I was granted my ZdVdöS (my abbreviation rather than MA35’s) at the end of April and asked my case officer about the next steps. For her the issue was to prove that I and my son have put in to renounce our British citizenship and to submit the necessary proof of having done so, to then trigger the next stage.
All sounds quite simple, but the paper chase was not yet done and dusted. My son, as a minor has no automatic right to be able to renounce his citizenship under the British Nationality Act of 1981 – that right being reserved to those aged 18 years or over (unless one marries or enters into a civil partnership before the age of 18, at which point one is assumed to have reached majority). At the age of two that is obviously not a possibility.
Section 12 Renunciation.
(1) If any British citizen of full age and capacity makes in the prescribed manner a declaration of renunciation of British citizenship, then, subject to subsections (3) and (4), the Secretary of State shall cause the declaration to be registered.
(2) On the registration of a declaration made in pursuance of this section the person who made it shall cease to be a British citizen.
(3) A declaration made by a person in pursuance of this section shall not be registered unless the Secretary of State is satisfied that the person who made it will after the registration have or acquire some citizenship or nationality other than British citizenship; and if that person does not have any such citizenship or nationality on the date of registration and does not acquire some such citizenship or nationality within six months from that date, he shall be, and be deemed to have remained, a British citizen notwithstanding the registration.
(4)The Secretary of State may withhold registration of any declaration made in pursuance of this section if it is made during any war in which Her Majesty may be engaged in right of Her Majesty’s government in the United Kingdom.
(5)For the purposes of this section any person who has been married or has formed a civil partnership, shall be deemed to be of full age.
The other circumstance under which I can renounce on my son’s behalf is in the case that he is “not of full capacity” to do so, but the definition of “of full capacity” under Section 50 Subsection 11
(11)For the purposes of this Act—
(a) a person is of […] of full capacity if he is not of unsound mind;
My son is a normal two year old with typical interests of someone of his peer group, namely biscuits, milk, playgrounds, trains, dogs, cats, rabbits and songs and stories.
Over the last few weeks I have been actively pursuing the avenues that I need to in order to get over this hurdle:
Firstly I sought the advice of the Consular Division of the British Embassy in Vienna. I know the staff well from previous involvement with the British Benevolent Fund in Austria, but they could not help other than to confirm what I already knew, since competence has been removed from the Consular Department in such issued and reverted to the Home Office (the bastion of record keeping and pragmatic sense). This answer was confirmed at an event on Citizens Rights with a speech by a policy advisor from DExEU at the British Embassy, from the questions I asked.
I sought the advice of the Consular Division of the Austrian Embassy in London – who apart from not being able to help much, again the issue of a lack of competence (my question was couched as how does an Austrian citizen go about revoking British citizenship for a minor, when British Law does not permit this), offered the sensible advice to fire off the RN forms for us both and then to use the revocation of the renunciation form for my son as the wherewithal to advise about the Unzumutbarkeit of his renouncing his British citizenship, which is after all only passive (by descent) and which he cannot pass on without naturalising himself. She also thought that my argument that it would be irresponsible for me as my son’s legal guardian to not ensure that he holds the citizenship of at least one of his parents (and since he cannot hold Russian Citizenship if his mother renounces her Russian Citizenship, that means he should hold the citizenship that I hold (as has always been the case)).
I re-read and re-read the Guide to Form RN, and then drafted a very lengthy letter, explaining the relatively complicated circumstances behind a happy little British toddler’s citizenship and circumstances, living in a leafy suburb of Vienna. I explained about the reasoning behind my naturalisation (necessity for professional reasons) and that my son would not be in a position to have naturalised through my wife / his mother, and had had no claim to Austrian citizenship by birth (with Austria applying lex sanguinis rather than lex sole).
Renouncing British citizenship appears to be as simple as submitting Form RN (a six page form – the first four pages are the form you submit to the Home Office; pages five and six are what you get back from the Home Office to confirm the renunciation of your British Citizenship). A read of the Guide shows that there is a bit more to it. As I was submitting the form to be able to subsequently gain Austrian citizenship with my son, I also needed to submit the Bescheid (ZdVdöS), issued (EUR 43.99) with legal effect at the end of April, which needed to be apostilled (EUR 17.20 at City Hall) and then a certified translation done (cost approx. EUR 140 incl. the stamping fee (Stempelgebühr) along with supporting documentation.
In the case of my renunciation, I just had to a copy of my birth certificate, copies of my passport information pages, whereas for my son’s, I had to add the covering letter, my birth certificate and his (to prove that I was his legal guardian), his and my passport information pages and a payment slip for each renunciation with details of how we would pay the £372 for each renunciation – fortunately for some things in life there is MasterCard*.
[Note: * or another credit card, debit card, or a cheque].
My application was countersigned, and I countersigned my son’s (since I am his legal guardian and was having to explain why it was in his interests to renounce his British citizenship (ie. to allow him to take up his award of Austrian citizenship).
The mass of papers was 36 pages – which I copied and scanned, with the scanned PDF being sent to my case officer to trigger the next step with MA35, since I have now satisfied them of my initiation of steps to renounce my British citizenship. I then arranged for my forms to be couriered by UPS (costs from EUR 30 – 100 depending on urgency and value of the contents – I valued the envelope as the cost of replacing the documents, with sworn translations, apostilles etc.) to Liverpool, and dropped them off at Mail Boxes Etc close to my office, during a break from work. I walked back to the office, listening to Bocelli and Brightman’s Time to Say Goodbye.
Subject to the beneficence of the Secretary of State at the Home Office or that of an underling, hopefully the long journey is coming to a close. Now to go and get learning the Bundeshymne. Watch this space.