Acquisition of citizenship statistics
- Data extracted in March 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: March 2018.
In 2015, 841 200 people obtained citizenship of an EU-28 Member State, a decrease of 5 % compared with 2014. This decline occurred after another consecutive year of decrease. The main contribution to the decrease at EU level came from Spain (91 500 fewer persons were granted Spanish citizenship than in 2014 due to administrative delays), followed by the United Kingdom (-7 600), Ireland (-7 500) and Greece (-7 000).
Most new citizenships in 2015 were granted by Italy (178 000 or 21 % of the EU-28 total), the United Kingdom (118 000 or 14 %), Spain (114 400 or 14 %), France (113 600 or 14 %) and Germany (110 100 or 13 %).
Of those acquiring citizenship of an EU-28 Member State, 86 % had previously been citizens of non-EU countries. Of these, citizens of Morocco made up the highest numbers, followed by citizens of Albania, Turkey and India.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
Main statistical findings
EU-28 Member States granted citizenship to around 841 200 persons in 2015
In 2015, 841 200 people obtained citizenship of an EU-28 Member State, a decrease of 5 % compared with 2014. This was mainly caused by the decreases in absolute terms in Spain (91 500 fewer persons were granted Spanish citizenship than in 2014), followed by the United Kingdom (7 600), Ireland (7 500) and Greece (7 000). By contrast, the largest increases in absolute terms were observed in Italy (48 100 more persons were granted Italian citizenship compared with 2014), followed by Belgium (8 300), France (8 000) and Denmark (7 000 more).
The top five citizenship-granting countries accounted for 75 % of new citizenships granted in the EU in 2015: Italy (178 000 or 21 %), followed by the United Kingdom (118 000 or 14 %), Spain(114 400 or 14 %), France(113 600 or 14 %) and Germany (110 100 or 13 %).
In relation to the population, the highest number of citizenships were granted by Luxembourg (5.6 per thousand persons) followed by Sweden (5.0) and Cyprus (3.9). (See figure 4) An indicator commonly used to measure the effect of national policies on citizenship is the "naturalisation rate" or ratio of the total number of citizenships granted over the stock of non-national population in a country at the beginning of the year. It is important to note that changes in naturalisation rates can also be attributed to changes in the non-national population and in the way the non-national population is measured (see Data sources and availability).
In 2015, in the EU-28 as a whole, 2.4 per hundred non-national citizens were granted citizenship. The country with the highest naturalisation rate was Sweden (6.7 per hundred), followed by Portugal (5.2). The lowest naturalisation rates were found in Estonia (0.5). Other countries with naturalisation rates under 1.0 were Lithuania (0.8), Austria (0.7), Latvia (0.6), the Czech Republic (0.6) and Slovakia (0.5). (See figure 5)
Of the five EU-28 countries that granted the most citizenships, the rate was above the EU-28 average in Italy (3.6), France (2.6) and Spain (2.6). The rates were below the EU-28 average in the United Kingdom (2.2) and Germany (1.5).
A forth of new EU citizens were Moroccans, Albanians, Turks and Indians
About 86 % of those who acquired citizenship of an EU-28 Member State in 2015 were previously citizens of a non-EU country. This means that 727 200 non-EU-28 citizens residing in the EU-28 acquired an EU citizenship in 2015, a 7 % decrease with respect to 2014. These new EU-28 citizens were mainly from Africa (31 % of the total number of citizenships acquired), North and South America (14 %), Asia (21 %) and Europe (outside of the EU-28) 20 %). Citizens of EU-28 Member States who acquired citizenship of another EU-28 Member State amounted to 104 900 persons, thus accounting for 13 % of the total.
Only in Luxembourg and Hungary were the majority of new citizenships granted to citizens of another EU Member State. In the case of Luxembourg, Portuguese citizens accounted for the largest share, followed by French, Italian, German and Belgian citizens, in the case of Hungary EU nationals acquiring citizenship were almost exclusively Romanians. Viewed in terms of original citizenship, as in previous years, the largest groups were Moroccans (86 100, or 10.2 %), followed by Albanians (48 400, or 5.8 %), Turks (35 000, or 4.2 %) and Indians (31 000, or 3.7 %). The majority of Moroccans acquired citizenship of Italy (38 %), Spain (28 %) or France (22 %), while the majority of Albanians received Italian citizenship (73 %) or Greek citizenship(24 %). Around half of the Turks received German citizenship (56 %) and a large majority of Indians (60 %) received British citizenship.
Table 3 is available here.
