Quick Answer

How to obtain EU citizenship by descent

EU citizenship by descent can be granted based on proof that your ancestors were citizens of an EU country. In this article we discuss who and in which EU countries can obtain citizenship by descent.

How to obtain EU citizenship by descent

Citizenship by descent or “by right of blood” is one of the ways to get citizenship. A foreigner whose ancestors were citizens of another country may apply for its citizenship if permitted by that country’s law.

Who can get citizenship by descent

Foreigners can acquire citizenship by descent in an EU country if they can prove that their parents, grandparents or grandparents were citizens of a European country.

Each state has its own terms and conditions: some countries grant citizenship only to grandchildren, while others even allow great-grandchildren and their descendants in future generations to become citizens.

Citizenship of an EU country is amongst the most coveted in the world. Descendants of Europeans can be found in almost every country. In some cases, their ancestors emigrated, in other cases they were expelled from the country, and in some cases, the descendent is not even aware that their ancestors were citizens of a European country.

A passport issued by an EU country gives the holder the right to live, work and study in almost any country in the EU and also to move freely within the Schengen area. EU citizens can travel to numerous other countries throughout the world without visas.

Which EU countries grant citizenship by descent

Children of EU citizens receive the citizenship of their parents by the "right of blood". For example, children of Portuguese citizens born in Portugal immediately become Portuguese citizens.

However, if a child is born to Portuguese citizens in, for example, Peru and they do not apply for Portuguese citizenship right away, then the child does not become a Portuguese citizen but can apply to get Portuguese citizenship in the future.

The requirements for applicants vary by country and their specific situation. In some countries, it is sufficient to provide documents that confirm the relationship or the birth certificate of a relative, and in others, applicants need to also pass an exam on knowledge of the language.

EU countries that grant citizenship by descent to grandchildren and great-grandchildren

CountryWho is eligible
BulgariaGrandchildren and great-grandchildren
HungaryGrandchildren, great-grandchildren and other generations
GreeceGrandchildren and great-grandchildren
IrelandGrandchildren and great-grandchildren
SpainGrandchildren
ItalyGrandchildren, great-grandchildren and other generations
LatviaGrandchildren, great-grandchildren and other generations
LithuaniaGrandchildren, great-grandchildren and other generations
LuxembourgGrandchildren, great-grandchildren and other generations
MaltaGrandchildren
PolandGrandchildren, great-grandchildren and other generations
PortugalGrandchildren
RomaniaGrandchildren
SlovakiaGrandchildren
SloveniaGrandchildren
CroatiaGrandchildren
Czech RepublicGrandchildren

The Slovakian government is considering amendments to the Slovak citizenship law that would allow great-grandchildren of citizens of Slovakia to get Slovakian citizenship by descent.

How else is it possible to become an EU citizen

It is also possible to become a citizen of an EU country by naturalization, repatriation or exceptional merit. Investors participate in government residency programs to shorten the waiting period for citizenship by naturalization.

Malta is the only EU country that offers citizenship for rendering exceptional services, such as investing €690,000 in the country’s economy.

Foreigners can be granted Maltese citizenship after undergoing rigorous Due Diligence checks and fulfilling the terms and conditions of the Maltese Citizenship Law.

Four EU countries offer residence permits for investment. After several years of residence in the country, residence permit holders or permanent residents have the right to apply for citizenship. These countries offer several investment options under the program: for example, investment in real estate, government bonds, business, or a science-related project.

Residence permit programs by investment in the EU

Permit and countryMinimum investmentEligibility for citizenship
Maltese permanent residence€112,000After 5 years
Portuguese residence permit€350,000After 5 years
Greek residence permit€250,000After 7 years
Cyprus permanent residence€300,000After 8 years
How to obtain EU citizenship by descent

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