After almost six months of waiting, I received this letter in the mail saying that I most certainly have a Luxembourg ancestor and thus am eligible for reclamation of citizenship under Article 29.

I spent my winter break at home in Illinois, so while in the Land of Lincoln, I was hoping it might come in the mail … and it sure did.

After two flights, one from Chicago to Atlanta and the other from Atlanta to D.C., I walked through the door of my apartment in Northeast D.C. and greeted my girlfriend Sarah with the adequate amount of kisses. Shortly thereafter, I asked about the mail situation, and Sarah showed me the measly pile of post with my name on it. I had only three pieces of mail, excluding my weekly The Economist, sent to me during the almost two weeks I was away from the nation’s capital: a pay stub, an offer from Bank of America for another credit card and my brand-spanking new D.C. driver’s license, the photo of which looks like I’m under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs. But sadly, there was no envelope from the Ministry of Justice.

Oh well. Maybe tomorrow? Or next week? Or next month? Who knows …

After such a long day of traveling, and the disappointment of no news from Luxembourg in my mailbox, I decided to go the bathroom. I walked in, went to the bathroom and walked out.

For the next few hours, I hung out with Sarah, as well as my two cats, whom we had left for the first extended amount of time ever. After filling my bladder once more with a pot of coffee and several glasses of water, it came upon me that I needed to return to the toilet and relieve myself once more. However, this time, I noticed something taped to the mirror that I hadn’t spotted on my first trip to the bathroom.

Yes, I neglected to wash my hands during my first trip to the bathroom, which is the reason why I did not look directly into the mirror. But the second time I went to the bathroom I did wash my hands, and that taped something on the mirror of the bathroom was a large envelope from the Luxembourg Ministry of Justice.

My heart plunged into my stomach. I yelled at Sarah, who had obviously put it there as a joke, and she laughed. I rushed out of the bathroom, this time with hands cleaned and dried, so as not to destroy the integrity of the envelope and its contents, and, with the palpable excitement of a child ripping open his presents on Christmas morning, I opened the envelope. In the few seconds between opening the envelope and pulling out the sheets of paper, I told myself: “What if this is a message saying that I need to submit more documents, or, even worse, that I do not qualify for citizenship under the reclamation process?”

But when I pulled out the papers, and saw the first sheet, I didn’t have to read the letter — I couldn’t, anyway, because I don’t read, write or speak in French — to know that this was the thing for which I had been impatiently waiting.

On the top of the document it read: “Certificat.”

“Yes,” I thought. “This is it.”

I thrust the certificate into Sarah’s hands for her to read, just to make sure the title wasn’t misleading. And sure enough, as she translated the document aloud, I found out that I can officially head on down to the Grand Duchy — with a few other documents I’ll talk about in a later post if you haven’t already heard about them — and become a citizen of Luxembourg.

This “certificat” also means I won’t be neglecting the blog anymore, and I really mean it this time. I will write about my personal experiences, now that I have personal experiences about which to write. I can also talk about planning my trip to Luxembourg, as well as some other countries I’d like to tour, some of which, including the United Kingdom, are home to friends and family.

The most hilarious thing about this project is that when I become a citizen of Luxembourg and the European Union, it will be the first time that I’ve ever been to Europe.


One last note: Congratulations to Wes, another kick-ass Midwesterner of Luxembourg descent, who also received his “certificat” in the mail this week.

One last last note: This is my 100th post!


My “certificat”

68 thoughts on “My “certificat”

  1. Hannah Schmitz,


    How long did it take to receive your certificat?

    I submitted my family documents in November of last year. I hope to receive something in the mail in May or June, if I’m lucky. I doubt it’s going to be in April, though. I’ve heard here on this blog that it has taken about 6 months.

  2. I have a quick question. On the notice biographique, is there any reason to write anything in the “personal comments” (Observations Personnelles)? My wife will be in Luxembourg on April 30th and this is the last thing to complete for her application. Trevor, the information you and everyone else provided is really helpful. Thank you.

    • My girlfriend reads and speaks in French, and I got the impression from her during a brief conversation about the biographique that this is optional. I’m not sure what one would put in this category. I have filled this out already in preparation for my trip to Luxembourg, and I have left this blank. I might write a little blurb about how fascinating an experience this was — just to suck up a little bit to the bureaucrats who might find a warm spot in their hearts for me and expedite the application.

