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How Long Does It Take to Get Citizenship Through Naturalization in Each EU Member State?

Anyone born with European Union citizenship can count themselves among the world's fortunate, especially if they are avid travellers and adventurers.

The benefits of EU citizenship are numerous. In numerous categories, including economy, healthcare, education, freedom and human rights, and many others, the EU countries perform among the best in the world.


Statistics indicate that in 2021 alone, 827 000 persons got EU citizenship, a rise of about 14%, or 98,300 more people than in 2020. Eighty-five percent of them were previously non-EU citizens 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 most common ways for non-EU people to become EU citizens is by naturalisation through residence in a certain EU country. Before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship by naturalisation, foreigners must dwell in the nation for a certain period of time and satisfy a number of other requirements.


Austria

In Austria, several very particular categories of foreigners are able to acquire citizenship through the naturalisation process.


Residents of a third country who have resided in Austria for at least 30 consecutive years are only eligible for naturalisation after having lived in the country for at least that long. In circumstances when the foreign resident can demonstrate good personal and professional integration in Austria, this relatively lengthy period may be reduced to at least fifteen years.


The residency requirement for obtaining Austrian citizenship might be reduced to ten years provided certain requirements are met.


  1. he/she has sufficient financial means/secure income

  2. he/she has no criminal record

  3. 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.


Belgium

In order to become a Belgian, a shorter term of unbroken residence is required than in Austria, via a process officially known as "statement of nationality."


Foreigners must be at least 18 years old, have lived in the country for a continuous period of five years, have a legal residency in Belgium, and provide evidence of their integration into the community.


This means that they must demonstrate that they have acquired the language, are socially integrated, and are contributing to the economy of the country.


People who do not match these requirements may still apply for citizenship in Belgium, but they must provide evidence that they have legally been there for ten years and that they speak the language. Involvement in country life is also essential, but it can be demonstrated in any way and is not as stringent as for those seeking citizenship after five years.


Bulgaria

Bulgaria also allows non-EU citizens over the age of 18 to gain Bulgarian citizenship after five years of permanent or long-term residence.


To obtain Bulgarian citizenship, applicants must also demonstrate that they have never been convicted of any intentional indictable offences by a Bulgarian court, that they are financially stable, and that they speak Bulgarian.


The Bulgarian language test is administered by the Ministry of Culture, and those who fail it cannot obtain citizenship even if they complete all other requirements.


Croatia

In order to be eligible to apply for Croatian citizenship, a person must have resided continuously in the country for eight years for legal reasons.


Foreigners above the age of 18 may apply for citizenship in Croatia if they have no criminal record and are financially stable.


Foreigners must pass both a test of the Croatian language and a culture test. Those who desire to receive citizenship through the naturalisation procedure are also required to renounce any previous citizenship.


Cyprus

Citizenship via naturalisation is also available to persons who have legally resided in Cyprus for seven years. When the applicant is the parent or child of a Cypriot national, the time is decreased to five years.


Also, the applicant must have a clean criminal background.


Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is one of the EU countries that allows foreigners to obtain citizenship after only five years of continuous residence.


To be eligible for Czech citizenship, every foreigner must meet certain prerequisites, including being well-integrated into Czech society. They should not pose a threat to the state's security, sovereignty, territorial integrity, democratic underpinnings, lives, or property.


EU citizens can only obtain Czech citizenship after three years of residency.


Denmark

Prior to submitting an application for Danish citizenship, foreigners must have lived in the country for nine years without interruption.


There are other standards that must be completed. Foreigners must demonstrate that they are self-sufficient and have not received assistance from the Danish government in the five years prior to their application. They must not owe any governmental authorities any outstanding debts.


In Denmark, it is also necessary to provide evidence of a clean criminal record. Furthermore required are Danish language abilities, which must be documented during the application process.


