The right of free movement offered by all European Union countries to foreign nationals wishing to live, study and also retire in the EU are just some of the benefits that lead them to apply for EU citizenship.
Among the easiest ways to acquire citizenship and a passport in the EU is by descent, with Italy, Greece, and Spain providing the largest number of citizenships through this way.
In order to acquire EU citizenship by descent, applicants must, in some cases, have parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents from specific countries within the bloc, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
However, rules to acquire citizenship in this way differ in European Union countries. Thus applicants must get informed regarding all the needed requirements in order for this process to be successfully completed.
At present, the following European Union and European Economic Area countries offer European Union citizenship to grandchildren or even more descendants of European Union citizens.
Austria grants citizenship by ancestry to the first generation only. Austria’s Government’s Official Information Website confirms that Austrian citizenship can be acquired by descent, an extension of the award, and other similar ways.
“Children automatically become Austrian citizens at the time of their birth, when the mother is an Austrian citizen. The same applies in case the parents are married, and only the father is an Austrian citizen,” the statement notes.
It has been explained that if the parents are not married and only the father of the child is from Austria, but the mother is a national of another country, the child acquires Austrian citizenship if for a period of 8 weeks, the Austrian father recognizes his parenthood or if the father is determined by a court.
Belgium gives citizenship by descent to the first generation only. According to a report provided by Multiple citizenships, a child born in Belgium can acquire citizenship by descent, provided at least one of those parents is a citizen of Belgium, according to VisaGuide.World. The same rule applies to an adopted child.
- There are some main categories that allow people to acquire citizenship by descent in Belgium:
- Those born before January 1, 1967, are eligible to obtain citizenship by ancestor if their parents were married during the time of their birth or if the children’s father is a Belgian citizen and acknowledged the children, even if their parents were not married during that time.
- Those who were born after January 1, 1985, can acquire Belgian citizenship if they were born in this country to a Belgian parent, born abroad to a Belgian parent who was born in Rwanda, Burundi, or in the Belgian Congo for a period between 1960-1962.
In addition, those who were born abroad to a Belgian parent and applied for attribution of declaration for a period within five years of their birth or were born abroad and didn’t apply for attribution within five years of their birth but had no other nationality until the age of 18 are also eligible to obtain citizenship in this country.
Bulgaria grants citizenship by ancestry to the third generation or earlier. Following the new changes to the country’s Citizenship Act applied on March 2021, the procedures to obtain citizenship in this way are now faster and more transparent.
Persons can apply for citizenship by descent up to three generations, meaning that they can become citizens of Bulgaria if their parents, grandparents, or great-parents were citizens of Bulgaria.
Applicants may receive an answer for up to 24 months.
Citizenship by Ancestry in Croatia is granted if persons have a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent who had or holds citizenship of Croatia. Still, it was emphasised that if their ancestor left the Balkan country before October 8, 1991, and moved to other former Yugoslavian countries, they are not eligible to benefit from the citizenship granted in this way.
Authorities in Cyprus grant citizenship by ancestry to the first generation only. In order to complete this procedure, applicants are required to meet all the requirements for citizenship by origin in this country.
In addition to the rule that they must be over the age of 18, they must be born in Cyprus after August 16, 1960, to Cypriot parents. Those who were born after August 16, 60, and either their father or mother was a Cypriot citizen, and their birth was registered within two years or was born after June 11, 1999, by a Cypriot citizen mother can also obtain citizenship.
The Czech Republic gives a person the opportunity to acquire citizenship by descent to the second generation, meaning if their parents or grandparents were Czech nationals, they can benefit from Czech citizenship.
It has been emphasised that if applicants’ parents weren’t married and only the father was a Czech citizen, the parents are required to submit proof of paternity at the Register Office. This could be a declaration by both parents, a DNA test, or a court declaration.
Authorities in Denmark permit citizenship through this form only to the first generation, meaning that applicants can acquire citizenship by ancestry only through their parents.
This means that children born on July 1, 2014, can be considered citizens of Denmark only if one of their parents is a Danish national regardless of their birthplace.
Still, for all persons born after this date, there are specific rules depending on which parent was a Danish citizen and if they were born in Denmark or not.
Estonia is also among the European Union countries that grant citizenship by ancestry to the first generation only, meaning that persons can become Estonian citizens only if one of the applicants’ parents was an Estonian citizen at the time of their birth.
Still, in case parents revoked the citizenship from those who apply for citizenship by descent before they were aged 18, they are required to re-apply for citizenship.
The Estonian Police and Border Guard Board is in charge of citizenship applications and questions.
Finland also grants citizenship by descent only if applicants’ parents are Finnish citizens, meaning to the first generation only.
It has been emphasized that persons can qualify for citizenship by ancestor if their mother was a Finnish citizen, their parents were married and the father was a citizen of Finland.
