BERLIN – In the United States, every child born on American soil automatically becomes an American citizen regardless of his or her parents' nationality. That is not the case in many European nations.
As voters in Switzerland were deciding Sunday whether to make it easier for "third-generation foreigners" to get citizenship, here's a glance at how other countries across Europe handle citizenship issues.
A child born in the U.K. is automatically a British citizen only if one parent is a citizen of, or settled in, the U.K. A U.K.-born child without a parent who fits the bill can become a British citizen later — either if they live in Britain till they are 10 or if either parent becomes legally settled in Britain.
Children of parents with foreign passports receive German citizenship at birth if one parent has lived in Germany for at least eight years and has unlimited residency status. The children also get to keep their parents' citizenship. At age 21, they are supposed to choose one of the two nationalities but that has been watered down by new regulations and there are a lot of exceptions now.
Those born in Italy can ask, when they turn 18, to become an Italian citizen if they have continued to live in Italy since birth. The request must be made before the 19th birthday.
All children born in France of foreign parents automatically gain French citizenship at 18 if they live in France and have lived here for five years since the age of 11.
Greece has no birthright citizenship. If a child of foreign parents is born in Greece, it doesn't give them the right to Greek citizenship.
Birthright citizenship is only given to foreign children born in Finland if the child has no opportunity of being granted citizenship of another country or if the child's parents have received official refugee status from Finnish authorities.
Birthright citizenship is only given to foreign children born in the Czech Republic if their parents are considered stateless or if one of the parents has a residency permit for longer than 90 days.