If a pregnant American woman boards a German flight to the Maldives and gives birth while flying over Pakistan, does the baby get Pakistani citizenship?
There is an ancient doctrine, enshrined in English common law, that says Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos, which means, "Whoever owns the soil, it is theirs all the way up to heaven and down to hell."
That was the old rule, before the advent of air balloons, then airplanes, then V2 rockets, then spy satellites. It's been seriously amended (at least in Britain) to a much more modest: You own the airspace necessary for "the use and enjoyment" of your plot of land. So how high up is that?
We can assume that American parents would not allow any legal move to take away their child’s American citizenship. And does the old rules of ships’ registries apply to airplanes? It appears that no one knows the definitive answer about “sky babies,” and it largely depends on the citizenship laws of individual nations, Some allow for dual or triple citizenship, others don’t. Read more about this puzzling question at NPR.
(Image credit: Robert Krulwich/NPR)