European countries are full of vibrant cities known for their architecture, nightlife, restaurants, museums, and way of living. So, it comes as no surprise that more and more foreigners are eager to become EU citizens and, along with that, acquire a passport from a top-tier European country.
While EU citizenship is incredibly sought after, it’s not that easy to acquire. Getting a European passport will depend on several factors. So, exactly how to become an EU citizen? Fortunately, there is more than one answer to this question and this is exactly what we’re going to discuss in this post. Keep on reading this comprehensive guide as we’ll be exploring the benefits, process, and answer other questions.
Who Is an EU Citizen
Before you apply for citizenship in any of the European countries, it’s important that you understand who is an EU citizen.
European citizenship is a set of duties and rights that concern all citizens in a specific community or country, guaranteeing their equality. There are two prominent entities at play here – European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA). Countries like Switzerland and Norway aren’t part of the EU, but they come under EEA.
Based on the treaties of the EU, EU citizenship collaborates with national citizenships, giving all citizens of the Member States additional rights without replacing them. The following are some rights of the European citizens:
- European citizens have the right of freedom of movement within the Member States, which gives them the benefit of living in any of the Member States.
- They can contact the European Ombudsman, petition the European Parliament, and participate in initiatives.
- In the absence of their embassy abroad, EU citizens leverage the consular protection of any Member State.
- EU citizens have the right to vote and stand for European and administrative elections.
Why Become an EU Citizen
There are several reasons why you would want to become an EU citizen. For starters, you get access to work in EU countries. Moreover, you’ll have the ability to live and have permanent residency in any of the EU countries. The best part is that you can travel visa-free through Europe. Also, you can access the national healthcare system while enjoying the rights and privileges of an EU citizen. Lastly, you get several social benefits along with gaining the ability to start a business and own property.
The following are some of the benefits of being a European citizen:
- Equal treatment is guaranteed for EU citizens in terms of work. From wages to social security, from hiring to working conditions, an EU citizen can practice his/her desired profession to which he/she has been qualified in his/her country of origin.
- The right to take an active part in the politics of each Member State, that is, stand as a candidate in municipal elections and even vote to decide your leader.
- As an EU citizen, you have the legal rights to reside in any country of the EU. Border controls across the Member States provide cooperation between the participating states and police. There is an electronic connection between the police of the Member States.
- You have the right to diplomatic protection.
- The EU protects all its citizens from the negative effects of globalization. EU has set specific rules to support small businesses that have been affected by digitization and globalization
- As per the provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, EU citizens are protected in the workplace.
- The EU has set up programs like Horizon and Erasmus+ to support businesses through exchange programs, business networks, coaching, and funding.
- European citizens are entitled to use online services and mobile networks at no additional cost throughout the EU with total safety.
- EU countries have more prominence on the world stage both commercially and politically
- Regardless of sexual orientation, culture, gender, or nationality, the EU protects all oppressed and minorities by offering equal treatment for all
- From the environmental and food point of view, the EU has set the benchmark in quality standards, prohibiting companies from polluting the environment or selling contaminated food items
- You can live and work in any EU country, sell goods and provide unrestricted services, and transfer money without any hassle.
- Thanks to the democratic value each EU citizen shares, they’re closely connected.
Overall, the EU funds numerous projects that are aimed at strengthening the values and encouraging its citizens to take part in these events actively.
How to Become an EU Citizen?
Before you apply for EU citizenship, it’s important to determine whether you’re eligible or not. There are three effective ways to apply for citizenship in any of the EU countries.
European Citizenship By Descent
The preferred and easiest way to apply for European citizenship is through your ancestry or descent. If you have parents, grandparents, and in some cases, even great grandparents from any of the EU countries like Poland, Italy, Ireland, Hungary, and many others, you can apply for citizenship. Many people of European descent are settled in other countries. Those who can prove their ancestry can apply for EU citizenship.
Become an EU Citizen Through Naturalization
Many European countries give EU passports to people who maintain their residency for a specified period. That is, if you spend three to five years in a country, abiding by its laws, and taking part in taxing activities, you might be eligible for EU citizenship by naturalization. Countries like Spain and Portugal, which are the hot destinations for digital nomads and expats, offer EU passports through naturalization. This process of naturalization encourages more and more expats to visit and live in the country for a specific number of years. You’ll get the passport given that you are a permanent resident through naturalization involving business, marriage, and work.
Become an EU Citizen Through Citizenship by Investment
You can leverage the EU Residency Programs or Citizenship by Investment Programs to get your European passport. The main criteria are that you make a certain investment in the nation you want to settle in. Depending on the program you choose, you and your family can get EU citizenship in a minimum of 12 months.
Easiest EU Countries To Get Citizenship by Investment
Become an EU Citizen in Portugal
One of the easiest countries in the European Union to get citizenship by investment is Portugal. The country’s residency program allows citizenship after five years. The benefit of the program is that you don’t need to move to Portugal. Visiting the country for seven days on average per year will suffice.
Become an EU Citizen in Malta
Malta is one of the EU countries that offer citizenship by investment. With a minimum amount of €690,000, you can get a Maltese passport from 12 to 36 months.
Become an EU Citizen in Spain
Spain also offers a Golden Visa program that may lead to citizenship if you reside in the country for a minimum of 10 years.
