According to the Global Passport Index, the Lithuanian passport provides visa-free access to 125 countries. Lithuanian citizens can obtain a visa upon arrival in an additional 48 countries, and need prior entry permission in only 25 countries. This is part of the appeal of the Lithuanian passport, but there are other benefits to consider.
Lithuania is considered the happiest of the Baltic states and the country ranked 20th out of 137 countries in the 2023 Global Happiness Index. Lithuania also demonstrates impressive levels of economic freedom, ranking 14th in the EU.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) classifies Lithuania's economy as developed, and the World Bank includes it in the group of high-income countries. All of these factors make Lithuanian citizenship quite appealing, though the country's government has set rather stringent requirements in this regard.
- Grounds for Acquiring Lithuanian Citizenship
- Procedure for Obtaining Lithuanian Citizenship
- Obtaining Citizenship by Birthright
- Obtaining Citizenship by Naturalisation
- Obtaining Citizenship through Marriage
- Obtaining Citizenship on Exceptional Grounds
- Restoration of Citizenship
- Reinstatement of Citizenship
Grounds for Acquiring Lithuanian Citizenship
You can become a Lithuanian citizen on the following grounds:
- By birthright: If one parent is a Lithuanian citizen, their child automatically acquires Lithuanian citizenship. This rule applies universally, even in cases where the Lithuanian parent passes away before the child's birth.
- By naturalisation: To obtain citizenship through naturalisation, one must reside in Lithuania for at least ten years. However, this is not the sole requirement. Due to Lithuania not recognising dual citizenship, applicants must renounce their current passport when applying or, at the very least, provide a written commitment to do so.
- Through marriage: Marriage alone is not a basis for acquiring Lithuanian citizenship. It is a form of naturalisation, as obtaining a passport in this case requires mandatory residence in the country for seven years. The period is reduced to five years only for spouses of deportees, political prisoners, or their children. If a Lithuanian spouse passes away, but their surviving partner has already resided in the country for over a year, they can still apply for a passport after five years.
- By exception: In exceptional cases, the president grants citizenship to individuals who have made significant contributions to the country, such as strengthening the state's power or its international reputation. Interestingly, the passport in this case is issued solely to the deserving individual and does not extend to their family members.
- Restoration of citizenship: This pertains to the restoration of historical justice, the return of citizenship to those who had it before June 15, 1940, but lost it due to emigration or deportation. Not only those Lithuanians who were expelled from the country but also their descendants can obtain Lithuanian citizenship in this case.
- Reinstatement of citizenship: In this case, it means returning a person's lost citizenship. Citizenship can only be regained once, and not everyone is eligible. For instance, if someone obtained citizenship as an exception and later ceased to be a Lithuanian citizen for some reason, they cannot reapply for it. There are also restrictions for citizens who were previously naturalised and then lost their citizenship. Specifically, they must renounce all other passports and prove that they have lived legally and lawfully in Lithuania for the past five years. They will also need to demonstrate their financial stability.
Vilnius. Photo: Vitalijs Barilo (Unsplash)
Procedure for Obtaining Lithuanian Citizenship
If you wish to obtain Lithuanian citizenship and have found a suitable basis among those listed above, you will need to gather a set of documents and apply for citizenship. To do this, register with the Lithuanian Migration Information System (MIGRIS) and submit an electronic application. The procedure is the same in all cases, with minor variations depending on the basis.
You should submit the application online. After that, within no later than three or four months, you must visit either the Migration Department or the consular section in person and provide originals or notarised copies of the documents.
Obtaining Citizenship by Birthright
As previously noted, a child becomes a citizen of Lithuania regardless of their place of birth if at least one of the parents holds Lithuanian citizenship. However, there are additional details that should be considered.
For children born after April 1, 2011 (the date the Citizenship Law came into effect), citizenship is registered together with the birth certificate. Children born before this date but not holding citizenship from another country are also Lithuanian citizens.
However, if a child holds citizenship of another country, the process of obtaining Lithuanian citizenship becomes a bit more complex. In this case, the procedure for acquiring Lithuanian citizenship will vary depending on the date of birth: there are separate procedures for those born before July 22, 2008, and those born between July 23, 2008 and April 1, 2011. You can find further details on the MIGRIS website. Such children can obtain Lithuanian nationality upon request by their parents, without renouncing their existing citizenship. This is one of the rare exceptions to the dual citizenship rule.
You do not have to pay a state fee in this case.
