Lebanese nationality law

Lebanese nationality law governs the acquisition, transmission and loss of Lebanese citizenship. Lebanese citizenship is the status of being a citizen of Lebanon and it can be obtained by birth or naturalisation. 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 wife (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 to their children or foreign spouses.[1]

Lebanese Citizenship Act
Coat of arms of Lebanon.svg
Parliament of Lebanon
  • An Act relating to Lebanese citizenship
Enacted byGovernment of Lebanon
Status: Current legislation

On 12 November 2015, the Parliament of Lebanon approved a draft law that would allow "foreigners of Lebanese origin to get citizenship."[citation needed] The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Gebran Bassil announced on 5 May 2016 the beginning of the implementation of citizenship law for Lebanese diaspora.[2][additional citation(s) needed]

Rights and responsibilities of Lebanese citizensEdit

Rights of citizensEdit

Citizens of Lebanon have by law the legal right to:

  • Live freely in 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 Lebanon and many Arab countries
  • Get exempted from taxes with no condition of reciprocity
  • Own and inherit property and values in Lebanon
  • Enter to and exit from Lebanon through any port
  • Travel to and from other countries in accordance with visa requirements
  • Seek consular assistance and protection abroad by Lebanon through Lebanese embassies and consulates abroad.

Responsibilities of citizensEdit

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

The LawEdit

The law that regulates Lebanese nationality is Decree No. 15 issued on January 15, 1925.

Acquisition of Lebanese citizenshipEdit

Jus sanguinisEdit

A child born to a Lebanese father or whose paternity has been declared acquires Lebanese citizenship by descent, irrespective of the nationality of the mother, and irrespective of her marital status.[3]

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

By marriageEdit

A foreign woman who marries a Lebanese man may apply for Lebanese citizenship after having been married for at least one year and their marriage has been entered in the Civil Acts Register in the Republic of Lebanon. No language test is required, but the wife must show integration into the Lebanese way of life, compliance with the Lebanese rule of law and that she poses no danger to Lebanon's internal or external security.

A foreign wife of a Lebanese citizen can apply for naturalization while resident overseas after one year of marriage to a husband who is a Lebanese citizen, and close ties to Lebanon.

The non-Lebanese husband cannot acquire Lebanese citizenship by marriage to a Lebanese woman.[3] It has been argued that to enable the Lebanese wife to pass Lebanese citizenship to a non-Lebanese husband would lead to a flood of Palestinians acquiring citizenship, upsetting the delicate demographics in the country.[3]

Birth in LebanonEdit

Birth in Lebanon does not in itself confer Lebanese citizenship. Therefore, jus soli does not apply.

Loss of Lebanese citizenshipEdit

Article 8 of Decree No. 15 states how one ceases to be Lebanese:[4]

By accepting public employment from a foreign country and failing to resign, despite been instructed to do so, in a set amount of time, by the Lebanese government.

Lebanese citizenship can be renounced if the Lebanese government first approves the acquisition of a foreign citizenship and then approves the renunciation of Lebanese citizenship.[5]

Dual citizenshipEdit

According to the Lebanese Ministry for Migration, there have been no restrictions on multiple citizenship in Lebanon since 1 January 1926,[citation needed] and foreigners who acquire Lebanese citizenship and Lebanese citizens who voluntarily acquire another citizenship retain their Lebanese citizenship (subject to the laws of the other country), as was the case before that date.

Since the nationality laws of many countries now allow both parents to transmit their nationality to their common child (and not only the father, as used to often be the case), many children automatically acquire multiple citizenship at birth. However, Lebanon specially notes that this has not created any practical problems. Military service, the most likely problem to arise, is usually done in the country where the person resides at the time of conscription. For instance, a dual Lebanese-Armenian national must do his military service in Armenia, since Armenia has compulsory military service for two years for males from 18 to 27 years old. All male dual citizens regardless where they live are required to serve in the military as if they were Armenian resident citizen with certain exceptions. Most male Armenian citizens living outside of Armenia do not return to serve in the military.

Until 2007, military service in Lebanon was mandatory for men only. All men were required to do a one-year military service through age 18+. Training was only done whenever they had free time or time off school including summer vacations and holidays. There was also training done alongside high school. On 4 May 2005, a new conscription system was adopted, making for a six-month service, and pledging to end conscription within two years. As of 10 February 2007 mandatory military service no longer exists in Lebanon.[6]

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,[7][8][3] and for Lebanese citizenship to be given to the 8-14 million Lebanese diaspora around the world.[9][10]

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".[citation needed]

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.[10][11]

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

On 5 May 2016, the Gebran Bassil, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants announced the beginning of the implementation of citizenship law for Lebanese diaspora.[2][additional citation(s) needed] However, the law would allow only grandchildren of Lebanese paternal grandfathers but not grandchildren of Lebanese maternal grandmothers to apply for citizenship.[citation needed]

Law for descendants of Lebanese originEdit

Article I [12][10][2] 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 on 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.[13][14]

Article II [12][10][2] This law 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.”