Become an EU citizen in Ireland
Ireland is one of the EU countries that offers a residency by investment scheme. If you meet the residency requirements, you can be eligible for Ireland citizenship in a minimum of five years.
Benefits of Getting an EU Passport
It’s now possible to acquire a second passport from many nations, including the EU. However, the question is, why do people consider getting a second passport? Well, some reasons are self-explanatory. To possess a secondary passport means dual citizenship, which is more than just a document. Let’s explore the benefits of getting a second passport from an EU country.
Freedom of Movement
The primary reason that an individual chooses a secondary passport is freedom. Freedom of:
- Speech and self-expression
- Ability to travel and business opportunities
- Safe environment
- Clean environment
- Equal rights and opportunities independent of race or gender
- Education and healthcare access for all your children
Ease of Travel
For people who love to travel, there are a lot of barriers, such as applying for a visa, which is expensive and isn’t guaranteed.
Also, note that a visa is not permanent, and you need to re-apply to continue traveling. Some people find it daunting, so they apply for a second passport. European countries are the most preferred by frequent travelers, businessmen, and families to settle in.
Plan B with Second Passport
While people tend to have a certain longing for their country, there are issues and problems that they don’t want to go through, nor do they want their children to experience the same. If you live in a country that is economically and politically unstable, it’s natural to feel worried about yourself and the future of your family and children. Having a second passport eliminates this worry.
There are countries with predictable economies, and there are countries whose economy is ever-fluctuating. People involved in business and trade activities may find it difficult to live and prosper in a country where the economy isn’t certain. A jurisdiction with transparency of the judicial process, adequate laws, and clear rights is what a business is looking to thrive. Such transparency can be found in EU countries. While no country is immune to how the economy transforms, having a second passport allows you to protect yourself and your business in case things go wrong.
Relocation Services to Europe
Whether it’s retirement, economic opportunities, or family purposes, people will move from time to time. There are several reasons for people wanting to change countries. Retirement plans, career opportunities, or freedom of movement are some obvious reasons.
Retirement is one of the main motivations behind acquiring a second passport. So, people consider countries with desirable locations, high quality of life, and are easily accessible. Having a second passport helps them to get a better retirement plan.
Can US Citizens Get EU Citizenship
If you’re a US citizen, you’re eligible to apply for EU citizenship. US citizens are attracted to EU countries for several reasons like:
- Investment opportunities
- Efficient tax systems
- Leniency towards cryptocurrency
- A perfect base to travel around
Get Golden Visa: Who We Are and How We Can Help You
We’re a full-service investment immigration agency. We offer solutions on residence and citizenship by investment programs in many countries around the world.
We work with clients from all around the world, interested in getting European citizenship. Contact us and schedule a call with our experienced team members to help you with your questions on EU citizenship by investment.
Frequently Asked Questions on EU citizenship
Can I buy an EU passport?
If you’re looking to get an EU passport, you can consider citizenship by investment programs European Countries offer.
Can I get EU citizenship if I live in an EU country for a while?
Each EU country has its own rules for citizenship. Some offer citizenship by investment schemes, some promise citizenship after a certain period of residency.
Is it difficult to get EU citizenship?
Getting EU citizenship is not difficult if you meet the criteria. For example, if you opt for Portugal Golden Visa, a residency by investment program, you can be eligible to get EU citizenship in a minimum of five years. In this case, the minimum requirement is seven days on average every year.
Does Malta offer citizenship by investment?
Yes, Malta offers citizenship by investment scheme. If you opt for Malta citizenship by investment program, you can get European citizenship in 12-36 months, based on the investment plan you choose.
What is the best EU citizenship program?
Each EU citizenship program has its own charms. Some offer more affordable investment options, while some offer a quick route to European citizenship.
I’m from the United States. Can I apply for EU citizenship by investment program and get an EU passport?
Yes, you can apply for a citizenship by investment program in Europe and become an EU citizen. Check our article on Dual Citizenship for Americans for further reading.
Does Portugal offer citizenship by investment?
Please note that Portugal Golden Visa is a residency by investment scheme. However, you can be eligible for European citizenship if you meet the criteria. The stay requirement for Portugal Golden Visa is seven days on average, per year.
Does Spain offer citizenship by investment?
Like Portugal, Spain Golden Visa is a residency by investment scheme, too. However, if you reside in Spain in accordance with the country’s regulations, you can be eligible for European citizenship.
Can I travel to other EU countries visa-free if I get European citizenship from any EU country?
Yes, you can travel to other EU countries visa-free with your European passport.
Can I add my family members into European citizenship by investment program?
Yes, you can. Citizenship by investment programs allow the main applicants to add family members in their application for European citizenship.
Can I live anywhere in Europe with my European citizenship?
You can live, work, or study in any EU country with your EU passport.
What are the investment options for European citizenship by investment programs?
Most EU citizenship programs offer property acquisition, capital transfer, or investment fund options. You can choose the investment type depending on your needs.
Is it possible to get an EU passport by descent?
Yes, some countries in Europe, such as Ireland, Italy, Poland, and Portugal offer EU passports by descent.
Does Ireland allow citizenship by investment?
Ireland offers a residency scheme that might lead to citizenship after a certain period of residence in the country.