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European Union citizenship comes with a lot of benefits, and those born into it, can consider themselves amongst the world’s luckiest, in particular, if they are passionate travellers and adventurers.
The perks of having EU citizenship are many. The EU countries perform amongst the best in the world in various fields, including economy, healthcare, education, freedom and human rights, and much more
In addition, a recent passport index by VisaGuide.World has shown that holding an EU passport means being able to travel without a traditional visa to the majority of world countries, with only 28 world countries out of around 200 asking EU citizens to obtain such a visa for entering their territory.
Data show that in 2021 alone, 827,000 people acquired citizenship in the EU countries, an increase of nearly 14 per cent, or 98,300 people more than in 2020. 85 per cent of them were previously citizens of a non-EU country or stateless.
“In 2021, similar to 2020, Moroccans were the largest group among new European Union citizens (86,200 people, of whom 71 per cent acquired citizenship of Spain or France), ahead of Syrians (83,500, 70 per cent acquired citizenship of Sweden or Netherlands), as well as Albanians (32,300, 70 per cent acquired citizenship of Italy),” the European Office for Statistics, Eurostat, has revealed in a report published on March 1, 2023.
One of the main routes through which foreigners become EU citizens is that of naturalisation through residence in a particular EU country. Through this route, foreigners need to live for at least a specific amount of time in that country and meet several conditions before being able to apply for citizenship by naturalisation.
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Citizenship through the naturalisation route is possible in Austria, for some very specific categories of foreigners in this country.
Third-country residents in Austria can obtain citizenship through naturalisation only after having lived in the country for at least 30 continuous years. This extremely long period, however, may be shortened to at least fifteen years in cases when the foreign resident can demonstrate successful personal and professional integration in Austria.
The period required to have been living in Austria for getting citizenship may be shortened further to ten years, if the resident meets the following conditions:
- he/she has sufficient financial means/secure income
- he/she has no criminal record
- sufficient knowledge of the German language, and positive attitude towards the Republic of Austria
EEA citizens, on the other hand, can apply for Austrian citizenship after only six years in the country.
The period one should be spent living in Belgium uninterruptedly in order to become a Belgian is a bit shorter than that in Austria, through a route that is officially called “declaration of nationality”.
Foreigners need to be 18 and older, who have been living in the country for an uninterrupted period of five years, and their residence in Belgium should be legal, while also proving they have been integrated into the country.
This means that they’ll need to show that they have mastered the language, are socially integrated, and that they are also participating in the country’s economy.
Residents who have failed to meet these conditions, they can still apply for citizenship in Belgium, but they must show proof they have legally resided there for ten years, and that they know the language as well. Participation in life in the country is also required, but that can be proven by any means and is not as strict as for those wishing to obtain citizenship after five years.
Bulgaria also permits non-EU citizens over the age of 18 to obtain Bulgarian citizenship, after the same have lived in its territory for only five years with a permanent or long-term residence permit.
There are, however, other conditions, in order to gain citizenship in Bulgaria/ Applicants must prove they have never been convicted for any intentional indictable offenses by a Bulgarian court, that they are financially well, and know the Bulgarian language.
The exam for the Bulgarian language is organized by the Ministry of Culture itself, and residents who fail it, are unable to gain citizenship even if they meet all other conditions.
In Croatia, in the meantime, a period of eight years of continuous residence, on legal grounds, is required in order to be able to apply to become a Croatian citizen.
Foreigners aged 18 and over can apply for citizenship in Croatia if they have no police record, and they are economically well.
Foreigners must pass two tests, that of Croatian language and also a test of the culture. Renouncing previous citizenship is also mandatory for those who wish to obtain citizenship through the naturalisation procedure.
The island country of Cyprus also offers citizenship by naturalisation for those who have legally resided in its territory for a period of seven years. The period is shortened to five, in cases when the applicant is a parent or child of a Cypriot national.
The applicant should have a clean criminal record as well.
The Czech Republic is part of the list of EU countries that permit foreigners to gain citizenship after only five continuous years in the country.
Every foreigner needs to meet some preconditions in order to be able to get Czech citizenship, including here being well-integrated into the society. They should not represent a threat security of the state, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, democratic foundations, lives, health, or property values.
