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Citizenship in the Dominican Republic

Although very rarely taken up by any of our clients, in certain circumstances, foreign nationals can also apply for citizenship to the Domincian Republic.

NATIONALITY

Article 18 of the Constitution establishes the following as Dominican nationals:

a) A person born to a mother or father with Dominican nationality, regardless of the country in which the parent lives;

b) A person born in the Dominican Republic, except a person (i) born to a member of a foreign diplomatic service or consulate in the country, (ii) born to an illegal resident, or (iii) born to a foreigner "in transit" as defined by Dominican law;

c) A person marrying a Dominican national, upon fulfillment of the requirements established by law;

d)The direct descendants of Dominicans residing in a foreign country; 

e)A person who is naturalized.

An applicant must meet specific residency requirements as explained below.

DUAL NATIONALITY

Article 20 of the Dominican Constitution permits dual nationalities, and a Dominican may acquire a foreign nationality without the risk of losing Dominican nationality. Consequently, a Dominican national, who has acquired foreign nationality by virtue of birth, may at the age of eighteen choose dual nationality or relinquish one of the two nationalities. Furthermore, except for becoming President or Vice President of the country, a Dominican with dual nationality may hold any elected office in the Dominican Republic, or be appointed to a ministerial position or a position in the Dominican diplomatic service, without relinquishing the foreign nationality. If the person wishes to run for President or Vice President of the country, the Dominican dual national must relinquish the foreign nationality ten years before the scheduled election and reside in the country for ten consecutive years before taking office.

CITIZENSHIP

The rights of citizenship are only bestowed upon a Dominican national who has reached the age of eighteen, or who is married or has been married before the age of eighteen (Article 21 of the Constitution). Thus, although a minor can be a Dominican national, the minor will not have citizenship rights, unless married.

Citizenship entitles the person to the right to vote, run for public office, vote on referendums, make requests of public interest to policy makers, and report public officials' misconduct in the performance of their duties (Article 22).

However, citizenship will be revoked for conviction of assisting or participating in deliberate attacks or harm against the interests of the Dominican Republic, including treason, espionage, conspiracy, or taking up arms against the Republic.

In addition, citizenship will be suspended for the duration of (i) a sentence for a felony conviction, (ii) a legally declared incompetency, (iii) acceptance to a position with a foreign State within the Dominican Republic not preauthorized by the Executive Branch, and (d) a violation of any of the conditions of naturalization (Article 24).

Anyone eighteen or older may apply for citizenship. Like all countries, citizenship is granted at the government's discretion. The particular situation of the foreign national dictates the application route. The three most common avenues are as (i) a child born in another country to a Dominican citizen, (ii) a spouse of a Dominican citizen, or (iii) a resident.

Birth

Under the Constitution, a child born to a Dominican citizen in another country is a Dominican national and entitled to citizenship. The choice of Dominican citizenship is optional and not automatic; it requires an intentional act by the person upon reaching the age of eighteen or after, and includes filing formal papers with the authorities. Documents required are the original birth certificates of the applicant and of the Dominican parent(s), and a copy of the parent's Dominican issued identification card (Cédula de Identidad Personal).

Spouse

A foreign national who legally marries a Dominican national may apply for citizenship after six months of marriage, no matter the location of the marriage. The foreign spouse must provide an authenticated and translated copy of the marriage certificate and the documents shown below under Residents, with some variations.

Resident

A foreign national with Permanent or Investment Residency status may apply for citizenship after the prescribed waiting periods of two years for permanent residency and six months for investment residency. Residency status must be active to apply for citizenship. The documents required for citizenship are: an authenticated and translated copy of the birth certificate from the foreign national's country of origin; the original and colored copies of the foreign national's passport; photos of the foreign national in a prescribed format; the renewed residency card; and an affidavit prepared by a Dominican attorney and signed by the foreign national. 

The Citizenship Procedure

Once the proper documents for one of the above cases are ready, the application for citizenship is filed with the Department of Interior and the procedure continues as follows: 

The Interview. Approximately two weeks after filing, the foreign national will be called to appear personally before the Department of Interior in the Dominican Republic for an interview, conducted solely in Spanish. The questions and answers can be reviewed before the interview. 

The Oath. Within five months after the interview, the foreign national will be summoned to personally take the oath of citizenship, granted and signed by the President of the Dominican Republic.

Birth Certificate and Identification. Approximately two months after taking the oath, the foreign national will be issued a Dominican birth certificate, and be permitted to obtain a Dominican identification card (Cédula de Identidad Personal). The foreign national must appear personally to obtain the identification card from the issuing government office. With the identification card and evidence of citizenship, the new citizen is entitled to apply for a Dominican passport, a separate but relatively simple process.

Text available from Guzman Ariza Assoc. visit them at www.drlawyer.com. 

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