Armenian passport is a valuable document allowing visa-free travel to 65 countries, including places with limited access to nationals of Western countries, such as Russia, China, Iran, Uzbekistan, etc. Becoming a dual citizen of Armenia gives you an "insurance policy" in case if you have to leave your country because of economic or political issues, if you seek more privacy, if your first passport is expired, lost or confiscated, or if you ever decide to renounce your current citizenship. Armenian citizenship can be passed to future generations or renounced.
A knowledgeable local lawyer can help you navigate through the naturalization process, avoid pitfalls and maximize your chances of success. Legal assistance can be very valuable for reviewing, procuring, certifying and translating documents, communicating with government agencies and tracking your case, obtaining the passport, national ID card, registering with the police and the military office. Please contact us for a free evaluation of your case.
Overview of Requirements
Knowledge of Armenian Language
Knowledge of Armenian Constitution
365 days (with exceptions)
Legal Guide to Armenian Citizenship and Passport
#1. Citizenship by Ethnicity (Armenian Ancestry)
important changes to Citizenship law
On July 13, 2022, the National Security Service (NSS) published suggested amendments to the Citizenship Law that will make it more difficult for ethnic Armenians to apply for citizenship. In particular, the NSS recommends restricting the eligibility for citizenship to only those ethnic Armenians who spent at least 60 days in Armenia over the last two years.
It is not yet clear when/if these changes will be approved. However, it is reasonable to believe that the proposed (or similar) restrictions will be imposed by the end of 2022.
Ethnic Armenians qualify for citizenship without having to meet any language or residency requirements. You should note, however, that certain formal requirements have to be met to establish Armenian origin. Having an Armenian name or speaking Armenian fluently is not by itself sufficient. You will have to produce a document showing that you are (or your parent or grandparent were) an ethnic Armenian. The most common way to do this is to show a baptism certificate issued by a church organization that confirms the Armenian ethnicity. In certain countries the Armenian ethnicity may also be mentioned in the government-issued documents (e.g. birth certificate, family records etc.).
The list of churches the certificates of which are generally accepted by the government are published here (in Armenian, see Annex 4). If your church does not appear on the list or if there is no Armenian embassy in your country you may need to get an additional certificate from Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. Please contact us for more information.
The law does not have a complete list of documents that may be submitted to prove the Armenian origin. For example, this can be a statement issued by the local Armenian community or other organization. However, it is important that the document be attested (legalized) by the Armenian embassy/consulate in the country where the document was issued. For example, the Armenian embassy must certify the baptism certificate before it can be used to apply for citizenship.
An Armenian translation of your birth certificate will also have to be submitted to the Passport Office. It means you will likely have to legalize two documents: the birth certificate and the baptism certificate.
Please note that according to article 47 of the 2015 Constitution, ethnic Armenians are entitled to citizenship after moving their residence to Armenia. This restriction is not yet applicable because the Citizenship Law has not been brought in line with the Constitution. However, it is advisable to proceed with the petition sooner to take advantage of current, more liberal regulations.
#2. Citizenship for Spouses and Parents
If you are a spouse of an Armenian citizen you are eligible to apply for Armenian citizenship, provided that you meet the following criteria:
- The marriage has been officially registered for the last two years, and
- You resided in Armenia for at least 365 days during this two-year period, or you have a common child who is an Armenian citizen.
Having a child (minor or adult) who is an Armenian national is also a separate legal ground to apply for citizenship, irrespective of the marital status.
As far as the 365-day residency requirement is concerned, in practice, the Police accepts and processes a citizenship application if the applicant has maintained an Armenian residence permit (temporary, permanent or special) during that period, irrespective of the number of days he/she actually spent in Armenia.
In addition, you will have to pass a test on the knowledge of Armenian Constitution before your application is accepted. It is an easy multiple-choice test with 33 questions, and you need to answer correctly to only 17 of them to pass the test. Because you are exempted from the language requirements you can take the test in a foreign language. Normally a licensed translator will be present to translate the questions for you.
Meeting the above requirements does not guarantee that your application for citizenship will be approved.
#3. Citizenship by Residence
You are eligible to apply for Armenian citizenship if you have been permanently residing in the country for the last three years.
The Citizenship Law does not define the term "permanent resident." As far as the 3-year residency requirement is concerned, in practice, the Police accepts and processes a citizenship application if the applicant has maintained an Armenian residence permit (temporary, permanent or special) during that period, irrespective of the number of days he/she actually spent in Armenia.
In addition to the three-year residency requirement you will have to pass the test on the knowledge of Armenian Constitution. It is an easy multiple-choice test with 33 questions, and you need to answer correctly to only 17 of them to pass the test. The test shall be administered in Armenian language, and you will be asked to fill out an application-questionnaire (biographic form) in Armenian. Thus, you may have to spend a certain time (probably 1-2 months) to learn basic Armenian.
