Romanian Passport – The Most Comprehensive Guide
This article summarizes the most accurate high-quality information that will help you know if you are eligible for Romanian citizenship and a European passport, and how to obtain this passport if you are eligible. The following contains a concise orderly explanation of the eligibility stages for the various types of candidates.
The article also describes the ancient and recent history of the Jewish community in Romania. Romanian Jews have been an integral part of the country for many centuries. At its peak, before the outset of World War II, the Jewish population of Romania numbered over 750,000 individuals.
Today, most of the Romanian diaspora lives in other parts of the world, such as Israel, the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, and South Africa. Most Romanian descendants don’t know that they are entitled to Romanian citizenship.
Our law firm specializes in Romanian immigration law. We can help you understand how to obtain Romanian citizenship in the surest, most efficient, most professional way. Our firm works on a daily basis with the authorities in Romania and, in addition, with local Romanian archives, which help us to locate old documents and determine eligibility.
Introduction – The History of the Jews in Romania
Documented Jewish history in Romania begins almost two thousand years ago. However, first notable mentions began to appear in the 14th century, after a massive wave of immigration of refugees from the Kingdom of Hungary who were persecuted in their country. The community closed in on itself as is usual in Eastern European regions, and made almost no contact with the rest of the Jewish communities.
In the 16th century, Jews that were expelled from Spain came to Romania through various Balkan countries such as Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, and more. These took part in local key positions, when they were appointed to be diplomats and doctors of the local Wallachian rulers. The reason for their arrival was due to Romania’s location on the trade route between the Ottoman Empire and the United Kingdom of Poland-Lithuania. Jews expelled from Spain became rich in Romania and traded in a wide range of products such as iron, cotton, and grain, and they especially excelled in wine trade.
Considerable population growth occurred in the 16th century. During this period, there was massive Jewish settlement in many cities such as Bucharest, Iași, Siret, and Botoșani. At the same time, their numbers increased even more exponentially in the 17th century – a time when tens of thousands of refugees flocked to the country as a result of the Khmelnytsky uprising and the Cossack riots that accompanied it. The riots destroyed many Jewish settlements in present-day Moldova and Ukraine.
Following the above-mentioned period, the community grew in strength and also began to be known in the Torah world due to its Jewish scholars. Books of Rabbinical interpretation, Musar, and commentaries on the Jewish sages were written by rising prodigies in the community, became known in other places, as well, and reached Western Europe, the Middle East, the Maghreb, and other distant lands.
Historical Background of Romania – Eligibility for Romanian Citizenship
The Romanian state gained its independence in 1878, when several regional principalities named Wallachia, Transylvania, and Moldavia united. The establishment of the state provoked much interest among the Romanian leaders and laymen regarding the “Jewish question.” What would be the status of Romanian Jews from a legal and national perspective?
These questions aroused a patriotic fervor among the people, who had just gained independence after many struggles against the forces of the Ottoman army. The unification of the newly established state instilled a spirit of hostility in the people of Romania toward “foreigners”. After years of wars and distress, an atmosphere of national pride and hatred toward the “dangerous” stranger developed.
These led to harassment and anti-Jewish riots, since the Jews were immediately suspected of being a fifth column operating against national interests. As a result, many Jews began to pack and look for an alternative place in enlightened Western Europe, the United States, Canada, and other countries.
Today, many descendants of Jews who fled at that time (late 19th and early 20th century) are eligible for a Romanian passport if they can prove by official documents that, at some point, their ancestors held Romanian citizenship or lived in Romania after it gained independence in 1878.
Descendants of World War II Refugees Are Eligible
Due to World War II and its tragic consequences, some 400,000 Romanian Jews were murdered in extermination camps operated by Nazi supporters. The exterminations took place in the frontier areas of the northeastern part of the country, under the dictatorship of Ion Antonescu.
Hundreds of thousands of remaining refugees fled to many different countries and, today, the vast majority of descendants are eligible for a Romanian-European passport if they can prove a past family connection to the original Romanian family member, as mentioned above.
This must be done by presenting official documents issued by the Romanian government in the past, or by a recognized Romanian body in Romania such as a hospital, school, university, community center, etc. These documents will serve as proof that your family has a connection to the Romanian state.
The war left tens of thousands of Jews homeless, as well as widowed, with no family, orphaned, and sick, seeking refuge in any country that would agree to accept them. Conversely, masses of Jews were left penniless and without economic means to leave Romania. This was one of the reasons that a large number of Jews chose to immigrate to Israel after the Holocaust.
