What does "Jus Sanguinis" Mean?

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  • Written By: Karize Uy
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 12 March 2020
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Jus sanguinis is a Latin phrase that literally translates to “right of blood” in English. The phrase is used most often in situations concerning nationality law and citizenship policy. It first used as a legal term in the year of 1902.

The phrase asserts that an individual can claim a right to a citizenship according to the nationality or citizenship of a parent. An individual can claim citizenship to a certain country if, at the time of his birth, a parent holds the same citizenship. In ordinary cases, a legitimate child naturally obtains his father’s citizenship, but in cases of illegitimate children, the child receives the same citizenship of his mother, unless contested. The social policy of jus sanguinis differs greatly from another policy called “jus soli,” which means “right of soil.” Jus soli does not take into consideration any parent’s citizenship, but establishes an individual’s citizenship based on the location of his birth.


The policy of jus sanguinis still applies, especially in European countries such as France, Greece, Sweden, and Romania. Many immigrations and diasporas occurred out of Europe before and during the 20th century, which resulted in many people taking residence outside their original country. Offering the right of jus sanguinis may serve as a means to bring the people back and preserve a country’s culture, identity, and language. In Ireland, a person can even claim a grandparent’s nationality in order to become a citizen. In Spain, every individual who has a Spanish ancestry, regardless of degree and distance, is permitted an original nationality.

Other countries, however, require individuals to have a certain awareness of language and culture in order to apply for the citizenship. In these cases, one has to take and pass a language examination. A person can also present evidence that he has knowledge of the culture.

Another nationality law derived from jus sanguinis is the “lex sanguinis,” or the “law of the blood.” This law provides privileges to an individual as an immigrant, but does not allow immediate inheritance of citizenship. Depending on the coverage of the law, a person can buy and own land, receive an education, or remain in the country without any visa. The right to vote, however, is usually withheld, as this is a right only citizens can claim. The lex sanguinis aims to protect a country from an influx of people who have no sincere and authentic ties but want to automatically claim citizenship.


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