Citizenship
June 5, 2024
Reading Time: 12 min

Where is it easiest to get citizenship?

To obtain a second passport, you can get married, confirm your relation to a citizen of the country, or go through the naturalisation process.

Investment programs are gaining popularity. They are emerging for remote workers, digital nomads, and financially independent cosmopolitans.

The country with the fastest citizenship program is Vanuatu. Its passport can be obtained in 1 month. The easiest citizenship programs are in the Caribbean states: for example, Dominica and St Lucia require as little investment as $100,000 and no physical presence.

Albert Ioffe
Albert Ioffe

Knows everything about the benefits of investment programs

In which country is it easier to get citizenship

Where is it easiest to get citizenship?

How to get dual citizenship

According to the latest data, 49% of countries recognise dual nationality for their citizens and foreigners.

To become a bipatride, a person with dual citizenship, you can get married, confirm family ties with a citizen of the country, live in the country for a certain number of years, contribute to culture or science, and participate in an investment program.

Each country has its conditions for obtaining citizenship, so the same method might take a different time.

Popular ways to obtain citizenship

Method

Grounds

Do you need to live in the country?

Language and culture exams

Timeframe to obtain a passport

Origin and descent

Blood relatives who are citizens of the country

No

Depends on the country

1+ year

Naturalisation

Living in the country for a long time

Yes

Yes

1+ year

Marriage

Registered marriage

Yes

Depends on the country

1+ day

Special merits

Contribution to culture or science

Depends on the country

Depends on the country

Individually

Investments in the country’s economy

Depends on the country

Depends on the country

1+ month

Citizenship by origin. In some countries, there is a “blood law”: a foreigner can obtain a passport if they confirm their relationship with a country’s citizen. It is called citizenship by descent. For example, you can get a Spanish passport if at least one of the parents is a Spanish citizen.

Citizenship by repatriation is obtained upon returning to the historical homeland. For example, Spanish citizenship by descent is granted to those born to a Spanish parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent, even if they were born outside Spain.

Simplified programs for obtaining a second citizenship through repatriation operate in Bulgaria and Poland. You can get a passport from these countries in a year, and the repatriation simplified program in Poland allows confirmation of kinship up to the fourth generation: great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers. Participation in the German repatriation program takes over two years.

Repatriation is inexpensive but there are other routes to second citizenship. Becoming a repatriate in Bulgaria costs approximately €3,000; in Romania, the cost is €2,500. It is not required to live in the country and know the language.

Citizenship by naturalisation. To obtain a second citizenship by naturalisation, you must live in the country officially. The minimum period depends on state legislation.

The top 13 countries with the fastest ways to get a passport by naturalisation are the following:

  • Argentina — 2 years;

  • Paraguay — 3 years;

  • Uruguay — 3 or 5 years, depending on the marital status;

  • The USA — 3—5 years;

  • Brazil — 4 years;

  • Portugal — 5 years;

  • Sweden — 5 years;

  • Russia — 5 years;

  • Canada — 6 years;

  • Norway — 7 years;

  • Denmark — 7 years;

  • Germany — 8 years;

  • Switzerland — 10 years.

Usually, the naturalisation procedure looks like this:

  1. A foreigner receives a visa to enter the country to work or study. For example, while studying at the Australian University, you can get a temporary immigrant visa for one and a half to four years, then a permanent immigration General Skilled Migration visa, and later become an Australian citizen.

  2. After legal entry, you can apply for a residence permit. For example, this can be done by a financially independent cosmopolitan who went to Portugal on a D7 visa.

  3. After a few years of living with a residence permit, a foreigner applies for permanent residence or immediately for citizenship. The presence of a permanent job, the absence of problems with the law, and knowledge of the language, history and culture are assessed. Thus, a person confirms that they have integrated into society.

For example, under the terms of the naturalisation program in Canada, you must have lived in the country for at least six years, prove your knowledge of history and English at the B1 level, have no criminal record, know the responsibilities of a Canadian citizen, have a higher education and work as a professional.

