There are two basic routes for individuals with Slovak heritage to obtain citizenship in Slovakia: citizenship by descent and citizenship based on a Slovak Living Abroad (SLA) Certificate.
Citizenship by descent (Orange route) is granted if at least one of an individual’s parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents was a Czechoslovak citizen born in the territory of the Slovak Republic. Citizenship based on an SLA Certificate (Green route) is granted to individuals who preserve national awareness and have a direct ancestor who was of Slovak nationality which is usually proven with census records.
Both routes currently require registered residency in Slovakia, with varying lengths of time required for application and approval (2-3 years). Obtaining citizenship grants wide rights in Slovakia and the European Union, and there is no residency requirement once citizenship is obtained.
The third path (Blue route) to Slovak citizenship exists for some usually whose parents were former citizens. They might be eligible for immediate certification of their citizenship.
The picture below shows three basic routes to citizenship for people with Slovak ancestors. The graphic below depicts the process for each one of them. The Orange and Green routes can be combined, e.g., first, obtain SLAC to simplify the residency permit procedure, and then apply via the Orange route.
Here are additional answers to the most typical questions.
- This article explains the length of the process. By law, it can last a maximum of 24 months, unless the authority needs to consult different […]
- This article explains who could have gained Czechoslovak citizenship. This is a complex legal question, which usually requires reviewing your particular circumstances. Here are three […]
- This article explains the difference between residency and eligibility for citizenship. The residency has its own rules. Generally, unless you are an EU citizen, you […]
- This article explains the residency requirement under Slovak citizenship by descent. Yes. Despite the political signals that this might change, the law still requires residency […]
- This article explains who qualifies for citizenship based on their Slovak ancestry. Try our online tool to find out if you are eligible. There are […]
- Do you have to physically stay in Slovakia to apply for Slovak citizenship by descent? In this article, we explain the current legal situation. By […]
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- People with Slovak heritage now have easier access to Slovak citizenship. The Slovak parliament amended the Citizenship Act and created a new path to citizenship […]
Below, we explain the top 5 questions.
1. Who exactly qualifies for citizenship by descent according to the new rules valid from April 2022?
Try our online tool to find out if you are eligible.
There are two basic routes: The Green option: for individuals with a Certificate of a Slovak Living Abroad, and the Orange option: for individuals without the SLA Certificate. Although both routes have different legal requirements for ancestors and applicants, they substantially overlap. Many people with Slovak heritage will be eligible for citizenship through both routes. However, there are cases where only one of the routes is available to applicants (eg too distant ancestors). If your goal is to gain EU citizenship, you might be eligible for Czech or Hungarian citizenship.
The Orange option concerns individuals whose parents, grandparents or great grand-parents were at some point Czechoslovak citizens and were born in today’s territory of Slovakia. The law does not require that they were citizens or lived in Czechoslovakia their entire life. The fact that they gained citizenship at any point in their life will suffice. If your ancestors do not qualify (eg because they were born outside the territory, or were not Czechoslovak citizens), you can still gain citizenship through a certificate of Slovak Living Abroad.
The Green option exists for individuals with a certificate of Slovak Living Abroad Certificate (SLAC) who can convert it into Slovak citizenship after three years of residency. In order to obtain a SLAC, you have to fulfil different requirements for ancestry. Generally, your direct ancestor must have self-identified as being of Slovak nationality. There is no explicit requirement that your ancestors were citizens, or that they ever lived in Slovakia or Czechoslovakia. But you must have proof of their self-identification, such as through census documents.
2. Is residency in Slovakia a requirement under all forms of citizenship by descent?
Despite the political signals that this might change, the law still requires residency during the application process for citizenship by descent (but exceptions might apply). However, residency does not mean a long-term stay. For instance, if the application process takes a year, a stay of approximately six months would be sufficient. During this time, you can stay in Slovakia for various reasons, ranging from studying, working, conducting business, or engaging in research during a sabbatical. SLAC holders do not have to state a purpose for their stay or residence. Once the citizenship application is successfully processed, you can de-register and leave.
We can assist you with finding local partners who could offer you a research stay, temporary employment or suggest places to study.
3. Will everyone who is eligible for citizenship by descent automatically obtain residency?
The residency has its own rules. Generally, unless you are an EU citizen, you need a justification for an application for residency (eg work, study, business, research, family reunion, etc.). Simply staying in Slovakia as a resident without any local engagement, eg for the purposes of retirement, is not possible. However, if you have a Certificate of Slovak Living Abroad (SLAC), you can gain residency in Slovakia regardless of the purpose of your stay. This is typically very useful for pensioners or those who do not wish to create deeper ties for tax or other purposes.
4. How long does the citizenship application process take?
By law, it can last a maximum of 24 months, unless the authority needs to consult different authorities on your case. During this period, all applicants must have at least temporary residence in Slovakia, which usually means they have to spend at least 183 days per year in the country. However, individuals with pre-existing residence in another EU state have a more advantageous regime. Again, exceptions might apply.
5. Who exactly qualifies as a Czechoslovak citizen?
This is a complex question, which usually requires reviewing your particular circumstances. Here are three simple rules of thumb:
- If at least one of your direct relevant ancestors (parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents) remained in Czechoslovakia after July 1920, your chances are really good.
- If at least one of your direct relevant ancestors emigrated after July 1910, your chances are still really good but the tricky part will be finding the evidence.
- Finally, if all your direct relevant ancestors emigrated before July 1910, your chances are limited and mostly confined to various exceptional situations.