By Georgy Tsaguria, Tax and Immigration Lawyer
Obtaining Georgian citizenship has seen a rise in popularity in recent times. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about the process of getting the Georgian citizenship, about the eligibility requirements, and the documentation you will need to provide for the authorities. We hope this information helps with planning your future efficiently.
Benefits of Georgian citizenship
A wide range of appealing rights related to Georgian citizenship is charming foreigners to relocating. The right to purchase a rural land in Georgia as well as the right to a 90 day visa free travel to EU countries are distinctive to the citizenship.
Georgian citizenship means living in a safe environment for a lot of foreigners. For some people, Georgian citizenship means more protection, due to their own personal reasons, difficult situations in their countries, or other family circumstances.
Georgian citizenship is an additional privilege for some citizens. Having an alternative passport may be useful in certain urgent or special situations.
Some foreigners choose to leave their countries due to the taxation systems related to their citizenship. Relocating and enjoying Georgian local tax benefits becomes a priority for some of them. Getting Georgian citizenship, though, does not automatically mean being subjected to Georgian taxation. Georgian Tax Residency has its own pre-requisites, complying with which will allow you to make use of the tax system.
Ways to get Georgian Citizenship
The basic principles and norms regarding Georgian citizenship are established by the Constitution of Georgia and the Organic Law on citizenship of Georgia.
The Constitution of Georgia guarantees the permanent nature of the citizenship. Once granted, it is not possible to deprive a person of a citizenship. Therefore, regardless of your whereabouts, a citizen is always under protection of the country. However, this principle does not exclude the possibility of losing the citizenship in cases directly defined by law, which will be discussed below.
Georgian citizenship can be acquired both by birth and by naturalization.
Georgian citizenship by birth:
Obtaining Georgian citizenship by birth is a relatively easy process. This path is not related to expression of a person’s will, so, the mere existence of the circumstances established by law is sufficient for obtaining the citizenship automatically.
Having at least one Georgian citizen as a parent at the time of birth is sufficient to acquire Georgian citizenship by birth, regardless of the territory the child is born in. In this case, the so-called “blood principle” prevails, and the whereabouts of the birth are not relevant. Moreover, a child of a Georgian citizen may be born abroad and even acquire the citizenship of that country, this will not impede his/her right to acquire Georgian citizenship, given the right circumstances.
Georgian law also suggests that a person born as a result of surrogacy also has the right to get Georgian citizenship by birth. In this case, a child has to be born on the territory of Georgia and country/countries of origin of the parents must refuse to grant the newborn child citizenship.
Georgian law also gives the right to acquire citizenship by birth to a child born on the territory of Georgia whose parents are both persons with a stateless status, or to a child with one parent unknown and the other one with a stateless person status.
Acquisition of Georgian citizenship by naturalization:
It is possible to obtain citizenship of Georgia by naturalization.
In this case, expression of an interested person’s will and meeting the preconditions established by law are necessary. These preconditions and procedures are discussed below.
Georgian citizenship can be obtained through naturalization in the following cases:
- Granting citizenship under regular procedure;
- Granting citizenship under simplified procedure (by way of marriage);
- Granting citizenship by way of exception;
- Granting citizenship by way of its restoration:
- Granting citizenship under special procedure.
Granting citizenship under regular procedure
Requirements for obtaining Georgian citizenship under regular procedure are quite strict and broad.
By choosing this path, the applicant must be an adult (18 years or older), living on the territory of Georgia for the past 10 years, on a legal basis.
Knowledge of the Georgian Language, the history of Georgia, and the basic principles of the law, confirmed as a result of appropriate testing, is also necessary.
Circumstances that may exclude the possibility of citizenship have to be taken into account. The applicant must not have committed an international crime against peace and humanity and also must not have committed a state crime under Georgian law.
The evidence of a continuous residence on the territory of Georgia can be a visa, a residence permit or a residence certificate, or a stamp in a passport, showing the date of crossing of the state border of Georgia.
In addition to the requirements above, being involved in certain economic activities on the territory of Georgia is a mandatory requirement too.
Working as an employee in any Georgian organization or carrying out any entrepreneurial activity on the territory of Georgia will be considered as an economic activity in the country. Note that the continuous employment record for all 10 years is not required, but sufficient evidence of the activities has to be provided for the committee.
