Report on citizenship law : Democratic Republic of Congo

Published: 23/Fév/2022
Source: GLOBALCIT, European University Institute

The citizenship regime of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) consists of provisions contained in the 2008 Constitution (as amended), the Congolese Nationality Code (as amended), Congolese Civil Code (as amended), as well as bilateral agreements and international treaties to which the country is a party. These provisions stipulate the requirements for obtaining the status of a DRC national. Nationality of the DRC is obtained on the basis of birth (ius soli, as well as ius sanguinis), by marriage, or by naturalisation.

Holding this status does not automatically result in the rights of citizenship, which are attainable only after an individual has met further specific  conditions. For example, voting rights are attached not only to being a national, but also to age (e.g. 30 years of age to run for president, 18 to vote in elections). Furthermore, article 72 of the Constitution limits the eligibility for the presidency to ‘natural-born’ citizens of the DRC, defined as ‘anyone belonging to the ethnic groups whose persons and territory constituted what became the Congo (currently the Democratic Republic of the Congo), at independence’. There is also a constitutional ban on dual nationality, but multiple membership has in practice been tolerated since 2002.  The discrepancy between the constitutional ban and the reality of the DRC nationals holding multiple passports has been subject of political debates, especially as regards holders of high office.

This report provides information on the issues related to the citizenship regime of the DRC from before independence to the present day. Citizenship policies have evolved ever since the country gained independence in 1960 and have impacted upon different social, political and economic developments in the country. It is therefore important to map this evolution over the past five decades and understand the modalities of acquisition and loss of DRC nationality under the different legislative and political regimes. The first part of this report provides an historical background to the law and politics of the country prior to independence. In particular, it highlights the role of the colonial powers in the formulation of the country’s citizenship law and the implications for the traditional Congolese society. The report thus focuses  an analysis of both present and past legislative provisions, situated in their sociopolitical context. The final parts of the report outline current debates and provide some concluding remarks.


Themes: Acquisition de la nationalité, Perte et déchéance de la nationalité
Regions: République Démocratique du Congo
Year: 2022