Registration of child birth
Pursuant to the Act on Civil Registration Procedure, within one day from the birth of a child, parents have the obligation to register his/her birth at the competent Registry Office, which issues the birth certificate. Neither the HHC nor the Menedék Association is aware of any cases regarding problems as to birth registration. Main challenges concern the establishment and registration of the new-born child’s citizenship. Hence, those children whose parents are beneficiaries of international protection are registered as unknown citizens given that Hungary does not have the competency to establish the nationality of another country. Provided that parents cannot contact the embassy of their country of origin in order to register their child, the new-born remains unknown citizen.
The aforementioned practice is based on the current Hungarian legislation, according to which children of persons with international protection do not receive Hungarian citizenship ex lege at birth. This is a clear violation of Article 1(2)(a)-(b) of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and Article 6(2)(b) of the 1997 European Convention on Nationality. Furthermore, it is in breach of Articles 3 and 7 of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to the Menedék Association, the struggle of obtaining citizenship for the child leads to frustration and anxiety for parents with international protection. The problem continues in 2019.
Registration of marriage
As regards marriage in general, the same rules apply to beneficiaries of international protection as to Hungarian nationals. There is only one additional requirement that refugees and persons with subsidiary protection have to fulfil. As it is set out in the Act on Civil Registration Procedure, non-Hungarian citizens have to prove that no obstacle to the marriage exists pursuant to their personal law. The term “personal law” is defined in the Act on International Private Law, meaning the law of any State of which the person is a national. Consequently, in practice beneficiaries of international protection would have the obligation to contact their embassy (in order to obtain their approval and eventually, the birth certificate), which on one hand might be dangerous for the person. On the other hand, it is prohibited by the Asylum Act to do so, unless the person loses his/her international protection status. Therefore, in such cases, the Act on Civil Registration Procedure enables the applicants to ask for an exemption from the Registry Office and provides ex lege exemption in cases where the country of origin is knowingly unable to issue the required certificate.
As per the experiences of Menedék Association requests for exemption are mostly accepted by the Registry Office, nonetheless they are aware of a case when during the asylum procedure the applicant claimed to be married but lost his wife soon afterwards. As a result of the lack of proper Somalian state registration and since the refugee was not able to contact the embassy due to his fear of persecution, there was no way to prove the death of his wife with documents and to certify the change in his marital status.
In general, registration of marriage is a long procedure in which couples usually need the help of Menedék to write the application for exemption. The practice of the registry office regarding the required documents is diverse. In 2018, according to Menedék Association on one occasion the birth certificate of the marrying party’s mother was requested by the registry office without any legal ground for doing so. This was confirmed by the experiences of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, as well.
Under the law, the state must provide an interpreter upon submitting the request to get married and during the ceremony in case the parties do not speak Hungarian. In contrast with that, in practice the parties are asked to bring an interpreter. The HHC is aware of a positive example from 2017, when the authorization procedure was accelerated by the Registry Office taking into account the pregnancy of the bride and the close date of the child’s birth.
Act I of 2010 on Civil Registration Procedure.
“Until 2002, the relevant Law-Decree did not contain any specific guidance for cases where the new-born child’s nationality was not proven (e.g. neither of the parents was a Hungarian citizen, etc.). Based on anecdotal information and data gathered from individual cases known to the author, it appears that the practice was to register children automatically as having the same nationality as their parents.” Source: Gábor Guylai, Nationality unknown? An overview of the safeguards and gaps related to the prevention of statelessness at birth in Hungary, January 2014 available at: http://bit.ly/2oeIgUC.
Section 23(1) Act I of 2010 on Civil Registration Procedure.
As of 1 January 2018, Section 15 of Act XXVIII of 2017 on International private law.
Section 23(1) Act on Civil Registration Procedure.
Section 23(2) Act on Civil Registration Procedure.