Which EU country has the easiest citizenship requirements?

Which EU country has the easiest citizenship requirements?

In many European countries where ius sanguinis is the general guideline for citizenship, ancestors from that country will significantly help you obtaining citizenship. Alternatively, you might be coming from a former colony or comparable cases. But you did not mention anything about those options, so I will suppose that this is not the case here.

In general, you need to establish residency in your target country first and this might prove the main hurdle on your way to a EU citizenship. Marriage or finding a sufficiently high-paid job are your best shots. Substantial financial investments (read: investing in big projects, opening businesses) are not necessary, they could however give you an easy way to obtain residency in most countries. The rules have been somewhat harmonized in the EU but they are still varying a lot and change fast so you will have to look them up. As stated, the ease of establishing residency could very well be the decisive factor at any given point in time (e.g. depending on the different countries’ current job markets etc.).

However, to get to your question, let us assume that you can get residency by virtue of your high education (and languages you speak maybe) somehow in any country by trying hard enough to get a job there. Then the time needed for naturalization is the crucial point.

Here, Belgium used to be your best (i.e. quickest) bet as it took only 3 years of residency and it allows dual citizenship, if that is relevant to you. This has since been changed (thanks for the update to Kat Neu) and as of 2013, it is with 5 years still on the lower side of European citizenship laws but much more aligned with Sweden, Finland, France, the UK, Malta, Cyprus and a number of Eastern European countries. The following data is from 2009 with updates by me and according to comments here (includes non-EU Schengen states by the way, depending on your goals they also could be sufficient).

  • Austria: A permanent residence in the country during 10 years is required. Dual citizenship is NOT allowed.
  • Belgium: requires 5 years of residence, dual citizenship is allowed.
  • Bulgaria: 5 years of residence, dual citizenship is NOT allowed.
  • Cyprus: 5 accumulated years of residence in the last 8 years period, dual citizenship allowed.
  • Czech Republic: 5 years of residence, dual citizenship is allowed since 2014.
  • Denmark: 9 years of residence, dual citizenship is NOT allowed.
  • Estonia: 5 years of residence, dual citizenship is NOT allowed.
  • Finland: 5 years of residence, dual citizenship is allowed. 4 years for refugees, spouses, and people with strong ties to Finland. 2 years for Nordic citizens [thanksMaxim Zavadskiy].
  • France: 5 years of residence, dual citizenship is allowed.
  • Germany: 8 years of residence, can be reduced to 7 or even 6 with integration and language courses. Dual citizenship is NOT allowed.  [Although it’s allowed for EU countries and there are other exceptions. This might also be subject to change.]
  • Greece: 10 years, dual citizenship is allowed.
  • Hungary: 8 years, dual citizenship is allowed.
  • Iceland: 7 years, dual citizenship is allowed.
  • Ireland: Permanent residence in the country during 5 out of 9 years is required. You must be a resident during the year before applying [thanks Vijay Sankaran].Dual citizenship is allowed.
  • Italy: 10 years of residence, dual citizenship is allowed.
  • Latvia: 5 years of residence, dual citizenship is NOT allowed.
  • Lithuania: 10 years of residence are required. Dual citizenship is NOT allowed.
  • Luxembourg: 10 years of residence, dual citizenship is NOT allowed.
  • Malta: 5 years of permanent residence (usually following 5 years of temporary residence as noted by Bence Zakonyi), dual citizenship is allowed.
  • Netherlands: 5 years of residence, dual citizenship is NOT allowed [exceptions are common as noted by Jeannine van der Linden].
  • Norway: 7 of the last 10 years, dual citizenship is NOT allowed.
  • Poland: 5 years of residence, dual citizenship is NOT allowed.
  • Portugal:  6 years of residence, dual citizenship is allowed.
  • Romania: 5 years of residence, dual citizenship is allowed.
  • Slovakia: 8 years of residence are required. Dual citizenship is NOT
  • allowed any more [thanks Zuzana Soro?inová].
  • Slovenia: 10 years of residence, dual citizenship is allowed.
  • Spain: 10 years of residence are required. This requirement can be reduced to 2 years (but not waived) in case of nationals from a former colony of Spain (it covers a number of Latin American countries and the Philippines). Dual citizenship is allowed for the latter group only [thanks Guillermo López López].
  • Sweden: 5 years of residence, dual citizenship is allowed.
  • Switzerland: 12 years of residence (time between age 10 and 20 counts twice), dual citizenship is allowed.
  • United Kingdom: 5 years of residence, dual citizenship is allowed. Paradoxically, 6 years for EU/EEA citizens – and everyone not free of “immigration time restrictions” 12 months prior to applying [thanks Ashley Connor].

One general note about dual citizenship in EU countries: There is a EU directive that no member state can make an EU citizen from a different member state give up their passports. So, in that case you can have dual citizenship even if one of the two countries does not normally allow it. Furthermore, many countries that don’t technically allow dual citizenship do allow it in practice, when it is officially deemed to difficult or impossible to give up your old passport (for example Norway handles it like that, as pointed out byMario Gkionis).

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