The age of consent law seems a bit unclear to me, and becomes very complex and mysterious when adding dual citizenship into the mix because finding information on that is difficult. I'm just wondering what the law is for the following specific scenario.

A 21+ male USA citizen has traveled to Poland. He has been in Poland for several years and decided to get his birthright Hungarian citizenship (his mother is Hungarian in origin, and became a USA citizen after moving to the USA).

He is then a dual citizen. Now for the age of consent part:

  • The age of consent is 16 years old in the US state he comes from
  • In Hungary the age of consent is 14 years old
  • In Poland the age of consent is 15 years old

While in Poland, can he engage in sexual activity with a 15 year old female?

If he travels to Hungary, can he engage in sexual activity with a 14 year old female?

Does he have to stick to females who are 16 years old or older no matter what country he is in?

1 Answer 1


He has to follow the law of the country he is in and those of which he is a citizen.

A citizen is subject to their country's jurisdiction wherever they are, however, some laws are only enforced within a nation's boundaries and some have extra-territorial application.

18 U.S. Code § 2423 - Transportation of minors covers the US law (I don't speak Hungarian or Polish so I leave that up to you). It says:

(c) Engaging in Illicit Sexual Conduct in Foreign Places.—

Any United States citizen or alien admitted for permanent residence who travels in foreign commerce or resides, either temporarily or permanently, in a foreign country, and engages in any illicit sexual conduct with another person shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.

18 U.S. Code § 2243 - Sexual abuse of a minor or ward gives the age of a minor as anyone under 12 years old and anyone under 16 unless the perpetrator is not more than 4 years older. For your 21+ year old this would be anyone under 16.

  • 2
    I have a nagging feeling these laws are exceptional. E.g., at least in the U.S., IIRC, marriages are respected from other states or countries between spouses who could not legally marry in their state of residence. ... But then, extra-marital sex doesn't have the same protections. And it's a specific crime to transport a minor to another jurisdiction in order to avoid restrictions on conjugal relations. I.e., IIRC it's a little more complicated than what you've described so far.
    – feetwet
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 23:52
  • @feetwet: Marriage recognition isn't that simple. E.g. same-sex marriages were not recognized as far as I can tell, even from other countries. Still a thing today inside the EU, where there's no EU-wide recognition. Marriages of non-adults on the other hand have long had an escape route via emancipation. The US can easily consider married foreigners as emancipated under foreign law.
    – MSalters
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 22:37
  • 1
    It's worth noting that "illicit sexual conduct" is defined explicitly later in the section. The definition is based entirely on US law, so that it would not be a violation of that section if a US citizen or LPR were to violate a foreign law by engaging in an act that would be legal in the US (for example by having consensual and noncommercial sexual relations with an 18-year-old in a jurisdiction where the age of consent is 19).
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 13:12

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