Lebanese nationality law

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Lebanese Citizenship is the status of being a citizen of the Republic of Lebanon and it can be obtained by birth or naturalisation.

The Lebanese nationality is transmitted by paternity (father) (see Jus sanguinis). Therefore, a Lebanese man who holds Lebanese citizenship can automatically confer citizenship to his children and foreign wives (only if entered in the Civil Acts Register in the Republic of Lebanon). Under the current law, descendants of Lebanese emigrants can only receive citizenship from their father and women cannot pass on citizenship neither to their children nor foreign spouses.[1] There is also no right of return for the millions of people of Lebanese ancestry worldwide. However, on 12 November 2015, the Parliament of Lebanon approved a draft law that would allow "foreigners of Lebanese origin to reclaim their lost Lebanese citizenship"[2] as the previous law stipulated that only those whose fathers hold the Lebanese citizenship are eligible for it.

Rights and responsibilities of Lebanese citizens

Rights of citizens

Citizens of the Republic of Lebanon by law have the legal right to:

  • Live freely in the Republic of Lebanon without any immigration requirements
  • Gain access to free education covering primary, secondary and university education
  • Receive all health-care benefits at any public health institution
  • Participate in the Lebanese political system
  • Benefit from the privileges of the free trade market agreements between the Republic of Lebanon and many Arab countries
  • Get exempted from taxes with no condition of reciprocity
  • Own and Inherit property and values in The Republic of Lebanon
  • Enter to and exit from the Republic of Lebanon through any port
  • Travel to and from other countries in accordance with visa requirements
  • Seek consular assistance and protection abroad by the Republic of Lebanon through Lebanese embassies and consulates abroad

Responsibilities of citizens

All Lebanese citizens are required by law, when forced by the Lebanese government, to bear arms on behalf of the Republic of Lebanon, to perform noncombatant service in the Lebanese Armed Forces, and to perform work of national importance under civilian direction.

The code

The code covering the Lebanese nationality was issued in 1926.

Dual nationality

According to the Federal Office for Migration, there has been no restriction on multiple citizenship in The Republic of Lebanon since 1 January 1926. Thus, foreigners who acquire Lebanese citizenship and Lebanese citizens who voluntarily acquire another citizenship keep their previous citizenship (subject to the laws of the other country), as was the case before that date.

Since many nationality laws now allow both parents to transmit their nationality to their common child (and not only the father, as used to be often the case), many children automatically acquire multiple citizenship at birth. However, the Federal Office for Migration specially notes that this has not resulted in any practical problems worth mentioning. Military service, the most likely problem to arise, is usually done in the country where the applicant resides at the time of conscription.

Acquisition of Lebanese Citizenship

Jus sanguinis

A child is Lebanese at birth if:

  • He/She is the child of a married couple of whom the father is a Lebanese citizen
  • He/She is the child of a Lebanese father not married to the mother if the link of paternity has been declared

Simplified naturalization by virtue of marriage

A foreign wife married to a Lebanese citizen may apply for Lebanese citizenship by facilitated naturalization after having been married for at least one year and their marraige has been entered in the Civil Acts Register in the Republic of Lebanon since then. No language test is required, but the spouse must show the following:

  • Integration into the Lebanese way of life; and
  • Compliance with the Lebanese rule of law; and
  • No danger to the Republic of Lebanon's internal or external security

It is also possible for the foreign wife of a Lebanese citizen to apply for facilitated naturalization while resident overseas after the following:

  • One year of marriage to a husband who is a Lebanese citizen; and
  • Close ties to the Republic of Lebanon

Birth in the Republic of Lebanon

Birth in the Republic of Lebanon does not in itself confer Lebanese citizenship. Therefore, Jus soli does not apply

Loss of Lebanese citizenship

Loss due to cessation of paternity

A child whose Lebanese citizenship depends on paternal links loses citizenship when those are cut.

Loss due to adoption

A Lebanese child adopted by foreign parents is considered to have lost Lebanese citizenship.

Annulled adoptions

Where a former Lebanese citizen lost citizenship due to adoption by foreign parents and that adoption is later annulled, the Lebanese citizenship is considered to never have been lost.

Loss due to birth abroad

A Lebanese citizen born abroad to a Lebanese father and holding at least one other nationality loses the Lebanese citizenship at age 25 if:

  • She/He has never been announced to the Lebanese authorities, or
  • She/He has never written to the Lebanese authorities expressing her/his desire to retain Lebanese citizenship, or
  • She/He (or her/his guardians) have never sought to procure Lebanese identity documents for her/him, i.e. a passport or an identity card
  • Equally, the child of a person who thus loses Lebanese nationality equally loses Lebanese nationality
  • Exceptionally, a person who has been prevented, against their will, from taking the necessary actions to retain Lebanese citizenship may undertake the required actions within a delay of 1 year following the cessation of such delays

Dual Citizenship

Even though Lebanese nationality law permits multiple citizenship, a Lebanese national who also holds another country's citizenship may be required to renounce the foreign citizenship, under the foreign country's nationality law. A dual Lebanese-Japanese national must, for instance, make a declaration of choice, to the Japanese Ministry of Justice, before turning 22, as to whether he or she wants to keep the Lebanese or Japanese citizenship.