Meeting the above requirements does not guarantee that your application for citizenship will be approved.
#4. Citizenship by Exception (Investment)
In certain cases substantial donations or investments can be considered as “exceptional services” to Armenia for which the President may grant citizenship without any other requirements. Citizenship by exception is granted in an expedited manner (normally, in 2-3 months) as the Prime Minister's office can directly present candidates to the President. Each case is considered on its individual merits and factors that may influence the decision are the size of investment and/or charitable contributions, creation of jobs, payment of taxes, nationality of the applicant, his/her ties to the country, etc.
Amendments to the Citizenship Law were enacted on July 7, 2022, to provide for the possibility of acquiring Armenian citizenship by means of "making a significant economic contribution" to the country. Armenia now has a law that allows foreigners to acquire Armenian citizenship if they can show they have made a "significant contribution" in the area of economy or culture, athletics, science, education, healthcare, etc. The law specifically exempts such applicants from normally applicable naturalization requirements (knowledge of Constitution or Armenian language, residence in Armenia, etc.). The law will probably be published and will enter into force by the end of July 2022, which means that the exact evaluation criteria clarifying the meaning of "significant contribution" shall be enacted by the Cabinet of Ministers of Armenia by the end of January 2023. The text of the amendments is available here.
#5. Passports, ID Documents, Social Security Number
After the President of the Republic signs your citizenship decree you may apply for an Armenian passport and an identification card. Currently, you have the option of applying for a regular passport or a biometric passport. If you were issued a regular passport you can later apply for and get a biometric passport and thus have two valid passports. Please note that the biometric passport also shows your "place of residence." If you do not wish your country of residence to appear on your passport it is better to go with the regular passport.
You may also get an identification document (ID card), which is issued in the form of a plastic card. This document also shows your social security number (public services number).
#6. Special Residency (Special Passport)
Before Armenia legalized dual citizenship in 2005 special passports were very common among ethnic Armenians who did not want to renounce their current citizenship. But even now many foreigners prefer to apply for special residency instead of becoming full-fledged citizens (for example, because of concerns about military duty).
The special residence permit (passport) has a validity of ten years and can be extended indefinitely for 10-year increments. It looks different from temporary/permanent residence permits as it is issued in the form of a passport, not a card. It allows its holder to travel freely to and from Armenia without a visa, to live, work, study, do business and engage in any other lawful activity in Armenia without work permits or other papers. One notable advantage of the special passport is that its holder can own agricultural and other land directly in his/her own name, without the need to establish a legal entity.
In practice special passports are issued to foreigners of Armenian origin, i.e. ethnic Armenians. In exceptional cases special passports can be issued to non-Armenians who are engaged in economic or cultural activities in Armenia. Children under 16 can also get special passports.
The time required to obtain a special passport is around 60 days. Unlike citizenship applications an application for a special passport can be filed remotely by giving a power of attorney to your representative.
#7. Fees & Expenses
In addition to the official government fees detailed below you are likely to incur legal fees (if you hire a lawyer), translation and notarization fees, and other expenses that may be specific to your case. Please contact us for an estimate of your budget.
Fast Passport or ID Card Issuance
Next Business Day
Three Business Days
Five Business Days
#8. Procedure & Timeline
Normally the process starts with procuring the required documents, such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate, proof of Armenian ethnicity or other documents that are relevant to your case. These documents may need required certification (consular legalization, Apostille, etc.) We also ask our clients to provide some biographic information to fill out the required application forms.
Most of the applicants come to Armenia to file their applications in person at the Passport Department of the Police (OVIR). It is also possible to file an application at an Armenian embassy/consular office abroad. However, in that case the process may take longer because the documents will have to travel to Armenia and back. Please check the page on visas to see if you need a visa and, if so, if you also need an invitation letter from Armenia.
The duration of your stay in Armenia will depend on your circumstances. Typically 2-3 business days will be sufficient to translate the documents and file the application.
The application for citizenship must be filed in person. A power of attorney will authorize one of our lawyers to accompany you to the Passport Office to make sure the application process goes smoothly. Supporting documents will also be submitted at this stage. Please note that you may have to take a test on the knowledge of Armenian Constitution if you apply based on residency or marriage to an Armenian citizen.
An application for citizenship will normally be processed within 90 days (citizenship by exception may be granted faster). It will be reviewed by the Police, and the National Security Service. If these two agencies issue a negative opinion, the case will be forwarded to the Citizenship Committee, and it may take longer to conclude, up to 6 months.
If the security officers have any questions about the documents submitted they may contact the applicant/lawyer to request additional information/documents. The Passport Office notifies the applicant/lawyer after the citizenship is granted or rejected. It is also possible to check the status online at http://220.127.116.11/.
