Acquisition of citizenship statistics
Data extracted in March 2020.
Planned article update: March 2021.
Acquisitions of citizenship per 1000 persons, 2018
In 2018, around 672 300 persons acquired citizenship of one of the EU-27 Member States of the European Union (EU), down from 700 600 in 2017 and 843 900 in 2016.
Most new citizenships in 2018 were granted by Germany (116 800 or 17 % of the EU-27 total), Italy (112 500 or 17 %), France (110 000 or 16 %), Spain (90 800 or 14 %) and Sweden (63 800 or 9 %).
Of those acquiring citizenship of an EU-27 Member State, 84 % 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 Brazil.
EU-27 Member States granted citizenship to 672 300 persons in 2018
In 2018, 672 300 people obtained citizenship of an EU-27 Member State, a decrease of 4 % compared with 2017. This was mainly caused by the decreases in absolute terms in Italy (34 100 less persons were granted Italian citizenship than in 2017), followed by Greece (6 400), Sweden(5 100), Denmark (4 400) and France (4 300). By contrast, the largest increases in absolute terms were observed in Spain (24 300 more persons were granted Spanish citizenship compared with 2017), followed by Portugal (3 300) and Luxembourg (2 000).
The top five citizenship-granting countries accounted for 73 % of new citizenships granted in the EU in 2018: Germany (116 800 or 17 %), Italy (112 500 or 17 %), France(110 000 or 16 %), Spain (90 800 or 14 %) and Sweden (63 800 or 9 %).
In relation to the population, the highest number of citizenships were granted by Luxembourg (11.4 per thousand persons) followed by Sweden (6.3) and Cyprus (3.7). (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).
In 2018, in the EU-27 as a whole, 2.1 per hundred non-national citizens were granted citizenship. The country with the highest naturalisation rate was Sweden (7.2 per hundred), followed by Romania (5.6) and Portugal (5.1). The lowest naturalisation rate was found in Estonia (0.4). Other countries with naturalisation rates under 1.0 were Austria (0.7), Latvia and Denmark (both 0.6), Lithuania (0.5) and Czechia (0.4). (See figure 5)
Of the five EU-27 countries that granted the most citizenship (Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden), the rate was above the EU-27 average (2.1) in Sweden (7.2), France (2.4) and Italy (2.2). The rates were below the EU-27 average in Spain (2.0) and Germany (1.2). (see figure 5)
About 84 % of those who acquired citizenship of an EU-27 Member State in 2018 were previously citizens of a non-EU country. This means that 566 100 non-EU-27 citizens residing in the EU-27 acquired an EU citizenship in 2018, a 5 % decrease with respect to 2017.
These new EU-27 citizens were mainly from Africa (28 % of the total number of citizenships acquired), North and South America (14 %), Europe (outside of the EU-27: 25 %) and Asia (16 %). Citizens of EU-27 Member States who acquired citizenship of another EU-27 Member State amounted to 89 600 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 and Belgian citizens, in the case of Hungary EU nationals acquiring citizenship were almost exclusively Romanians.(see table 2)
A quarter of new EU citizens were Moroccans, Albanians, Turks and Brazilians
Viewed in terms of original citizenship, as in previous years, the largest groups were Moroccans (67 200, or 10 %), followed by Albanians (47 400, or 7.1 %), Turks (28 400, or 4.2 %) and Brazilians (23 100, or 3.4 %). The majority of Moroccans acquired citizenship of Spain (38 %), Italy (23 %) or France (23 %), while the majority of Albanians received Greek citizenship (51 %) or Italian citizenship(46 %). More than half of the Turks received German citizenship (59 %) and almost half of the Brazilians received Italian citizenship (46 %). (see table 3)
Table 4 is available here.
Romanians were the fifth largest citizenship of origin in 2018, decreasing by 2 % (from 21 900 in 2017 to 21 500 in 2018). Grants of citizenship decreased for one of the highest five citizenships of origin, Albanians by 19 % (from 58 500 in 2017 to 47 400 in 2018) , and increased for Brazilians by 12 % (from 20 700 in 2017 to 23 100 in 2018), and remained stable for Turks (28 400 in 2018) and for Moroccans (67 200 in 2018).