EU citizens can gain Czech citizenship only after three years of living in this country.
Foreigners in Denmark should live there for a period of nine years without interruption before they are able to submit an application for citizenship.
In addition, there are other requirements that must be met. Foreigners need to prove that they are self-sufficient and that in the five years before application, they have not received any aid from the Danish authorities. They must not have any outstanding debt payable to any public authorities.
In Denmark, it is also a condition to present proof of having a clean criminal record. Danish language skills are also a must, which must be proved during the application procedure by documentation.
Foreigners who have lived in Estonia for at least eight years on the ground of a residence permit or by right of residence, of which at least the last five years are on a permanent basis, can submit an application to benefit from Estonian citizenship.
The other requirements include passing the Estonian language proficiency examination, having a permanent legal income, and showing proof of loyalty to the Estonian state.
Finnish citizenship is granted to all applicants that meet the set requirements, and who have lived in the country for a period of five years without interruption.
Those who have lived in Finland for interrupted periods, also qualify for citizenship if their accumulated period of residence is seven years, after the age of 15. It is also mandatory for this group, to have at least a period of two years of continuous residence in Finland.
Satisfactory oral and written skills in one of the following languages are also required:
- Finnish Sign Language or Finland-Swedish Sign Language.
Knowledge of one of these languages should be proved through a certificate accepted by the Finnish authorities.
According to the French laws on nationality acquisition, foreigners can apply to become French residents after only five years in the country.
Like for other countries, you also need to show proof of ‘sufficient and stable resources’, show your integration into the French way of life, and prove that you can understand, speak and write French to B1 level.
Germany grants citizenship to foreign residents only after they have lived in its territory for a period of eight years. For those who have successfully completed an integration course this period drops to seven years.
Sufficient command of the German language, familiarity with the legal system, and adaption to the German way of living are also required in addition to a clear criminal record and the ability to financially support themselves.
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People over the age of 18, can gain Greek citizenship if they have lived for seven consecutive years in Greece, or they have legally resided for five years. Those married to Greek citizens, as well as nationals of other EU countries, can gain citizenship in this country after only three years of continuous residence.
Mandatory conditions also include knowledge of the Greek language, participation into the political life, and smooth integration into the economic and social life of the country.
Eight years of continuous residence in the territory of Hungary are enough for a person to apply for Hungarian citizenship if the other conditions are also met. Good character, a clean criminal record, and passing a test on the basic constitutional studies of the country.
Those who started living in Hungary before the age of 18, can gain citizenship after only five years, given that the other conditions are also met.
Foreigners are entitled to Icelandic citizenship if they have had legal domicile and continuous residence in Iceland for seven years.
By continuous residence, the Iceland authorities mean that the foreigner must not have stayed abroad for longer than 90 days in total in each 12-month period.
Passing an Icelandic language test is mandatory, as well as having sufficient financial means to support themselves, which is a minimal monthly amount of 217.799 ISK for individuals and 348.476 ISK for married couples. Having received financial assistance from a municipality in the past three years before the application strips foreigners of the right to acquire Icelandic citizenship.
Ireland asks foreigners to prove that they have been legally resident in its territory for a minimal period of five years in the previous nine years before submitting an application for citizenship in the year before the application, foreigners must have been continuously living in Ireland.
You must have a clear criminal record, no driving offences, no pending criminal cases, and no ongoing investigations.
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In addition to a clear criminal record, and sufficient financial means, Italy requires foreigners to have lived in its territory for at least ten years, before they can obtain Italian citizenship. This makes Italy one of the countries with the highest residence requirement in the EU.
Children adopted by an Italian citizen can gain citizenship after seven years, whereas nationals of other EU countries after four years.
Persons aged 15 and over can acquire Latvian citizenship if they have lived in the country with a permanent residence permit for a period of five years.
It is also mandatory for applicants to have a good command of the Latvian language, know the history and culture of Latvia, and the basic principles of the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia; as well as the text of the National Anthem.
The ability to financially support themselves for those over 18 is also required.
Those who meet the above requirements, but have criminal records, related to terrorism, act in an anti-state or criminal organisation, have failed to fulfill tax or other payment obligations against the state, cannot gain Latvian citizenship.
