Moldova

Update from November 2023:

On 1 November 2023, an amendment to the Citizenship Law entered into force which provides that a  child born on the territory who meets the conditions to be recognised as stateless will be granted Moldovan nationality. This legislative amendment prevents cases of statelessness among children born on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, improving how Moldova is assessed in the existence of this safeguard. Previously, a stateless child’s ability to acquire nationality was dependent on the status of their parents (as shown below).

The information below was last updated in February 2023. A full update to this page will be available in early 2025.

Law, policy, and practice on the protection of stateless people and prevention and reduction of statelessness is generally positive in Moldova. The country’s record on treaty accession is good and it has established a dedicated Statelessness Determination Procedure (SDP) in law. The SDP is accessible, with a mandatory interview, an option to initiate the procedure ex officio, and some rights are granted to applicants. People recognised as stateless in Moldova are granted rights in line with nationals, but do not have any political rights (for example, they cannot vote in any elections). Although there is an accelerated route to naturalisation, reduced from ten years, a stateless person must still wait eight years before being eligible to apply for naturalisation.

Moldovan law provides for detention to be used only as a last resort and a country of removal must be set prior to detention for removal. There are partial safeguards in nationality law to prevent statelessness and the Moldovan legal framework provides for universal birth registration. However, access to birth registration and a birth certificate is hindered in practice by the requirement that parents must be documented to register a birth, with some communities at higher risk of remaining unregistered, including Roma. Provisions for deprivation of nationality are broadly in line with international standards.

Posljednje ažuriranje: 
Feb 2023
Stručnjak/ci za zemlju: 

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SREDSTVA PROCJENE

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-NORME i DOBRA PRAKSA

 

Međunarodni i regionalni instrumenti

Assesses whether countries are State party to the relevant international and regional instruments, including whether reservations have an impact on statelessness, and whether instruments are incorporated into domestic law. The four core statelessness treaties (1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons; 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness; European Convention on Nationality; Council of Europe Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession) carry more weight than other relevant human rights instruments in the assessment.

Moldova is State party to most relevant international and regional instruments, including the four core statelessness instruments. It is one of very few countries to have acceded to the Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession. Moldova does retain some reservations to the 1954 Convention, but these no longer have substantive effect as domestic law grants all convention rights to people recognised as stateless.

  • Moldova is State party to the 1954 Convention, and it has direct effect.
  • Moldova maintains reservations to several articles (23, 24, 25, 27 and 31) but these no longer have substantive effect, as domestic law grants all convention rights to recognised stateless persons.
  • Moldova is State party to the 1961 Convention with no reservations and it has direct effect.
  • Moldova is State party to all other relevant regional and international treaties. It does retain some reservations, including to the European Convention on Nationality and European Convention on Human Rights, but these do not have a substantive impact on statelessness.
  • Moldova is not a Member State of the European Union, but its domestic law partially implements EU Directives, including the EU Returns Directive.

Podaci o stanovništvu bez državljanstva

Examines the availability and sources of disaggregated population data on statelessness. Provides recent figures and assesses reliability of measures countries have in place to count stateless persons, including in the census, population registries, and migration databases. Notes whether statelessness has been mapped in the country and whether there are sufficient measures in place to count stateless persons in detention.

Disaggregated data on the stateless population in Moldova is limited. The authorities record data on people recognised as stateless but do not publish this. Data on detention is also not published. There are some problems with the way official data is collected, including that there are overlapping categories, such as ‘people with USSR passports’ and people with ‘undetermined citizenship’.