In addition to Romania, among the thirty main countries of previous citizenship there are other EU-27 country whose citizens acquired citizenship of another EU country: Poland and Italy. In absolute terms, most Romanians acquiring citizenship became citizens of Italy (6 500 persons) and Germany (4 300 persons), around half of the acquisitions of citizenship by Poles were in Germany (6 200 persons) and half of Italians becoming citizens of Germany (4 000 persons). (see table 4)
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 of Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden). The highest proportion of citizenship acquisitions by women was recorded in Cyprus (57 %). The country with the highest share of acquisitions by men was Romania (65 %). (see table 5)
In 2018, the median age of persons acquiring citizenship in the whole of the EU was 31. The Member State with the lowest median age was Greece; half of its new citizens were younger than 19. The highest median age (44) 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). 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 2018, almost 40 % of persons granted citizenship of an EU-27 country were younger than 25 years and around another 40 % aged 25 to 44, while those aged 45 or over accounted for 20 %.
The proportion of citizenship acquisitions by children (0-14) was highest in Latvia (34 %) and France (34 %) and lowest in Lithuania (0 %). In Luxembourg, no children(0-10) were granted citizenship.
Bulgaria and Malta accounted for the highest share of grants of citizenship to persons aged 55 or older (24 % and 23 %, respectively), followed by Cyprus (19 %). The lowest shares of elderly new citizens were recorded in Greece (3 %), Austria (3 %) and Slovenia (2 %).
Observed by age, there are two distinct peaks in terms of the predominance of acquisitions by women: one in the age group 25-29 and another one among those aged 30-34.
Source data for tables and graphs
Eurostat produces statistics on a range of issues related to acquisitions of citizenship, international migration flows and migrant population stocks. Data are collected on an annual basis and are supplied to Eurostat by the national statistical authorities of the EU Member States.
Since 2008 data on acquisitions of citizenship are collected by Eurostat under the provisions of Article 3.1.(d) of Regulation (EC) No 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 (EC) No 862/2007 and breakdowns and composition of the EU, EFTA and candidate countries groups are given in the implementing Regulation (EU) No 351/2010.
The EU-27 aggregates for 2012, 2011 and 2010 include Romanian data for 2009.
Data are rounded to the nearest multiple of 5 for Germany on provisional basis for 2018.
Data by individual former citizenship are not available for Romania for 2017 and 2018.
For reference year 2018, age definition is only reached for Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Switzerland; age definition is only completed for Austria, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Slovenia and the United Kingdom; and both age definitions are available for Belgium, Bulgaria, 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).
Naturalisation rate: The term ‘naturalisation rate’ should be used with caution because the numerator includes all modes of acquisitions and not just naturalisations of eligible residing foreigners and the denominator includes all foreigners, rather than foreigners who are eligible for naturalisation.
For more information on measuring migrant integration see http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/migrant-integration/overview
Detailed information on the different modes of acquisition of citizenship in force in different countries can be found at the GLOBALCIT website.
The category recognised non-citizen is particularly relevant in the Baltic States.
Within the European Commission, the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs is responsible for the European migration 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, set 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.
n May 2013, the European Commission published the ‘EU Citizenship Report 2013’ (COM(2013) 269 final). The report noted that EU citizenship brings new rights and opportunities. Moving and living freely within the EU is the right most closely associated 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 potentially increases social and cultural interactions within the EU and closer bonds between EU citizens. In addition, it may generate mutual economic benefits for businesses and consumers, including those who remain at home, as internal obstacles are steadily removed.
The European Commission presented a European Agenda on Migration (COM(2015) 240 final) outlining immediate measures to be taken in order to respond to the crisis situation in the Mediterranean as well as 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 (2016) was published in April 2017. 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.
On 15th of November 2017, the updated European Agenda on Migration focused on the refugee crisis, a common visa policy, and Schengen. Matters included resettlements and relocations, financial support to Greece and Italy, and facilities for refugees. Objectives included enabling refugees to reach Europe through legal and safe pathways, ensuring that relocation responsibility is shared fairly between Member States, integrating migrants at local and regional levels.
On the 4th of December 2018, the Commission published a progress report on the implementation of the European Agenda on Migration, examining progress made and shortcomings in the implementation of the European Agenda on Migration. Focusing on how climate change, demography and economic factors create new reasons pushing people to move, it confirmed that the drivers behind migratory pressure on Europe were structural, thus making it all the more essential to deal with the matter efficiently and uniformly.
On the 16th of October 2019, the Commission published a progress report on the implementation of the European Agenda on Migration, focusing on key steps required on the Mediterranean routes in particular, as well as actions to consolidate the EU’s toolbox on migration, borders and asylum.