Citizenship through marriage. You can get a passport after marrying a citizen of the country. The term depends on the state in which the marriage is registered. For example, in Italy, you will need to live together officially for at least two years. The term in Spain is a year. In Switzerland, it is 6 years.

Where Is It Easiest to Get Citizenship by Marriage

The K‑1 bride or groom visa is a nonimmigrant visa used to marry a US citizen. After arriving in the country, the marriage is registered within 90 days

Citizenship for exceptional services. A passport can be earned for art, science, or sports contributions. For example, citizenship for exceptional merit can be obtained in the UAE: it is issued to investors, scientists, doctors, engineers, artists and their families. The applicant must obtain approval from the UAE Cabinet of Ministers.

Citizenship by investment. In some countries, a passport can be obtained by investments in the economy. At the same time, you do not need to constantly live in the country and take an exam on knowledge of language and history.

In the Caribbean and Oceania, citizenship documents can be submitted online. The fastest way to obtain citizenship is in Vanuatu; on average, it takes 1—2 months.

Caribbean citizenship has become popular among entrepreneurs. Dominica residents do not pay dividend taxes. With a Grenadian passport, you can open a branch of the company in the United States.

Obtaining citizenship of Malta is possible based on exceptional merit by direct investment of at least €690,000.

Family members like spouses, children, and grandparents can also obtain citizenship by investment. In the case of the Caribbean, you can apply and get approval from the comfort of your home. But investors are thoroughly checked for reliability: sources of income and political status are analysed.

In Portugal, Spain, and Greece, there are programs for obtaining a residence permit by investment. After getting a residence permit, you can apply for permanent residence or citizenship.

Individual cost calculation of the Caribbean passport

Individual cost calculation of the Caribbean passport

Easiest passports to get by birth?

Argentina is the most popular country for getting a passport by birth. The state’s law allows not only a newborn but also their parents to obtain citizenship.

However, if a child is granted citizenship automatically, parents get permanent residence first. Then, they live in Argentina for 2 months and apply for citizenship, which they obtain in 4—9 months.

A child born in Uruguay gets citizenship upon registration if parents stay there for 3 months after birth. Foreign parents can get citizenship by naturalisation in 3 years.

Canada also recognises natural citizenship, or citizenship by birth. Every child born in Canada becomes a Canadian citizen. This applies to those born by non-Canadian parents as well. Parents are not granted citizenship and can only obtain it by naturalisation.

Countries with similar fast and straightforward procedures include Barbados, Costa Rica, Fiji, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, and Peru.

The only exceptions in all countries are usually children of diplomats. Nor they or their parents can get citizenship by birth.

Where is the easiest passport to get by descent

Israel, Poland, and Italy are considered to be states where it is simple to get a passport if the ancestry can be traced. One of the requirements is that ancestors never lost their citizenship and did not acquire another one.

Countries fix the date after which relatives should be born to ensure it. For example, you can apply for a Polish passport if your ancestors were born in Poland after 1900. The same applies to Italy, and the year is 1861.

Other countries that allow obtaining citizenship by descent easily

Country

Conditions

Armenia

A parent, grandparent, or siblings were citizens of Armenia by birth

Hungary

Ancestors born before 1920 or between 1941 and 1945

Ireland

Born in Ireland before 2005 — citizenship is granted automatically; after January 1st 2005, it depends on the parents’ citizenship at the time of the birth

The UK

Born outside the UK after January 1st 1983, with at least one of the parents being a British citizen

Spain

Traceable ancestors with Spanish citizenship by birth

Romania

One or both parents or grandparents were citizens of Romania by birth

Luxembourg

An ancestor was a Luxembourg citizen on January 1st 1900 but somehow lost their nationality

Lithuania

A great-grandparent, grandparent, or parent was a citizen of Lithuania before June 15th, 1940, or lost their nationality between 1940 and 1990 on a political basis

Latvia

One or both parents or grandparents were citizens of Latvia by birth

Greece

One or both parents or grandparents were citizens of Greece by birth

Germany

One or both parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents were citizens of Germany by birth

Easiest countries to get citizenship by marriage

Argentina provides the easiest way to obtain citizenship through marriage. You can apply for a passport the very next day after the wedding.

