefinite leave to remain. Once you have had that status for a year, you can apply for citizenship.


In Italy, descendants of Italian citizens are often eligible to become citizens themselves — and there is no limit on how many generations ago your ancestors left the country as long as they maintained their own Italian citizenship until they had kids of their own, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy. You can prove this lineage through things like birth and marriage certificates.

Southern Poland, photo courtesy of: Trip Advisor


Just like Italy, Poland’s citizenship laws are built around the idea of “uninterrupted lineage.” That means you have to make sure that no Polish ancestor in your lineage renounced their Polish citizenship at any time. The good news is that Poland is generous with how far back you can trace your ancestry. If you have a great-grandparent who was born in Poland, then you could claim citizenship through descent.

The bad news is that despite the country’s complicated war history, Poland is very strict with respect to documentation. This is true despite the nation’s complicated war history. The burden of proof is on you and the problem is that many family histories were destroyed by war. Unfortunately, no matter the circumstances, no matter how tragic the family history, the Polish government will demand proper documentation. Officials see everyone’s war history as more or less equally tragic. It is recommend getting professional help by someone who’s very familiar with Poland’s citizenship by descent procedures, such as a law firm or professional genealogist.


You can apply for Spanish citizenship if one of your grandparents was originally Spanish themselves, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain. But in order to do so, you have to first live in Spain legally for one year.


Hungary considers most people with Hungarian grandparents to be Hungarian citizens, so all you have to do is apply to verify your citizenship (and it doesn’t matter if you speak Hungarian or not). If your grandparents lost their Hungarian citizenship — which tends to come up due to different peace treaties that followed WWI and WWII — you can still apply to be a Hungarian citizen through the simplified naturalization process, but you do have to speak Hungarian.


If your ancestors lost their German citizenship because of religious, political, or racial grounds from 1933 to 1945 — which applied to a lot of Jewish people and other persecuted groups who fled Nazi Germany — you may be eligible to have that citizenship restored. In order to claim this, you have to be able to say that if your ancestor had not been deprived of their German citizenship, you would have acquired it by birth.

Photo courtesy of: Full Suitcase


You may be eligible to obtain Lithuanian citizenship if one of your grandparents or great-grandparents (who had citizenship before 1940) left Lithuania before 1990 or was a deportee or political prisoner. In order to prove this lineage, you have to submit things like birth certificates or documents concerning studies or work prior to 1940.


Have you obtained a second passport based on your family's roots or did this post inspire you to look into doing so? I'd love to hear from you in the comments section below!

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