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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: Will my children get an Austrian passport if born in Austria?

Having an Austrian passport can bring many advantages, including rights to stay in the country and to vote in national elections, but are children born and raised here entitled to it?

Austria flag on field
An Austrian flag flies above a green meadow. Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP

Austria is one of the many European countries that adopt citizenship rules based on jus sanguinis, meaning that Austrian nationality is passed on by blood, not by territory.

Other countries also accept citizenship based on territory, so a person born in the United States or Brazil, for example, is considered an US or Brazilian citizen.

Both countries also accept “blood citizenship”, so a child born in New York to Austrian parents will be entitled to both citizenships (American and Austrian) based on US law.

It is not the same in Austrian law. The alpine country does not recognise citizenship jus soli, meaning that being born in Austria does not make a person Austrian.

If none of the parents of this child is an Austrian citizen at the time of birth, the child does not obtain Austrian citizenship either. Instead, they will receive whichever nationality their parents hold, following the parent’s country’s rules.

For example, a child of Turkish immigrants that is born in Austria will be Turkish even if their parents have been legally residing in Austria for years and were born here themselves.

Naturalisation process for people born in Austria

One alternative for people born in Austria to receive an Austrian passport is by going through a naturalisation process.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which EU countries grant citizenship to the most people? 

They will still need to fulfil specific requirements, but many will be easier for children born and raised here. For example, children who have six years of legal and uninterrupted residence in Austria and birth in Austria can already apply for citizenship instead of waiting for 15 or even 30 years of legal residence in some cases.

Many other points, including proof of knowledge of German at level B2 or five years of marriage to an Austrian, will also allow people who have been legally and uninterruptedly living in Austria for six years to apply for citizenship early.

Besides that, children born here have an “easier” path to citizenship in certain requirements. For example, those younger than 14 years old don’t need to submit proof of German language skills.

Kids will likely have less trouble proving they’ve had no problems with the law, administrative violations, and that they are not a threat to Austrian security.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to get Austrian citizenship or stay permanently in Austria

However, they will need to renounce their previous citizenship. If not possible because of the other country, they will be asked to do so, or to “choose a citizenship”, once they turn 18.

Which children born in Austria are automatically Austrians?

Children automatically become Austrian citizens at birth if their mother is an Austrian citizen. The same applies to children whose parents are married if only the father is an Austrian citizen.

In cases where a child’s parents are not married, and only the father is Austrian, the child acquires citizenship by origin if the Austrian father either acknowledges paternity after eight weeks of the baby’s birth or if the paternity is acknowledged or proven by the court.

In these cases, when the child has parents of different citizenships, Austria allows for dual citizenship.

Whereas in a naturalisation process, the child will need to give up their other passports to become Austrian, if they have an Austrian mother and a British father, for example, they can keep both, according to Austrian law.

What can I do if I want my child to be a dual citizen?

One thing many parents do if they want their child to become Austrian and keep another citizenship is naturalising themselves before the baby is born.

The parent who naturalises Austrian will lose his or her previous citizenship, but the child will then be born to an Austrian and a foreign parent and therefore be entitled to inherit and keep both.

READ ALSO: How can I apply for dual citizenship in Austria?

For example, two American parents living in Austria could have an American-Austrian child if one of them naturalises before the baby’s birth. Provided, of course, they themselves fulfil the criteria for naturalisation.

A child could even hold multiple nationalities if they were all “by blood”

The child of a Brazilian-Italian father and an Austrian mother, for example, would be entitled to all three passports. They would not need to lose any citizenship – not even when turning 18.

Austria provides for loss of citizenship in just a few cases, though, including when a person voluntarily joins another country’s military service.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Am I eligible for Austrian citizenship?

How much does it cost?

Austrian citizenship is not easy to get. Besides the difficulty to fulfil criteria, and the need to renounce other citizenships, it is one of the more costly processes in the EU.

The application itself costs around € 130, and you can expect to pay between €1,100 and € 1,500 if you are granted citizenship.

That is only for the process itself, which does not include any legal assistance you might procure or the translation and certification of documents.

READ MORE: How much does it cost to become an Austrian citizen?

Follow-up costs, like for the actual passport, are also not included. Don’t worry, though. For this sort of cash, Austria takes credit cards.