14 more states grant citizenship to foreign spouses of their citizens:

  • Brazil, Spain, and Belize — after 1 year of marriage;

  • Italy, Mexico, and Colombia — after 2 years of marriage;

  • Uruguay, Greece, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Slovenia, the USA, and the UK — after 3 years of marriage.

However, in any country, it is possible to obtain a second citizenship due to marriage if the marriage is real. Countries are introducing additional checks to not issue passports to those who enter into fictitious marriages.

Easiest nationality to get citizenship by naturalisation

Argentina, Peru, and the Dominican Republic grant citizenship 2 years after getting permanent residence.

A 3-year term is in Uruguay for married couples. Singles can obtain citizenship within 5 years of residing in the country.

In Honduras, Ecuador, Israel, Poland, and Serbia, you can apply for citizenship in 3 years as well, regardless of marital status.

Paraguay requires foreigners to live with permanent residence for 3 years in order to qualify for citizenship.

The average term to get citizenship by naturalisation in other countries is 5—7 years. However, investors usually do not need to reside in the country if they have obtained citizenship by investment.

Which passport to choose

The attractiveness of a passport depends on the goals of the cosmopolitan and the status of the state in the international arena: what agreements have been signed and with whom agreements have been made on the allocation of a quota for education.

With a passport of Vanuatu, Malta, or some Caribbean countries, you can visit the UK and the Schengen countries without a visa. With US and Canadian passports, more than 160 countries are available visa-free.

Some of the easiest EU countries to get citizenship are Portugal, Spain and Italy. They offer so-called Golden Visas, allowing foreigners to get a residence permit and apply for citizenship in 5—10 years.

Comparison of citizenship and residency by investment programs

Practical Guide

Comparison of citizenship and residency by investment programs

Сountries of the Caribbean and Oceania where it’s easier to obtain citizenship

Caribbean citizenship by investment programs are distinguished by a relatively low cost of participation and favourable conditions. They are chosen by cosmopolitans looking for the fastest way to get a passport.

The program’s popularity is also associated with the opportunity for the investor and their family members to travel to the Schengen countries and obtain a visa to the United States for 10 years in a simplified manner.

Buying real estate is one of the most popular program options. After a few years, the property can be sold, and the money invested can be returned. After registration of ownership, the investor can lease the property.

The fastest and easiest second citizenship can be obtained in Vanuatu. You can participate in the program remotely, and the application is considered within four weeks. The minimum investment is $130,000. Together with the investor, a spouse, children under 25, and parents over 50 can be included in an application.

With the Vanuatu passport, the investor acquires the opportunity to travel without a visa to 100+ states, including Ireland and Singapore. Citizens of Vanuatu and Dominica should obtain a visa to the UK starting July 2023.

Terms of Caribbean and Vanuatu CBI programs

Country

Cost of participation

Non-refundable contribution to the state fund

Cost of participation

Returnable investments in real estate

Passport issuance period

Visa-free regime

Return investments on real estate

$250,000+

$400,000+

6+ months

153 countries

In 5—7 years

$100,000+

$200,000+

3—6 months

152 countries

In 5 years

$100,000+

$200,000+

4+ months

147 countries

In 5 years

$100,000+

$200,000+

3—6 months

145 countries

In 3—5 years

$150,000+

$220,000+

4—6 months

148 countries

In 5 years

$130,000+

1+ months

108 countries

Easiest country to get citizenship in Europe

Investors obtain Malta citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional merit by direct investment. A Maltese passport can be obtained in one or three years.

The investment amount depends on the period for obtaining a passport and the number of participants.

Applicants choosing three years of residency need to invest €600,000 in the National Fund for Development and Social Security. An application for a Maltese passport can be submitted after one year, but the investment amount will be €750,000.

Another requirement is to purchase or rent a property in Malta. Housing must cost at least €700,000 if bought and must be owned for 5 years.