  • The Bureau of Migration and Asylum (BMA) and the Public Services Agency record the number of people recognised as stateless in Moldova, but this data is not routinely published.
  • According to the government data, as of the end of 2022, 1907 recognised stateless people were registered in the Government database (including 851 persons with expired identity documents). Data indicate that 1358 of the 1907 recognised stateless people live in the disputed Transnistrian region. In addition, 1377 people were registered in the Government database as people with ‘undetermined legal status’.
  • UNHCR’s figures for 2022 record 1701 stateless people in Moldova.
  • Law Centre of Advocates carried out a mapping exercise in 2020 to identify stateless people or those at risk of statelessness in prisons and residential care centres. The National Prisons Administration reported 18 stateless people (recognised or applicants under the SDP) and 58 people with undetermined nationality in prisons. The mapping exercise also identified 48 people at risk of statelessness in residential care centres.
  • The stateless population is likely underreported, especially with respect to the disputed Transnistria region. As of October 2022, there were approximaly 250 applicants awaiting a decision on their statelessness determination.
  • There are no known stateless people in immigration detention. Data on stateless people entering or leaving immigration detention is not published by the Bureau of Migration and Asylum (BMA). If stateless people are identified in detention, they are referred to the statelessness determination procedure and released.
  • NGOs report that between 2012-2021, 50 people were released from detention and referred to the SDP due to impossibility of removal.

Utvrđivanje bezdržavljanstva i statusa

Identifies whether countries have a definition of a stateless person in national law that aligns with the 1954 Convention, and whether they have a dedicated statelessness determination procedure (SDP) leading to a dedicated stateless status. If an SDP is not place, it assesses whether there are other procedures in which statelessness can be identified or other routes through which stateless people could regularise their stay or access their rights. Countries are subdivided in three groups to enable comparison between those with an SDP leading to protection, those with other procedures, and those with a statelessness status but no clear mechanism to access protection. The existing procedures and rights granted to stateless persons are examined and assessed against international norms and good practice. Assesses whether stateless people fleeing war have access to temporary protection.

Moldova has had a dedicated SDP in law since 2011, which in many ways is an example of good practice. The procedure is accessible, with no fee or residence requirement, and can be initiated ex officio, in person, orally or in writing. The dedicated Statelessness Unit must examine claims within six months, free legal aid is provided by NGOs, an interview is mandatory, an interpreter can be arranged, and training is provided to the competent authority by UNHCR. The burden of proof is shared, and although not established in law, the standard of proof is the same as in the asylum procedure, and cross-referral between procedures is established. Applicants are protected from expulsion and have access to some basic rights, including the right to work; and there is an automatic right to appeal. People recognised as stateless are granted permanent residence and rights in line with nationals. Eligibility for naturalisation is reduced from the standard 10 years but stateless people must still wait eight years before being eligible for naturalisation.

