I'm Australian and live with my Estonian wife in Estonia. Our daughter was born here in Estonia and is therefore an Estonian citizen. We're thinking about moving back to Australia at some point (my wife has an Australian permanent visa application in progress) and from what I've researched online, it'll be cheaper for us to make our daughter an Australian citizen (by descent) than it would be to get her a permanent visa as well. I've also read that you can't be a dual Australian/Estonian citizen.

My question is: if we apply for my daughter to become an Australian citizen here in Estonia before we leave, and she gets an Australian passport, what'll happen (if anything) when we turn up to the airport in Estonia to leave? I'm wondering if they're going to think it odd that a baby born here is leaving the country for the first time on a foreign passport...

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    In Estonia, for sure, there are many babies born there but without Estonian passport. So it is not a problem. The main problem with children: immigration will look for child trafficking. So travel with both parents, or get something official that a parent could "expat" a children (usually an authorization of other parent, sometime with some official stamp/signature). Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 8:49
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    Have you checked your child is not dual national from birth? In several countries you can not have a second nationality as adult but children do qualify when (one of) their parents have that nationality.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 10:24
  • I have done this but not with those specific countries. My son was born in the Philippines and I got him a UK passport. One oddity was that he was regarded as a foreigner who had spent more than 6 months in the country and hence needed an exit visa (so did I). So, we had to report to a government office and fill out some forms. Somewhere in a dusty office in Manila, are some baby finger prints. We had no issue actually leaving the country and none arriving here in the UK.
    – badjohn
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 10:39
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    Do you have to apply for her to become an Australian citizen? If Australia's law is similar to the law n the countries with related legal systems with which I am familiar (UK, Canada, USA), as well as in the less related ones (Netherlands, France, Germany, others), you daughter already is an Australian citizen. The only application you need to submit is a passport application.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 1:48
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    @phoog: Wikipedia says that Australian nationality law is unusual in that respect: "Australian citizenship by descent is not conferred at birth, and a child born outside Australia to an Australian parent must apply for citizenship." Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 13:28

2 Answers 2


Yes she can leave on a foreign passport, but I'm not sure how smooth or bumpy her exit from Estonia will be (as there's a division who can and cannot be a dual citizen).

As your wife is Estonian, your daughter is therefore Estonian citizen by birth (not due to her being born in Estonia).

The Citizenship Act states

§ 5. Acquisition of Estonian citizenship by birth

(1) Estonian citizenship is acquired by birth by:

° 1) any child at least one of whose parents holds Estonian citizenship at the time of the birth of the child;

Now, even though Estonia does not allow dual citizenship the same Citizenship Act says:

(3) No one may be deprived of an Estonian citizenship acquired by birth.

Meaning, she can lawfully be a dual Estonian citizen (she's not unique in this case, other people are legally dual Estonians too, even the previous president of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves was a dual US-Estonia citizen until he decided to give up his US citizenship himself).

Now, I'm not very familiar with Australian law, but if it's any similar to the British Nationality Act, then it might be the case that your daughter is already an Australian citizen and you don't need to apply for the citizenship per se, but rather can directly apply for her Australian passport.

Saying all that, I strongly believe she should not have a problem leaving Estonia by either Estonian passport or Australian passport. If the question would to arise on why her Australian passport has no mention of entry into Estonia you should be able to confidently say that she is Estonian (as an Estonian by birth she is protected by constitution and cannot lose her citizenship just because she has another one).

But to make things easier, in case she would ever travel back to Estonia, I would also get her an Estonian passport. She can board the plane to Estonia on her Australian passport but I wouldn't personally want to explain to Estonian immigration she is Estonian while waving her Australian passport. Even though they should let her through, having both passports at hand might help speed up entry/exit check at Estonia in this particular circumstance.

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    As pointed out by @HenningMakholm in the question comments section, Australian citizenship by descent is not automatically conferred at birth but must be applied for. Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 19:48

This is not particularly odd at all. Most countries do not have jus soli, and Estonia is indeed among the countries which don't. Therefore, babies born to foreigners in Estonia are not Estonian, and so leaving the country for the first time on a foreign passport isn't an unusual occurrence.

On the other hand, some countries do have laws requiring citizens to enter and sometimes to leave using that countries passport. For example, Australian citizens are required to use their Australian passport when entering Australia. It's possible that this is the case for Estonia, but I've not been able to find anything on the subject in English.

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    OK but the baby in question was born in Estonia to an Estonian mother; she is Estonian, by the rules quoted in the other answer. This is not remotely the same situation as, say, a child of two Australians being born in Estonia. Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 12:12
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    @David Richerby I was commenting on the general case of a baby being born in a foreign country, and that since Estonia doesn’t have jus soli, it’s not a rare occurrence for a baby to leave on a foreign passport without having entered.
    – MJeffryes
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 15:35

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