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Report of the Law Library of Congress on Nicaraguan Nationality Legislation.
Report of the Law Library of Congress
on Nicaraguan Nationality Legislation
LOC Rpt No. 98-3236.2
Nicaraguan nationality is basically governed by the Nicaraguan Political Constitution of 1987, as amended.
It is also governed by the Law on Nationality of 1992.
Although the Law on Nationality was promulgated in 1992, its regulation still has not been promulgated. Therefore, in preparing this report, inquiries were made to the General Directorate of Migration and Foreign Affairs with respect to those provisions of the Law on Nationality whose means of implementation were not clear.
Under the Constitution
and under the Law on Nationality,
two categories of persons are considered Nicaraguan: "nationals" and "naturalized individuals."
Nicaraguan legislation uses two doctrinal concepts as the basis for defining who are nationals. These are
which are internationally defined as follows:
. According to this principle, nationality is determined by the place of one's birth - the right of the soil or the land.
. According to this principle, nationality is determined by the nationality of one's descent - the right of blood.
In other words, the Nicaraguan category of nationals includes persons born under either of the doctrinal classifications
Under article 16 of the Constitution, nationals are identified as follows:
1. Individuals born in Nicaraguan territory (
). Exception to this rule are:
children of foreigners in diplomatic service;
children of foreign officials serving international organizations; and
those sent by their government to work in Nicaragua, unless they choose to solicit Nicaraguan nationality.
With respect to nationality through birth, no exception other than the ones listed above are provided for by the Constitution or by the Law on Nationality. Therefore, children born in Nicaragua who are not under any of the above categories (a-c) are Nicaraguan nationals, even if their parents are not residents of Nicaragua, are not Nicaraguan nationals, or are unlawfully present in Nicaragua.
No Nicaraguan territory is leased to, occupied by, or otherwise under the control of another country. Therefore, cases of children born in Nicaraguan territory under such circumstances do not occur in Nicaragua.
2. Infants of unknown parents found in national territory; they are subject to change of status in accordance with the law if it is appropriate, should their family become known.
3. Children born to foreign parents on board a Nicaraguan boat or place, if and when they apply for naturalization.
Type of Documentation Issued to a Person Deemed to Be a National by
The Civil Code of Nicaragua mandates that each village and town of the country shall have an office of the Civil Registry. Among the functions of this office are registering the births that occur in the locality and issuing the birth certificate of the persons registered there. Therefore, the birth certificate is the most basic document issued to persons born in Nicaraguan territory.
The legislation on passports currently in force does not say whether or not passports shall be issued only to Nicaraguans, or whether or not passports may be issued in exceptional cases to a non-Nicaraguan. In response to an inquiry on this issue, the Directorate General of Migration and Foreign Affairs indicated that in actual practice the Directorate grants Nicaraguan passports only to Nicaraguan nationals.
The data in Nicaraguan passports include: the current nationality and the actual place of birth of the passport's holder. Passports, which are issued by officers authorized to do so, are under the Code of Civil Procedure, public documents.
The validity of a passport may be challenged only in court.
Therefore, a Nicaraguan passport may be used as proof of nationality.
Citizen ID Card
Before the specifics of the ID card issued in Nicaragua can be explained, an explanation of the concepts of nationality
citizenship under the laws of Nicaragua is needed. In Nicaragua these two concepts are not synonymous. In addition, the words "citizen" and "citizenship" do not have the same meaning in Nicaragua as in the United States.
A Nicaraguan national is a person who is deemed Nicaraguan by reason of birth or by naturalization.
A citizen (
) is a Nicaraguan national who has reached the age of sixteen.
In the United States, under the XIV Amendment of the Constitution, "... [a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside... "
An ID card is issued to each Nicaraguan citizen; more specifically, an ID card is issued to those individuals who are nationals either by birth or by naturalization, have reached the age of 16, and request it. The card is called tarjeta de identidad ciudadana (citizen ID card).
The Law on Citizens ID (
Ley de Identidad Ciudadana
) charges the Supreme Electoral Council (
Consejo Supremo Electoral
) through the National Commission on Registration (
Comisión Nacional de Cedulación
) and the General Directorate of Registration (
Dirección General de Cedulación
) with the responsibility of issuing the citizen ID Card.
Regional and municipal directorates of registration are located throughout the Republic.
Nicaraguans residing abroad who have reached the age of 16 but have not obtained a Nicaraguan citizen ID card may request it at any time before the General Consulate of Nicaragua of the corresponding jurisdiction.
In Nicaragua, a citizen ID card can be used as verification of personal identity in all circumstances where a personal ID is needed, including voting in national elections.
It should be borne in mind that Nicaraguan nationals who are younger than 16 years of age cannot hold a citizen ID card.
Citizens ID cards are standardized throughout the country.
Under the same article 16 of the Constitution explained above, the following persons are classified as Nicaraguan nationals:
1. The children of a Nicaraguan father or mother.
2. Children born out of the country to fathers or mothers who originally were Nicaraguan, if and when they apply for naturalization after reaching legal age or emancipation.
The above listed provisions of article 16 of the Constitution were adopted literally and included in article 3 of the Law on Nationality.
