Jus Sanguinis or Jus Soli – Are You a Candidate for Dual Citizenship?

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There are two major principles on which countries base their citizenship requirements: jus sanguinis (right of blood, aka jure sanguinis, by which a child acquires the nationality of his/her parents) and jus soli (the automatic and unrestricted right to citizenship by territorial birth). Your nationality may depend on the blood that courses through your veins, in what territory you took your first breath, or a combination of the two. You may be a dual citizen of a foreign country and not even know it. What better countries to start with than Ireland and Italy.

The first questions out of the mouths of most readers will be: “What does this have to do with me?” and “Why would I be interested?” Here are your answers.

If you are of Irish or Italian parentage, grandparentage, or even great-grandparentage that is provable by documentation, you may very well be eligible for dual citizenship in that country – meaning, you can obtain a passport from the country of your ancestors’ origin. Why would you want to obtain a second passport? I’ll get to that later, but for now, it’s important for you to understand the history behind the two principles of jus sanguinis, which extends the right of nationality or citizenship based on the child’s parents’ nationality, and jus soli, which extends citizenship based on which territorial jurisdiction the baby is born. Presently, the vast majority of countries use a mixture of both principles when granting or denying citizenship.

Since 2004, however, no European country recognizes just territorial birthright for unconditional birthright citizenship. The unified block of countries was solidified in 2004 when Ireland revoked its automatic right of citizenship solely by territorial birth.

To understand the difference between nationality by right of soil (jus soli) and right of blood (jus sanguinis) requires a visit to ancient Rome during mid-5th century BC, when the idea of nationality was a basic tenet of Roman Law — Ah ha! That’s why the terms are in Latin. To the Romans, an individual was first and foremost a member of a family, a tribe or a people – not just a territory.

There are multiple reasons why there is a trend toward revocation of jus soli. One such activity that has lately been the subject of much controversy is that of “citizenship tourism” or “anchor babies,” a practice whereby individuals travel to preferred countries in order to bear children in that territory. Take, for example, the Border between Mexico and the U.S. with its 330 ports of entry and 45 U.S./Mexico border crossings. Border cities especially affected by the “anchor baby” trend include San Diego, California; Douglas and Nogales, Arizona; Columbus, New, Mexico; and multiple Texas cities, such as El Paso, Laredo, Eagle Pass, and Brownsville — all of which provide portals to Mexican nationals seeking U.S. citizenship for their babies. Historically, for the babies born to women who make it across the border to deliver in the U.S., full citizenship is attained by the principle of jus soli, causing a number of U.S. lawmakers to support the abolishment of the principle of territorial birthright in the U.S.

The principle of recognizing bloodright was, at one time, the sole means of determining nationality in European countries. It is still adhered to by the majority of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Asia; however, it is now joined, in some cases, by the principle of territorial birthright. But the major practice of jus soli is observed by a minority of the world’s countries – the U.S. and Canada being among that small number.

The principle of territorial birthright in the U.S. is protected by the 14th Amendment, which states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

The similarities between Canada and the U.S. include the fact that they are part of the Americas and therefore considered the New World. They are defined as “advanced economies” by the International Monetary Fund.

The choice of European countries to go the way of birthright by blood extends not only from the desire to end “citizenship tourism,” to curb the influx of asylum seekers, but also to reclaim, to a certain extent, the millions of its citizens who fled their respective countries during various diasporas (large-scale migrations of citizens who move away from a country).

Ireland’s Diaspora during the 1840s was spurred by the Great Famine. Italy’s Diaspora began approximately around the time of the country’s unification in 1861, ending in the 1960s when Italy’s economy made a miraculous turnaround.

Those of you who are of Irish or Italian descent now understand why the countries of your ancestral origin want you back. Now you have to decide why you would want to establish citizenship in these countries. Even if you have no interest in obtaining dual citizenship, you may want to preserve the option for your descendants.

Perks to Holding Dual Citizenship

• The U.S. does not require you to renounce your U.S. citizenship if you become a dual citizen
• Irish and Italian passports allow an individual to travel freely in the European Union (EU), which comprises 27 countries
• An Irish passport entitles the holder to live and work within the EU
• Tax benefits
• Educational rights
• You can purchase property and open a bank account
• After you work in an EU country for a certain length of time, you are entitled to unemployment compensation, healthcare, and pension rights
• Cost of living may be lower than the U.S. and therefore good for retirement
• Easier to open a business

Requirements for Dual Citizenship


If either your father or mother, paternal/maternal grandmother or grandfather was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth – even if you and both parents were born outside the island of Ireland, through your Irish grandparents, you can claim citizenship. You can also claim dual citizenship through marriage. To claim Irish citizenship, you must register in the Foreign Births Register at an Irish embassy or consular office, or at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin.


You may be eligible to hold dual citizenship in Italy if your father was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth; your mother was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth, and you were born after January 1, 1948, but before April 27, 1965; your paternal grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of your father’s birth; your maternal grandmother was an Italian citizen at the time of your mother’s birth, and your mother was born after January 1, 1948; your father was born after January 1, 1948 in the U.S., and your paternal grandmother was an Italian citizen at the time of your father’s birth. Contact the Italian consulate, serving your state, to request the proper forms.

Required Documentation and Paperwork

You will have to prove your lineage by ordering applicable birth, marriage, and death certificates for your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. You may possibly have to submit copies of naturalization certificates and green cards.

If this hard document proof is readily available to you — great, you can begin the process. However, if you don’t have these records, the process of acquiring them can be daunting. . .take heart. Your best bet is to contact a top-notch genealogy ancestry service. Record Click’s international genealogical researchers are well-versed in these types of projects, and can obtain the correct record copies you may need, as well as help you through the process of achieving dual citizenship.

Arrivederci and Slán go fóill.