The Updated Law Regulation from 1991
In 1989 the country left the bloc of Eastern European communism and began an accelerated process of democratization, national industrialization, and a policy of capitalism similar to that existing in developed Western countries. In March 1991, the Romanian Parliament passed the new nationality law that replaced the old one.
How is the new nationality law different from the old one? The new nationality law is considered more flexible and is based on jus sanguinis (“right of blood”). Under this law, citizenship is automatically transferred from parent to offspring regardless of the place of birth of the offspring. This contrasts with the old law, which was based on jus soli (“right of soil”), according to which citizenship was determined by the place of birth of the offspring.
General Information About Eligibility and Naturalization
The Romanian law of return allows individuals born in Romania to obtain citizenship or restore it if it was lost. However, descendants of former Romanian citizens may obtain citizenship under specific conditions, as detailed below. The term “descendants” under Romanian nationality law refers to both biological and adopted descendants.
The process of obtaining citizenship does not require that the parents and / or grandparents be alive. In addition, unlike a large number of foreign citizenships that do not allow “skipping generations” – when it comes to Romanian citizenship, generations may be skipped when passing citizenship to a younger generation, from grandfather to grandson.
How long does it take to obtain Romanian citizenship? There is no fixed length of time for the naturalization process, because it depends on internal proceedings in Romania. The average waiting time is about three years and, in some cases, two years. However, the process never takes longer than about four years.
Eligibility for Romanian Citizenship – Naturalization Process
According to the Romanian nationality law that was passed in March 1991, Romanian citizenship is approved if at least one of the three following conditions takes place. The first condition for obtaining citizenship refers to the children of Romanian citizens:
The Romanian regulations stipulate that a descendant of a Romanian citizen shall be recognized as Romanian in any of the following cases:
- In accordance with Section 5 of the citizenship law: A child born to a Romanian who currently holds Romanian citizenship will be recognized as a Romanian citizen even if born outside the borders of Romania. The length of the process of obtaining citizenship under this section ranges between one and two years.
- In accordance with Section 10 of the citizenship law: Children and also grandchildren of Romanian citizens born within the current borders of the state will be able to legally become citizens. This also includes cases in which the Romanian ancestor no longer holds Romanian citizenship.
- In accordance with Section 11 of the citizenship law: This section expands the range of eligibility to include great grandchildren of the original eligibility holder. The Section also refers to birth in the territory of “Greater Romania,” that is – the ancient broader borders, which contain the territories of Transylvania, Bukovina and Bessarabia. Currently, these territories belong to other countries such as Hungary, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Poland, and former Yugoslavia. If your grandparents were born in these areas, you are officially eligible to apply for Romanian citizenship.
Descendants of Romanian Citizens from Within the Borders of Present-Day Romania
This section aims to reinforce and clarify the above points.
If your parents or grandparents have lost their Romanian citizenship, you are still eligible for a Romanian passport. If you are the grandchild or child of a person born within the borders of present-day Romania, but one of the parents or grandparents has lost his Romanian citizenship due to immigration, you may legally restore the citizenship in accordance with Section 10 of the law. In this case, both children and grandchildren are eligible, as stated above.
Moreover, under Section 10 of the law, you will not be asked to renounce your additional citizenship in order to obtain Romanian citizenship. In addition, you will not have to reside in Romania in order to acquire citizenship under this section of the law.
Descendants of Romanian Citizens from Within the Borders of “Greater Romania”
In the period between the world wars, Romania controlled a much more extensive territory than it does today. During this period, regions such as Bukovina, Transylvania, and Bessarabia formed a unified part of the historic state now called “Greater Romania.” As mentioned above, these territories now belong to countries such as Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, and former Yugoslavia.
If your ancestors were born in the said territories but unexpectedly lost their citizenship (due to the border changes that took place), know that you are entitled to Romanian citizenship under Section 11 of the law. Under this Section, candidates are entitled to restore legally lost citizenship of a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent.
How Do You Obtain Romanian Citizenship?
There are four different ways to acquire Romanian citizenship. To be recognized by the Romanian authorities as a legitimate candidate for citizenship, you must give them convincing reasons. We have compiled for you the four most common arguments that our clients use to obtain Romanian citizenship:
- Right of birth: Any child born to at least one Romanian parent is entitled to receive citizenship upon birth. This eligibility holds no matter where the child was born, in Romania or somewhere else. In addition, any child born in Romania whose parents do not have local citizenship will be recognized as eligible for Romanian citizenship.
