Did you know that you automatically give up Indian citizenship if you become a citizen of any other country?

Citizenship in India

Last updated on Mar 12, 2024

Citizenship is the legal status given to a citizen of a particular country, which is granted by the Government. The rights that citizens of India have differ from non-citizens. For example, only citizens of India can contest in elections, 1), etc.

Proof of Citizenship

In India, the government has not mandated that citizens should hold any particular document to be regarded as Indian citizens, except in Assam. Indian citizens may choose which proof(s) of identification they want to acquire, based on the services that card/document provides. For instance, one must have a PAN Card to be able to file income tax returns or a Voter ID Card to vote in elections, but the government does not mandatorily require you to possess any of these proofs of identification.

However, please note that no proof of identification, such as Aadhar, Passport, is a conclusive proof of citizenship in India.

Acquiring Indian Citizenship

Under the law, you are considered an Indian citizen if you are born in India and fall in one of the 3 categories below: 2

  • If you were born between 26th January 1950 to 1st July 1987: You are a citizen irrespective of the nationality of your parents.
  • If you were born between 1st July 1987 to 3rd December 2004:  One of your parents should have been an Indian citizen when you are born
  • If you were born on or after 3rd December 2004: Both your parents must be  Indian citizens; or if only one of your parents is a citizen, then the other is not an illegal immigrant

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was notified in March 2024. It offers a fast track to citizenship for persecuted minorities (Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, Jain, and Christian) from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.  They can apply for citizenship through a simplified process if they can show evidence of religious persecution in their home country.
The residency requirement for these minorities seeking citizenship has been reduced to 6 years, as opposed to the standard 11 years required for naturalization under other circumstances.

There are three other procedures that can be followed to become an Indian citizen i.e. by descent,3 naturalization4 and registration.5 Through these, you can also acquire Indian citizenship if you were born outside India in certain cases. Indian residents and others, who are not citizens by birth, can apply for Indian citizenship.

Termination of Indian Citizenship

Your status as an Indian citizen can be terminated if:

  • You give up your Indian citizenship.6
  • You voluntarily acquire the citizenship of another country.7

Furthermore,  if you are not born as an Indian citizen and have acquired citizenship by naturalisation or registration under certain circumstances, then the Government  may deprive you of your status as an Indian citizen:

  • If you show yourself to be disloyal towards the Constitution of India,8
  • If your citizenship  was obtained fraudulently, by false representation or by not revealing crucial facts,9 etc.
  • If, during any war India is engaged in, you have unlawfully traded or communicated with an enemy, or knowingly associated with any business assisting the enemy,10
  • If you were sentenced to jail in any country for at least 2 years, within 5 years of being registered/naturalized as an Indian citizen,11
  • If you have been residing out of India for more than 7 years continuously, without being enrolled in any educational institute in that country,or in the service of Government of India, or an international organization of which India is a member. Your citizenship may also be deprived if, during this time,  you have not demonstrated your intention to be an Indian citizen through the prescribed requirements.12

Read this government resource to know more

  1. Election Commission of India, FAQs, Contesting for Elections, Q.1., https://eci.gov.in/faqs/page/2/; Mr. Louis De Raedt & Ors. v. Union of India & Others, 1991 SCR (3) 149[]
  2. Section 3, Citizenship Act, 1955[]
  3. Section 4, Citizenship Act, 1955[]
  4. Section 6, Citizenship Act, 1955[]
  5. Section 5, Citizenship Act, 1955[]
  6. Section 8(1), Citizenship Act, 1955[]
  7. Section 9(1), Citizenship Act, 1955[]
  8. Section 10(2)(b), Citizenship Act, 1955[]
  9. Section 10(2)(a), Citizenship Act, 1955[]
  10. Section 10(2)(c), Citizenship Act, 1955[]
  11. Section 10(2)(d), Citizenship Act, 1955[]
  12. Section 10(2)(e), Citizenship Act, 1955[]

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