The Possibility of Obtaining Romanian Citizenship by a Foreign Citizen with Romanian Parents

During and after the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Romania has become an extremely attractive destination for digital nomads or other individuals and families who choose to settle here. The Costaș, Negru & Asociații team provides assistance regarding the fiscal, administrative, real estate or business aspects of such a change of scenery. Recently, however, another legal issue caught our attention, namely the possibility of acquiring not only a right of residence, but even Romanian citizenship by foreign citizens with Romanian parents.

I. Introduction

The concept of citizenship is a complex one, due to traditions and approaches to citizenship that have varied throughout history, depending on the societies, cultures and ideologies of different countries.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right to a citizenship, the right to change citizenship and the right not to be deprived of citizenship. The right to a nationality has significant implications for the daily lives of individuals in every country.

II. Principles underlying the acquisition of citizenship

The Latin terms jus soli and jus sanguinis, used in citizenship law, represent two distinct ways of granting citizenship.

More specifically, jus soli, translated as ‘right of soil’, is the principle that citizenship is granted to persons born in the territory of a particular state. Under this concept, citizenship is automatically granted to children born in that territory, regardless of the nationality of their parents.

There are currently more than 30 countries in the world which recognise the right to citizenship at birth. These include Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Mexico and the United States, to name but a few.

On the other hand, jus sanguinis, or ‘right of blood’, denotes the possibility for a person to claim citizenship of a country by virtue of being born to a parent who is a citizen of that country. By way of example, there are a variety of countries that rely mainly on the jus sanguinis principle, namely Germany, Italy, Israel, Romania, Greece and Ireland.

In general, most countries that adopt the jus soli principle also adopt the jus sanguinis principle as an exception to the general rule. For example, US citizenship will be recognised even if the child’s birth took place outside the US, provided that at least one of the parents was a US citizen at the time of birth.

III. Legal regime of Romanian citizenship

The provisions contained in Article 5 of the Constitution regulate citizenship as follows: “(1) Romanian citizenship shall be acquired, retained or lost under the conditions laid down by organic law. (2) Romanian citizenship may not be withdrawn from a person who has acquired it by birth“.

The bond and membership of a natural person to the Romanian State is regulated by the Law no. 21/1991 on Romanian citizenship. The term “citizenship” in contemporary constitutional law expresses this link.

According to the legislation in force, the ways of acquiring Romanian citizenship are by: 1. birth; 2. adoption; 3. grant on request.

In the following, we will analyze the particular situation of obtaining documents attesting Romanian citizenship by an American citizen with Romanian parents. The legal basis of the present issue is to be found in the provisions of Article 5 para. 2 letter b) of Law no. 21/1991. According to it, “Romanian citizens are also those who were born abroad and both parents or only one of them has Romanian citizenship“. Unfortunately, the procedure for obtaining citizenship in this particular case is not sufficiently detailed, so that some practical difficulties may arise.

IV. The particular case of obtaining citizenship by American citizens with Romanian parents

As mentioned above, the law provides that Romanian citizens are also those who are born abroad but at least one of their parents is a Romanian citizen, applying the jus sanguinis principle. Due to the fact that persons are already considered as Romanian citizens, the question of granting Romanian citizenship by following the classical procedure can no longer arise.

However, even if the Romanian state considers people in this situation as its citizens, they do not have the documents proving this citizenship and they are not listed in the national civil status registers.

In this situation, the procedure to follow is much simpler, namely that of transcribing the birth certificate issued by the foreign authorities into the Romanian civil status registers. The steps to follow in this situation are as follows:

  1. Required documents:
  • Application form for transcription of the certificate;
  • Original American birth certificate;
  • A certified translation of the American birth certificate;
  • S. passport (original if filing in person, certified copy if filing by attorney);
  • Notarized affidavit stating that he/she has not previously applied for transcript of birth certificate;
  • If both parents are Romanian citizens and have a marriage certificate issued by the Romanian authorities, a copy of the marriage certificate will be required;
  • If the parents do not have a marriage certificate issued by the Romanian authorities, a certified translation of the American marriage certificate will be required, clearly showing the parents’ names after marriage. If the name after marriage does not appear, a notarized authenticated statement to this effect will be required.
  • Copies of the Romanian birth certificates of the parents;
  • Copies of the Romanian identity documents of the parents (identity cards/passports – even if expired).

2. Procedure and competent authority

The request for transcription of the birth certificate obtained from abroad is addressed to the mayor of the locality of residence, for Romanian citizens domiciled in Romania, to the mayor of the locality of last residence in the country in the case of Romanian citizens domiciled abroad or to the Mayor of Sector 1, in the case of Romanian citizens who have never been domiciled in Romania.

Competence lies with the Public Directorate for Personal Records and Civil Status of Sector 1, if the citizen has never been domiciled in Romania.

After submission of all documents to the competent authority, the procedure will take approximately 60 days. Afterwards, a personal numerical code will be issued, on the basis of which both the Romanian identity card and the Romanian passport can be obtained, following the usual procedure.

V. Conclusion

Throughout this article, we have analysed the particular situation of obtaining documents attesting Romanian citizenship by American citizens who have at least one Romanian parent. Of course, this procedure is also applicable to citizens of other countries, the only condition being that at least one of the parents must be a Romanian citizen.

This article was prepared, for the blog of the civil society of lawyers Costaș, Negru & Asociații, by Ms. Rovena Fetico (Arad Bar Association).

Costaș, Negru & Asociații is a civil society of lawyers with offices in Cluj-Napoca, Bucharest and Arad, which offers assistance, legal representation and consultancy in several practice areas through a team composed of 19 lawyers and consultants. Details regarding legal services and team composition can be found on the website All rights for the materials published on the company’s website and through social networks belong to Costaș, Negru & Asociații, their reproduction being permitted only for informational purposes and with correct and complete citation of the source.

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