Update from October 2023:
In a series of recent legal reforms, North Macedonia has created solutions to address the lack of identity documents and birth registration of the population who had unregulated civil status. This achievement was made possible through the dedicated collaboration and support of various international and national stakeholders, and contributes to global efforts to eliminate statelessness and prevent new cases of statelessness. The Government is in the process of implementing measures to document the individuals with unregulated status and grant them identity documents and routes to confirmation or acquisition of nationality, although the effectiveness of these solutions will depend on their continuous and comprehensive implementation in practice.
In June 2023, the Parliament adopted crucial amendments to the Law on Civil Registry. Among the most significant changes was the introduction of Article 4-a, which mandates the immediate registration of every child born within the territory of North Macedonia, no longer than 45 days after the birth, irrespective of the nationality or status of the child’s parents. Article 4-a is already in effect and being implemented by the authorities.
On the same month, the Parliament also adopted amendments to the Law on Civil Registry to regularise the situation of the 700 people without personal documentation identified through the 2018 Government-led public call. These amendments provide for a simplified and facilitated procedure for birth registration with the aim of ensuring that everyone identified in the public call is registered in the regular birth register by end of 2023. This is a very welcome step by North Macedonia, and it is positive to see that there are ongoing media campaigns for stateless people to approach legal advice providers (including MYLA) for support in submitting requests for naturalisation and birth registration. Civil society organisations report that new cases of unregistered people are being identified regularly and also in the process of being regularised.
In August 2021, amendments to the Law on Citizenship were introduced which provide that all persons who can prove that they continued to live on the territory of North Macedonia after 8 September 1991 (by presenting at least one document issued by the Macedonian institutions at that time), may submit a request to acquire Macedonian nationality in a shorter procedure and are exempted from certain conditions that are mandatory for other foreigners. These amendments will be in force until August 2024, and are in addition to the already existing facilitated naturalisation for stateless people and recognised refugees. It is hoped that these amendments will resolve most statelessness cases of people who became stateless due to the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia. Since the adoption of the amendments to the Law on Citizenship in 2021, around 216 stateless persons acquired Macedonian nationality, of which 200 were under the simplified procedure and 16 were on the basis of marriage or facilitated naturalisation for stateless people (article 7a of the Law on Citizenship).
On 5 October 2023, the Parliament adopted further amendments to the Law on Registration of Residence and the Law on Identification Documents, which introduces a simplified procedure for homeless people to register their residence at the addresses of social work centres. People who are accommodated in a health or social institution can register their address as that of the respective institution. Additionally, the new amendments foresee several options for people living in ‘non-legalised houses’ to document ownership of the property and obtain an identity document. These amendments were in response to many reported cases where former stateless people who have acquired Macedonian nationality could not register their residence and obtain a Macedonian identity card because they live in ‘non-legalised houses’ or informal settlements, or live in destitution.
The information below was last updated in March 2023. New resources and a full update to this page will be available soon.
The Republic of North Macedonia’s legal framework enshrines some basic protections against arbitrary detention, and some safeguards to prevent and reduce statelessness. However, although it is State party to the statelessness conventions, there is no statelessness determination procedure, and no statelessness protection status. There is a very limited route to regularisation for some stateless people on the territory (who were citizens of the former Yugoslavia) but options for others are limited to applying for asylum or a temporary residence permit at the discretion of the Government, both providing only very limited rights. There are some protections in law from arbitrary detention, including the right to free legal aid and remedies to challenge detention, but people detained are often not made aware of their rights in practice.
There is a provision in law for children born on the territory to stateless parents or parents of unknown nationality to automatically acquire North Macedonian nationality, but this focuses on the status of the parents rather than the statelessness of the child, so does not prevent statelessness in all cases. There are safeguards in law to prevent statelessness among foundlings and children born to North Macedonian nationals abroad. However, there remain significant barriers to universal birth registration, and recent efforts to address civil registration issues have not resolved the systemic problems that continue to create a risk of statelessness. North Macedonia has received four Universal Periodic Review recommendations on this issue and there is strong evidence that Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities are disproportionately impacted.