The other way to prove an economic activity would be to own real estate on the territory or to own shares or stocks in a Georgian enterprise. The value of the property or share will be assessed by the Citizenship Commission on a case-by-case basis.
The maximum period for consideration of the application for granting Georgian citizenship in the usual manner is 80 days.
By getting the Georgian citizenship under regular procedure, the applicant automatically renounces the citizenship of all other countries he/she may hold.
Documents to be submitted: In order to obtain any type of citizenship, including under the usual procedure, it is necessary to submit the following documents (hereinafter referred to as “Obligatory Documentation”):
- A copy of the birth certificate (if the person wishing to be granted citizenship was born abroad and has the document), and, in case of granting Georgian citizenship to a minor, a copy of the person’s birth certificate and the written consent of his / her legal representative;
- An application filled in according to the established form;
- Photograph — size 3X4;
- Document confirming the payment of the service fee.
Documents to be submitted apart from “Obligatory Documentation”:
- Document certifying continuous residence on the territory of Georgia for the last 10 years;
- A document certifying the place of employment and / or real estate in Georgia, or entrepreneurial activity on the territory of Georgia, and / or shares or stocks in a Georgian enterprise.
Granting citizenship under simplified procedure (by way of marriage):
Getting citizenship through marriage is a relatively easy procedure, the main requirement being that an applicant has to be married to a Georgian citizen and should have lived continuously on the territory of Georgia for at least the last 5 years.
Note that the duration of marriage is not taken into account. There is no requirement regarding the marriage span under the Georgian law. The main factor for granting the citizenship is the continuous presence on the territory of Georgia, for five years, plus marriage.
Knowledge of the Georgian language, the history of Georgia, and the basic principles of the law is also required here.
The application for citizenship can be done in person or under Power of Attorney.
Note here, also, that by receiving Georgian citizenship by way of marriage (under simplified procedure), you will have to renounce the citizenship of any other country you may hold, otherwise the order of granting Georgian citizenship will not take effect.
Documents to be submitted apart from “Obligatory Documentation”:
- A document showing the fact of marriage with a Georgian citizen (a Marriage Certificate or a decision of a court, certifying the fact of a marriage);
- A document showing Georgian citizenship of the spouse;
- A document certifying continuous residence of the applicant on the territory of Georgia for the last 5 years (a visa, a residence permit or a residence certificate, or a stamp in a passport, showing the date of crossing of the state border of Georgia);
- A document showing the current citizenship of the applicant (an ID card, passport, or a statement from a competent authority of the country of citizenship of the applicant, regarding the citizenship information).
Granting citizenship by way of exception:
Granting citizenship of Georgia by way of exception is the subject of the most interest among foreigners.
A citizen of another country who has made a contribution of exceptional merit to Georgia can be given a Georgian citizenship by way of exception. Giving citizenship by way of exception can also be granted on the ground that it is a State Interest of Georgia.
In this case, the requirement of long-term continuous residence on the territory of Georgia is not required. Knowledge of the Georgian language, of history, or law of Georgia is not required either (except some cases), and most importantly, renouncing the citizenship of another country is also NOT required under this procedure.
State interests can be wide, the Law of Georgia on citizenship gives some descriptions of what can be a state interest, among other things. Here they are:
A) A citizen of another country considers Georgia as his / her homeland and he / she or an ancestor is:
Aa) a person living in the occupied territory of Georgia or internally displaced from that territory;
Ab) a person who has emigrated at different times for political reasons or due to a difficult socio-economic situation;
B) a citizen of another country makes such an investment in Georgia or made such an investment in Georgia that has made or will make a significant contribution to the development of the state economy;
C) a citizen of another country is successful in the field of sports, science, and / or art, and he wants to continue working on behalf of Georgia.
In order to confirm the fact of making significant investment, the reviewing body shall request information from the relevant competent body.
Documents to be submitted apart from “Obligatory Documentation”:
- A passport or an ID card or other document identifying the applicant;
- Letters of recommendations from at least 2 (two) recommenders (from a private person or a legal entity);
- Documents showing the existence of the pre-conditions for CBE.
The application can be made from abroad, through Power of Attorney.
Granting citizenship by way of its restoration:
Georgian citizenship shall be restored to a person whose Georgian citizenship has been repealed by either of the following circumstances:
B) by renunciation of Georgian citizenship;
C) as a result of the choice of the parent / parents.