Lithuanian citizenship can be acquired by those who have been legally resident in Lithuania for at least ten years.
Foreigners need to take an oath of allegiance to the Republic of Lithuania in order to become Lithuanian citizens. Passing an exam on the fundamentals of the Lithuanian language and the Constitution is also mandatory, as well as showing proof of having sufficient financial means.
Citizenship by naturalisation in Malta can be gained after seven years in the country. Foreigners need to have lived with a residence permit within the last 12 months before applying for citizenship, and for an aggregate period of four years, in the six years preceding the 12 months.
Adequate knowledge of Maltese or English language is required.
Living in the Netherlands with a permanent residence permit for at least five years enables foreigners to apply for Dutch citizenship.
However, it is mandatory to pass the civic integration exam, as well as read, write, speak, and understand Dutch to a sufficient level. The applicant must not be a danger to the public order or national security of the Netherlands and renounce their previous citizenship as well.
In order to gain Norwegian citizenship, foreigners must have lived in Norway for a total of eight of the previous eleven years before application and have held residence permits that were each valid for at least one year.
For those between 18 and 67 years old, an oral test in Norwegian at level B1 at the minimum is required.
Foreigners who have been convicted or fined by the police, as well as those who are under investigation for a criminal offence, might have to wait longer to gain Norwegian citizenship.
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Poland might be the EU country that grants foreigners citizenship for the shortest time compared to other EU members.
In Poland, a foreigner can gain citizenship as soon as after three years after living there with a permanent residence permit, given that the same has a stable and regular source of income in Poland, and has the right to occupy a dwelling unit.
This period will be shortened to two years, if the foreigner is married to a Polish citizen, or is stateless.
A Polish language qualification of level B1 is mandatory for all.
According to Portuguese laws, citizenship by naturalisation in this country can be acquired after five years of legal residency in the country’s territory.
The same must have sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language, and must not be convicted of a crime punishable by a prison sentence of more than the year under Portuguese law.
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In order to gain Romanian citizenship, a foreigner must show proof of having lived in this country for at least eight years under a temporary residence permit.
Loyalty to the Romanian state, clear criminal record, sufficient Romanian language skills and possesses elementary knowledge about the Romanian culture and civilization and the ability to support themselves financially are the main conditions.
Foreigners who have lived in Slovakia with a permanent residence for at least eight years without interruption can apply for Slovak citizenship
The applicants are required to prove that they have knowledge of the Slovak language and general knowledge of the Slovak Republic and that they have a clear criminal record.
The conditions for getting Slovenian citizenship are quite harsh compared to most EU countries, as the laws of this country establish that one must have lived in Slovenia for at least ten years, including a continuous period of five years’ residence prior to the application, in order to be eligible to obtain citizenship.
This period drops to seven years for those who have completed higher education studies in Slovenia, and to three years if the applicant is married to a Slovenian citizen.
Spain also wants foreigners to live in its territory for a longer period before they qualify for citizenship, which is as many as ten consecutive years on a valid residence permit, though they do not have to stay in the country all the time.
Citizens of the following countries, on the other hand, can apply for citizenship only after two years in Spain:
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
The other requirements, like for other countries, include a clean criminal record, and financial sustainability.
Those over the age of 18 who have lived in Sweden with a permanent residence permit or residence permit for settlement for five consecutive years, qualify to apply for Swedish citizenship.
Those in a registered partnership or are a cohabiting partner with a Swedish citizen can gain citizenship for a shorter period of three years.
Applicants must prove that they do not have unpaid debts or have committed crime in Sweden. Those who have not paid taxes, fines, or other fees, and who have not made maintenance payments might have their applications rejected.
After ten years of living in Switzerland with a permanent residence permit, foreigners can file an application for Swiss citizenship, given that three of them were in the five years before filing the applications. In addition, cantonal legislation requires a minimum residence period of between two and five years in the commune and in the canton concerned.
The main other conditions in order to become a Swiss citizen include successful integration and familiarity with the Swiss society and culture, as well as to not pose a threat to Switzerland’s internal or external security.
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Categories: Europe, Europe and Australia, European Union
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