Acquisition of citizenship statistics

Data extracted in March 2018. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: April 2019.

This article presents recent statistics on the acquisition of citizenship in the European Union (EU).

In 2016, 994 800 people obtained citizenship of an EU-28 Member State, a increase of 18 % compared with 2015. This increase occurred after two consecutive years of decrease. The main contribution to the increase at EU level came from Spain (36 600 more persons were granted Spanish citizenship than in 2015), followed by the United Kingdom (+31 400), Italy (+23 600), Greece (+19 300) and Sweden (+12 300).

Most new citizenships in 2016 were granted by Italy (201 600 or 20 % of the EU-28 total), Spain (150 900 or 15 %), the United Kingdom (149 400 or 15 %), France (119 200 or 12 %) and Germany (112 800 or 11 %).

Of those acquiring citizenship of an EU-28 Member State, 87 % had previously been citizens of non-EU countries. Of these, citizens of Morocco made up the highest numbers, followed by citizens of Albania, India, Pakistan and Turkey.

Figure 1: Number of persons having acquired the citizenship of an EU Member State, EU-28, 2009–16 (1 000)
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Table 1: Total number of acquisitions of citizenship in the EU-28 and EFTA, 2009-2016 (1 000)
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Figure 2: Five main EU-28 Member states granting citizenship, 2016
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Figure 3: Acquisitions of citizenship, relative change, EU-28 and EFTA, 2016-2015
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Figure 4: Acquisitions of citizenship per 1000 persons, EU-28 and EFTA, 2016
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq) and (migr_pop1ctz)
Figure 5: Naturalisation rate (acquisition of citizenship per 100 resident foreigners), 2016
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)and (migr_pop1ctz)
Table 2: Acquisitions of citizenship by group of previous citizenship in the EU-28 and EFTA, 2016
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Table 4: Thirty main countries of previous citizenship, 2016
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Table 5: Gender and age distribution of persons acquiring citizenship in the EU-28 and EFTA, 2016
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)
Figure 6: Distribution by gender and age of persons acquiring citizenship in the EU-28, 2016
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)

Main statistical findings

EU-28 Member States granted citizenship to 994 800 persons in 2016

In 2016, 994 800 people obtained citizenship of an EU-28 Member State, an increase of 18 % compared with 2015. This was mainly caused by the increases in absolute terms in Spain (36 600 more persons were granted Spanish citizenship than in 2015), followed by the United Kingdom (31 400), Italy (23 600), Greece (19 300) and Sweden (12 300). By contrast, the largest decreases in absolute terms were observed in Ireland (3 500 fewer persons were granted Irish citizenship compared with 2015), followed by Poland (300).

The top five citizenship-granting countries accounted for 74 % of new citizenships granted in the EU in 2016: Italy (201 600 or 20 %), Spain (150 900 or 15 %), the United Kingdom (149 400 or 15 %), France (119 200 or 12 %) and Germany (112 800 or 11 %).

In relation to the population, the highest number of citizenships were granted by Sweden (6.2 per thousand persons) followed by Luxembourg (5.7) and Cyprus (5.5). (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 2016, in the EU-28 as a whole, 2.7 per hundred non-national citizens were granted citizenship. The country with the highest naturalisation rate was Croatia (9.7 per hundred), followed by Sweden (7.9) and Portugal (6.5). The lowest naturalisation rates were found in Austria, Latvia and Slovakia (0.7). Other countries with naturalisation rates under 1.0 were Estonia and Lithuania (0.9). (See figure 5)

Of the five EU-28 countries that granted the most citizenships, the rate was above or equal to the EU-28 average in Italy (4.0), Spain (3.4) and France (2.7). The rates were below the EU-28 average in the United Kingdom (2.6) and Germany (1.3).

Almost a third of new EU citizens were Moroccans, Albanians, Indians, Pakistanis and Turks

About 87 % of those who acquired citizenship of an EU-28 Member State in 2016 were previously citizens of a non-EU country. This means that 863 300 non-EU-28 citizens residing in the EU-28 acquired an EU citizenship in 2016, a 19 % increase with respect to 2015. These new EU-28 citizens were mainly from Africa (30 % of the total number of citizenships acquired), North and South America (15 %), 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 120 200 persons, thus accounting for 12 % 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 (101 300, or 10.2 %), followed by Albanians (67 500, or 6.8 %), Indians (41 700, or 4.2 %), Pakistanis (32 900, or 3.3 %) and Turks (32 800, or 3.3 %). The majority of Moroccans acquired citizenship of Spain (37 %), Italy (35 %) or France (18 %), while the majority of Albanians received Italian citizenship (55 %) or Greek citizenship(42 %). A large majority of Indians (59 %) received British citizenship, around half of the Pakistanis received British citizenship (51 %) and half of the Turks received German citizenship (50 %).

Table 3 Microsoft Excel 2010 Logo.png is available here.

Romanians were the sixth largest citizenship of origin in 2016, increasing by 4.6 % (from 28 400 in 2015 to 29 700 in 2016). Grants of citizenship increased for four of the highest five citizenships of origin: for Moroccans by 18 %, for Albanians by 40 %, for Indians by 35 % , for Pakistanis by 25 % and declined for one of the highest five citizenships of origin: for Turks by 7 %.

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 (13 000 persons) and Germany (3 800 persons), more than half of the acquisitions of citizenship by Poles were in Germany (6 700) and the United Kingdom (4 400 persons).

Half of those changing citizenship were aged 31 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 seven Member States (Belgium, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia). The highest proportion of citizenship acquisitions by women was recorded in Cyprus (59 %). The country with the highest share of acquisitions by men was Romania (62 %).

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 2016, the median age of persons acquiring citizenship in the whole of the EU was 31. The Member State with the lowest median age was Estonia; half of its new citizens were younger than 12 (This is the consequence of the amendment to the Citizenship Act that entered into force at the beginning of 2016 regarding children under 15 years old). The highest median age (40) 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 2016, about 40 % of persons granted citizenship of an EU-28 country were younger than 25 years and around another 40  % aged 25 to 44, while those aged 55 or over accounted for less than 7 %.

The proportion of citizenship acquisitions by children (0-14) was highest in Estonia (58 %), Sweden (35 %) and France (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 (12 %), followed by Luxembourg (7.3 %) and Slovakia(7 %). The lowest shares of elderly new citizens were recorded in Romania (0.3 %), Austria (0.7 %), Slovenia (0.8 %) and Estonia (0.9 %).

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 2016, age definition is only reached for Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Switzerland; age definition is only completed for Austria, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Slovenia and the United Kingdom; and both age definitions are available for Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Spain, Luxembourg, Poland, 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 Global Citizenship Observatory (GLOBALCIT).

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.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Data visualisation


Main tables

International Migration and Asylum (t_migr)
Acquisition of citizenship (tps00024)


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)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

External links