Nicaragua also uses also the concept of
as a basis of nationality. Therefore, a persons (sic) born outside Nicaragua whose father and/or mother is a national is entitled to have Nicaraguan nationality. To have civil effects, however, this status has to be recognized by the State. According to the Civil Code, such recognition can be achieved by registering the children's birth before the Office of the Civil Registry under the responsibility of the Nicaraguan consulates.
At the Nicaraguan consulates, the father and/or mother of the child have to prove their Nicaraguan nationality.
The Law on Nationality provides that children who fall under the doctrine of
may have double nationality. However, within a period of two years after reaching the legal age or emancipation, they must ratify their Nicaraguan nationality or renounce claim to it before the Directorate General of Migration and Foreign Affairs.
The authorities who confer the children's new status are the Ministry of the Interior (
Ministro de Gobernación
) and the Director General of Migration and Foreign Affairs.
If these children decide to ratify their Nicaraguan nationality, they must make a statement of allegiance to Nicaragua.
Documents Issued to a Person Deemed to Be a National by
Birth certificate issued abroad by the Nicaraguan consul.
Passport. Persons living abroad may request a passport from the Nicaraguan Consul, who sends the application to the Directorate General of Migration and Foreign Affairs in Managua. Once the passport is issued by this institution, it is sent to the Nicaraguan Consul, who hands it to the applicant.
Resolution of the Directorate General of Migration and Foreign Affairs approving his/her ratification of the Nicaraguan nationality. The interested party must take this document and publish it in
La Gaceta, Diario Oficial
. Until the document is published, the ratification is not legally binding.
Certificate of the above resolution. This document constitutes the certificate of ratification of nationality.
Citizen ID Card, which can be obtained at the Nicaraguan Consulate. As explained above, the ID card can be obtained only after a person has reached the legal age or emancipation.
Foreigners may become nationals by naturalization if they have previously resigned their prior nationality. Article 7 of the Law on Nationality provides that a foreigner may apply to become a natural after meeting the following requirements:
Submitting proof of residence in the country for four continuous years from the date he/she obtained permanent residence documentation.
Submitting proof of the means of earning a legal living.
Submitting documents verifying good behavior and lack of a criminal record.
Submitting a certificate from an educational authority testifying the foreigner's adequate knowledge of Spanish, Nicaraguan history and geography, and the political and social organization of the country.
As explained above, the implementing regulation to the Law on Nationality has not yet been promulgated. For this reason, the General Directorate of Migration and Foreign Affairs has not yet established a procedure to implement the above provision. Therefore, the requirement that the applicant have knowledge of the history, geography, and political and social organization of Nicaragua is not currently being enforced. With respect to the requirement that an applicant know Spanish, when an alien applying for
naturalization appears before the Directorate of Migration and Foreign Affairs the officer who receives the application tests the applicant's knowledge of Spanish by engaging him/her in an informal conversation, usually involving issues related to the foreigner's application.
Article 8 of the Law on Nationality provides that a foreigner may become a national by naturalization with only a two-year permanent residence requirement instead of the normal four-year requirement if he/she complies with the following requirements in addition to the requirements (b-d) listed above.
The applicant is a national from Spain or from states that have adopted the principle of reciprocity;
The applicant is a foreign spouse of a Nicaraguan and remains married. This last requirement would not be enforced if the foreign spouse had lost his/her original nationality because of his/her marriage to the Nicaraguan.
Article 9 of the Law on Nationality provides that foreigners who have established an industry or are engaged in an activity which contributes to the economic, social, and cultural development of the country may become nationals by naturalization with only two years of permanent residence. In addition, they must have previously resigned their original nationality and have met the requirements provided in paragraphs b-d of article 7, as explained above.
Nicaraguan nationality acquired through naturalization is inclusive as regards the naturalized individual's underage children. However, after reaching the legal age or emancipation, these children must decide to keep either their Nicaraguan nationality or their original nationality.
Naturalized Nicaraguans have the same rights and obligations as nationals except with respect to the limitations that the Constitution and the Law establish.
When applying for naturalization, the applicant has to pay a fee of 250
The authorities who confer the nationality are the Ministry of the Interior (
Ministro de Gobernación
) and the Director General of Migration and Foreign Affairs.
The ceremony of naturalization is a short one, always presided over by the Director General of Migration and Foreign Affairs. This ceremony is occasionally also presided by the Ministry or Vice-Ministry of the Interior. An average of four ceremonies of naturalization take place per year, although there is no specific rule on this issue. The ceremony generally takes place at the Directorate General of Migration and Foreign Affairs. A special oath of allegiance is taken at the ceremony.
The specific words of the oath were not available to the author of this report.
Type of Documentation Issued to a Person Deemed to Be a National by Naturalization.
The specifics about Nicaraguan passports are explained above (see section on passport).
The Directorate General of Migration and Foreign Affairs furnishes the following documents to those who become Nicaraguans by naturalization.
The resolution of the Directorate granting the Nicaraguan nationality. The grantee must take this document and publish it in
La Gaceta, Diario Oficial
. Until the resolution has been published, it is not legally binding.
A certificate of the above resolution. This document constitutes the naturalization certificate.
National ID Card