Estonia

Foreigners who have resided in Estonia for at least eight years on the basis of a residence permit or by right of residence, with the past five years on a permanent basis, are eligible to apply for Estonian citizenship.


Other qualifications include completing an Estonian language proficiency assessment, possessing a permanent legal income, and demonstrating state loyalty.


Finland

Citizenship is awarded to all candidates who meet the established criteria and have continuously resided in Finland for at least five years.


Individuals who have lived in Finland intermittently are also eligible for citizenship if they have collected seven years of residence after the age of 15. Moreover, this group is required to have at least two years of continuous residence in Finland.


Also essential are oral and written proficiency in one of the following languages:

  • Finnish

  • Swedish

  • 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.


France

According to French nationality legislation, foreigners can petition to become French residents after just five years of residence.


Like with other nations, you must demonstrate "adequate and stable resources," your integration into the French way of life, and your ability to understand, speak, and write French at the B1 level.


Germany

Germany does not award citizenship to foreign inhabitants until they have lived in the country for eight years. This duration is reduced to seven years for individuals who have successfully completed an integration programme.


In addition to a clean criminal record and the ability to support oneself financially, applicants must demonstrate a sufficient command of the German language, knowledge of the German legal system, and adaptation to the German way of life.


Greece

Individuals over the age of 18, who have lived in Greece for seven consecutive years or five years legally, are eligible for Greek citizenship. Individuals married to Greek citizens, as well as nationals of other EU nations, can get citizenship after just three years of continuous residency.


Also required are mastery of the Greek language, participation in political life, and a seamless integration into the country's economic and social life.


Hungary

If the other requirements are also met, eight years of continuous residence on the territory of Hungary is sufficient to apply for Hungarian citizenship. Excellent moral character, a clean criminal record, and passing a test on the nation's fundamental constitutional principles.


Individuals who began residing in Hungary before the age of 18 are eligible for citizenship after only five years, provided all other requirements are completed.


Iceland

Foreigners who have had legal domicile and continuous residence in Iceland for seven years are eligible for citizenship.


By continuous residency, the Icelandic government means that the foreigner cannot have spent more than 90 days abroad over any 12-month period.


Passing an Icelandic language examination is required, as is a minimum monthly income of 217,799 ISK for individuals and 354,476 ISK for married couples. Foreigners who have received financial help from a municipality within the last three years are ineligible for Icelandic citizenship.


Ireland

When making an application for citizenship, Ireland requires foreigners to demonstrate that they have been legally located on its territory for a minimum of five years in the preceding nine years. In the year preceding the application, foreigners must have continuously resided in Ireland.


You must have no driving offences, pending criminal cases, or current investigations on your record.


Italy

In addition to a clean criminal record and adequate financial resources, Italy needs foreigners to have resided on its territory for at least ten years prior to obtaining Italian citizenship. This makes Italy one of the EU member states with the strictest residency requirements.


Children adopted by an Italian citizen are eligible for citizenship after seven years, whereas other EU nationals must wait four years.


Latvia

Anyone aged 15 and older who have resided in Latvia for five years with a permanent residence permit are eligible for citizenship.


Applicants must also have a strong command of the Latvian language, be well-versed in Latvian history and culture, and be familiar with the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia and the wording of the national anthem.


Those over the age of 18 must also be able to support themselves financially.


Individuals who fit the aforementioned criteria but have a criminal record, ties to terrorism, are members of an anti-state or criminal organisation, or have not met their tax or other payment responsibilities to the state are ineligible for Latvian citizenship.


Those who have been legally residing in Lithuania for at least ten years are eligible to apply for Lithuanian citizenship.


In order to become citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, foreigners must swear an oath of loyalty. In addition to passing a test on the fundamentals of the Lithuanian language and the Constitution, applicants must also provide proof of significant financial resources.


Malta

Citizenship via naturalisation can be obtained after seven years of residence in Malta. Prior to applying for citizenship, non-citizens must have held a valid residence permit for a total of four years in the six years preceding the most recent 12-month period.