After your citizenship is granted you will have to make another trip to Armenia to apply for and get your passport and national ID card. Normally you should plan to spend in Armenia 3-5 business days; it depends on whether you need to register with the military office and whether your are ready to pay fast-track service fees to get your passport sooner.
Please note that since June 25, 2022, the law allows first-time applicants to obtain their passports at the Armenian embassies/consular offices abroad.
If you are a male below the age of 55 you may have to register with the military office. If you served in the military of another country you may want to bring a legalized (consular legalization or Apostille) document confirming this fact. The registration typically takes 1-3 days.
Currently you have the option of applying for a regular passport or a biometric one. It may take up to three weeks for a passport to be issued, unless you pay for a fast-track service to get your passport/ID card the next business day or in three or five business days. At this stage you will also register your address. If you want to register a local Armenian address you may have to show proof of residence in Armenia (e.g. lease agreement, owner's consent etc.).
You will be given a day and time (normally 4 PM) to appear at the Passport Office to collect your passport and the ID card. Before you collect the documents you will have to sign the oath of allegiance.
#9. Family Members
If you hold Armenian citizenship your minor children may be granted citizenship immediately upon your request. However, if you do not reside in Armenia the certified consent of the child's other parent may be required. The child's consent is also required if he/she is 14 years of age and above. Passports for children may be issued without your presence to your lawyer or other representative in Armenia to whom you have issued a power of attorney. Starting from 2018 it is possible for an ethnic Armenian child to acquire Armenian citizenship even if none of the parents are Armenian citizens.
Adult sons and daughters generally have to go through a separate procedure of naturalization.
Your spouse can apply for Armenian citizenship if he/she meets the criteria specified above under "Citizenship by Marriage".
After your citizenship is granted your spouse, parent, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandparent or grandchild can get a temporary (one-year) residence permit. A permanent (five-year) residence permit may also be available after three years of residence in Armenia. In certain cases a special (10-year) residence status may be granted (see above under "Special Residency").
#10. Address Registration
All Armenian citizens must have a registered address․ Registered addresses are mostly used for delivering official notices.
If a foreign address was specified in your citizenship application it will be automatically registered as your official address. If you want to register a local address (e.g. because you want your passport or your ID card to show "Armenia" as your country of residence) you will need to show proof that you reside in Armenia. It can be a certificate of ownership or lease of a residential property or the owner's consent to the registration. If none of these documents are available you may request the local police to make a factual check (normally takes up to two weeks) and confirm that you actually reside at the address in question. If you are a male under 55 years of age, registering a different address may require you to register with another military office located in the new area of your residence.
Consular registration is required if you become a resident of a foreign country, i.e. stay there for more than 183 days.
#11. Military Registration and Service
The military service in Armenia is mandatory for male citizens aged 18 to 27. The service lasts two years, and the conscripts are drafted twice a year: in January and July. Unless you want to serve in the military it is recommended to postpone your citizenship application until you turn 27. If you have a minor son your acquisition of Armenian citizenship will not automatically turn him into an Armenian citizen, unless the other parent of the child also acquires Armenian citizenship. Likewise, if your son is born after you acquire Armenian citizenship he will not automatically become an Armenian citizen, unless the other parent of the child is also an Armenian citizen.
Citizens aged 27 to 55 are registered in the military reserve and may be called to serve if mobilization is declared (e.g. in times of war). That being said, the likelihood that naturalized citizens who have never served in the Armenian military will be mobilized is extremely low.
Military service evasion is considered a crime and is generally punishable by up to three years of imprisonment (a criminal case may be opened if the citizen in question was registered with the military office, was served a notice and failed to report to start his service). Exemptions from military service are generally available for those who have serious health issues or for humanitarian reasons (e.g. having two or more children, being the sole provider for aged or disabled family members, etc.). Dual citizens are generally exempted from military service if they served in the military of another country for at least 12 months (18 months in case of alternative service).
Please contact us if you need more information about the military service. If you are concerned about military service obligations you may also consider applying for a special passport (see above).
#12. Taxation Issues, Tax Registration & Residency
Because Armenia's tax system is not based on citizenship your acquisition of Armenian nationality should not result in any negative tax consequences. However, if you are a foreign employee (or private entrepreneur) working in Armenia obtaining Armenian citizenship may trigger your obligation to make social and military contributions.
You normally become a tax resident of Armenia by spending in the country more than 183 days in a year. Armenia normally does not tax capital gains on the sale of securities, gains from the sale of real estate or other assets, irrespective of whether these gains are generated in Armenia or elsewhere. Certain forms of income, such as insurance and pension payments are also exempt from taxes. There are no taxes on gifts and inheritance, net worth tax etc.
There is no general rule that would exempt a tax resident from taxes on income generated outside of Armenia.
