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Nationality of baby born on flight

Date: 25 August 2021 Tags: Bills & Laws


A child was born on a US evacuation flight from Afghanistan. The woman was helped to deliver the baby in Ramstein Airbase of Germany on the flight.



This is one among many cases when children are born mid-air in international airspace. The procedures followed to decide nationality varies.



  • The baby was born on German soil. German law does not allow citizenship by virtue of being born on German soil but rather on descent.

  • The child should be born to a German legal mother and/or a German legal father to be eligible for citizenship of Germany.

  • The baby was born on the US flight to an Afghan national on German soil and hence it is not clear if German, Afghan or US laws will be applicable.


US citizenship laws on child born on flights

  • US laws say that an individual can become citizen by birth or through naturalization. The US law would have been solely applicable if the flight was not in airspace of other country.

  • The jurisdiction of a state may be applicable if the flight is flying over the territory of another state.

  • If the US registered flight is not in US airspace, the child born onboard cannot claim to be citizen of the US.


The case of refugees

  • An individual forced to leave their country of origin due to violence, war or persecution is termed as a refugee.

  • They may be leaving the country of their birth either permanently or temporarily to return back later. They may be facing an existential threat in their home country.

  • Children of refugees face statelessness. Many of them inherit their parents’ nationality by birth but others are not given this privilege due to sex-based discrimination.