Obtaining Citizenship by Naturalisation
To naturalise after ten years of residence in the country, you must first pass an examination on knowledge of the Lithuanian language and the basics of the constitution. A certificate confirms successful completion of the test. Here is how to do it:
- Start by submitting an application to the city or district education department. Within a month, they should establish an examination board consisting of at least three people.
- Afterwards, they will notify you in writing of the date and location of the examination.
- On the appointed day and time, you attend the examination, which is an oral interview. Moreover, you must demonstrate your ability to write in Lithuanian. The procedure is relatively straightforward, as the applicant is required to demonstrate minimal language skills. You will also have to answer questions about the constitution.
- If you fail the examination, you can apply again.
Exemption from this examination applies to pensioners, individuals over 65 years old, and some other residents of the country. For details, visit the Lithuanian Migration Information System website. All other people must provide a certificate of successfully passing the examination when applying for citizenship.
In addition to this, you will need:
- Permanent residence permit;
- Certificate of continuous residence in the country for ten years;
- Proof of financial stability;
- Certificate of no criminal record from your previous country of residence.
When submitting the application, you will need to sign a declaration of renouncing your national citizenship and pay a fee of €120.
It is also worth mentioning that Lithuania has a simplified procedure allowing foreigners to apply for citizenship immediately without any residency requirements. However, this is only available to individuals of Lithuanian descent who can prove it. Otherwise, the process is very similar to the one described above, except for the financial stability certificate, which is also not required under the simplified procedure.
Church of St. Anne, Vilnius. Photo: Yevheniia (Unsplash)
Obtaining Citizenship through Marriage
The procedure is identical to regular naturalisation. You will also need to register with MIGRIS, take the exam, and submit an application. The difference lies in the required documents. In addition to a passport, a residence permit, and a certificate of no criminal record, you will need to provide the following with your application:
- Marriage certificate;
- Document confirming the spouse's Lithuanian citizenship;
- Proof of residence in the country for five to seven years.
As in the previous case, you will need to fill out a form renouncing your national passport and pay a fee of €120. If your Lithuanian spouse has passed away by the time of application, you should include a death certificate with your application.
Obtaining Citizenship on Exceptional Grounds
If a foreign national believes they have made exceptional contributions to Lithuania, they can apply to MIGRIS with their passport, a certificate of no criminal record, and proof of their national citizenship. They will also need to provide evidence of their significant contribution to Lithuanian society.
Applicants must pay a state fee of €120 for applying on these grounds.
Restoration of Citizenship
This basis allows citizenship for descendants of Lithuanians who legally resided in the country before June 15, 1940, including those who were expelled or left voluntarily before March 11, 1990. An exception is moving to the territory of other Soviet republics, which is not a basis for restoring citizenship.
Given the passage of time, proving the right to a Lithuanian passport can be challenging. It is a simpler process if you have documents confirming your ancestor’s affiliation with the Lithuanian state before June 15, 1940, such as a passport, birth certificate, or military service record, among others. If these documents are not available, you will have to undertake archival research. After gathering evidence of affiliation with the country before 1940, you must submit these documents and a passport with the application. Additionally, the application package should include a certificate of expulsion (if applicable), issued by a special archive, prosecutor's office, or the Supreme Court of the Republic of Lithuania. The fee for restoring citizenship in this case will be €53.
If there are no documents confirming citizenship, the procedure will be more complex. In this case, you will need to use various types of evidence, such as documents related to education, employment, and life in Lithuania before June 15, 1940. To obtain these documents, you should send a request to the Lithuanian State Historical Archive or the office of the Chief Archivist of the country.
In this case, you will have to pay the fee of €120 for applying for citizenship restoration.
Reinstatement of Citizenship
In this case, the initial basis for obtaining citizenship determines the procedure. The fee for applying is €120. You can find specific details for each situation on the MIGRIS website in the section dedicated to Lithuanian citizenship.
In a Nutshell
A person can acquire Lithuanian citizenship either through familial ties with citizens of the country or after a lengthy period of residence there (a minimum of ten years). Marriage to a local resident shortens the mandatory residency period to seven years. You can also obtain citizenship through the reacquisition of previously held citizenship or on an exceptional basis. In all cases, applicants must go through the MIGRIS electronic services platform. Additionally, most applicants have to pass a Lithuanian language proficiency exam and will need to prove their knowledge of the country's constitution.
Cover photo: Kaunas. Paulius Andriekus (Unsplash)