      • Trevor, thank you very much for your help. My wife plans on leaving it blank because we don’t want to spend any more money on a translator. Good luck with your trip. When will you be in Luxembourg?

  3. Hi Trevor! Just ran into your blog and really enjoyed reading about all the process. Thanks for sharing. I am Brazilian and submitted all the documentation just this week. Here in Brazil, I had to submit all the documentation (birth, marriage and death certificates of my ancestors) to the Luxembourgish consulate in Brazil. They charged me something like US1,000 and then they sent the papers to Luxembourg. Did you send the papers by your own to Luxembourg? Has anyone ever written to you saying that after this waiting they received a negative answer, attesting that they were not ellgible to apply for the citizenship? Thank you. Flavia

    • Hi Flavia! I have not encountered anyone who has been denied at any step in the process. However, I have met people who realized themselves they were not eligible or had to submit more documents because they were missing a few things here or there. You are the first Brazilian to comment on my blog! I sent my papers on my own, and then for the second step I submitted my documents at the Bierger Center. Email me at if you have any other questions/want to stay in touch.

  4. Thank you, Trevor. I really appreciate you answering me. I am really anxious because I’m not 100% convinced that I am elliglible to take it and spent lots of money with the Luxembourgish consulate in Brazil. The thing is that my great great grandfather died before 1.1.1900. I wrote to the Ministére de la Justice who replied to me the following: “Je vous confirme que l’aïeul Luxembourgeois au 1er janvier 1900 doit avoir été en vie en date du 1er janvier 1900. L’aïeul luxembourgeois décédé avant le 1er janvier 1900 peut avoir transmis la nationalité luxembourgeoise par filiation (droit du sang) à des descendants qui eux étaient en vie à la date préindiquée. Si ces descendants n’avaient pas perdu la nationalité luxembourgeoise avant le 1er janvier 1900, la condition prescrite par l’article 29 de la loi du 23 octobre 2008 pour recouvrer la nationalité luxembourgeoise serait remplie dans leur chef.” (I confirm that the grandfather Luxembourg January 1, 1900 must have been alive as of January 1, 1900. The Luxembourg grandfather died before 1 January 1900 may be transmitted Luxembourg nationality by descent (jus sanguinis) to their descendants who were alive at the date 1.1.1900. If these descendants had not lost Luxembourg nationality before 1 January 1900, the condition prescribed by section 29 of the Act of October 23, 2008 to recover Luxembourg nationality would be fulfilled.” With this information I went further, found all the documents, but I still think there might be a problema with that. If you know of any applucant whose ancestor died before 1.1.1900, please let me know and I’ll feel much more secure. Thanks again. Flavia Bley

    • Oi, Flávia,

      Também sou Brasileiro e meu ascendente luxemburguês morreu antes de 1900. Pelo menos eu acho isso, pois não consigo encontrar a data do óbito nas buscas pela internet e no site familysearch nos registro de óbitos das igrejas, como ele nasceu em 1809, acho difícil ter entrado no século 20. Minha ascendência até ele é pelo lado da minha mãe, mas a partir dela é toda masculina.
      Estou também procurando requerentes nessa mesma situação.
      Não consegui entender bem essa resposta que o Ministério da Justiça de Luxemburgo te enviou.
      Você já enviou os documentos e o pedido para Luxemburgo?
      Caso já tenha enviado e consiga alguma resposta, ficaria muito grato se me avisasse.
      Meu e-mail é

  5. Sorry, the last reply was in portuguese. I don’t know if you, the owner of the blog will accept it. I’m brazilian and trying to get in touch with Flavia. Because my ancestor also died before 1900.
    Thank you.

  6. Hello Trevor, We recently heard back from Christian Paler at the MINISTÈRE DE LA JUSTICE stating everyone who applies must personally go to Luxembourg for phase two. I had hoped to go and present my oldest daughter’s certificate and papers.
    I hope you don’t mind me asking but I am confused about the birth certificates we have to bring with us.
    When I sent our papers to apply for the certificate I included recently purchased certified and translated birth certificates. Now we are at phase 2.
    I recently have purchased more certified translated copies.
    Do I have to buy more certified English copies with a more current date on them?
    How did you deal with this?

    • You will definitely need copies, but if you already have them, those should be OK. You will need those copies translated into French. In phase two, the birth certificates and the U.S. criminal background check must be translated into French.

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