- Population, see:
- Acquisition of citizenship and migration data
- Acquisition of citizenship (tps00024)
- International migration (t_migr_int)
- Population (t_demo_pop)
- Population, see:
- Acquisition of citizenship and migration data (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)
- Immigration (migr_immi)
- Immigration by age and sex (migr_imm8)
- Immigration by five year age group, sex, and citizenship (migr_imm1ctz)
- Immigration by five year age group, sex and country of birth (migr_imm3ctb)
- Immigration by age , sex and broad group of citizenship (migr_imm2ctz)
- Immigration by age, sex and broad group of country of birth (migr_imm4ctb)
- Immigration by sex, citizenship and broad group of country of birth (migr_imm6ctz)
- Immigration by sex, country of birth and broad group of citizenship (migr_imm7ctb)
- Immigration by five year age group, sex, and country of previous residence (migr_imm5prv)
- Immigration by age group, sex and level of human development of the country of citizenship (migr_imm9ctz)
- Immigration by age group, sex and level of human development of the country of birth (migr_imm10ctb)
- Immigration by age group, sex and level of human development of the country of previous residence (migr_imm11prv)
- Immigration by broad group of country of previous residence (migr_imm12prv)
- Emigration (migr_emi)
- Emigration by age and sex (migr_emi2)
- Emigration by five year age group, sex and citizenship (migr_emi1ctz)
- Emigration by five year age group, sex and country of birth (migr_emi4ctb)
- Emigration by five year age group, sex, and country of next usual residence (migr_emi3nxt)
- Emigration by broad group of country of next usual residence (migr_emi5nxt)
- Acquisition and loss of citizenship (migr_acqn)
- Population (demo_pop)
- Population on 1 January by age, sex and broad group of citizenship (migr_pop2ctz)
- Population on 1 January by age group, sex and citizenship (migr_pop1ctz)
- Population on 1 January by age group, sex and country of birth (migr_pop3ctb)
- Population on 1 January by age, sex and broad group of country of birth (migr_pop4ctb)
- Population on 1 January by sex, citizenship and broad group of country of birth (migr_pop5ctz)
- Population on 1 January by sex, country of birth and broad group of citizenship (migr_pop6ctb)
- Population on 1 January by age group, sex and level of human development of the country of citizenship (migr_pop7ctz)
- Population on 1 January by age group, sex and level of human development of the country of birth (migr_pop8ctb)
- EU and EFTA citizens who are usual residents in another EU/EFTA country as of 1 January (migr_pop9ctz)
- Population (demo_pop)
- EU Member States granted citizenship to over 800 thousand persons in 2017 — News release 41/2019
- EU Member States granted citizenship to almost 1 million persons in 2016 — News release 59/2018
- EU Member States granted citizenship to fewer persons in 2015 — News release 66/2017
- 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
- Article 20 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union Union law on EU citizens;
- Article 21 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union on EU citizens;
- Article 79 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union on border checks, asylum and immigration for third country nationals;
- Directive 2003/09/EC on reception conditions for asylum seekers; (Summary)
- Directive 2003/86/EC on the right to family reunification; (Summary)
- Directive 2003/109/EC on a long-term resident status for non-member nationals; (Summary)
- Directive 2003/110/EC on assistance in cases of transit for the purposes of removal by air;
- Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States; (Summary)
- Directive 2004/81/EC on victims of trafficking; (Summary)
- Directive 2004/82/EC on the obligation of carriers to communicate passenger data; (Summary)
- Directive 2004/83/EC on qualification; (Summary)
- Directive 2004/114/EC on the admission of students; (Summary)
- Directive 2005/71/EC for the facilitation of the admission of researchers into the EU; (Summary)
- Directive 2008/115/EC for returning illegally staying third-country nationals; (Summary)
- Directive 2009/50/EC concerning the admission of highly skilled migrants. (Summary)
- Directive 2009/52/EC concerning employer sanctions; (Summary)
- Directive 2011/95/EC on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status of refugees eligible for subsidiary protection, and for the content for the protection granted; (Summary)
- Directive 2011/98/EU on single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work in the territory of a Member State and on a common set of rights for third-country workers legally residing in a Member State; (Summary)
- Directive 2013/32/EU on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection; (Summary)
- Directive 2013/33/EU on standards for the reception of applicants for international protection; (Summary)
- Directive 2014/36/EU on seasonal workers; (Summary)
- Directive 2014/54/EU on freedom of movement of workers; (Summary)
- Directive 2014/66/EU on intra-corporate transferees; (Summary)
- Directive 2014/67/EU on posted workers;
- Directive 2016/801/EU on students and researchers; (Summary)
- Regional Statistics Illustrated - select statistical domain 'Population' (top right)