A rental option requires an investor to rent a property for at least €12,000 per year to obtain a residence permit. Then, when applying for citizenship, an investor concludes a new leasing agreement for real estate for at least €16,000 per year.

Besides investing in the National Fund and getting a property, an applicant must contribute €10,000 to the island’s charity fund.

Individual cost calculation of the Maltese citizenship

Individual cost calculation of the Maltese citizenship

Turkey citizenship can be obtained by investing $400,000 in real estate. Apartments, villas, plots of land and shares in real estate projects all qualify.

Foreigners can also invest in business, open a bank deposit, and purchase government bonds or investment fund units. Under these four options, a minimum sum is $500,000.

The processing time of the Turkey CBI program is 3 to 6 months. A foreigner can return investment money three years after obtaining a Turkish passport.

Individual cost calculation of the Turkey citizenship

Individual cost calculation of the Turkey citizenship

Where it is easier to obtain citizenship after participating in the program of residence permit by investment

Residence by investment is the first step to citizenship in a number of European countries. Offers for investors are available in Portugal, Italy, Spain, Malta, Greece, Cyprus, and Andorra.

First, the applicant receives a residence permit card and can apply for a passport after a few years. This option is suitable when speed is not essential: on average, this method takes at least five years.

The holder of a residence permit enjoys almost all the privileges of a citizen except the right to vote in elections and hold some public office. Opening a business, studying at a foreign university, and freely entering the territory of all visa-free states without time restrictions are all possible with a residence permit card.

7 countries to obtain residence in Europe

Country

Required investments

Timeframe to get a residence permit

Term before applying for citizenship

Visa-free destinations with a country’s passport

€500,000+

5+ months

10 years

172

€250,000+

3+ months

10 years

172

€300,000+

3+ months

5 years

168

€250,000+

8—10 months

5 years

172

€150,000+

2—4 months

5 years

169

€250,000+

6 months

7 years

171

€400,000+

2 months

20 years

161

Citizenship for digital nomads and financially independent persons

Programs for freelancers and digital nomads usually allow people to obtain a one-year residence permit. Obtaining residency will require registering for taxation and proving sufficient income.

Portugal offers a Digital Nomad visa. It can be obtained in 4+ months by foreigners with a monthly income of at least €3,400. Digital nomads must buy or rent real estate and live in Portugal.

Individual cost calculation of the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa

Individual cost calculation of the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa

Financially independent cosmopolitans can also apply for a long-term visa. In this case, they need to prove sufficient passive income. The applicant is assumed to refrain from conducting professional activity in the country.

Programs for financially independent cosmopolitans operate in Austria, Switzerland and Portugal. These are some of the easiest countries to immigrate to. In the future, you can get a residence permit or citizenship.

The Austria Residence Permit is issued to financially independent persons without a right to work in the country. Requirements include bought or rented housing in Austria, basic proficiency in German, and a stable income. The minimum income is not stated.

To retain residency, a foreigner must spend at least 183 days a year in Austria.

The Switzerland Residence Permit allows foreigners to reside in the country without a right to work there if they pay a lump-sum tax of ₣450,000+ each year. The actual sum is calculated individually.

Foreigners must stay at least 183 days a year in Switzerland to maintain residency.

The Portugal D7 Visa is a Passive Income Visa granted to foreigners with a monthly passive income of at least €760. Financially independent people must buy or rent a property in Portugal and spend most of the year there. In 2024, the required passive income will increase to €820 a month.

Individual cost calculation of the visa D7 in Portugal

Individual cost calculation of the visa D7 in Portugal

Countries with the hardest conditions to get citizenship

Not all states are open to new citizens. In some countries, programs for immigrants simply do not exist.

The Vatican is the smallest country in the world, with only 800 inhabitants and 450 citizens. It does not offer any programs for foreigners. Cardinals who live in the Vatican, diplomats representing the Holy See, or employees of the Catholic Church can become citizens of the Vatican or Rome.

Liechtenstein is a mountainous country between Austria and Switzerland with a population of 40,000 people. A country’s passport is issued after 30 years of uninterrupted life in the country, and in case of marriage, registration after 5 years.