Those who were born in Finland to unmarried parents can also become Finnish citizens if their father is a Finnish citizen and they hold proof of paternity.
Citizenship by ancestor can be acquired in France provided applicants have at least one parent who had or obtains French citizenship at the time of their birth.
Still, according to the Civil Code of France, it is not possible to prove applicants have citizenship by ancestor if neither they nor their parents had any ties with France in the last 50 years they were living outside the country.
This means that if they or their parents did not renew their passports or didn’t register to vote or didn’t register at a French consulate located abroad.
All applicants can submit a request for citizenship by an ancestor in Germany only through the first generation.
However, nationality through family members in Germany can be extended up to the third generation for Nazi victims as well as their descendants. In addition, following the new citizenship laws, Germany grants citizenship to a wider range of applicants who can prove that their parent, grandparent, as well as great-grandparent lost their citizenship due to the Nazi regime.
Authorities in Greece also permit citizenship by descent up to the third generation. Persons can acquire citizenship through this way, if they were born before July 16, 1982, and their parents were married or if their father was a citizen of Greece but their mother was a non-Greek citizen.
They can also acquire citizenship by ancestor if they were born after July 16, 1982, their father was a citizen of the Hellenic Republic and their mother was a non-Greek citizen.
Citizenship by descendant can also be acquired if applicants were born before or after August 5, 1984, and their mother was a Greek citizen and their father was a foreign national, or if they had or have a Greek grandparent with Greek nationality or had or have a Greek great-grandparent with citizenship of Greece.
Hungarian laws for acquiring citizenship by descent are quite different compared to those applied in other European Union countries. Among the most important advantages of Hungarian citizenship laws are that people can be qualified for citizenship as long as they speak the Hungarian language and if they have an ancestor in the family who was Hungarian.
This means that there is no limit related to generations if they can prove they have Hungarian descent in their direct line.
Authorities in Iceland grant citizenship through ancestors if the applicant’s mother or father is a citizen of Iceland, or if one of their parents had previous citizenship but is currently a legal resident of Iceland.
If persons were born for a period between 1964 and 1982 to an Icelandic mother, but the father is not from Iceland, applicants are not eligible to acquire citizenship.
Still, following the new changes to the country’s law, applicants can submit a request for citizenship by declaration if they were born for a period between July 1, 1964, and June 30, 1982, if the applicant’s parents were married or in case that a person’s mother had a citizenship of Iceland but the father didn’t.
Among the European Union countries that permit citizenship by ancestor until the third generation is also Ireland. In order to acquire citizenship through this form applicants must be:
- Born in Ireland to at least one parent from Ireland
- Born in Ireland to non-Irish parents who lived in this country for at least four years
- Born outside Ireland by Irish parents
- Born outside Ireland but have at least one grandparent who holds Irish citizenship
- Born outside Ireland and so were their parents and grandparent with Irish citizenship
- Born outside Ireland and so re their great-grandparents were born in this country
In order to make a valid application for citizenship by an ancestor in Ireland, applicants must register their birth at the Foreign Births Register.
Authorities in Italy also permit citizenship by descent up to the third generation or even more.
Still, applicants are eligible only to trace back to their family line until 1861, when the country was officially unified.
Besides, Italy didn’t acknowledge maternal citizenship until 1948.
Italian citizenship by descent is based on the principle of jure sanguinis or the right of blood. It permits children under the age of 18 to be considered Italian if one of their parents is an Italian citizen and their birth certificate is recorded with the Italian authorities.
Based on the country’s Citizenship Laws, persons are eligible to acquire citizenship by ancestor if they have a parent, grandparent, or even great-grandparent who was a citizen of this country before June 17, 1940.
In addition, persons who have a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent that was a citizen of Latvia but was obliged to leave after June 17, 1940, and before March 4, 1990, due to the Nazi regime and USSR.
Up to this point, authorities in this country keep among the strictest laws in Europe. In order to naturalize as a citizen in this country, persons must live in Liechtenstein for at least 30 years, meaning that citizenship by descent is given only to children born in Liechtenstein regardless of the place of birth.
Citizenship by an ancestor is also eligible in Lithuania, while applicants can get citizenship in this way up to the third generation. In order to meet the needed requirements, persons must have at least a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent who meets specific conditions including they were a citizen of this country before June 15, 1940, were obliged to leave the country before March 11, 1990, due to persecution or if they left Lithuania before 1990 but didn’t move to other territories in the Soviet Union.
Citizenship by ancestry can be granted in Luxembourg in three main ways: through citizenship reclaim, if persons have an ancestor who was a national of Luxembourg, or if they apply for citizenship by option.
It was reported that the deadline for completing the first step of the reclaim pathway was in 2018.
