What is the procedure for claiming Austrian citizenship by declaration?

A recent amendment to the Staatsbürgerschaftsverordnung 1985 covers the practical handling of acquiring citizenship by declaration, a method that allows Austrians who fled before May 1955 for reasons of persecution or their direct descendants to obtain Austrian citizenship without having to renounce British citizenship (in contrast to the conventional naturalisation procedure).

The declaration is to be made to the competent representative authority in writing or in written form, accompanied by original documents and copies of them. In the case of someone resident in Austria they make the submission through the municipal office in the Gemeinde in which they live. For persons applying from overseas, it is done through the consulate or the official representation in the country they are resident in.

The copies will be checked against the original documents and their likeness confirmed using a stamp. Documents in languages other than German may be required to be translated and made be required to be submitted as notarised copies.

Required documentation will include a valid travel document, the birth certificate of the party submitting the declaration, a current passport-sized photo, and certificates and other proof required to corroborate the declaration.

Where the declaration is for a direct descendant, further paperwork may be required to corroborate their declaration, typically:

  • proof of relationship (e.g. birth certificates, marriage certificates, papers about divorce or civil partnerships, and as necessary the dissolving of such a civil partnership).
  • proof confirming paternity, death certificates, proof of name changes, registration documents, documents about benefits, welfare measures or compensation measures under the Victims Welfare Act, documents on the restitution of seized assets under the State Treaty Implementation Act, documents on the receipt of benefits from the fund under the Assistance Fund Act.
  • Certificates, documents or other evidential means that prove that the ancestor had acquired citizenship, or would have been able to have done so.

Where it can be proven that the necessary items of documentation cannot be obtained, and the party making the declaration can be determined on the basis of other supporting documents then documents that cannot be obtained will not be required. In extreme cases investigative procedures may need to be conducted to ensure that identity can be proved indisputably. Similarly, documents may not need to be submitted in the case that the information is already held in the central citizenship register (ZSR) or similar registers, that can be inspected by the authorities.

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