- Right to restore citizenship: Any person who has lost his Romanian citizenship is entitled to restore it if he chooses. Also, any child or grandchild of a person who has lost his citizenship is entitled to restore it, as well.
- Right of adoption: Citizenship is granted to any child who is considered to be adopted according to Romanian law. However, this is only the case if the adoptive parents are Romanian citizens. If only one parent is a Romanian citizen, the child is still eligible for citizenship.
- Right of acquisition based on an application: Citizenship will be granted to a foreign citizen or a person without citizenship, provided that he meets one of the following three sections:
- He was born in Romania and currently lives there.
- He has lived in Romania for at least eight years.
- He has lived in Romania and been married to a Romanian citizen for at least five years.
However, there are a number of conditions that may shorten the naturalization process and reduce it by half, such as:
- If the candidate is an internationally recognized figure;
- If the candidate has obtained refugee status;
- If the candidate has invested a sum of money in Romania in excess of one million euros;
- If the candidate is a citizen of one of the member states of the European Union (EU).
- There is another condition, which is rare – if the candidate has contributed to the promotion of Romanian culture.
Basic Conditions for Obtaining Romanian Citizenship
This section expands upon the previous section. In addition to the information mentioned in the above sections, there are several additional conditions that can help you find out whether or not you are eligible for citizenship:
- If you are at least 18 years of age;
- If you have sufficient sources of income to support yourself in Romania.
- If you have never committed criminal acts against Romania or caused harm to public safety in Romania.
- If you do not have a local criminal record and have not been convicted of criminal offenses.
- If you know the Romanian constitution and can recite the national anthem.
- If you speak the Romanian language adequately and have a basic knowledge of the Romanian culture. Important note: the language and culture tests are at a relatively advanced level. Therefore, it is advisable to take language courses ahead of time to help improve your level of expression, as detailed below.
Stages of Obtaining Romanian Citizenship – Romanian Passport – The Most Comprehensive Guide
Most people who want to receive a Romanian passport do so through a process called “restoring citizenship.” In this process, you are first required to check if your parents or grandparents have been Romanian citizens in the past. After that, you must check whether they renounced their Romanian citizenship or whether it was canceled by the Romanian authorities at any point.
Obtaining citizenship based on family connections – Once you discover that one of your family members has even distant Romanian family connections, you must obtain formal evidence of this, which must then be brought before the Romanian authorities.
Preparation of the paperwork – As with any civil–legal process carried out in accordance with the provisions of the law, all the required paperwork and documents must be provided. Documents such as a passport, good conduct certificate, and civil status documents of your Romanian relatives (birth / marriage / death / name change, etc.) are required, as well as a written statement and proof of past citizenship loss.
Submission of the application – After collecting all the necessary documents and preparing the application, it must be submitted to the Romanian authorities. The authorities then consider the reasons for the application and decide whether to approve it, based on the evidence of a Romanian family connection.
Checking the status of your application – You can check the status of your application using the registration number attached to it on the Romanian Ministry of Interior website. If the application does not conflict with local requirements, the President of Romania will issue a declaration confirming your citizenship. The declaration will be sent to you by post.
Obtaining a citizenship certificate – Within six months from the moment the application is approved, you will have to swear allegiance to the Romanian state at the consulate headquarters. After the oath ceremony, a citizenship certificate will be issued. Next, you will need to officially register your civil status. Once you have successfully completed these steps, you are officially a Romanian citizen.
Is It Possible to Hold Dual Citizenship?
According to the Romanian citizenship law enacted in 1991, Romanian citizens may hold a dual citizenship. In fact, Romanian citizens who apply for a dual citizenship are not even required to live in Romania or officially become Romanian residents, and they enjoy the same rights as residents with a single citizenship.
However, the Romanian policy regarding dual citizenship is not necessarily the same as in other countries. This means that foreign citizens who wish to become Romanian citizens must make sure that they also meet the requirements of their own country regarding dual citizenship. There were cases where applicants were able to restore Romanian citizenship but, as a result, lost their former citizenship. Obviously, the Romanian state does not bear responsibility for the loss of a foreign citizenship due to providing dual citizenship.
How Do You Prove Eligibility?
The answer to this question is mentioned implicitly throughout the current article. Here, we wish to emphasize the issue and address it more broadly by clarifying the conditions for acquiring citizenship and the simplicity of the process.
To prove eligibility, you must present formal documents concerning the Romanian citizen with whom you have family connections. This includes documents such as a marriage certificate, birth certificate, diploma, military document, hospital document, or any other document that officially proves a connection to Romania in the past.
