Luxembourg Insider is a regular column that takes a deep dive into life as an expat in the Grand Duchy.
Whether you're a British national concerned by the evermore unavoidable reality of Brexit, a non-EU national who wants to secure your stay within the Union, or a Mike McQuaide-type figure who just loves Luxembourg - the process of obtaining Luxembourgish nationality can be quite daunting.
There are many ways to go about it, though most of them share a few common prerequisites (notably knowledge of Luxembourg's history, laws, and language). I have seen quite a few people ask questions about the routes available to them, and so thought it high time that I devote an instalment of Insider to the topic.
Before we get started, do note that this is not a complete guide. Covering every possible circumstance would make this guide far too unwieldy. What I will do is cover everything you need to know about the most common cases (and some less common ones), and point you in the right direction for further information.
Prerequisites - a quick overview
The prerequisites for obtaining Luxembourgish nationality were modified by law in 2017. The new law reduced the obligatory residence time for 7 to 5 years, made the language test slightly easier (or at least more flexible), and made it easier for people born in Luxembourg to non-Luxembourgish parents to claim nationality.
There are, in essence, two routes through which nationality can be obtained. The first one is called "by simple operation of law," and essentially applies to minors who were born in Luxembourg to at least one Luxembourgish parent, or who were adopted by a Luxembourgish parent. There are also special conditions for those born on Luxembourgish soil to non-Luxembourgish parents, in cases where the parents are e.g. stateless persons and/or in the process of obtaining Luxembourgish nationality. You can find out more about that through the above link.
The second route, which is the focus of this article, applies to a broader range of people. It is referred to as the "by option" route, and under this umbrella term there are ten different cases under which nationality can be obtained.
Cases in which nationality can be obtained
Given that this is an article series aimed at expats, I am going to focus on the 10 cases most likely to apply to that particular group of people. If none of the below cases apply to you, but you still think that you may be able to benefit from nationality, you may want to look at this page. You should also read this article to the end as I will provide contact details for people who may be able to help determine whether you can apply for Luxembourgish nationality.
The cases apply to..
Case 1) ..adults with a parent, adoptive parent, or grandparent who is or was Luxembourgish.
Case 2) ..parents of a Luxembourgish minor.
Case 3) ..persons married to a Luxembourger.
Case 4) ..persons under the age of 12 who were born in Luxembourg.
Case 5) ..adults who have completed at least 7 years of schooling in Luxembourg.
Case 6) ..adults who have lived in Luxembourg for at least 20 years.
Case 7) ..adults who have completed the welcome and integration contract.
Case 8) ..adults who settled in Luxembourg before the age of 18.
Case 9) ..adults with stateless person, refugee, or subsidiary protection status.
Case 10) ..volunteer soldiers.
Basic conditions for each case - overview
There are certain conditions that are shared between several of the conditions under which you can apply for nationality. To give you an easier overview of said conditions, I have compiled a quick table that shows which core criteria need to be met before you can apply for nationality under each of the 10 cases. The horizontal numbers correspond to the 10 cases above.
*The 5 years must, for this case only, be consecutive and uninterrupted.
Case-specific requirements not in the above table
You may note that several of the cases have specific conditions that I did not add to the table. This is because they apply only to that particular case. The conditions are:
Case 1) the main conditions here are name of the case itself - that is, you must have either a parent, adoptive parent, or grandparent who was or is Luxembourgish but did not pass their nationality to you.
Case 3) there is a waiting period of 3 years if you (the applicant and spouse of a Luxembourgish national) are not a resident of Luxembourg. This does not apply if you are living abroad as a result of your spouse holding a position granted by a Luxembourgish public authority or international organisation.
Case 4) the applicant must have legally resided in Luxembourg for 5 consecutive years immediately preceding the the application and their non-Luxembourgish parents must have resided legally in Luxembourg for 12 consecutive months prior to the application. The latter does not reply to applicants born before 1 July 2013. Do note that this case does not apply to children of a Luxembourgish or parent or adoptive parent.
Case 6) the language course must be organised by the National Institute of Languages or a course provider certified by the responsible minister.
Case 7) holding the certificate of participation to citizenship courses exempts you from the "History of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and European Integration"-module which you would otherwise have to attend under the "Vivre ensemble au Grand-Duché de Luxembourg"-course. You must however attend the other two courses.
You can find more information about each of the 10 cases and a full list of all requirements here. Now, let's take a look at the courses you have to attend for most of these cases.
The Luxembourgish Language Test
Many of the cases require that you pass a Luxembourgish language test, and there is only one institution through which you can take the test: the national institute of languages. At €75, this is the only part of the process that carries with it a fee. You can find out more about the registration process here.
The exam consists of two parts, a spoken test and a listening test. The spoken test is at level A2, while the listening test is B1. This means that you will have to show the ability to introduce yourself and hold a basic conversation about your family, familiar situations and the like for the spoken test. For the listening test, you have to show the ability to comprehend the main points radio news, conversation between 2 people, and a discussion or presentation on a specific topic. Click here for more information about the language test.
If you're unsure whether you're ready for the test, or just fancy giving it a go for a bit of fun, there's sample test material available right here.
Vivre ensemble au Grand-Duché de Luxembourg
In addition to the language test, you will likely have to either pass the "Living together in the Grand Duchy-"exam, or sit the 24-hour course of the same name. The official information on this is not entirely clear, and it reads as though you have to do both - which is not the case.
If you wish to attend the course, you should prepare yourself for a total of 24 hours of teaching. These are divided as follows:
1) Fundamental rights of citizens (3 x 2 hours);
2) state and local institutions of the Grand Duchy (6 x 2 hours); and
3) the history of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and European integration (3 x 2 hours).
Do note that those of you who have completed the welcome and integration contract do not have to attend the history part of the course.
The course is administered by the department of adult education, and Registration for the course and exam can be found here. The exam is 60 minutes and consists of 40 multiple choice questions. You can find more information about the exam and some excellent guidance material here.
Welcome and integration contract (CAI)
The welcome and integration contract (CAI) aims to improve integration into Luxembourgish society. It consists of a language training course, a citizenship training course, and an orientation day. An advantage of signing up for CAI is that you will gain access to language training (Luxembourgish, German, French) courses at a considerably discounted rate through a number of language course providers.
Another advantage is that you will be exempt from the history aspect of the "Vivre ensemble au Grand-Duché de Luxembourg"-course.
If you want more information, these are good places to start:
The government's overview of nationality and migration to Luxembourg.
Guichet's pages on nationality.
Guichet's pages on tests and conditions.
The Ministry of Education's pages on integration and nationality (specifically the department of adult education) (FR).
CGIE's page on the living together in Luxembourg-test.
OLAI's pages on the welcome and integration contract.
For more information you can also contact the Nationality Office (Service de l'indigénat), which is run by the Ministry of Justice. Their 'Nationality infoline' is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am-12pm and 1.30-5pm.
Number if calling from Luxembourg: 8002 1000
Number if calling from abroad: +352 247 88588
Martin Jonsson moved to Luxembourg in October in 2016, before which he lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, for 10 years. He's a freelance journalist and RTL Today contributor.