Statistics Explained

Acquisition of citizenship statistics



Data extracted in March 2022.

Planned article update: March 2023.

Highlights


In 2020, EU Member States granted citizenship to 729 000 persons having their usual residence on the EU territory, an increase of around 3 % compared to 2019.

Most new citizenships in 2020 were granted by Italy (131 800, or 18 % of the EU total), Spain (126 300, or 17 %), Germany (111 200, or 15 %), France (86 500, or 12 %), and Sweden (80 200, or 11 %).

In 2020, 29 % of people acquiring citizenship of an EU Member State were Moroccans, Syrians, Albanians, Romanians, and Brazilians.

[[File:Fig00_Acquisitions_of_citizenship_per_1000_persons_EU_and_EFTA_2020.xlsx]]

Acquisitions of citizenship per 1000 persons, EU and EFTA, 2020

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


In 2020, around 729 000 persons acquired citizenship of one of the EU Member States, compared to 706 400 in 2019 and 672 300 in 2018.

Most new citizenships in 2020 were granted by Italy (131 800, or 18 % of the EU total), Spain (126 300, or 17 %), Germany (111 200, or 15 %), France (86 500, or 12 %), and Sweden (80 200, or 11 %).


Of those acquiring citizenship of an EU Member State, 85 % had previously been citizens of non-EU countries. Of these, citizens of Morocco made up the highest numbers, followed by citizens of Syria, Albania, Brazil, and Turkey.


Full article

EU Member States granted citizenship to 729 000 persons in 2020

In 2020, 729 000 people obtained citizenship of an EU Member State, an increase of around 3 % compared with 2019. This was mainly caused by the increases in absolute terms in Spain (27 300 more residents were granted Spanish citizenship than in 2019), followed by the Netherlands (21 800 more), Sweden (16 000 more), Portugal (11 000 more) and Denmark (5 300 more). By contrast, the largest decreases in absolute terms were observed in France (23 300 fewer residents were granted French citizenship compared with 2019), followed by Germany (20 800 fewer), Belgium (6 700 fewer), and Romania (4 000 fewer).

Notable country evolutions are the quadrupling of the number of new citizenships in Denmark, and the reduction by two-thirds in Romania. (See Figure 2 below)

Figure 1: Number of persons having acquired the citizenship of an EU Member State, EU, 2009–2020 (1 000)
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)


Figure 2: Acquisitions of citizenship, relative change, 2019-2020
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)


Table 1: Total number of acquisitions of citizenship, 2009-2020 (1 000)
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)


Figure 3: Five main EU Member states granting citizenship, 2020
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)

The top five citizenship-granting countries accounted for 74 % of new citizenships granted in the EU in 2020: Italy (131 800, or 18 % of the EU total), Spain (126 300, or 17 %), Germany (111 200, or 15 %), France (86 500, or 12 %), and Sweden (80 200, or 11 %).


In relation to total population on 1 January 2020, the highest number of citizenships were granted by Sweden (7.7 per thousand persons), followed by Luxembourg (7.4), the Netherlands (3.2), and Portugal (3.1), see Figure 4.

Figure 4: Acquisitions of citizenship per 1000 persons, 2020
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq) and (migr_pop1ctz)

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 2020, in the EU as a whole, 2.0 per hundred non-national citizens were granted citizenship. The country with the highest naturalisation rate was Sweden (8.6 per hundred), followed by Portugal (5.4), the Netherlands (4.8) and Finland (2.9), while Lithuania had the lowest rate (0.2). Other countries with naturalisation rates under 0.5 were Czechia (0.5), Latvia and Estonia (both 0.4). (See Figure 5)

Figure 5: Naturalisation rate (acquisition of citizenship per 100 resident non-nationals), 2020
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)and (migr_pop1ctz)

Of the five EU countries that granted the most citizenships (Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Sweden), Germany (1.1), and France (1.7) had a naturalisation rate below the EU average (2.0), while Sweden (8.6), Italy (2.6), and Spain (2.4) were above it. (see figure 5).


Around 620 600 persons - 85 % of those who acquired citizenship of an EU Member State in 2020 - were previously citizens of a non-EU country, residing in the respective Member State. There were also 92 200 EU citizens who acquired citizenship of another EU Member State - 13 % of the total number of newly acquired citizenships.

The percentages are similar to 2019; in relative terms there is an increase of around 3.5 % in the total number of acquisitions of citizenship by citizens of non-EU countries compared with 2019, and an increase of around 1 % for citizens of other EU Member States.

In Hungary and Luxembourg, the majority of new citizenships (67 %, respectively 63 %) were granted to citizens of another EU Member State. In the case of Luxembourg, Portuguese citizens accounted for the largest share (33 %), followed by French (22 %), Belgian (11 %), and Italian citizens (8 %). In Hungary, the most numerous EU nationals acquiring citizenship were Romanians (75 %, compared with 17 % Slovaks, the second most numerous group) (see Table 4).

Table 2: Acquisitions of citizenship by group of previous citizenship, 2020
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)

In 2020, 28 % of the new EU citizens were Moroccans, Syrians, Albanians, Brazilians, and Turks.