Language proficiency in Maltese or English is necessary.


The United Kingdom

Foreigners who have held a permanent residence permit in the Netherlands for at least five years are eligible to apply for Dutch citizenship.


Yet, it is required to pass the civic integration exam and to read, write, speak, and understand Dutch adequately. The candidate must not pose a threat to the public order or national security of the Netherlands, and they must also relinquish their prior citizenship.


Norway

For foreigners to qualify for Norwegian citizenship, they must have resided in the country for a total of eight of the previous eleven years and have held residence permits valid for at least one year.


For persons between the ages of 18 and 67, a minimum oral test in Norwegian at level B1 is necessary.


Foreigners who have been convicted or penalised by the police, or who are under investigation for a crime, may be required to wait longer to obtain Norwegian citizenship.


Poland

Poland may be the EU state that gives citizenship to foreigners in the quickest amount of time compared to other EU nations.


In Poland, a foreigner can obtain citizenship as soon as three years after obtaining a permanent residency permit, provided they have a solid source of income and the right to possess a dwelling unit.


This period will be reduced to two years if the foreigner is stateless or married to a Polish national.


A B1 level proficiency in Polish is necessary for everyone.


Portugal

Citizenship by naturalisation in Portugal can be earned after five years of legal residency on its territory, according to its statutes.


The applicant must have a sufficient command of the Portuguese language and must not have been convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year in prison under Portuguese law.


Romania

To obtain Romanian citizenship, a foreigner must demonstrate that he or she has been in the nation for a minimum of eight years under a temporary residency permit.


Key requirements include allegiance to the Romanian state, a clean criminal record, adequate Romanian language skills, basic knowledge of Romanian culture and civilization, and the ability to sustain oneself financially.


Slovakia

Foreigners who have continuously resided in Slovakia as permanent residents for at least eight years are eligible to apply for Slovak citizenship.


The applicants must demonstrate knowledge of the Slovak language and broad understanding of the Slovak Republic, as well as a lack of criminal history.


Slovenia

In order to be eligible for Slovenian citizenship, a person must have resided in the nation for a minimum of ten years, including a continuous period of five years preceding the application. This requirement is very stringent in comparison to the majority of EU countries.


This term is reduced to three years if the applicant is married to a Slovenian citizen and to seven years if the candidate has finished higher education courses in Slovenia.


Spain

In order to qualify for Spanish citizenship, foreigners must reside in the country for a minimum of ten years on a valid residence permit, however they are not required to be in the country continuously.


People of the following nations may seek for Spanish citizenship only after two years of residence:

  • Mexico

  • Peru

  • Argentina

  • Philippines

  • Cuba

  • Bolivia

  • Chile

  • Colombia

  • Costa Rica

  • Dominican Republic

  • Ecuador

  • El Salvador

  • Guatemala

  • Honduras

  • Venezuela

  • Panama

  • Paraguay

Similar to other countries, the additional qualifications include a clean criminal record and financial stability.


Sweden

Individuals above the age of 18 who have resided in Sweden for five consecutive years with a permanent or settlement residency permit are eligible to apply for Swedish citizenship.


Individuals in a registered partnership or cohabiting with a Swedish citizen can obtain citizenship in three years instead of five.


Candidates must demonstrate that they have no unpaid bills or criminal records in Sweden. The applications of those who have not paid taxes, penalties, or other costs, or who have not made child support payments, may be denied.


Switzerland

Foreigners can apply for Swiss citizenship after 10 years of residing in Switzerland with a permanent residence permit, provided that three of those years occurred within the five years preceding the application. Moreover, cantonal law mandates a minimum residence of between two and five years in the commune and canton in question.


Other essential requirements for Swiss citizenship include successful integration and acquaintance with Swiss society and culture, as well as not posing an internal or foreign security threat to Switzerland.

By fLEXI tEAM

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