There are no immigration programs in Liechtenstein. Each case is considered individually. The country of origin, financial condition and availability of real estate in the country, as well as services to the state matter.

China allows foreigners to become citizens if they have relatives with a Chinese passport. Naturalisation is possible, but the law does not mention the period during which it is necessary to live in the country.

Obtain citizenship of the Vatican

The Vatican is an enclave state surrounded by the territory of Rome

Key takeouts

  1. A foreigner can obtain citizenship by ancestry, naturalisation, marriage, investment, and special merits. The requirements depend on each country and the chosen way to get a passport.

  2. The easiest country to obtain citizenship by naturalisation and by birth is Argentina. Other countries with a quick path to passport by naturalisation are Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil. Argentina also offers the fastest way to citizenship by marriage.

  3. Israel, Poland and Italy are countries with the simplest paths to citizenship by descent.

  4. Some countries have citizenship by investment programs. They are Turkey, Vanuatu, and some Caribbean states such as Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia.

  5. One of the most popular ways to get a European passport is obtaining a residence permit by investment and, after several years, obtaining citizenship by naturalisation. Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Portugal, Greece, and Malta offer residency by investment programs.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for citizenship and residence by investment programs in the EU, the Caribbean, Asia, and the Middle East. Take advantage of our global 15-year expertise — schedule a meeting with our investment programs experts.

Choose the best investment program considering 25 criteria

Passports of different countries

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which country's passport can be obtained in the fastest way?

    A Vanuatu passport can be obtained in one month by investing $130,000. Together with the investor, a spouse, children under 25 and parents over 50 can participate in the program.

  • What is the easiest way to obtain US and Canadian citizenship?

    The easiest way to obtain US citizenship is through winning the lottery. But you can not wait for such an event all your life.

    You can become a US citizen in 5 years by investing in the economy.

    It is more difficult to obtain a Canadian passport: investment programs are often changed or suspended.

  • Where is the fastest way to obtain citizenship through marriage?

    You can become a citizen of Argentina the day after marriage.

  • In which European countries can you obtain citizenship by origin?

    Citizenship by origin can be obtained in Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Croatia, Czech Republic and Malta.

  • How fast can I get dual citizenship?

    The term of obtaining a second passport depends on the country chosen. The fastest procedure is in Vanuatu: investors can obtain second citizenship within a month.

    Getting dual citizenship is usually not a fast process. It cannot take less than a month. Buying a passport in one day is also impossible. All promises to help you obtain a passport in a day or two should be considered with caution.

  • What is the best country to get a second passport?

    A second passport should ideally solve cases your first passport cannot, such as granting visa-free entry to previously unavailable countries. For example, Indian citizens can obtain a second passport in the Caribbean by investing at least $100,000.

    The Caribbean passports allow its holders to increase their global mobility significantly. However, if the faster procedure and tax benefits are not a priority, investors can get citizenship by naturalisation after obtaining a residence permit in Europe.

  • What is the hardest passport to get?

    Here’s the list of countries with the strictest requirements for foreigners to obtain a passport there. You should live with a permanent residence for at least 10—12 years in:

    • Switzerland,

    • Liechtenstein,

    • Austria,

    • Monaco,

    • Finland,

    • Bhutan,

    • Qatar,

    • Saudi Arabia,

    • United Arab Emirates,

    • Kuwait,

    • China,

    • Japan.

    Most of these countries also require you to know their official language on at least an intermediate level.

    The Vatican does not offer any programs foreigners can use to get a passport there. However, the Italian passport can be obtained in 10 years after getting a residence permit by investment.

  • Which country gives free citizenship?

    Countries don’t give free citizenship. A foreigner is required to meet criteria depending on the conditions under which they are applying. For example, live in the country for a certain period or make a significant investment in the country’s economy.

  • What is the weakest citizenship?

    Afghanistan and Syria have the weakest passports in the world. With the Afghan one, you can visit 66 countries visa-free; with the Syrian one, you can visit 65 countries.