  • The definition of a stateless person in national law is consistent with the 1954 Convention.
  • The State does not provide formal training on statelessness to relevant bodies, but UNHCR conducts trainings, roundtables, and information sessions several times a year with the cooperation of the Bureau of Migration and Asylum (BMA) and other relevant government bodies.
  • Regular trainings are provided by LCA and UNHCR for judges, judicial assistants, lawyers, and state officers.
  • There is a dedicated statelessness determination procedure established in law.
  • The authority appointed to determine statelessness is the Statelessness Unit of the Bureau of Migration and Asylum (Ministry of Interior).
  • The statelessness determination procedure can be initiated ex officio by government officials, or by the applicant, orally or in writing. There is no application fee, residence requirement, nor time limit on when applications can be submitted.
  • By law, the application must be examined by the competent authority and an interview must take place within 15 working days of submitting the application.
  • There is no specific form for the initial application, but it must contain a clear and detailed description of facts and evidence to support the application. There is a mandatory interview, and the examiner completes all the paperwork during the interview.
  • If needed, an interpreter is arranged, free of charge to the applicant.
  • There are no targeted information campaigns for applicants on how to make an application.
  • There is cooperation between authorities, and by law other government agencies that receive a statelessness application must refer the application to the competent authority.
  • The burden of proof for the determination of statelessness is shared between the applicant and the state.
  • The standard of proof for the SDP is not established in law, but in practice, it is the same as in the asylum procedure.
  • There are protective measures in place for people with disabilities and unaccompanied minors; but not in relation to potential gender discrimination.
  • There is an internal instruction for the competent authority on how to determine statelessness, sources of evidence and procedures for gathering evidence, but this is not publicly available.
  • The law establishes that free legal aid should be provided for the administrative procedure. In practice, this is provided by NGOs.
  • Interviews are mandatory, and translation and interpretation are offered for free if needed.
  • Access to UNHCR is provided, and UNHCR monitors the SDP and provides regular training.
  • Decisions are communicated in writing and negative decisions are reasoned.
  • The application for the SDP must be examined by the competent authority within a period of up to six months. Depending on the complexity of the case, this can be extended by subsequent periods of one month each, but the extension will not exceed six months in total (12 months in total).
  • Cross-referral mechanisms are in place to asylum procedures. The SDP is suspended if an asylum application is made and resumed if refugee (or subsidiary protection) status is refused.
  • An applicant for stateless status will be informed of their rights in writing in a language that they understand and is entitled to: right to stay in Moldova during the assessment (expulsion is prohibited while the application is pending, except in cases of national security or public order); a temporary identity document; to use their own language; to have an interpreter; to work; and to housing (but in practice, social housing is not available). Applicants also have access to social security entitlements, but only if they work.
  • If a person applies for statelessness determination whilst in detention, the authorities will seek clarification from states of possible nationality. If their nationality is formally not recognised or the time limit for detention expires, they will be released. People who apply for statelessness determination while living in the community will not be detained.
  • The applicant has an automatic right to appeal and there are no fees for the appeal.
  • The provision of free legal aid is established by law and provided by the state and NGOs for the judicial procedure.
  • There is no evidence of significant errors in decision making.
  • The state grants legal status and an indefinite right to stay to those recognised as stateless.
  • The rights attached to stateless status include travel documents, family reunion, right to work, primary, secondary and higher education in line with nationals, access to social security and healthcare.
  • Most rights granted are on the same basis as nationals. However, stateless people do not have any political rights in Moldova. The right to vote in any election is reserved to Moldovan nationals only.
  • There are reports that some documented stateless people have crossed from Ukraine to Moldova without difficulty. For those without documents, entry is permitted in order to apply for protection.
  • Stateless people, people at risk of statelessness and those who are undocumented can apply for protection in Moldova. Moldova recognises statelessness status and international protection granted by Ukraine.
  • The Government approved a decision on 18 January 2023 to offer temporary protection to people fleeing Ukraine for one year, which will be activated on 1 March 2023.
  • Temporary protection is available to people recognised as stateless by Ukrainian authorities and to stateless people who benefitted from international protection or equivalent national protection in Ukraine. Moldova does not extend temporary protection to stateless people who had a valid permanent residence permit in Ukraine (on a basis other than statelessness), nor to undocumented people from Ukraine.

Zadržavanje

Analyses law, policy and practice relating to immigration detention generally, but focusing on protections in place to prevent the arbitrary detention of stateless people during removal and deportation procedures. Subthemes examine areas such as the identification of statelessness and assessment of whether there is a reasonable prospect of removal, procedural safeguards such as time limits, judicial oversight, and effective remedies, as well as the rights granted to stateless people upon release from detention and protection against re-detention.

There are several gaps in detention law, policy, and practice in Moldova. Although there are some protections against the arbitrary detention of stateless people in that powers to detain are provided for in law, detention should be a last resort and a country of removal must be set prior to detaining; in practice, it is unclear how these principles are implemented. The maximum time limit differs for different types of detention, but there is no time limit for detention pending deportation following a criminal conviction. The provision of information to detainees on their rights is not set out in law and is provided by UNHCR’s NGO partners at the discretion of the government. There are some remedies for detainees, but periodic judicial reviews were removed in 2016, although a 2018 advisory opinion of the Supreme Court requires this to be reinstated. People released from detention will either be transferred to the Statelessness Unit for documentation if recognised as stateless or granted ‘tolerated stay’ if not.

