Many have asked how the nationality of babies born mid-flight is determined. When it comes to babies being born during a flight, determining their nationality would depend on some factors.
Various countries have different principles for granting citizenship to these infants born in the air.
The issue revolves around two primary concepts: “jus soli” (right of the soil) and “jus sanguinis” (right of blood).
However, the occurrence of births in-flight is rare but there have been some recorded cases.
“Only one birth takes place among approximately 26 million air passengers. While it might seem intriguing, these births make up a tiny fraction when compared to the over 350,000 daily births globally,” according to data from Condé Nast Traveller.
Presently, there are 33 countries of the world that offer unrestricted birthright citizenship and in essence, any baby born within the airspace or submarine of any of these 33 countries is automatically a citizen of such country, Tekedia, a news platform reported.
“These countries include the following: The United States, Canada, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Bolivia, Chad, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Lesotho, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitt and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uruguay and lastly, Venezuela,” Tekedia notes.
Read also: NAHCO Aviation Academy gets NCAA’s approval
In the United States, if a child is born on a plane over U.S. territory or within its airspace, they are granted U.S. citizenship automatically based on the “jus soli” principle. This principle confers citizenship to individuals born within a country’s territory, which includes its airspace.
In contrast, countries such as the United Kingdom adhere to the “jus sanguinis” principle, where citizenship is determined by the nationality of the parents. According to a report by Simple Flying, babies born to non-British parents while flying over the UK’s airspace typically do not acquire UK citizenship.
Nigeria is another country that exemplifies this scenario; if Nigerian parents give birth to a baby in the air over the airspace of another sovereign state, the baby is eligible to receive Nigerian citizenship, according to Tekedia media.
In the same instance, if a baby is born to Nigerian parents in Royal Air Maroc which is an Aircraft registered in Casablanca, Morocco the baby may take up Moroccan citizenship.
Certain countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico, provide unrestricted birthright citizenship to infants born within their airspace or territory. However, the scenario becomes more complex when babies are born over international waters or in areas without territorial rights.
In cases where a baby is born in such circumstances and could potentially become stateless, the nationality of the aircraft’s registration may be taken into account. This implies that the baby would acquire the nationality of the country where the aircraft is registered, in accordance with the United Nations’ Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
In practice, births during flights are uncommon as pregnant women in their third trimester are typically restricted from flying.
Also, most airlines have policies in place that prohibit these flights, making such occurrences quite rare. In fact, there have been only approximately 75 recorded incidents of in-flight births throughout the history of aviation, a report by Simple Flying showed.
There have been specific instances of births during flights, such as on a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Chicago in September 2021 when a passenger from Morocco gave birth. Another birth took place on a flight from Doha to Beirut in July 2019. However, these occurrences are exceptional, and typically, the nationality of the child corresponds with that of the parents.
In such situations, the aforementioned rules come into play. For example, if a baby is born on a U.S. military aircraft during the Afghanistan evacuation in 2021, they would hold Afghan citizenship, just like their parents, as the aircraft is not deemed an extension of U.S. territory. Therefore, the baby’s nationality is not solely determined by their place of birth.