Romanians were the fifth largest citizenship of origin in 2015, increasing by 17 % (from 24 300 in 2014 to 28 400 in 2015). Grants of citizenship declined for three of the highest four citizenships of origin: for Moroccans by 7 %, for Turks by 7 %, for Indians by 12 % and increased for one of the highest four citizenships of origin: for Albanians by 18 %.
In addition to Romania, among the thirty main countries of previous citizenship there is another EU-28 country whose citizens acquired citizenship of another EU country: Poland. In absolute terms, most Romanians acquiring citizenship became citizens of Italy (14 400 persons) and Germany (3 000 persons), more than half of the acquisitions of citizenship by Poles were in Germany (6 000) and the United Kingdom (3 700 persons).
Half of those changing citizenship were aged 32 or less
The distribution by gender shows a slight predominance of women (52 % against 48 % men). Acquisitions of citizenship by women outnumbered acquisitions by men in all but nine of Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Malta, Romania and Slovenia). The highest proportion of citizenship acquisitions by women was recorded in Croatia (65 %). The country with the highest share of acquisitions by men was Romania (57 %).
Observed by age, there are two distinct peaks in terms of the predominance of acquisitions by women: one in the age group 25-34 and another slight peak among those aged 60-65+.
In 2015, the median age of persons acquiring citizenship in the whole of the EU was 32. The Member State with the lowest median age was Estonia; half of its new citizens were younger than 27. The highest median age (41) was in Lithuania.
Age distribution varied from one Member State to another due to differences in citizenship legislation and age structure of the non-national population (see Data sources and availability). However, the common feature uniting all Member States was that most new citizenships were acquired by younger people, and that the numbers declined with age.
In 2015, more than a third of persons granted citizenship of an EU-28 country were younger than 25 years and nearly half aged 25 to 44, while those aged 55 or over accounted for less than 7 %.
The proportion of citizenship acquisitions by children was highest in Estonia, France, Belgium and Italy (32 %) and lowest in Lithuania (2 %). In Luxembourg, no children were granted citizenship.
Lithuania accounted for the highest share of grants of citizenship to persons aged 65 or older (8.7 %), followed by Hungary (7.6 %). The lowest shares of elderly new citizens were recorded in Austria (0.8 %) and Slovenia (0.7 %).
Data sources and availability
Data on acquisitions of citizenship are collected by Eurostat under the provisions of Article 3.1.(d) of Regulation 862/2007 on migration statistics, stating that: "Member States shall supply to the Commission (Eurostat) statistics on the numbers of (…) persons having their usual residence in the territory of the Member State and having acquired during the reference year the citizenship of the Member State and having formerly held the citizenship of another Member State or a third country or having formerly been stateless, disaggregated by age and sex, and by the former citizenship of the persons concerned and by whether the person was formerly stateless."
The collection of data on acquisition of citizenship is defined by Regulation 862/2007 and breakdowns and composition of the EU, EFTA and candidate countries groups are given in the implementing Regulation 351/2010.
The EU-28 aggregates for 2012, 2011 and 2010 include Romanian data for 2009.
For reference year 2015, age definition is only reached for Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Switzerland; age definition is only completed for Austria, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United Kingdom; and both age definitions are available for Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Spain, Luxembourg, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway.
Age reached: at the end of the year.
Age completed: on the last birthday.
Citizenship: the particular legal bond between an individual and his or her State, acquired by birth or naturalisation, whether by declaration, choice, marriage or other means according to the national legislation. International law does not provide detailed rules, but it recognises the competence of every state in cases like: spouses of citizens, minors adopted by citizens, descendants of citizens born abroad returning to the country of origin of their ancestors, etc. Countries differ considerably in terms of the conditions to be fulfilled to acquire citizenship: in general a period of legally registered residence is required, combined with other factors such as evidence of social and economic integration and knowledge of national languages. Different conditions may apply for persons who were born in the country concerned (jus soli), or who have parents or other relatives with that country's citizenship (jus sanguinis).
Detailed information on the different modes of acquisition of citizenship in force in different countries can be found at the EUDO Citizenship website.
The category recognised non-citizen is particularly relevant in the Baltic States.