In terms of original citizenship, the largest groups in 2020 were Moroccans (68 900 persons, or around 9.5 % of all acquisitions of citizenship), Syrians (50 200, or 7 %), Albanians (40 500, or 5.5 %), Romanians (28 700, or 4 %), and Brazilians (24 100, or 3.5 %). Romanians and Brazilians have replaced Britons and Turks among the top five citizenships of origin.

Table 3: Thirty main countries of previous citizenship, 2020
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)

The key EU Member States grating citizenship to each of the top 5 nationalities are, respectively (see also Table 3):

  • Moroccans : Spain (41 %), Italy (26 %), and France (19 %)
  • Syrians : Sweden (49 %), the Netherlands (32 %), and Germany (13 %)
  • Albanians : Italy (69 %) and Greece (27 %)
  • Romanians : Italy (40 %) and Germany (21 %).
  • Brazilians : Portugal (42 %), Italy (30 %), and Spain (14 %)
Table 4: Main countries of former EU and non-EU citizenship, 2020
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)


Table 4 Microsoft Excel 2010 Logo.png is available here.

The total number of grants of citizenship has changed for some of the citizenships of origin that were in the top five either in 2020 or 2019. Thus, the total number of acquisitions of citizenship has decreased for Britons (by 13 900 persons, or 46 %), Turks (by 4 800 persons, or 17 %), and Albanians (by 1 200 persons, or 3 %), increased for Syrians (by 21 000 persons, or 72 %), Romanians (by 2 100 persons, or 8 %), and Moroccans (by 2 100 persons, or 3 %), while it remained stable for Brazilians.

There are three EU Member States in the top 30 by number of acquisitions of citizenship in 2020: Romania (already mentioned), Poland (12 500 persons, or 1.5 %), and Italy (8 200 persons, or 1 %) (see Table 4). The key countries receiving their citizens are, respectively :

  • Poles : Germany (40 %) and Sweden (22 %)
  • Italians : Germany (50 %), Belgium (15 %), and France (10 %).
Table 5: Sex and age distribution of persons acquiring citizenship, 2020
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)

Half of those acquiring a new citizenship were aged 33 or less

The distribution by sex shows a slight predominance of women (51 %, compared with 49 % men), especially for the 30-34 and 35-39 age groups (53.5 % women).

Figure 6: Distribution by sex and age of persons acquiring citizenship in the EU, 2020
Source: Eurostat (migr_acq)

Acquisitions of citizenship by women outnumbered acquisitions by men in all but nine Member States (Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania, Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden). The highest proportion of citizenship acquisitions by women was recorded in Croatia (60 %), while the country with the highest share of acquisitions by men was Romania (63 %). (see Table 5)

In 2020, the median age of persons acquiring citizenship in the whole of the EU was 33 years. The Member State with the lowest median age was Greece: half of its new citizens were younger than 18. The highest median age (45) was in Bulgaria.

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 2020, 36 % of persons granted citizenship of an EU country were younger than 25 years; another 42 % were aged 25 to 44, while those aged 45 or over accounted for 22 %.

Among those acquiring the citizenship of any EU Member State, 23 % were children below the age of 15 (0-14 years old); the highest proportions were in Greece (35 %), France (32 %), Slovenia (32 %), and Belgium (31 %). In Lithuania, no children under 15 years were granted citizenship in 2020; other countries with a low proportion of citizen acquisitions by children were Portugal (7 %), Luxembourg (6 %), Ireland (6 %), and Bulgaria (4 %).

Across all EU Member States, 8 % of those who were granted citizenship were at least 55 years old. Bulgaria (30 %), Cyprus (25 %), and Lithuania (20 %) had the highest shares of grants of citizenship to persons aged 55 or older. The countries with lowest shares of elderly new citizens were Romania, Greece, Estonia (each with 5 %), Austria (4 %), and Slovenia (2 %).

Data sources

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.

Legal Sources

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.

Definitions

The EU 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 since 2018.

Data by individual former citizenship are not available for Romania for 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

EU aggregates by single former citizenship are computed without Romania data for 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Age:

There are two ways of recording age:

Age reached: number of complete years lived at the end of the calendar year in question. Under this age concept, a person born in 1951 will be 52 on each day of the calendar year 2003, irrespective of his or her birthday.

Age completed: number of completed years lived at most recent 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 non-nationals and the denominator includes all non-nationals, rather than non-nationals who are eligible for naturalisation.

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.

Context

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.

In 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.

On 23rd September 2020, the Commission presented a New Pact on Migration and Asylum, setting out a fairer, more European approach to managing migration and asylum. It aims to put in place a comprehensive and sustainable policy, providing a humane and effective long-term response to the current challenges of irregular migration, developing legal migration pathways, better integrating refugees and other newcomers, and deepening migration partnerships with countries of origin and transit for mutual benefit.

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Acquisition of citizenship and migration data
Acquisition of citizenship (tps00024)
International migration (t_migr_int)
Immigration (tps00176)
Emigration (tps00177)
Acquisition of citizenship (tps00024)
Population (t_demo_pop)
Population without the citizenship of the reporting country (tps00157)
Foreign-born population (tps00178)
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)
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)