  • Powers for immigration detention are provided for in law.
  • By law detention should be the last resort, but there are no alternatives to immigration detention established in law and in practice, alternatives are not considered during decisions to detain.
  • A proposed country of removal must be identified during the administrative decision to remove, prior to the judicial decision to detain for the purposes of removal.
  • The person must be released from detention if the maximum period of detention has expired, or if the grounds for detention no longer exist. There are no other obligations on the authorities to release the person.
  • Statelessness is relevant in the decision to detain in that a recognised stateless person will not be detained. Referral to the SDP is possible from detention. If a person who is detained for the purposes of removal applies to the SDP, they may remain detained until the proposed country of removal confirms they are not a national. Between 2012-2020, 49 people were referred to the SDP and released from detention following confirmation they were not a national by the proposed country of removal.
  • Although there is no definition of vulnerability in law, vulnerability assessments are carried out prior to the decision to detain, but statelessness is not considered during the assessment.
  • Maximum periods of detention differ for different categories of detainee: 12 months for 'undesirable persons' (person whose resident permit has been cancelled with no right of return for five to 15 years); six months for people subject to removal procedures; no time limit for people subject to a deportation order following a criminal conviction.
  • The law provides that all administrative and judicial decisions must be given in writing.
  • People in detention are informed about their rights, including how to access the SDP and support. This is done by an NGO (an implementing partner of UNHCR) through an agreement with the authorities, but this service is discretionary and not funded by the government.
  • Up until December 2016 monthly judicial reviews of the necessity of detention were carried out.  Following changes to legislation, the provision for regular periodic review of detention no longer exists in law. However, a 2018 Advisory Opinion of the Supreme Court of Justice requires this to be reinstated. The judicial oversight has not yet been reinstated in law. Courts in some cases ignore the 2018 Advisory Opinion and order detention for periods up to six months. Renewal of the detention period requires a new court decision.
  • Free legal aid is provided to people in detention.
  • People in detention have the possibility to appeal against each court decision to detain. There are no provisions regarding the language of the appeals, but if the appeal is written in another language it must be translated into an official state language.
  • Released, undocumented stateless people are referred to the Statelessness Unit to be provided with documentation.
  • Re-detention does not occur in practice, so there is no accumulation of time spent in detention.
  • If the detention purpose cannot be fulfilled, the person is released and obtains ‘tolerated stay’ status, but few rights are conferred to someone with this status. However, there are no reported cases of stateless people ending up in this category, as they are referred for statelessness determination.
  • The readmission of stateless people is provided for in several of the agreements that Moldova has entered into, including for example, with the European Union, Norway, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Ukraine. Others, including the agreements with Albania and Switzerland, do not mention stateless people.
  • Very little information is available as to whether stateless people are readmitted under these agreements in practice and no monitoring information nor statistics are publicly available.

Sprječavanje i smanjenje pojave bezdržavljanstva

Assesses the adequacy of safeguards in nationality laws to prevent and reduce statelessness, including facilitated routes to naturalisation for stateless people, and protections for otherwise stateless children born on the territory or to nationals abroad, foundlings and adopted children. Examines law, policy, and practice on birth registration, including access to late birth registration, and reduction measures taken by States to prevent and reduce in situ statelessness. Analyses provisions on deprivation of nationality and whether there are safeguards related to renunciation and deprivation of nationality to prevent statelessness from occurring.

Moldovan nationality law previously contained full safeguards to prevent childhood statelessness, but amendments in 2018 increased the risk that children may be born stateless on the territory. Since 2018, children born on the territory who would otherwise be stateless may only acquire nationality automatically at birth if at least one of their parents has legal residence, international protection, or stateless status. Foundlings automatically acquire nationality and children born to Moldovan parents acquire Moldovan nationality automatically. However, efforts to prevent statelessness in Moldova are hindered by barriers to universal free birth registration. At least the mother must be documented to register a birth, which means that some parents face barriers to registering births, including Roma and other members of minority groups.

