Getting Citizenship By Descent in Albania in 2023


Albanian Citizenship By Ancestry

Do you have Albanian citizens as your ancestors? Even if you’ve got a great-grandparent who’s Albanian, you could be eligible for second citizenship AND an Albanian passport on the basis of descent. Let’s get into the details below…

Albania, or fully the Republic of Albania, is one of the best travel destinations you’ve never heard of. Nestled between northern Greece, Montenegro and the azure water of Italy, it should, by rights, be one of Europe’s top tourism destinations – think epic scenery, sumptuous Mediterranean cuisine, and world-class beaches.

But for the moment, at least, it remains relatively unknown.

While Albania is probably one of the least “discovered” countries in Southern Europe, you should definitely pay attention to its latest legislative developments if you have some Albanian blood in your veins.

Along with Croatia, Greece, Italy, Malta and Serbia, Albania is one of the countries rolling out the proverbial red carpet when it comes to ancestral citizenship applications.

Offering you the ability to apply for citizenship even if your great-grandparent was Albanian, the country’s ancestry program is one of the most generous of its kind in Europe – assuming it gets implemented effectively.

The Albanian Citizenship Law, enacted in 2020, makes provision for a child to acquire Albanian citizenship automatically, by origin, in the following cases:

  • If both parents are Albanian citizens at the time of the child’s birth, OR;
  • If one of the parents is an Albanian national at the time of the child’s birth, AND the child is born in Albania.

If you were born outside of Albania to only one Albanian parent, you could still become a citizen, but you’d need to take an extra step in a timely manner. Before you turn 18, you’ll have to register as an Albanian citizen in one of the country’s consulates.

(Keep in mind that we only cover the most common situations and circumstances for obtaining Citizenship By Descent in Albania. If your situation is uncommon, e.g. if you were adopted, or if the nationality of your parents is unknown, you will need to study the text of the law in more detail.)

The Albanian Citizenship Law also has a new provision, making it possible for ethnic Albanians to obtain Albanian Citizenship By Descent.

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Article 6 of the law states that if your ancestor is of “Albanian descent”, you can acquire Albanian citizenship, provided that you can prove your direct lineage.

The farthest you can look back is the third generation. So the potential offer of citizenship applies only if your parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent held Albanian citizenship, or was ethnically an Albanian national.

Does it mean you are out of luck if it was your great-great-grandparent who was Albanian (fourth generation back)?

Not necessarily. If your parent — the great-grandchild of an Albanian — is still alive, they can claim their Albanian citizenship first. And then you, in turn, can claim your Albanian citizenship through your Albanian parent.

As an added bonus, knowledge of the Albanian language and culture is not a requirement for applying under this track.
Furthermore, dual citizenship is allowed in Albania, so there will be no need to renounce your current citizenship.

A Non-Schengen Country With Visa-Free Schengen Access

As far as travel documents go, the Albanian passport is not bad at all. Offering visa-free travel to 102 countries, including the Schengen Area and Turkey, it scores a solid (“B-”grade) in the Sovereign Passport Ranking Index.

This all sounds really promising, but there is one problem — the Citizenship By Descent provision of the law is brand new. And as a result, it will take some time for the government to establish the necessary protocols and procedures and, importantly, for reliable English-speaking service providers to emerge.

We have started inquiring through our channels already, but if you happen to know a reliable attorney on the ground who could assist with Citizenship By Ancestry applications there, please feel free to get in touch and let us know.

In any case, if you are of Albanian descent, you should pay attention to future legislative developments in the country.

Dual Citizenship in Albania – Frequently Asked Questions

Citizenship by ancestry is not the only type of citizenship one can have. There are other ways to acquire it:

Citizenship by Birth

According to Albanian law, there are a few instances in which a child acquires Albanian citizenship by birth:

  • when both of their parents are Albanian nationals
  • when one of the parents is of Albanian nationality and the child is born on the territory of the Republic of Albania
  • when the child was born outside the territory of the Republic of Albania, one of the parents is Albanian, while the other parent either has unknown citizenship or is a stateless person
  • when the child was born outside the territory of the Republic of Albania, one of the parents is Albanian while the other has another citizenship, but the parents both agree that the child born should have Albanian citizenship
  • when a child is born or found within the territory of the Republic of Albania and has unknown parents
  • when both parents reside within the territory of the Republic of Albania but are not Albanian citizens, a child born can acquire Albanian citizenship when both parents agree to it

If the child’s parents are unknown but become known prior to the child turning 14, they can request for Albanian citizenship to be removed. However, it will only be granted when such a person doesn’t remain stateless after it happens.

Citizenship by Naturalization

You can require Albanian citizenship by naturalization when you meet the requirements:

  • you are at least 18 years of age
  • you have resided legally in Albania for at least 5 years
  • have at least basic knowledge of the Albanian language
  • have accommodation and sufficient financial means
  • you haven’t been penally prosecuted in your own country or in Albania for penal crimes charged with more than three years of imprisonment (they can’t be for political reasons)
  • providing you with citizenship won’t threaten the security or defense of the Republic of Albania

Citizenship by Marriage

If you are a foreigner married to an Albanian citizen, you can apply for Albanian citizenship after three years of marriage. The requirements remain the same as in acquiring citizenship by naturalization, the only exception at least being basic knowledge of the Albanian language and the residence requirement (legally residing for at least one year is enough).

Citizenship by Adoption

If both parents are of Albanian nationality and adopt a child that either has a different citizenship or is stateless, the child is granted Albanian citizenship.

If only one parent is an Albanian national, but the parents reside within the territory of the Republic of Albania at the moment of the adoption, the adopted child is granted Albanian citizenship.

If there’s any other situation that would put the adopted child at risk of being stateless, the child is granted Albanian citizenship as well.

Citizenship by Naturalized Parents

In a situation where a minor child has two naturalized Albanian parents, the child can become an albanian citizen if both parents request it. If the child is between 14 and 18 years of age, their consent is also a requirement.

When at least one parent is a naturalized Albanian citizen, and the child lives within the territory of the Republic of Albania, they can still get granted Albanian citizenship if both parents request it.

Unfortunately, at the moment, there is no investment citizenship in Albania. However, it might change soon, considering the recent law developments in this regard.

Yes – as we already mentioned, dual citizenship is accepted in Albania, which means that if you hold Albanian citizenship, you can acquire another one without any problem. Just make sure that the second country you get your citizenship from also accepts dual citizenship.

In Conclusion

The recent changes to Albania’s citizenship law potentially make the country a great option for obtaining Citizenship by Ancestry. And while the country is not as well known as, let’s say, Croatia or Italy, it is nonetheless a stable and beautiful European country.

Moreover, given that Albania’s EU accession bid was approved in March 2020, the country may potentially join the European Union at some future date.

And if and when that happens, the time and effort required to obtain an Albanian passport by descent would have been more than worth it.

About the author

Andre Bothma

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