Moving To The EU: EU Countries Who Granted The Most Citizenship In 2021

Moving To The EU: EU Countries Who Granted The Most Citizenship In 2021

Latest data shows that EU countries granted a record number of citizenships in 2021.

A total of 827,300 people obtained citizenship in EU member states in 2021 which is an increase of 98,300 in 2020. 

Around the EU countries, the administrative process of getting citizenship takes an average of two years, so most of the people getting their citizenship in 2021 would have applied for it in previous years. 

The 14 per cent leap can be partly attributed to a pandemic-era backlog, but also reflects an upward trend in 2019, when 706,400 new citizenships were granted.

85 percent of new citizens were not previously citizens of another EU country.

Spain granted the highest number of new citizenships in 2021, welcoming 144,800 new residents. Followed closely by France and Germany (130,000 new citizens each), Italy (121,500) and Sweden (89,400).

It can be a lengthy procedure to become a citizen but it’s not equally difficult across the bloc. The more traditional route to obtain citizenship is naturalisation where legal residents living and working in the country for a number of years can apply for.

For those who have funds, several EU countries offer citizenship by investment where individuals can purchase property or invest a certain amount to gain residency rights before applying for citizenship a few years later.

Number Of Naturalised Non-EU Residents

Similar to the previous year, the vast majority of people who obtained citizenship of an EU member state were from non-EU countries: 706,900, or 85 per cent of the total. 

The largest group was from Morocco (86,200 people, who acquired citizenship mostly in Spain or France, followed by Syrians (83,500, mostly in Sweden and the Netherlands), and Albanians (32,300, mostly in Italy). Then came Romanians (mostly in Italy and Germany), and Turks in Germany and France. 

Among new EU citizens there were also 5,370 US nationals (compared to 3,425 in 2020), with the largest number in Austria, Norway, France, Sweden and Italy.

EU Citizenship Post-Brexit

The Brexit vote in 2016 resulted in a surge in citizenship applications among British nationals who lived in the EU, as they faced the prospect of losing their freedom of movement in the bloc.

The peak for citizenship granted to British nationals was in 2019, and since then numbers have seen a decrease. Anecdotally, many of the applications after 2016 were from Brits who had been resident in an EU country for many years, so could have naturalised previously.

Some 10,600 British nationals acquired citizenship in EU countries in 2021, ranking 19th among other nationalities.

Germany (2,345) recorded the highest naturalisation rates among British nationals followed by Austria (1,190), Ireland (1,186), Sweden (1,131), Belgium (1,010), Denmark (546). Only 163 were recorded in France, 343 in Spain and 453 in Italy.

British nationals acquiring citizenship in Norway were 1,578 and in Switzerland 855.

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