The figures provided by Virgule reported that of the total of 10,499 people who acquired citizenship in Luxembourg last year, 40 per cent of them obtained their nationality by recovery, or more specifically, they have national roots in this country that date back from January 1, 1900.
Authorities in Malta also offer the opportunity to acquire Maltese citizenship if the applicant has a parent or a grandparent who is a citizen of Malta.
Persons can acquire citizenship in Malta if they are born outside the country and can preset a valid proof that they have a parent and a grandparent born in Malta, and then register as a citizen.
The Dutch Government keeps in place strict nationality law, and even if a person was born in the Netherlands, he is not considered a Dutch citizen if they have parents from other countries.
Before January 1, 1985, citizenship by descent was passed on only paternally however, since then persons can acquire citizenship from their mothers as well.
Still, the country offers citizenship by option procedure, often considered a faster and easier way to become a citizen, still, there are several requirements that persons should meet in order to acquire citizenship by option procedure.
Authorities in Norway also keep in place strict rules when it comes to acquiring citizenship. However, the rules are different, taking into account the year in which a person was born:
Those born on September 1, 2006, or later are considered citizens of Norway if they have a Norwegian mother or father regardless of their place of birth.
If persons were born before September 1, 2006, are considered Norwegian citizens if their mother was Norwegian, their parents were married at the time of their birth and their father was Norwegian.
In order to acquire citizenship through ancestry in Poland, persons must have a parent, great-grandparent, or an earlier ascendant who was born in this country and lived there after 1920.
It has been clarified that persons qualify for citizenship if their ancestor also left before 1920 but can present valid proof that their address is registered in Polish, Austro-Hungarian or Russian registers and they held their citizenship at the time that a person was born.
All persons can acquire citizenship in Portugal if they were born in Portugal to a Portuguese father and mother, or were born abroad to Portuguese parents if their parents were abroad for official state business.
They can also acquire citizenship by descent if they were born in Portugal to international parents if they declare they want to be Portugal citizens and also were born abroad but have at least one grandparent with Portuguese citizenship.
Authorities in Romania can apply for citizenship in this country if they have a parent or grandparent who was a Romanian citizen. Still, persons are eligible to apply for citizenship up to third generation if they have a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent born before 1940 in any location in Romania between 1918 and 1940, including the territory of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina.
Authorities in Slovakia permitted citizenship by descent until the second generation, however, in 2021, there was a new amendment to the nationality law permitting decedents of former Slovak and Czechoslovak citizens to file an application for citizenship up to a third generation, meaning that persons can apply for citizenship in this country if they have a parent, grandparent or even a great-grandparent who was a citizen of Slovakia.
In order to acquire citizenship from an ancestor in Slovenia, persons must at least have a parent as well as a grandparent that was or is a Slovenian citizen.
In case persons were born abroad, they can apply in order to register as a citizen in Slovenia before they turn 36, if they have one parent with Slovenian nationality.
Spain also applied new changes to its laws while there are generational limitations based on the year they were born.
Authorities in Spain permit people to acquire citizenship by ancestor if they have one or both parents who are citizens of Spain, have at least a grandparent who was a Spanish national and their citizenship was forcefully revoked, or if a person is a citizen of Latin America but have a grandparent who was born in Spain.
Among the countries that have strict rules for citizenship is also Sweden, in comparison to other EU countries. Persons can apply for citizenship through descent in this country if their mother is a Swedish citizen they were born in this country and their father is a Swedish citizen and was born in Sweden and their father was a Swedish citizen at the time of their birth.
There are specific ways of acquiring citizenship in Sweden, thus permitting persons to become citizens of Sweden through citizenship by descent.
“The country has a special naturalization scheme for citizens of neighboring Northern countries who can obtain citizenship here by filing a notification with the Swedish Migration Agency,” the statement provided by the Immigration Sweden website.
Switzerland’s authorities permit citizenship by descent only if they are born to married parents who are citizens of Switzerland if they are born to a Swiss single mother or are born to a Swiss father and non-Swiss mother who is not married but paternity is established.
“A child of married parents, at least one of whom has the Swiss nationality; a child of an unmarried Swiss mother; and a child of an unmarried Swiss father, if he confirms fatherhood before the child reaches the legal age. If one of the two parents is Swiss, the child is granted Swiss nationality,” the statement provided by Sov Spot reads.
Authorities in Switzerland also applied new changes to their laws through the years in order to ease the process of acquiring citizenship in this country.
Some European Union countries require applicants’ parents to have European Union citizenship before they can qualify for nationality through descent. Countries such as Greece must hold citizenship first and then apply for citizenship. The same rules are also applied in some other European countries such as Portugal and Malta.
Still, it has been reported that other countries like Croatia do not require applicants’ parents to be Croatian citizens when planning to apply for nationality by an ancestor.