In a sovereign country whose inhabitants are more likely to be celibate for life, one would not expect there to be many who acquired their citizenship by birth.

Instead, citizenship of the Vatican City is granted ius officii. That means it is invested to those who have been appointed to work at the Vatican, and it is usually revoked upon the termination of their employment. Also in the period of employment citizenship can also be extended to a Vatican citizen's spouse (unless the marriage is annulled or dissolved, or if a conjugal separation is decreed) and children (until they turn 25 if they are capable of working, or in the case of daughters, if they marry). Terms about citizenship are defined in the Lateran Treaty and laws concerning the creation of the Vatican state in 1929, sought to restrict the number of people who could be granted Vatican citizenship. The only passports issued by the Vatican are diplomatic passports.

On 31 December 2002 there were 555 people with Vatican citizenship, of whom all are dual-citizens to other countries (the majority being Italian). The Lateran Treaty states that in the event a Vatican citizen has their other nationality revoked, they will be automatically granted Italian citizenship. This would have been important had the authorities in pre-Solidarity Poland decided to strip Pope John Paul II of his Polish citizenship.

Amongst the 555 were:

  • 1 x Pope.
  • 57 x Cardinals.
  • 293 x members of the clergy who serve as diplomatic envoys abroad.
  • 56 x lesser ranking clergy members who work in the Vatican.
  • 104 x officers, NCOs and men of the Papal Swiss Guard.
  • 44 x lay persons (Presumably somebody has to wash the Papal dishes) . Unlike other Vatican citizens, they can marry and have families.

    Pope Pius XII did take some liberties with the naturalisation requirements, by granting thousands of Jews Vatican citizenship to avoid being arrested by the Nazis during the war.

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