Intergovernmental agreements

Dual or multiple citizenships may have an impact on performing compulsory military service. With a view to regulating such cases, international agreements have been concluded, especially in the context of the Council of Europe, as well as bilateral agreements with Switzerland and Argentina.

Under Convention No.43 of the Council of Europe on the Reduction of Cases of Multiple Nationality and Military Obligations in Cases of Multiple Nationality (Federal Law Gazette No. 471/1975) and Convention No. 166 of the Council of Europe on Nationality (Federal Law Gazette III No. 39/2000), the following principles apply:

  1. Persons possessing the nationality of two or more Contracting Parties shall be required to fulfil their military obligation, i.e. compulsory military service, only in relation to one of the Contracting Parties. Any differences in terms of the duration of military service are not taken into consideration in this context.
  2. Military obligations must be fulfilled in relation to the Party in whose territory the individual is ordinarily resident. Up to the age of 19 he shall, however, be free to choose to submit himself to military obligations as a volunteer in relation to any other Party of which he is also a national for a total and effective period at least equal to that of the active military service required by the Party in which he is ordinarily resident.
  3. Irrespective of the individual’s age, this freedom to choose shall also apply in cases when the individual does not have his ordinary residence or domicile in any of the Contracting Parties whose nationality he holds. In such cases the duration of military service is not taken into consideration.
  4. Individuals who are nationals of a Contracting Party that does not provide for military service or mandatory military service, shall only be deemed to have fulfilled their military obligation as long as they have their ordinary residence or domicile in the territory of this Contracting Party. In respect to Contracting Parties which provide for military service and whose nationality the individual holds, the individual’s military obligation shall, however, not be deemed to have been fulfilled in such cases, and shall apply if this individual transfers his residence or domicile to the territory of this Contracting Party.
  5. If a man who holds dual or multiple nationality transfers his residence to Austria, it shall therefore be examined if he has already fulfilled his military obligations, also as a volunteer, in relation to any other Party of which he is also a national.
  6. In this case, this individual shall by law be considered exempt from the obligation to perform military service in Austria.
  7. If this is not the case, or in cases when the total duration of the voluntary military service (see item 2.) performed in another Contracting Party is shorter than that required in Austria, the individual shall in principle be subject to performing military service upon transfer of residence to Austria and provided the other legal requirements apply.

For details of the Contracting Parties to the Conventions No. 43 and No. 166, please visit the website of the Council of Europe.

There is no military obligation in the following Council of Europe Member States that are Contracting Parties to

  • the Convention of the Council of Europe No. 43: Belgium, France, Ireland, Iceland (no armed forces), Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, United Kingdom;
  • the Convention of the Council of Europe No. 166: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, Montenegro, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia;
  • both Conventions (No. 43 and No. 166): Germany (compulsory military service currently suspended), Netherlands, Sweden;
  • neither of the two conventions: Andorra (no armed forces), Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco (no armed forces), Poland, San Marino (no armed forces), Slovenia.

Military obligation exists in the following Council of Europe Member States that are Contracting Parties to

  • the Convention of the Council of Europe No. 166: Finland, Macedonia, Moldavia, Ukraine;
  • both conventions (No. 43 and No. 166): Austria, Denmark, Norway;
  • neither of the two conventions: Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Russia, Switzerland, Serbia, Turkey.    

Individuals who hold nationality of two or more Contracting Parties to the Hague Protocol Relating to Military Obligations in Certain Cases of Double Nationality, Federal Law Gazette No. 214/1958 and habitually reside in one of the countries whose nationality they possess and who are in fact most closely connected with that country shall be exempt from all military obligations in the other country or countries that are Contracting Parties to the Protocol. Exemption from such obligation to perform military service may, however, result in the loss of the nationality in these other contracting states, unless those states are also Contracting Parties to one of the two Conventions of the Council of Europe described above.

Information on the Contracting Parties as well as the French and English original of the text of the Hague Protocol of 1930 can be found on the United Nations website (United Nations Treaties Series).

Contracting Parties to the Hague Protocol are in

  • Europe: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Malta, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom;
  • Africa: Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauretania, Mauritius, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe;
  • America: Brazil, Columbia, Cuba, El Salvador, USA;
  • Oceania: Australia, Fiji, Kiribati;
  • Asia: India, Myanmar.

Further information on the obligation to perform compulsory military service in these and other countries is available in the overviews provided by ETH Zurich for Europe and the CIA for the rest of the world

The agreement between the Republic of Austria and the Swiss Confederation regarding military service performed by persons holding dual citizenship, Federal Law Gazette III No. 214/2000, provides that people holding dual citizenship generally have to satisfy their military obligations in the country (either Austria or Switzerland) in which the dual citizen has his permanent residence as of the relevant date (1 January) of the calendar year in which the dual citizen completes his 18th year of age; or at the date of naturalisation if the individual was naturalised at a later date. If the dual citizen’s permanent residence is in another country on the relevant date, he shall satisfy his military obligations in the country that is the first to draft him for military service.

