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The Complete List of EU Citizenship by Ancestry/Descent Policies

17 countries inside the European Economic Area offer EU citizenship to grandchildren, great-grandchildren, or sometimes even more distant descendants of European citizens.

Because citizenship in one EEA/Single Market country grants the right to live and work in all of them, these citizenships consistently rank among the world’s most desirable.

Tens (potentially hundreds) of millions of non-Europeans qualify for citizenship by descent. We’ve assembled a complete list, as well as an interactive map, of which European (EEA/Single Market) countries offer citizenship by ancestry.

For the purposes of this overview, we’ll ignore the various citizenship by ancestral persecution solutions, such as the ones that apply to people descending from those stripped of citizenship in Nazi-controlled Germany and Austria or from Sephardic Jews in Spain and Portugal.

How many people qualify for European citizenship by descent?

Outside of Europe itself, descendants of European citizens are overwhelmingly concentrated in the Americas. While there are certainly considerable numbers of European descendants living in Africa and Asia (not to mention Oceania, where the preponderance of inhabitants have European ancestry), the largest groups – in absolute terms – are found in North, Central, and South America.

Map showing concentration of European descendants

In 2016, in the United States, 133 million Americans (41% of the population) reported they were of European ancestry. That number, however, includes only those who had first-hand knowledge of their European ancestry (or cared to report it): Some 244 million Americans (72%) of the population, self-identified as “White or Caucasian”, many of whom simply consider themselves “Americans”, rather than, for example, Irish-Americans or German-Americans.

In Latin America, moreover, an estimated 32-40% of the population (179-220 million people) are of European descent, and nearly half of them live in Brazil.

All told, more than half a billion people outside of Europe have some claim to European ancestry. Not all of those will be able to prove it, of course. Fewer still will be able to demonstrate they have a European ancestor only two or three generations removed.

A number of European countries, however, don’t place a particular generational limit on citizenship eligibility through ancestry. If you can convincingly argue, through your evidence, that your ancestor was Hungarian, for example, there is – at least hypothetically – no limit on how many generations back you can go. Nomad Capitalist provides an illustrative example:

[…] someone with the last name Almasy – one of the most common Hungarian last names – would almost certainly be able to obtain Hungarian citizenship. 

The difference between Italy’s program and the citizenship program in Hungary is that Italian ancestry can only be claimed so far back as Italy existed in its current state. 

Yet, in Hungary, if you can establish a paper trail that connected each generation to the next, and then all the way to you, you’d be eligible to apply. 

Now, thanks to the growing popularity (and diminishing cost) of genealogical research and DNA testing, the number of non-Europeans able to argue convincingly that they are of European descent is rising.

List and interactive map of European citizenship by descent policies

The list below will tell you which countries currently offer citizenship by descent, along with a link to the source where you can find more information on eligibility requirements, exemptions, processing times, and so on.

Country Citizenship by Ancestry Eligibility
Austria 1st generation only
Belgium 1st generation only
Bulgaria 3rd generation
Croatia 2nd generation
Cyprus 1st generation only
Czech Rep. 2nd generation
Denmark 1st generation only
Estonia 1st generation only
Finland 1st generation only
France 1st generation only
Germany 1st generation only
Greece 3rd generation
Hungary 3rd generation or earlier
Iceland 1st generation only
Ireland 3rd generation
Italy 3rd generation or earlier
Latvia 3rd generation or earlier
Liechtenstein 1st generation only
Lithuania 3rd generation or earlier
Luxembourg 3rd generation or earlier
Malta 2nd generation
Netherlands 1st generation only
Norway 1st generation only
Poland 3rd generation or earlier
Portugal 2nd generation
Romania 2nd generation
Slovakia 3rd (Legislation pending)
Slovenia 2nd generation
Spain 2nd generation
Sweden 1st generation only
Switzerland 1st generation only

If you'd like to find a law firm that specializes in assisting with the often complex procedure of applying for citizenship by descent in one of the above European countries, you may reach out to the editor on cn@imidaily.com to request an introduction.

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17 countries offer EU citizenship to grandchildren, great-grandchildren, or sometimes even more distant descendants of European citizens. See our complete list and interactive map.

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