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Easiest European Countries to Get Citizenship

David Bonellie

David Bonellie

Last updated: March 13, 2023

Easiest European Countries to Get Citizenship

There is no single “easy” route to obtaining European citizenship, as the requirements and processes vary greatly between countries and circumstances. In general, there are several ways that you can become a citizen of a European country. 

The Routes to European Citizenship

Most European countries follow jus sanguinis (Latin for “right of blood”), a legal principle used in many countries to determine citizenship based on the citizenship or nationality of one’s parents or ancestors. 

Other potential routes to European citizenship include birth (depending on parents’ status), marriage, and naturalization. There is the possibility of claiming European citizenship by investment. 

European citizenship is incredibly sought after. The word “easy” can be subjective, but the team at Global Residence Index will help you find out the easiest country to get citizenship in Europe. 

European Citizenship by Descent 

Under jus sanguinis, an individual can acquire citizenship by birth if one or both parents are citizens of the country or through descent if one or both grandparents or ancestors were citizens of the country. Citizenship by descent is a standard method of obtaining European citizenship with proof of ancestry.

Jus sanguinis strongly emphasizes nationality and heritage for countries to award citizenship. Jus sanguinis is a way to maintain cultural and ethnic ties within a nation. Place of birth is usually not crucial for citizenship to flow to children born to European parents. Portugal, Germany, Spain, Lithuania and several other countries are a few examples to consider.

The easiest European countries to get citizenship through descent can include:

  • Irish citizenship can flow indefinitely as long as the previous generation was registered on the Foreign Births Registry before the next generation is born. You can still register on the FBR even if your parent did not register, but you have an Irish-born grandparent.
  • Italian citizenship can, in theory, pass on from an ancestor as far back as the country’s formation in 1861. The applicant has the right to apply if they have the correct documentation, and the Italian born ancestors did not renounce their citizenship.

After applying for European citizenship, waiting two to four years to receive your naturalization certificate is common. Only then can you apply for a passport. An option that is the easiest way to get citizenship is through citizenship by investment programs

European Citizenship by Birth

Jus sanguinis is different from jus soli (“right of the soil”), another legal principle used in many countries to determine citizenship based on the place of birth. Under jus soli, an individual can acquire citizenship by birth if they were born on the territory of the country, regardless of the citizenship or nationality of their parents.

There are no European countries that strictly allow citizenship by birth alone. The parent’s residence or citizenship status is important. However, Portugal is the easiest country to get citizenship in Europe when parents are not citizens. Portugal allows any children born in the country to become citizens if their parents have been a resident in Portugal for at least one year. 

This law is by far the most lenient in Europe. Portugal is arguably the easiest European Country to immigrate to as it has several residence options. 

European Citizenship by Marriage

Citizenship by marriage in Europe refers to the process by which a foreign national can acquire the citizenship of their spouse’s country through marriage without needing prior residency in that country. Citizenship through marriage is a common practice among several European countries, but the specifics of the process can vary on timelines, language, and showing other connections.

One of the easiest European countries to citizenship by marriage include:

  • Portugal: Applicants must be legally married to a Portuguese citizen for at least three years (or at least one year if they have children together). Other requirements include demonstrating basic knowledge of the Portuguese language and demonstrating ties to the Portuguese community.
  • Hungary: The central European country follows Portugal’s requirements very closely as one of the easiest European countries to get citizenship by marriage. A spouse of a Hungarian citizen can apply for citizenship after being married for three years, having knowledge of Hungarian, and proving ties to the community.  

Other countries that follow similar easy routes to citizenship by marriage without needing a prior residence include France and Italy, to name a few. These are some of the easiest countries to get citizenship. The only fundamental requirement is to learn the language to a basic level. 

European Citizenship by Naturalization

The routes to naturalization are not the fastest and easiest ways to get citizenship. Typically citizenship by naturalization in Europe is the process by which individuals who are not citizens of a particular European country can acquire citizenship through application and fulfilling specific legal requirements. 

Naturalization requirements vary by country, but common criteria include a minimum period of legal residency, language proficiency, financial stability, and a clean criminal record. Individuals may also be required to pass a citizenship test or demonstrate knowledge of the country’s culture and history. 

Physical Presence Requirements 

Time is arguably the most important thing to consider. Patience only comes naturally to some, and obtaining citizenship after several years can be difficult. Historically Belgium only required someone to live in the country for three years before changing it to five years in 2013. 

The easiest countries to get citizenship by naturalization, specifically looking at the physical presence requirements, include: 

  • Spain: Applicants can naturalize after two years if they are natural-born citizens of a country of Ibero-America (including individuals with Puerto Rican citizenship), Portugal, Andorra, the Philippines, and Equatorial Guinea. Under normal circumstances, you need to complete ten years of residency in Spain before being eligible for citizenship.
  • Belgium: A resident can apply for citizenship after five years of residence and spending six consecutive months or eight non-consecutive months per year; and
  • San Marino / Liechtenstein: San Marino and Liechtenstein are possibly the opposite of the easiest European countries to get citizenship. Both countries require thirty years of residency before being eligible to apply. 