Within the European Commission, the Directorate-General for Home Affairs is responsible for immigration policy. In 2005, the European Commission relaunched the debate on the need for a common set of rules for the admission of economic migrants with a Green paper on an EU approach to managing economic migration (COM(2004) 811 final) which led to the adoption of a policy plan on legal migration (COM(2005) 669 final) at the end of 2005. In July 2006, the European Commission adopted a Communication on policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration of third-country nationals (COM(2006) 402 final), which aims to strike a balance between security and an individuals’ basic rights during all stages of the illegal immigration process. In September 2007, the European Commission presented its third annual report on migration and integration (COM(2007) 512 final). A European Commission Communication adopted in October 2008 emphasised the importance of strengthening the global approach to migration: increasing coordination, coherence and synergies (COM(2008) 611 final) as an aspect of external and development policy. The Stockholm programme, adopted by EU heads of state and government in December 2009, sets a framework and series of principles for the ongoing development of European policies on justice and home affairs for the period 2010 to 2014; migration-related issues are a central part of this programme. In order to bring about the changes agreed upon, the European Commission enacted an action plan implementing the Stockholm programme – delivering an area of freedom, security and justice for Europe’s citizens (COM(2010) 171 final) in 2010.
In May 2013, the European Commission published the 'EU Citizenship Report 2013'. The Report notes that 'EU citizenship brings citizens new rights and opportunities. Moving and living freely within the EU is the right they associate most closely with EU citizenship. Given modern technology and the fact that it is now easier to travel, freedom of movement allows Europeans to expand their horizons beyond national borders, to leave their country for shorter or longer periods, to come and go between EU countries to work, study and train, to travel for business or for leisure, or to shop across borders. Free movement increases social and cultural interactions within the EU and creates closer bonds between Europeans. In addition, it generates mutual economic benefits for businesses and citizens, including those who remain at home, as the EU steadily removes internal obstacles.
The European Commission presented a European Agenda on Migration outlining the immediate measures that will be taken in order to respond to the crisis situation in the Mediterranean as well as the steps to be taken in the coming years to better manage migration in all its aspects on 13 May 2015.
The European migration network annual report on immigration and asylum (2015) was published in June 2016. It provides an overview of the main legal and policy developments taking place across the EU as a whole and within participating countries. It is a comprehensive document and covers all aspects of migration and asylum policy by the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs and EU agencies.
Further Eurostat information
- Regional Statistics Illustrated - select statistical domain 'Population' (top right)
- EU Member States granted citizenship to almost 900 000 persons in 2014 — News release 113/2016
- Foreign citizens accounted for fewer than 7% of persons living in the EU Member States in 2014 — News release 230/2015
- People in the EU: who are we and how do we live? — Statistical books 2015 edition
- EU Member States granted citizenship to almost 1 million persons in 2013 — News release 119/2015
- European social statistics — Pocketbooks 2013 edition
- EU Member states granted citizenship to more than 800 000 persons in 2010 - Statistics in focus 45/2012
- Nearly two-thirds of the foreigners living in EU Member States are citizens of countries outside the EU-27 - Statistics in focus 31/2012
- Migrants in Europe - A statistical portrait of the first and second generation - Statistical books
- 6.5% of the EU population are foreigners and 9.4% are born abroad - Statistics in focus 34/2011
- Acquisitions of citizenship on the rise in 2009 - Statistics in focus 24/2011
- Demographic Outlook - 2010 edition
- Immigration to EU Member States down by 6% and emigration up by 13% in 2008 - Statistics in focus 1/2011
- Population grows in twenty EU Member States - Statistics in focus 38/2011
- Population, see:
- International Migration and Asylum (t_migr)
- Acquisition of citizenship (tps00024)
- Population, see:
- International Migration and Asylum (migr)
- Acquisition and loss of citizenship (migr_acqn)
- Residents who acquired citizenship as a share of residents non-citizens by former citizenship and sex(%) (migr_acqs)
- Acquisition of citizenship by sex, age group and former citizenship (migr_acq)
- Acquisition of citizenship by sex, age group and level of human development of former citizenship (migr_acq1ctz)
- Loss of citizenship by sex and new citizenship (migr_lct)
- Acquisition and loss of citizenship (migr_acqn)
Methodology / Metadata
- Acquisition and loss of citizenship (ESMS metadata file — migr_acqn_esms)
- Population (ESMS metadata file — demo_pop_esms)
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- Legislative documents- European Agenda on Migration
- Press materials- European Agenda on Migration
- Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography
- European Commission — Migration and Home Affairs
- Legislative documents — European agenda on migration
- Press materials — European agenda on migration
- Irregular migration and return
- Common European Asylum System
- European Asylum Support Office
- Return policy
- Legal migration
- European Union Democracy Observatory on Citizenship
- European Web Site on Integration
- OECD — International migration (feed)
- The CLANDESTINO project on irregular migration in the EU
- United Nations Development Programme