2.4.3 Citizenship and residence

Liability to perform military service is usually said to apply to all resident citizens - meaning, with the exceptions mentioned above, all male citizens. This means that the duty frequently accompanies the award of citizenship. In Sweden, for example, the obligation to report for an enrolment inspection at the Swedish National Service Administration applies from the day one becomes a Swedish citizen, although in normal circumstances this requirement is waived after the age of 24.[1]

The USA is however an example of a couintry which requires all resident males of the relevant age except those who are in valid non-immigrant status (i.e. overseas students and others with temporary entry permits) to register for military service, regardless of citizenship - or indeed of whether they are in the country legally. Some of the implications of this are discussed on page 96. The Netherlands, in Article 97 of the Constitution, also have the power to conscript non-national residents.

In Cyprus, all those of Cypriot descent on the male side are liable for national service, whether or not they themselves hold Cypriot citizenship.[2]

In Libya, foreign workers from Arab states who have been granted a special status of arab nationality are liable for military service; in Thailand by contrast, those who had gained their citizenship by naturalisation were historically exempted.

States vary also in their treatment of citizens who are resident abroad. In many, a citizen who returns after the normal age of liability is excused the requirement, but in some - Syria and Turkey are examples - those who return at any age are liable to punishment as draft evaders, unless they have taken action to regularise their status. Greece treats all persons with a Greek parent as citizens, and thus liable to military service. 

Sometimes citizens who return from living abroad benefit from shorter terms of service; this would appear to be the case in both halves of Cyprus, although the details are not clear.

  • [1] Act on Liability for Total Defence Service, Paragraph 2.2
  • [2] Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 (Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, London)