Skip to main content
Are Children eligible for Dual Citizenship?

Are Children eligible for Dual Citizenship?

In today’s interconnected world, Ugandans are increasingly engaging in cross-border personal relationships some of which result in the birth of children. Consequently, questions about citizenship particularly those that pertain to children, are becoming common. 

Take for instance a hypothetical where Joel, a German citizen by birth, falls in love with Tess, a Ugandan citizen by birth. Their shared dreams lead to a life together, and soon they celebrate the arrival of their first child, Ellie, born in the picturesque landscapes of Germany. As Ellie turns 13, her parents duly get her a German passport. Two years later, at 15, Ellie also obtains a Ugandan passport with the assistance of her parents. However, during Ellie’s sweet 16 birthday celebrations, her parents are shocked to learn that their daughter’s Ugandan passport has been revoked by the immigration authority in Uganda on the basis that it was issued in error. Ellie’s parents are dismayed and feel that their daughter is being denied a connection to her roots in Uganda.

Now, let’s address some of the key questions that the above hypothetical may bring to light. 

Does Ellie have German citizenship?

Yes, she does; and her German passport is proof of that. Presentation of documents such as a passport, voter’s card, birth certificate or national identity card is prima facie evidence of citizenship which may be rebutted in some cases by proof of fraudulent acquisition – as per Hon. Justice Stephen Mubiru in the case of Oyee Leonard & 2 Others v. Zubeida Abdulrahman (Civil Appeal No. 0027 of 2012) [2017] UGHCLD 27 (29 March 2017).

What citizenship status did Ellie have prior to the revocation of her Ugandan passport?

Dual citizenship, that is, the simultaneous possession of two citizenships one of which is Ugandan. Since Ellie is a citizen of Germany, her subsequent acquisition of a Ugandan passport meant that she added another citizenship that is a Ugandan one, to her already existing German citizenship hence dual citizenship.

Is dual citizenship allowed in Uganda?

Yes, it is allowed. Article 15(1) and (2) of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda as amended, allows both Ugandan citizens and persons who are not citizens of Uganda to acquire dual citizenship.   

Why then was Ellie’s Ugandan citizenship/passport revoked?

It was revoked because under Section 19C(f) of the Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control Act Cap. 66 as amended, dual citizenship is restricted to only persons that are of or above eighteen years of age. In other words, a child (a person below the age of 18 years) is not eligible for dual citizenship. Ellie was 15 years old (a child) when her parents got her a Ugandan passport and therefore, as a matter of law, she wasn’t supposed to be issued that passport in the first place. The action of revoking her Ugandan passport was thus justifiable.

Does the revocation bar Ellie from acquiring another Ugandan passport in the future?

No, it doesn’t. However, for Ellie to acquire another Ugandan passport, she will have to first be recognised as a citizen of Uganda by the immigration authority in Uganda since under Section 45 of the Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control Act (as amended), Ugandan passports are to be issued to Ugandan citizens only. The only way Ellie can get such recognition is through the process of dual citizenship, that is, apply to be registered/recognised as a citizen of Uganda so that that Ugandan citizenship is added to her already existing German citizenship. But remember, Ellie would have to be of or above eighteen years of age to make such an application.

Okay, so what conditions would Ellie have to fulfil for her to be recognised/registered as a citizen of Uganda?

There are quite a number of conditions but for starters, Ellie would have to satisfy the immigration authority in Uganda i.e., the National Citizenship and Immigration Control Board, that –

  1. her mother (Tess) is a citizen of Uganda by birth;

  2. she is not engaged in espionage against Uganda;

  3. she has not served in the voluntary service of the armed forces or security forces of a country hostile to or at war with Uganda;

  4. she has not attempted to acquire Ugandan citizenship by fraud, deceit or bribery or by intentional or otherwise deliberate false statements in an application for citizenship;

  5. she does not have a criminal record;

  6. the laws of Germany permit dual citizenship;

  7. she is, at the time of the application, of or above eighteen years of age;

  8. she is of sound mind;

  9. does not hold more than one citizenship;

  10. is not an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent.

If Ellie is registered as a citizen of Uganda, what type of Ugandan citizenship is she likely to be registered under?

Citizenship by birth – because she was born in Germany to a mother who was and still is a Ugandan citizen by birth; and according to Article 10(b) of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda as amended, every person born in or outside Uganda one of whose parents or grandparents was at the time of birth of that person a citizen of Uganda by birth, is a citizen of Uganda by birth.

What are some of the benefits that Ellie would enjoy if she was to be registered as a citizen of Uganda?

  1. She would have a right to apply for a Ugandan passport.

  2. Her ownership of land in Uganda would not be restricted to land held under leasehold.

  3. She would not need a work permit to work in Uganda. However, since such registration would grant her dual citizenship status, it is important to note that persons with dual citizenship are not allowed by law to hold certain offices of state such as the Office of the President, the Office of a Minister etc.

  4. She would have a right to access any Ugandan embassy or consulate abroad for purposes of seeking assistance or protection from the Government of Uganda.

  5. She would have a right to vote in Uganda’s electoral processes such as presidential elections, general elections etc.