The above information on the easiest countries to get European citizenship is only part of the puzzle. Effectively the above allows you eligibility to apply for citizenship. The bureaucratic process to get your application approved is another thing to consider.  

Citizenship by Investment 

The citizenship by investment industry allows investors to get citizenship quickly and typically do not have to undergo the normal naturalization process. Europe does not have any immediate citizenship by investment programs. Montenegro, a candidate EU member, does not have an open program as it closed at the end of 2022. 

Malta is the easiest country to get citizenship in Europe through investing. 

Portugal’s Golden Visa holders require thirty-five days of physical presence over five years, making it one of the easiest countries to get citizenship after five years of residence. Lastly, Turkey’s citizenship by investment program allows you to become a citizen within a few months. However, only a small section of the Country is on the continent of Europe and is not considered European. 

There are several other non-European countries to get citizenship through investment. 

Easiest country to get Citizenship in Europe by Investment Migration

Malta’s Exceptional Investor Naturalization program makes it the easiest country to get citizenship in Europe. After completing the financial investments, the investor obtains a residence permit which they need to hold for twelve months. After twelve months of holding residence, the investor can apply for citizenship. 

The investor will need to spend a few weeks in Malta before getting their residence permit and then a few weeks when they naturalize, about fourteen months after first gaining their residence permit. 

The investment criteria include the following:

  • A non-refundable contribution of at least €600,000 for a minimum residence period of 36 months or €750,000 for a minimum of 12 months;
  • The purchase of residential property in Malta of at least €700,000 must be held for five years. Alternatively, the lease of a residential property with a rental value of at least €16,000 per annum is also held for five years. The property cannot be sublet during these five years.;
  • A donation of at least €10,000 to a registered sport, cultural, scientific, philanthropic, animal welfare, or artistic non-governmental organization or society, as approved by the Community Malta Agency; and
  • Applicants require a valid residence card to apply for citizenship.

The program makes a solid case for making Malta one of the easiest European countries to get citizenship on paper. There is a thorough due diligence process that all applicants need to pass before being eligible to receive European citizenship. 

Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Options 

Many global citizens look to create a passport portfolio by investing in multiple investment migration programs. The Caribbean citizenship by investment programs is an excellent way to quickly and easily obtain a second passport within a few months. Investors will then invest in European programs such as Malta, Portugal, and Turkey to increase their passport options. 

The five Caribbean countries and the minimum investment that offer citizenship by investment include: 

  • Antigua and Barbuda: The National Development Fund is a non-refundable contribution of $100,000 and $125,000 for a family of five (excluding Government fees of $30,000);
  • Commonwealth of Dominica: The Economic Development Fund requires a non-refundable contribution of $100,000 for a single applicant, $150,000 for a principal applicant and spouse, and $175,000 for a family of four; 
  • Republic of Grenada: The National Transformation Fund is a non-refundable contribution of $150,000 and $200,000 for a family of four;
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis: The Sustainable Growth Fund requires a minimum of $125,000 for a single applicant, $150,000 for a principal applicant and spouse, and $170,000 for a family of four. The cost will increase by $25,000 per category after 30 June 2023; and
  • Saint Lucia: The National Economic Fund allows citizenship after donating  $100,000 for a single applicant, $140,000 for a principal applicant and spouse, and $150,000 for a family of four.

The Caribbean countries have powerful passports with visa-free access to over 140 countries and territories, including the UK and Europe’s Schengen area. Use our comparison tool to determine which might be best for you.

how many citizenships can you have

Closing Strategy on the Easiest European Countries to Get Citizenship 

The easiest countries to get citizenship in Europe depend on each client’s needs. The descent route allows individuals to use their European ancestry to claim citizenship. Citizenship by descent laws makes Europe some of the easiest countries for citizenship. Applicants must be aware of the time it takes to be approved, as this can be many frustrating years of waiting. 

The next best option (if not possible and considering the time factor, is to use citizenship by investment programs. The Caribbean countries are the easiest countries to get citizenship within a few months and are relatively inexpensive (compared to MEIN). 

With high net-worth individuals comfortable with a large donation portion, Malta is undoubtedly the country to look at. Investors and their families can obtain European citizenship within fourteen to sixteen months. Becoming a dual citizen in Europe has many non-financial benefits, such as visa-free travel, freedom of movement within Europe, and better healthcare and education opportunities. 

Click and Contact us to set up a consultation. The team at Global Residence Index provides expert advice to determine the easiest country to get citizenship. 


I have a great-grandparent born in Europe. Can I get citizenship? 

Each European country has its own set of citizenship laws. Citizenship by descent can often flow from a grandparent and in some cases further back. It is best to check with our team to learn more.

Do you recommend claiming European Citizenship if I can?

Yes. There are very few negatives to claiming European citizenship. Unless there is mandatory conscription or citizenship taxes, investigate your options. 

What are my options if I cannot get European citizenship?

Citizenship by investment allows you to get a second citizenship within a few months. Malta is one of the easiest countries to get citizenship in Europe by investing in the MEIN program.

Need help?

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