Acquisition of citizenship statistics
Data extracted in March 2019.
Planned article update: March 2020.
Acquisitions of citizenship per 1000 persons, EU-28 and EFTA, 2017
In 2017, 825 400 people obtained citizenship of an EU-28 Member State, a decrease of 17 % compared with 2016. The main contribution to the decrease at EU level came from Spain (84 400 less persons were granted Spanish citizenship than in 2016), followed by Italy (55 000), the United Kingdom (26 300), Denmark (7 800) and Portugal (7 100).
Most new citizenships in 2017 were granted by Italy (146 600 or 18 % of the EU-28 total), the United Kingdom (123 100 or 15 %), Germany (115 400 or 14 %), France (114 300 or 14 %) and Sweden (68 900 or 8 %).
Of those acquiring citizenship of an EU-28 Member State, 82 % had previously been citizens of non-EU countries. Of these, citizens of Morocco made up the highest numbers, followed by citizens of Albania, India, Turkey and Pakistan.
EU-28 Member States granted citizenship to 825 400 persons in 2017
In 2017, 825 400 people obtained citizenship of an EU-28 Member State, a decrease of 17 % compared with 2016. This was mainly caused by the decreases in absolute terms in Spain (84 400 less persons were granted Spanish citizenship than in 2017), followed by Italy (55 000), the United Kingdom (26 300), Denmark (7 800) and Portugal (7 100). By contrast, the largest increases in absolute terms were observed in Sweden (7 600 more persons were granted Swedish citizenship compared with 2016), followed by Belgium (5 500).
The top five citizenship-granting countries accounted for 69 % of new citizenships granted in the EU in 2017: Italy (146 600 or 18 %), the United Kingdom (123 100 or 15 %), Germany (115 400 or 14 %), France (114 300 or 14 %) and Sweden (68 900 or 8 %).
In relation to the population, the highest number of citizenships were granted by Luxembourg (8.4 per thousand persons) followed by Sweden (6.9) and Cyprus (6.4). (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 2017, in the EU-28 as a whole, 2.1 per hundred non-national citizens were granted citizenship. The country with the highest naturalisation rate was Sweden (8.2 per hundred), followed by Romania (5.9) and Finland (5.0). The lowest naturalisation rate was found in Estonia (0.4). Other countries with naturalisation rates under 1.0 were Latvia (0.6), Austria and Czechia (both 0.7) and Lithuania and Slovakia (both 0.9). (See figure 5)
Of the five EU-28 countries that granted the most citizenship, the rate was above the EU-28 average (2.1) in Sweden (8.2), Italy (2.9) and France (2.5). The rates were below the EU-28 average in the United Kingdom (2.0) and Germany (1.3). (see figures 2 and 5)
About 82 % of those who acquired citizenship of an EU-28 Member State in 2017 were previously citizens of a non-EU country. This means that 673 000 non-EU-28 citizens residing in the EU-28 acquired an EU citizenship in 2017, a 22 % decrease with respect to 2016.
These new EU-28 citizens were mainly from Africa (27 % of the total number of citizenships acquired), North and South America (11 %), Europe (outside of the EU-28: 21 %) and Asia (21 %). Citizens of EU-28 Member States who acquired citizenship of another EU-28 Member State amounted to 137 800 persons, thus accounting for 17 % 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, British, Italian and Belgian citizens, in the case of Hungary EU nationals acquiring citizenship were almost exclusively Romanians.(see table 3)
A quarter of new EU citizens were Moroccans, Albanians, Indians, Turks and Pakistanis
Viewed in terms of original citizenship, as in previous years, the largest groups were Moroccans (67 900, or 8.2 %), followed by Albanians (58 900, or 7.1 %), Indians (31 600, or 3.8 %), Turks (29 900, or 3.6 %) and Pakistanis (23 100, or 2.8 %). The majority of Moroccans acquired citizenship of Italy (33 %), Spain (25 %) or France (25 %), while the majority of Albanians received Greek citizenship (51 %) or Italian citizenship(46 %). A large majority of Indians (52 %) received British citizenship, around half of the Turks received German citizenship (50 %) and half of the Pakistanis received British citizenship (45 %). (see table 4)
Table 4 is available here.