Obtaining an Armenian passport and establishing stronger ties with Armenia can help you to qualify for a non-resident status in your country of origin or other countries and take advantage of certain tax benefits. You may obtain documents such as proof of registered address in Armenia, social security number, taxpayer identification number, tax residency certificate, etc.
Please contact us if you need more information about tax regulations in Armenia.
#13. Rejection and Re-Application
If your application for citizenship is rejected you are allowed to reapply after one year. Applicants are normally notified of the rejection by a text message which does not detail the reasons for rejection. The rejection may be appealed in court. Typically, the only way to learn about the grounds for rejection is to file an appeal with the administrative court.
#14. Recognition of Armenian Citizenship
You are automatically recognized as a citizen of Armenia if you were a permanent resident of Armenia as of July 13, 1995, provided you were a citizen of the former Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic and did not have any other citizenship.
Upon your request you may be recognized as an Armenian citizen if you do not have any other citizenship, and
- You do not reside in Armenia, you are an ethnic Armenian and a former citizen of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, or
- You reside in Armenia and 1) you were a citizen of the former U.S.S.R., or 2) you are an ethnic Armenian.
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10 Reasons for an Armenian Passport
1. Dual Citizenship Allowed
Armenia expressly allows dual citizenship.
2. Valuable Travel Document
As of 2022 Armenian passport ranks 64th in the world according to Arton Capital Passport Index, and 78th according to Henley & Partners Passport Index, and allows visa-free travel to 65 countries, including places with limited access to nationals of Western countries, such as Russia, Iran, Uzbekistan etc. The EU/Schengen countries still have a visa regime with Armenia but visa-free travel may become possible in a few years. The United States offer 10-year B visas to Armenian citizens as well as E-2 business visas.
3. More Freedom and Options
Having a second passport gives you more freedom and options and can serve as a valuable "insurance policy." Armenia is generally considered a very safe country with one of the lowest crime rates in the world. If the economic or political situation in your country gets worse you can use your Armenian passport to temporarily or permanently move to Armenia with your family. Having a second passport can help you avoid problems resulting from your country’s foreign policy and domestic regulations (for example, difficulties with banking or increased tax burden). A second passport can be useful if you seek more privacy or if your first passport is expired, lost or confiscated. Also, you will need a second passport if you ever decide to renounce your current citizenship.
4. Citizenship Passes to Future Generations
Once you acquire Armenian citizenship your minor children can automatically get Armenian passports and your spouse may become eligible to apply for citizenship. Under Armenian law a child born to an Armenian father or mother can easily acquire Armenian citizenship, irrespective of the place of birth or residence. In other words, your children and grandchildren will be able to get Armenian passports even if they do not reside in Armenia.
5. Preferential Treatment in Russia and Other EAEU Countries
Because of the free movement of labor in EAEU countries (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia) citizens of Armenia are exempted from work permit requirements and can take advantage of preferential treatment in areas of labor law, social protection, medical treatment, taxation, immigration etc.
6. Fast, Easy and Inexpensive Naturalization
The process of acquiring an Armenian passport normally takes less than three months. Once your petition is approved you can get your Armenian passport and national ID in a matter of days. Only minimum documents are required. There is no need to provide police certificates, proof of address, tax returns, etc. Government fees are very low even if you use optional fast-track services.
7. Ownership of Land
As a citizen of Armenia you can own agricultural, forest and other types of land in Armenia, a privilege that is generally not available to foreigners.
8. Government Assistance
Armenia has a number of social programs for its citizens, including government-financed education and medical treatment, welfare benefits for old, disabled and other classes of socially vulnerable people.
9. Tax Benefits
Obtaining an Armenian passport and establishing stronger ties with Armenia can help you to qualify for a non-resident status in your country of origin or other countries and take advantage of the tax benefits available to non-residents. You may obtain documents such as proof of registered address in Armenia, social security number, taxpayer identification number, tax residency certificate, etc.
10. Easy Renunciation
If you ever decide to give up your Armenian citizenship it is easy to do so as long as you do not have any outstanding debts and obligation towards the government.
Area: 29,700 SQ.KM.
Capital: YEREVAN (1,075,000)
LITERACY RATE: 99.6%
KNOWLEDGE OF ENGLISH: 40%
climate: summer 35c; winter 0c
Currency: Dram ($1 = 410 AMD)
average salary: $414
gdp growth: 6.1%
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WB DB rank: 47
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LL.M. Georgetown University
New York Bar | Armenian Chamber of Advocates
We are a team of licensed lawyers based in Armenia. Our primary commitment is to provide quality service to clients at a compelling value that helps manage risk, overcome regulatory issues and advance their personal and business goals.
LL.M. Georgetown University
New York Bar | Armenia Chamber of Advocates
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