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 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 law. The law would allow grandchildren of Lebanese paternal grandfathers to apply for citizenship.[3] The latest 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,[1] which means at least 8 million people.

Refugees in LebanonEdit

Excessive restrictions are in place on granting of Lebanese citizenship due to the importance of the country's demographics in the political system.[15] However, Armenian and Assyrian refugees came to Lebanon in 1915 from present-day southeastern Turkey, following the Armenian and Assyrian genocide.[16] And when Lebanon was formed after Ottoman rule subsided, these Armenians and Assyrians were given citizenship to Lebanon.[17] Also, under the Syrian-occupied Lebanon in 1994, the government naturalized over 154,931 foreign residents, of Palestinian (mostly Palestinian Christians) and Syrian (mostly Syrian Sunnis and Christians) descent.[18] It was argued that the purpose of these naturalizations was to sway the elections to a pro-Syrian government.[19] This allegation is based on how these new citizens were bussed in to vote and displayed higher voting rates than the nationals did.[18]

Most Palestinians in Lebanon do not have Lebanese citizenship and therefore do not have Lebanese identity cards, are legally barred from owning property or legally barred from entering a list of desirable occupations.[20] However, some Palestinians, mostly Palestinian Christians, did receive Lebanese citizenship, either through marriage with Lebanese nationals or by other means.[18] In 2017, a census by the Lebanese government counted 174,000 Palestinians in Lebanon,[21] but other sources estimate the number as high as 400,000.

On 1 June 2018, the notoriously anti-naturalization Lebanese president, Michel Aoun signed a naturalization decree granting citizenship to a reported 300 individuals.[22] These individuals come for various backgrounds and religions, however all of them are in one way wealthy and have ties to Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Bassil promises to ease citizenship for expatriates". Archived from the original on 2018-09-02. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
  2. ^ a b c d Gebran Bassil [@Gebran_Bassil] (5 May 2016). "باسيل: نعلن لكم اليوم رسميا اطلاق العمل لتطبيق قانون استعادة الجنسية في ورشة وطنية عالمية #LDE2016" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  3. ^ a b c d e Lebanese citizenship law strips women of identity and property
  4. ^ Decree No 15 on Lebanese Nationality
  5. ^ Meijer, Roel (2020). Routledge Handbook of Citizenship in the Middle East and North Africa. p. 428. ISBN 9780429058288.
  6. ^ [1], Lebanese Army (official website) Archived December 10, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Saseen Kawzally (28 April 2009). "Lebanese women sue for naturalization rights".
  8. ^ Nadine Moawad (7 March 2010). "The Lebanese Nationality Law Will Pass Today!".
  9. ^ "The Lebanese Diaspora". 2 October 2006.
  10. ^ a b c d Kechichian, Joseph A. (2015-11-17). "Lebanon contemplates a new citizenship law | Mena – Gulf News". Gulfnews.com. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  11. ^ "كنعان: اتفقنا على اقتراح قانون استعادة الجنسية - النهار". Annahar.com. 2015-11-11. Archived from the original on 2019-05-12. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  12. ^ a b "Parliament passes Army, citizenship, food bills | News , Lebanon News". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  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).
  14. ^ Guita Hourani (28 December 2011). "New Lebanese Draft Law Extends the Reacquisition of Lebanese Citizenship to the Descendants of Lebanese Emigrants".
  15. ^ Hägerdal, Nils. "Lebanon's Hostility to Syrian Refugees" (PDF). www.brandeis.edu. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
  16. ^ "How the Armenians came to live among Arabs | Human Rights | Al Jazeera". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
  17. ^ "100 years of waiting: Lebanon, a century after the Armenian Genocide – International news – Jerusalem Post". www.jpost.com. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
  18. ^ a b c Sensenig-Dabbous, Eugene; Hourani, Guita (2011-07-04). "Naturalized Citizens: Political Participation, Voting Behavior, and Impact on Elections in Lebanon (1996–2007)". Rochester, NY. SSRN 2211536. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  19. ^ a b "Is Syria Meddling in Lebanon Again?". The Century Foundation. 2018-06-28. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
  20. ^ Andrew Lee Butters [2] "Palestinians in Lebanon: A Forgotten People", Feb. 25, 2009, Time Magazine.
  21. ^ "Lebanon conducts first-ever census of Palestinian refugees". Jordan Times. 2017-12-21. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  22. ^ "Naturalization decree an insult to the Lebanese people". Arab News. 2018-06-05. Retrieved 2018-12-19.

External linksEdit