Mag. Balazs Esztegar LL.M.
Attorney-at-law Vienna

Piaristengasse 41/10
1080 Vienna, Austria
Tel. +43 1 997 4102
Fax +43 1 997 4102-99

Austrian citizenship lost despite retention permit

A native-born Austrian who has been living in Thailand for many years wanted to take on Thai citizenship, but did not want to lose his Austrian citizenship. Despite a timely application for retention of citizenship and a positive decision on retention, something came up that he could not have expected: The death of the Thai king heralded a year of mourning, so that his application for citizenship was not processed within the retention period of two years. In an interview with the "Kurier", however, he also tells of considerable delays on the part of the Austrian authorities.

Werner K. has lived in Thailand for over 30 years. He has family there and is active in business. He already had a permanent residence permit, now he wanted to acquire Thai citizenship.

According to Sec. 27 of the Citizenship Act,

citizenship shall be lost by anyone who acquires a foreign citizenship on the basis of his or her application, declaration or express consent, unless he or she has previously been granted retention of citizenship."

Werner K. knew this. However, because he did not want to lose his Austrian citizenship, he applied in good time beforehand for approval to retain his Austrian citizenship.

As he has successfully promoted Austrian economic interests in Thailand for many years, Werner K. was granted retention in April 2015. The granting of retention of citizenship is valid for a period of 2 years. Within this period, the foreign citizenship must be acquired. Werner K. therefore immediately submitted the application in Thailand and waited.

In October 2016, King Bhumibol of Thailand died and the whole country fell into a year of mourning. However, the granting of citizenship has to be signed by the King personally, so there was an unexpected delay in the granting procedure.

Werner K. informed the Austrian authorities and submitted a new application in time so as not to run out of the 2-year deadline. However, this application has not been approved to date. In the meantime, the year of mourning was coming to an end and the new king signed the granting of Thai citizenship. By this time, however, the original two years had expired.

As a result of the granting of Thai citizenship, the Austrian-born lost his Austrian citizenship. In this situation, he turned to lawyer Balazs Esztegar for advice. The "Kurier" reported on the case in the issue of 01.06.2018 (print and online).