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Marius Gurskas - Government's Communications Department head. referendum 2024. Screenshot from LRT TV

The Referendum in May 2024 – Who Will Be Eligible for Dual Lithuanian Citizenship?

October 19, 2023

On October 10, 2023, the head of the Government’s Communications Department, Marius Gurskas, answered questions on the LRT TV channel regarding a planned referendum, which is set to take place simultaneously with the first round of the presidential elections on May 12, 2024.

From Gurkskas’ responses, it can be inferred that changes in citizenship are planned to be introduced into the Constitution of Lithuania. Here are some of the things he said:

“We are certainly not saying that Lithuanian citizenship will be given to everyone. We are talking about the possibility of keeping it for those who have it… Most often, those are family circumstances or when people leave for work or other reasons and have to make a choice to have better career prospects… For example, a Lithuanian volleyball player was invited to play in the Olympics for the Italian national team. There was a dilemma about what to do. The person feels that she is a citizen of Lithuania, she loves Lithuania. Unfortunately, the current Constitution doesn’t allow retaining Lithuanian citizenship if a person acquires another country’s citizenship.”

If the outcome of the planned referendum is successful, who will have the right to dual citizenship?

Those who will benefit from the successful outcome of the referendum would be individuals who have Lithuanian citizenship and have gone to other countries in search of better employment opportunities or for other reasons. In other words, this concerns the last wave of emigrants after the restoration of Lithuania’s independence in 1991.

In many cases, these individuals obtained citizenship in their country of residence through naturalization. Since the Constitution currently does not allow them to retain Lithuanian citizenship, more often than not, they lose it.

According to Marius Gurskas, Lithuania loses about 1,000 of its citizens each year due to this.

Can those born in Lithuania and who have moved to former USSR countries get dual citizenship?

According to the head of the Government’s Communications Department, individuals who left for former USSR countries cannot get dual citizenship. He says that these changes are planned for citizens of Lithuania who have moved to countries friendly to Lithuania, which include those belonging to the European Union, NATO, the European Economic Area, or the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Therefore, one should not expect simplification of procedures for those who left for Russia after the restoration of Lithuania’s independence and are now looking for ways to leave while retaining their existing citizenship.

What should you do if you have Lithuanian ancestors but no grounds for dual citizenship, and you are not ready to lose your current citizenship? In this case, it’s worth considering the possibility of obtaining a Certificate of Lithuanian Descent or a Certificate of the Right to Restore Lithuanian Citizenship.

It can be stated unequivocally that the proposed changes to the Constitution will simplify the lives of thousands of Lithuanians in the event of a positive result in the referendum, scheduled for May 12, 2024.

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