Romanians were the fifth largest citizenship of origin in 2017, decreasing by 16 % (from 29 700 in 2016 to 25 000 in 2017). Grants of citizenship decreased for all of the highest six citizenships of origin: for Moroccans by 33 %, for Albanians by 13 %, for Indians by 24 % , for Turks by 9 % and for Pakistanis by 30 %.
In addition to Romania, among the thirty main countries of previous citizenship there are other EU-28 country whose citizens acquired citizenship of another EU country: Poland, the United Kingdom and Italy. In absolute terms, most Romanians acquiring citizenship became citizens of Italy (8 000 persons) and Germany (4 300 persons), more than half of the acquisitions of citizenship by Poles were in the United Kingdom (7 100) and Germany (6 300 persons), British becoming citizens of Germany (6.9 thousand persons) and France (1.7 thousand persons), Italians becoming citizens of Germany (4.2 thousand persons) and the United Kingdom (3.5 thousand 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 five of Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Slovenia). The highest proportion of citizenship acquisitions by women was recorded in Romania (64 %). The country with the highest share of acquisitions by men was Slovenia (43 %). (see table 5)
In 2017, 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 20. 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). 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 2017, 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 45 or over accounted for 19 %.
The proportion of citizenship acquisitions by children (0-14) was highest in Sweden (34 %) and France (34 %) and lowest in Lithuania (3 %). In Luxembourg, no children(0-10) were granted citizenship.
Bulgaria, Lithuania and Malta accounted for the highest share of grants of citizenship to persons aged 55 or older (18 %), followed by Cyprus (17 %) and Hungary(16 %). The lowest shares of elderly new citizens were recorded in Romania (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 10-14 and another one among those aged 35-39.
Source data for tables and graphs
Eurostat produces statistics on a range of issues related to acquisitions of citizenship, international migration flows and non-national 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.
Definitions The EU-28 aggregates for 2012, 2011 and 2010 include Romanian data for 2009.
Age: For reference year 2017, age definition is only reached for Czechia, Denmark, 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, 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).
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.
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 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 24th of July 2018, the European Commission published a couple of factsheets highlighting the importance of cooperation and efficiency. The development of controlled centres on EU territories would be based on a shared efforts approach with Member States. The concept of regional disembarkation platforms would see a close cooperation with relevant third countries.
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.
- 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)
- Emigration (migr_emi)
- 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)
- Acquisition and loss of citizenship (migr_acqn)
- 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;
- 32003L0009:EN:NOT Directive 2003/09/EC on reception conditions for asylum seekers;
- Directive 2003/86/EC on the right to family reunification;
- Directive 2003/109/EC on a long-term resident status for non-member nationals;
- 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;
- Directive 2004/81/EC on victims of trafficking;
- Directive 2004/82/EC on the obligation of carriers to communicate passenger data;
- Directive 2004/83/EC on qualification;
- Directive 2004/114/EC on the admission of students;
- Directive 2005/71/EC for the facilitation of the admission of researchers into the EU;
- Directive 2008/115/EC for returning illegally staying third-country nationals;
- Directive 2009/50/EC concerning the admission of highly skilled migrants.
- Directive 2009/52/EC concerning employer sanctions;
- 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;
- 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;
- Directive 2013/32/EU on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection;
- Directive 2013/33/EU on standards for the reception of applicants for international protection;
- Directive 2014/36/EU on seasonal workers;
- Directive 2014/54/EU on freedom of movement of workers;
- Directive 2014/66/EU on intra-corporate transferees;
- Directive 2014/67/EU on posted workers;
- Directive 2016/801/EU on students and researchers;
Legislative documents - European Agenda on Migration
Press material - European Agenda on Migration
- Regional Statistics Illustrated - select statistical domain 'Population' (top right)