Citizenship in Mozambique is defined by the 2004 Constitution, which sets the criteria for attribution, acquisition, loss and reacquisition of Mozambican nationality. The 2004 Constitution confirmed Mozambique’s longstanding ius soli tradition for attribution of nationality based on birth in the territory, but made significant changes to the regime by introducing e.g. acceptance of dual nationality, gender neutral rules for acquisition of nationality by marriage, and protection of nationality against involuntary loss.
No new legislation has been adopted to regulate the constitutional framework set in 2004 and to repeal and replace the the 1975 Lei da Nacionalidade, as amended 1987 and the 1975 Regulamento da Lei da Nacionalidade (as amended in 1988) which continue to be applicable to the extent that they merely supplement and do not contradict the Constitution. The coexistence of the 2004 Constitution with the 1975 Lei and Regulamento has been a source of confusion and uncertainty in the application of the law.
In spite of the efforts made by Mozambican authorities over the past decade, birth registration rates are still below 50%, as reported in the state report to the Commtitee of the Rights of the Child in 2018. Registration is mandatory and free of charge if made within 120 days of the birth and registration units have been established next to maternity hospitals across the country in recent years, but many births take place at home and a large part of the Mozambican population is still unaware of the importance of birth registration.
There are reports that individuals of Mozambican origin who are stateless or at risk of statelessness in border regions and in neighbouring countries. As reported by UNHCR, in 2011, Mozambique has a significant potential to have among its original population ‘persons with citizenship problems’, i.e. who are stateless or at risk of statelessness, due to the lack of primary documents (e.g. birth certificates) that would enable them to prove their Mozambican citizenship, something which affects mostly those individuals who migrated to neighbouring countries and failed to establish their citizenship in Mozambique upon their return or from abroad.