There is a public demand for giving the opportunity for Lebanese women to transmit their Lebanese nationality to their children and also to their husbands.[3][4] Moreover, the Lebanese citizenship to be given to the 8-14 million diaspora of Lebanese living all over the world.[5][6]

On 7 November 2015, Gebran Bassil, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, "refused to compromise on a draft law that would grant citizenship to the descendants of Lebanese expatriates by expanding it to include the foreign spouses and children of Lebanese women".[7]

On 11 November 2015, the Lebanese Parliament and Free Patriotic Movement member Ibrahim Kanaan stated that the ministers have agreed to pass a "10-article draft law titled “The Reacquisition of Lebanese Citizenship to the Descendants of Lebanese Emigrants,” to grant those of Lebanese origin the nationality on the basis of certain procedures and legal pathways.[8][9]

On 12 November 2015, the Lebanese Parliament approved a raft of draft laws Thursday, including a law allowing foreigners of Lebanese origin to get citizenship.[10]

Draft Law for descendants of Lebanese[11][12]

Article I Every natural person who meets one of the two eligibility requirements has the right to reclaim his/her Lebanese nationality.

  • 1- If the records of the 1921 census at the Ministry of the Interior and Municipalities, and the records of emigration clearly indicate that he/she or any direct paternal ancestral/predecessors or next of kin to the fourth degree were present in the Republic of Lebanon, as registered by the 1921 census records at the Ministry of the Interior and Municipalities (that will prove the emigration to a direct paternal/ancestral predecessor.
  • 2- If he/she or the above mentioned ancestral predecessors or next of kin were naturalized as Lebanese citizens according to the law of naturalization promulgated in January 19, 1925, and has neglected to claim or reclaim his/her citizenship. In other words, most emigrants required little more than their emigration papers that listed origins, which luckily were preserved in Beirut.[13][14]

Article II This draft intends to verify the “actual presence of Lebanese relatives in the town, village or neighborhood,” which an individual would claim, including the degree of kinship, along with any ownership/holding of rights to real property that may have been “devised, bequeathed, or inherited from a Lebanese citizen.”

Once approved, and according to article 8, a successful candidate for citizenship would take the following oath of allegiance before an ambassador or Consul-General (if overseas), or before the court of competent jurisdiction where his/her records are present in the Republic of Lebanon.

I swear by Almighty God that I have decided to reclaim my Lebanese nationality entirely of my own free will

Although bureaucratic in nature, this aspect of the proposed law was meant to encourage associations with the land, a defining feature of Lebanese nationality. Where one traced his/her roots were deemed vital that, again, added a specific feature to the proposed law. The draft law would allow grandchildren of Lebanese paternal grandfathers to apply for citizenship. The latest draft law would help Lebanese expatriates take part in future Lebanese parliamentary elections by voting at Lebanese embassies abroad. The number of Lebanese living outside the country is thought to at least double the number of citizens living inside,[15] which means at least 8 million people.

See also


  1. Bassil promises to ease citizenship for expatriates
  2. [1]
  3. Saseen Kawzally (28 April 2009). "Lebanese women sue for naturalization rights".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Nadine Moawad (7 March 2010). "The Lebanese Nationality Law Will Pass Today!".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "The Lebanese Diaspora". 2 October 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. [2]
  7. [3]
  8. [4]
  9. https://www.annahar.com/article/283138-%D9%83%D9%86%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%81%D9%82%D9%86%D8%A7-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%82%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AD-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%86%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A9
  10. [5]
  11. https://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2015/Nov-13/322862-parliament-passes-army-citizenship-food-bills.ashx
  12. http://gulfnews.com/news/mena/lebanon/lebanon-contemplates-a-new-citizenship-law-1.1621325
  13. Adib Ferzli (15 December 2011). "Translation of the Draft Law that Extends the Reacquisition of Lebanese Citizenship to the Descendants of Lebanese Emigrants" (PDF). line feed character in |title= at position 92 (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Guita Hourani (28 December 2011). "New Lebanese Draft Law Extends the Reacquisition of Lebanese Citizenship to the Descendants of Lebanese Emigrants".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Bassil promises to ease citizenship for expatriates

External links