If you do not have an official document, use the help of a proficient lawyer to search for old civil records in the Romanian archives. Over the years, the Romanian authorities have taken care to preserve old civilian documents. Therefore, in most cases it is possible to locate the necessary documents, which can then be used as evidence of your Romanian family connection and help establish your eligibility in a proven and acceptable way.
Knowledge of the Romanian Language
In addition to proving your eligibility by virtue of family connections with a Romanian citizen, you will be asked to know Romanian at a basic level, at the least. Once your application has been approved by the Romanian authorities, you will be required to go to the Romanian Consulate in Tel Aviv and pass a language test with one of the diplomats. The diplomat will ask you a few general questions, as well as questions about the Romanian state and culture. This will test your command of the language.
In addition, you must swear allegiance to the Romanian state, memorize the national anthem and recite it – in Romanian, of course. Therefore, it is advisable to take several courses in Romanian ahead of time, as stated above, to acquire basic language skills and experience.
How Much Does It Cost to Acquire Romanian Citizenship?
The price of Romanian citizenship is usually determined based on the total number of existing known documents. In other words, the cost of the process varies depending on the evidence and documentation presented by the client, in addition to the cost of genealogy services, if needed. However, the price for a group of clients may be significantly lower.
Another important point that requires attention is whether the original citizenship holder ever changed his name. In the past, many Romanian Jews changed their names when they came to Israel or any other country. Therefore, to legally reconcile the Romanian and Israeli documents, an additional cost is required.
Romanian Citizenship Advantages – Romanian Citizenship Benefits
This section addresses the many benefits of Romanian citizenship. As one of the 27 countries that make up the European Union, Romania offers a wide range of benefits to its citizens.
If you have acquired a Romanian passport, you are officially a citizen of the European Union, and enter the broad spectrum of citizens with exclusive privileges. Some of the most sought-after benefits are reserved exclusively for EU citizens. These include the opportunity to work and live in all EU countries with no time limit.
In addition, you may invest and set up a business in developing EU countries such as Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and so on. Also, in the near future Israelis will probably need a visa to fly to European countries and, if you have a European passport, this will not apply to you.
You will also be able to study at leading universities in Europe at a discounted price or even with a full subsidy, and be granted unlimited movement between the countries of the advanced continent. Another benefit is the ability to enjoy advanced medical services in various European countries – including Scandinavian ones. These are several important benefits that we have seen fit to present to you regarding the viability of obtaining a Romanian passport.
Note: Passport holders are now required to apply for visas to countries such as the United States, Russia, and Australia. However, you will have access to all countries belonging to the European Union bloc. This section expanded on Romanian citizenship rights.
Romania – General Information
Romania is a green pastoral country located in the Balkans in Eastern Europe. The country is famous for its abundant primordial nature, as well as recent accelerated economic growth. In 2007 it became an official member of the European Union confederation. Since the said year, Romania has become a very attractive target for Israelis interested in purchasing a European passport based on ancestry.
For the most part, Romania still lags behind the developed countries of Western Europe. This is evident in the old infrastructure spread across the country, old transportation, and simple clothing, as well as groups of immigrant descendants who maintain an authentic lifestyle similar to their ancestors.
However, most Israelis who decide to invest in Romania or relocate there, overwhelmingly prefer to live in major cities such as Cluj, Iași, Timișoara and, of course, the capital Bucharest. In these cities you will surely enjoy an advanced standard of living. The streets are green and the population is welcoming.
The Romanian summer is considered mild and very pleasant, with average temperatures ranging between 23 and 29 degrees Celsius in the summer. The winter, on the other hand, is considered cold, with average temperatures ranging between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius. However, keep in mind that temperatures vary between different regions.
The favorable conditions, the calmness of the country and its people, and the contrast with the pressure in Western countries are often the main factors that distinguish Romania from the rest of the European countries. The different and more patient conduct brings many Israelis to move there, in addition to the Romanian low-price policy regarding real estate, food products, and general cost of living.
However, most Israelis choose to obtain a Romanian–European passport first and foremost due to the benefits it provides, such as free travel between European states and / or a residence and work permit in advanced Western countries.
Immigration to Romania Law Offices
Our law firm specializes in immigration to Romania. We can prepare for you all the documents required for obtaining Romanian citizenship in a professional and organized manner. Our firm is in continuous contact with the Romanian authorities regarding naturalization procedures, and we can provide you with your citizenship in the most convenient and efficient way.