  • There are accelerated naturalisation procedures for recognised stateless people and refugees. Adults can apply for naturalisation after eight years lawfully staying in Moldova, compared to the standard 10 years for most foreigners, but there is no fee exemption nor waiver of language, citizenship test or minimum income level requirements. Stateless children can apply to naturalise after five years’ lawful stay.
  • Naturalisation in Moldova costs 180 LEI (9 EUR) plus 140 LEI (7 EUR) processing fee. After naturalisation, to get an identity card costs 130 LEI (6.50 EUR) and a passport 850 LEI (42.50 EUR).
  • Certain criminal offences prevent naturalisation (these include international and military crimes, crimes against humanity, terrorism, activities that endanger public order or national security or the ‘health and morality of the population’.
  • Children born on the territory who would otherwise be stateless automatically acquire Moldovan nationality by law only if at least one of their parents has legal residence, international protection, or stateless status in Moldova.
  • The provision is automatic from birth. There is no requirement to prove that the child could not access another nationality, nor meet any other requirements other than those relating to the parents’ status.
  • Foundlings are granted nationality automatically by law and there is no age limit.
  • Moldovan nationality cannot be withdrawn from a foundling if this would result in statelessness.
  • A child adopted by foreign parents cannot lose Moldovan nationality if this would lead to statelessness.
  • There is provision in law for a non-Moldovan child adopted by Moldovan parents to acquire nationality, but they must opt for and apply for this; it is not automatic. There is no time limit.
  • In all cases, the law provides for a child born to Moldovan parents anywhere to acquire nationality automatically.
  • The law provides for universal birth registration, irrespective of the parents' legal status, and registration is automatic for children born in medical institutions. However, it is not possible to complete the registration if parents are undocumented.
  • Birth registration should take place no later than three months after birth, and birth certificates are issued upon registration. If the mother is undocumented, she must be documented before the child’s birth can be registered. This can sometimes cause delays of several years, with no other safeguards in place for the child in the meantime. Late birth registration is possible in practice, but it is subject to a fine.
  • There are credible reports from NGOs of barriers to birth registration for undocumented parents and children remaining unregistered as a result. Romani communities are disproportionately impacted and many face challenges due to parents' lack of documentation. There is no requirement to report people who are undocumented to immigration authorities.
  • Same-sex marriages cannot be registered in Moldova, and it is not possible to register the names of both parents on the child’s birth certificate if they are of the same sex. Only the mother who gave birth to the child will be registered in the birth certificate. There are no laws or regulations relating to the registration of birth of children born as a result of a surrogacy agreement.  The child's nationality is recorded on the birth certificate if they have an entitlement to Moldovan nationality, but it is unclear how the child’s nationality is determined (if at all) if their parents do not have residence status in Moldova or the child’s entitlement to nationality cannot be proven with documentation.
  • There are no current proactive government campaigns or programmes to promote birth registration. The Government passed a decision in 2009 ‘on simplifying the procedure for registering new-borns’, which introduced automatic registration for children born in a medical institution.
  • An amendment to the law, which came into force in January 2018, recognizes Transnistrian civil status acts, making it easier for parents of Transnistrian origin to register the births of their children in Moldova and for children born to Transnistrian parents to acquire Moldovan nationality.
  • There are no other reduction measures in place, and a 2018 amendment to the law (requiring that at least one parent have a residence permit, international protection, or stateless status in Moldova) increased the risk of children being born stateless in Moldova.
  • Grounds for the deprivation of Moldovan nationality are established in law and include where a person acquired nationality by fraud, enlisted in a foreign army, or committed particularly serious deeds damaging the state. There is a safeguard against statelessness in all cases of deprivation of nationality except for fraudulent acquisition of nationality. There are no known cases where deprivation based on fraud has been applied which rendered a person stateless.
  • There is also a safeguard to prevent statelessness in cases of renunciation of Moldovan nationality. The competent authority for deprivation of nationality is the President, an appeal is possible, and legal aid is available to challenge the presidential decree.
  • Deprivation of Moldovan nationality does not affect the nationality of a spouse or children.

Izvori

Library of resources, legal instruments, publications and training materials on statelessness, specifically relevant to this country. More regional and international materials, as well as resources from other countries, are available on the Resources library. Domestic case law can be consulted in the Statelessness Case Law Database (with summaries available in English).

Please note that we are in the process of adding new resources, so check back soon.

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