As long as the dual citizen has not yet started his military service and provided he has not yet completed his 19th year of age, the dual citizen also has the opportunity to state in which country he wishes to fulfil his obligation to complete compulsory military service. Prior to the completion of their 19th year of age, dual citizens who have their permanent residence in a third country also have this opportunity to choose and as long as they have not yet started their military service. If they are naturalised at a later date, they have this opportunity for one year as of the naturalisation date and provided they have not yet started their military service.

In line with the bilateral agreement, fulfilment of the obligation to perform compulsory military service in either of the two countries will exempt dual citizens from their military obligation in the other country, except in cases of evasion of military duty. In such cases, the obligation to perform compulsory military service shall apply in both countries.

The agreement between the Republic of Austria and the Republic of Argentina on military service of dual citizens, Federal Law Gazette No. 450/1981, provides for Austro-Argentine dual citizens who fulfil their obligation to perform compulsory military service or are permanently exempt from fulfilling their obligation to perform compulsory military service in either Austria or Argentina, to obtain relevant confirmation from the respective other country that exempts such dual citizens from their obligation to perform compulsory military service. The same regulation applies in cases when a suspension of the obligation to perform compulsory military service has been granted as long as such individuals do not have their permanent residence in the other country.

Male citizens have to start their basic military service prior to the completion of their 35th year of age, at the earliest, however, upon completion of their 17th year of age. Men who are subject to fulfilling their military obligation and transfer their permanent residence to Austria after they have completed their 35th year of age will therefore not be drafted. As the obligation to perform military service is in principal compulsory up to the age of 50, these individuals are also subject to enlistment

In this context, the following applies to Austrians who hold dual or multiple citizenships:

  • An Austrian multiple citizen of draft age whose residence is in a country which as a Contracting Party to the Convention No. 43 or No. 166 of the Council of Europe does not provide for an obligation to perform compulsory military service and whose nationality he holds, shall be exempt from the obligation to perform compulsory basic military service in that country.
  • If there is compulsory military service in such a country, an Austrian multiple citizen by performing his compulsory military service in that country at the same time fulfils his basic military service obligation. Up until the completion of his 19th year of age, he may, however, also choose to perform his compulsory basic military service in Austria instead. The length of his military service must, however, total at least that of the length of military service in Austria.
  • An Austrian multiple citizen of draft age whose residence is in Austria is obliged to perform his basic military service in Austria. Up until the completion of his 19th year of age, he also has the option of choosing to perform his compulsory military service in a country whose citizenship he holds and which as a Contracting Party to the Convention No. 43 or No. 166 of the Council of Europe provides for such compulsory military service. The requirement to perform basic compulsory military service will, however, only be satisfied if the length of his military service there totals at least the same length of time required to complete compulsory military service in Austria.
  • An Austrian multiple citizen of draft age whose residence is in a third country, i.e. neither in Austria nor in another country whose citizenship he holds, has the option of choosing whether he wishes to fulfil his obligation to perform basic compulsory military service in Austria or in another country whose citizenship he holds and which is a Contracting Party to the Convention No. 43 or No. 166 of the Council of Europe, even if he would not be required to so as compulsory military service has been abolished in that country.
  • An Austrian multiple citizen of draft age whose ordinary residence is in a third country, which is a Contracting Party to the Hague Protocol and whose citizenship he holds, may apply for exemption from the obligation to perform basic military service in Austria if he is actually most closely linked with this country of residence.
  • Due to lack of agreements under international law, an Austrian multiple citizen – irrespective of his place of residence – is in principle obliged to fulfil his military obligations in all countries which provide for basic compulsory military service and whose citizenship he holds.

Important note: In cases of “voluntary” military service performed in the service of a foreign state, the Austrian Citizenship Act provides for the withdrawal of Austrian citizenship.

The fulfilment of military obligations outside of Austria on the basis of the Hague Protocol, the bilateral agreements with Switzerland and Argentina or due to lack of agreements under international law is not considered as “voluntary”. The fulfilment of military obligations outside of Austria on the basis of the Convention No. 43 or No. 166 of the Council of Europe, irrespective of whether an option to choose is provided for with respect to the country in which the military service obligation is actually fulfilled, is not considered as voluntary either. Up to the completion of the 19th year of age the same shall hold true for the “voluntary” extension of the military service period outside of Austria if the length of compulsory military service in this country is shorter than that stipulated for basic compulsory military service in Austria.

Any other extension of the period of military service beyond the length of the compulsory military service obligation or the completion of military service in countries without compulsory military service shall be considered as ”voluntary” military service in a foreign state and will thus result in the withdrawal of Austrian citizenship.

The exemption from fulfilment of the obligation to perform basic compulsory military service in Austria – in line with the Hague Protocol for instance – or the confirmation on the satisfaction of compulsory military service obligations abroad – in line with the bilateral Agreement with Argentina – has no impact on Austrian citizenship.

“Special case” Israel: Due to lack of agreements under international law, Austro-Israeli dual citizens are obliged to complete military service in Austria and Israel; in Israel this shall also apply to female dual citizens. Military obligation in Israel currently amounts to three years (two years for women). While completing their military service, soldiers are offered training or may attend further education courses that are linked with extended service in the Israeli armed forces. Such “extended service” consisting of a period of three, six or twelve months is regarded as “voluntary” military service and results in the withdrawal of Austrian citizenship