How long in the processing time for renunciation of British citizenship?

When I did my renunciation back in 2018 it took me 6 weeks using the paper submission of the RN1 with all supporting documents. However, others have said that doing their online has meant a considerably longer wait – many did not hear anything for six months and in one case, the renunciation papers were returned back to the Home Office as undelivered. Factoring in six months for the renunciation would mean that it is advisable to do it at latest eighteen months after gaining Austrian citizenship, although my personal belief is that it is best to press on with it as soon as possible, since the last thing I would want is for a long and strenuous procedure to be rendered null and void by a failure to get the paperwork done in time. The complications of the process “lapsing” that Uzbek and Ukrainian citizens I know have told me about are simply not worth the hassle.

How long did your naturalisation process take from start to finish?

Naturalisation timeline
Naturalisation timeline based on my experience

I had my information appointment in April 2017, and was given an appointment for the application (Antragstermin) in late October 2017. The decision confirming eligibility (Zusicherungsbescheid) came through at the end of April 2018, with the ceremony for Austrian citizenship taking place at the start of July 2018.

Do I need to also get a Personalausweis?

I chose to get a Personalausweis to not continue to have to use my passport as an identity card (as I had to as a Briton). I got it a month or so after my passport, to ensure that the two documents do not have the same expiry date. It wasn’t essential or compulsory to have one, but the use outstrips the financial outlay (ca. EUR 65 when I applied in Summer 2018).

How long did it take for your Austrian passport to be issued?

4 working days. My passport was sent for processing on the day I gained my Austrian citizenship, and I took delivery of my passport four working days later. I subsequently had a Personalausweis issued a few months later that took a similar amount of time to be issued.

Were you ever without a passport and therefore unable to travel?

No. Because of not being allowed to be stateless as naturalising from holding an EU Member State citizenship, the ceremony was held once I had proved that I had triggered the renunciation process (I sent copies of the full papers to MA35, including proof of payment), and therefore I was temporarily (for approx 2 weeks) a dual British/Austrian citizen. My Austrian passport was sent for processing on the day I gained Austrian citizenship, and I had it within four days. Until my renunciation was confirmed my British passports were still valid. I did not , however, travel with them again.

I am a British citizen and my child is born in Austria, and my partner (the child’s mother/father) is also not Austrian. Can my child claim Austrian citizenship purely by virtue of being born on Austrian soil?

No. Austria uses lex sanguinis (ie. citizenship by descent, so you are the nationality/nationalities that your parents are) and therefore you are the nationality that your parents hold. In my case, my first child was born in Austria to a Briton and a Russian, and therefore had claims to British and Russian.

We did not exercise the claim to Russian, since he would have lost Russian citizenship automatically when my wife naturalised as an Austrian, as Russians don’t allow the retention of Russian citizenship by minors of parents renouncing their Russian citizenship.

Were the child’s mother or father to be Austrian, the child can of course take Austrian citizenship (as was the case of my second and third children, who were Austrian by birth) by descent (durch Abstammung) and are treated as Austrian from birth. To note is that this also applies even if the parent through whom they have a claim to Austrian citizenship has only been naturalised shortly prior to their birth (in my case, I was an Austrian citizen for only 57 days before the twins were born).

In the event of the child’s parent through whom they have the claim to Austrian citizenship (most likely to be the father logically) dies prior to their birth, provided that at the time of death the parent was Austrian they would have a claim to Austrian citizenship.

NB: currently under British law, a child who is only British by descent (ie. my son through me, who was born in Vienna) is unable to pass on his/her British citizenship to his children by descent unless they were to be born on British soil, or in the event that they would be otherwise stateless, were this the case for both parents.

Someone I know was given Austrian citizenship by marriage, and didn’t have to give up their British citizenship. How is this allowed?

This situation is known of, and was previously allowed, and the chances are that the acquaintance is of a certain age (without wishing to sound ageist probably 70 or over) Indeed the Staatsbürgerschaftsgesetz 1965 (repealed 1984/5) stated in Article 9 that a spouse could receive Austrian citizenship by marrying an Austrian (source: Stammfassung StbG 1965…/1965_250_0/1965_250_0.pdf) without any mention of the need to give up their British citizenship. This legislation was however repealed in 1984/5 and the current version of the Staatsbürgerschaftsgesetz 1985 as amended does not contain such a provision. There was only a requirement for the marriage to be intact “am Tisch und im Bett“.

Can a British Citizen renounce their British citizenship as a minor?

No. In my son’s procedure I had a case officer insisting that he would have to, despite my submission of a commented copy of the valid consolidated version of the UK Nationality Act of 1981 in the version most recently amended. I lodged the 102 pages along with 5 pages of comments in German about the provisions that apply in his case, and paid for this to be submitted for the file. One other case officer had the temerity to ask me when I thought she or colleagues would have the time to read it. I responded with a smile that she would not have to read the 102 pages, only the five page commentary, but failing that I reminded her that ignorance of a law is not a defence when a law is broken.

In doing my renunciation, I even included a letter stating why I believed that it was in his interests to renounce his citizenship (in light of the fact that he could not pass it on without his own children being born in the UK, and that if he did not live in the UK prior to attaining majority he would not be able to vote in the UK). This letter, which appealed to the Home Secretary to exercise his/her powers to allow renunciation in my son’s best interests and permit his renunciation despite being a minor was rejected. My son’s application to renounce his British citizenship was rejected, he having taken Austrian citizenship by then and when I went to MA35 to lodge my official renunciation, the staff member conceded that I had done everything possible for my son to renounce, going over and beyond the requirement of the law, and that they accepted that he could not renounce.

Some people have asked about whether a child might have to decide at 18 which citizenship to hold. While a child naturalising can be required to choose at 18, there is a limitation of six years for how long the file can be kept open. If the child is more than six years away from reaching majority, the file will be shut before this applies.