Granting citizenship under special procedure:
Georgian citizenship can be granted under special procedure, to a person born on the territory of Georgia, whose Georgian citizenship is not defined.
Knowledge of the Georgian Language, the history of Georgia, and the basic principles of the law is required here.
About knowledge of history, basic law, and the language
The Citizenship Commission assesses the compliance of the level of knowledge of the state language of Georgia, the history of Georgia, and the basics of law with the established limits.
Samples of tests to be taken to obtain Georgian citizenship can be found on the following website: https://sda.gov.ge/?page_id=5123
Honorary citizenship is a way of showing respect of the country to a special person. Honorary citizenship of Georgia does not give rise to the rights and obligations defined by the legislation of Georgia for the citizens of Georgia.
It is merely a symbol of a connection of a country to a person of a special merit.
A country passport will not be issued to an honorary citizen.
Honorary citizenship can only be granted by the President of Georgia, to foreigners, for their special merit for Georgia and humanity through his / her scientific and / or public activities, or to a person having a profession and/or qualification of a state interest.
About the ability to maintain Georgian citizenship while getting citizenship of another country
In case of acquiring the citizenship of another country, a citizen of Georgia can retain the citizenship of Georgia by having consent from the state of Georgia to retain the citizenship before acquiring the citizenship of that country.
Consent to maintain Georgian citizenship will be granted if the Georgian citizen’s connection with Georgia is considered credible.
A minor who has acquired the citizenship of another country, along with the citizenship of Georgia by birth, retains the citizenship of Georgia from birth until reaching the age of 18. In case of non-submission of the application for retention of citizenship to the juvenile within the mentioned period (until turning 18), citizenship of Georgia shall be terminated. A minor may retain Georgian citizenship on the basis of an application by a parent or legal representative. In case of submission of an application by one of the parents, the minor may retain Georgian citizenship with the consent of the other parent.
Grounds for losing Georgian citizenship
As mentioned above, deprivation of citizenship of Georgia is inadmissible, guaranteed by the constitution. However, the legislation of Georgia allows directly defined cases when a specific action of a person becomes a precondition for loss of citizenship. There are only 3 cases of such preconditions.
A person, who obtains Georgian citizenship by submitting fraudulent documentation to the authorities will lose Georgian citizenship, without exception.
The second precondition leading to loss of Georgian citizenship is by entering the military service of another country or the police or security forces of another country, without permission from the competent authorities of Georgia. In this case, the exception is when a person is granted the Georgian citizenship by way of exception.
The third precondition for losing the citizenship of Georgia is the acquisition of citizenship of another country, unless the said person obtains the consent of the state of Georgia to retain the citizenship of Georgia before acquiring the citizenship of another country. The exception here, again, is where the citizenship is granted by way of exception.
It is not an easy process to obtain Georgian citizenship. However, in the presence of preconditions defined by law, the Georgian state makes gaining the citizenship accessible for all.
It is important to differentiate between Georgian citizenship and Georgian Tax Residency. Some clients associate the possibility of using the Georgian tax system with citizenship, which is incorrect. It may not be necessary to obtain Georgian citizenship in order to achieve the goal you want in terms of tax optimization. On the other hand, by acquiring Georgian citizenship, you are legally equal to a Georgian citizen, who, unlike citizens of many other countries, enjoy exceptional benefits.
Do not forget also that citizenship of any country is accompanied by certain obligations (e.g. military services), the examination of which is your duty.
If you need help with deciding whether or not it would be beneficial for you to live in and/or apply for citizenship of Georgia, LTA is ready to assist with all your concerns.
For proper planning and effective management of your business tax directions, you can contact us as well.
We are ready to discuss each case and opportunity with you.
Learn more about Georgia and find out if it is the right country for you
Apart from being a country of interested for gaining citizenship, Georgia is also becoming a popular country for foreigners to invest into. Read on to learn how to safely invest in Georgian real estate. You may also want to learn about the legal and tax framework regarding cryptocurrencies in Georgia. And for another pathway for living and working in Georgia, why not come as a Digital Nomad on Georgia’s newly implemented Digital Nomad visa!
LTA is a boutique firm assisting clients worldwide with their tax/estate planning strategies. Their main field of focus is helping non-residents to enjoy the Georgian legal and tax system, including help with legal/tax and accounting aspects.
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