Useful vocabulary

Staatsbürgerschaft – citizenship
minderjährige Personen – minors
Voraussetzungen – prerequisites
bestimmten Zeitraum – specific period of time
Nachweis von DeutschKenntnissen – Proof of knowledge of German

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For members

AUSTRIAN TRADITIONS

Why Nikolaustag is celebrated before Christmas – and where to see him in Austria

Each December 6th, children in Austria celebrate 'St. Nikolaus Day'. But why does the Santa look-alike come so early and why do all the children place their shoes outside their front doors the evening before?

Why Nikolaustag is celebrated before Christmas - and where to see him in Austria

Is Nikolaus the same as Santa Claus?

Though they have similar outfits, Nikolaus (also known as Nikolo) is not to be confused with Santa Claus, who is not a figure of Austrian Christmas celebrations. Many religious families focus more on Nikolaus earlier in December to ensure that Christmas is actually about Jesus’ birth and not presents from an Americanised and commercialised Santa.

Who is Nikolaus, then?

Each year on December 6th, Austrians (and Germans) remember the death of Nicholas of Myra (now the Anatolia region of modern Turkey), who died on that day in 346. He was a Greek Christian bishop known for miracles and giving gifts secretly and is now the patron saint of little children, sailors, merchants and students.

READ ALSO: Austrian Christmas traditions: The festive dates you need to know

Why do children set their shoes out on the night of December 5th? 

The custom began because the historical St. Nicholas had a reputation for leaving secret gifts, such as coins, in people’s shoes overnight. Kids traditionally put out their boots, though shoes or stockings will suffice for those without boots.

And the boots have to be polished first?

Definitely. Dirty boots are unacceptable. Children polish their shoes to show they’ve been good. They usually place just one boot outside their door, so they don’t appear too greedy, though.

What do naughty children get?

This depends on different family traditions. Sometimes Nikolaus only leaves a switch (of wood) in the boot, ostensibly for spankings, to show that the child doesn’t deserve a treat. In other families, a man disguised as St. Nicholas will visit the family or the child’s school alone or with his sinister-looking alter ego, Knecht Ruprecht, to question the children about their behaviour.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Austria in December 2022

What does his outfit look like?

He is usually pictured with a long white beard, a bishop’s mitre and a red cloak, sometimes with a sack over his shoulder and a rod in his hand.

Does Nikolaus come again on Christmas Eve, then?

No. There is no Santa Claus or Father Christmas in Austria. Instead, it is the “Christkind” (literally Christ Child, or baby Jesus) who brings the presents on Christmas eve.

He looks much like a Cherubin and children are told that he brings the presents, rings a bell and lights up the Christmas tree. 

The whole experience may seem curious to those watching for the first time: kids are lured into a separate room and the adults run to get gifts from the secret hiding places, set up the scene, turn on the tree lights and turn off other lights. Some then ring a small bell and the children are surprised to learn that they barely missed the winged baby who brought all the gifts.  

READ ALSO: 8 things to know if you’re visiting Austria in December

Where can I see St Nikolaus?

Many cities organise walks and parades with St. Nikolaus, so it’s not uncommon to see him on his day or around it. For example, in Vienna, the city promotes the St. Nikolaus visits to markets. This is where you can find him:

On December 6th:

10-11 am Rochusmarkt, 1030 Wien

10-11 am Viktor-Adler-Markt, 1100 Wien

11:30-12:30 Naschmarkt, 1060 Wien

11:30-12:30 Hannovermarkt, 1200 Wien

01-2 pm Meidlinger Markt, 1120 Wien

01-2 pm Brunnenmarkt, 1160 Wien

02:30-3:30 pm Floridsdorfer Markt, 1210 Wien

02:30-3:30 pm Meiselmarkt, 1150 Wien

On December 7th:

01-2 pm: Vorgartenmarkt, 1020 Wien

02:30-3:30 pm  Karmelitermarkt, 1020 Wien

02:30-3:30 pm Kutschkermarkt, 1180 Wien

04-5 pm Volkertmarkt, 1020 Wien

 On December 15th:

02-03 pm: Matznermarkt, 1140 Wien

Frohen Nikolaustag!

READ ALSO: What are Austria’s last posting dates for Christmas 2022?

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