Provisions for obtaining Rwandan nationality

Article 12 of N°54/2011 of 14/12/2011 the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child says that every child has a right to an identity. Identity in this regard includes name, nationality and family relations.

While name and family are quite simple, nationality is a bit complex because different countries have their own rules and regulations regarding the way someone can acquire and retain citizenship. In Rwanda’s case, there is organic law N° 30/2008 of 25/07/2008 relating to Rwandan nationality.

Article 3 of organic law N° 30/2008 of 25/07/2008 relating to Rwandan nationality says, “Dual nationality shall be permitted.” This means that you can be Rwandan and still be a citizen of another country if that country also permits dual citizenship.

As soon as a person is granted Rwandan nationality, they are entitled to all the rights and duties that other Rwandans enjoy. Thus, for instance, a child is identified as a Rwandan at birth, all the Rwandan laws regarding the rights and duties of Rwandan children are relevant to him/her. This is according to article 5 of the organic law relating to Rwandan nationality.

For you to be Rwandan, only one of your parents needs to be Rwandan. This is according to article 6 of the organic law relating to Rwandan nationality.

However, if neither of your parents is Rwandan but you were born in the country, you can apply for citizenship upon reaching the age of 18. The application is made to the Director General.

If you were born in Rwanda and your parents are unknown or if they are stateless, or if you cannot acquire your parents’ nationality, paragraph one article 9 of organic law N° 30/2008 of 25/07/2008 relating to Rwandan nationality says that you are granted Rwandan nationality.

The international legal definition of a stateless person is someone who is “not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law.” For example, refugees are often rendered stateless.

Another way that you can become a citizen of Rwanda is if as a new born baby, you were found on Rwandan territory and there is no proof that you are not Rwandan. This is according to paragraph two article 9 of the organic law relating to Rwandan nationality.

Article 10 of organic law N° 30/2008 of 25/07/2008 relating to Rwandan nationality describes Rwandan territory as “land, rivers, lakes and airspace within the borders of the Republic of Rwanda.” 

Article 12 of organic law N° 30/2008 of 25/07/2008 relating to Rwandan nationality says that you can also become Rwandan if you are foreign, stateless, not yet eighteen or emancipated if you are adopted by a Rwandan.