How to get an EU Passport

Getting EU citizenship by descent may not be as difficult as you think. If you are seriously considering living in Europe the value of EU citizenship and a European passport cannot be denied. As a retiree, you can obtain a very different lifestyle from that of Canada or the US and live in the home of your ancestors or simply a place you are passionate about.

EU Passport FAQS

  1. EU passport requirements are obviously established for those who can prove either residency in an EU country or the right of citizenship to a European country. 
  2. An EU Passport is the Passport of the EU country in which either you were born or have a right to citizenship in. An Irish passport, for example, is an EU passport.
  3. Any country that belongs to the EU has a passport that gives you the right to access certain privileges within the EU. 
  4. EU citizenship is gained by either being born in an EU country or in many cases having ancestors that were born in an EU country. Obtaining a passport means that you are a citizen of that country and therefore a citizen of the EU.
  5. When Britain leaves the EU it means that the British Passport will no longer have the same privileges and access to the European Union as other EU passports will have.
Getting an EU passport by descent map of all EU countries

What is an EU Passport?

Even if you are not a retiree and want to experience living in Europe you can apply for EU citizenship by descent (or ancestry) if your parents and sometimes grandparents and great grandparents emigrated from an EU member country.

“European Union or EU Citizenship is enshrined in the EU Treaty: ‘Every person holding the nationality of a member state shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the EU shall be additional to and not replace national citizenship.”

So in other words, if you qualify and can obtain EU citizenship if any of the following apply

  • born in an EU country and moved to the US or Canada as a child (or any country for that matter)
  • parents were born in an EU country
  • grandparents were born in an EU county (there are exceptions)

These are the current European Union Countries:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

How do I get an EU Passport and EU Citizenship?

Getting an EU Passport after Brexit

If you were born in any of these countries but don’t currently live there you have a right to obtain citizenship in that country and get an EU Passport.

How do I get an EU Passport and EU Citizenship?

For those born in Britain with UK citizenship, there will be issues with EU passports since due to Brexit British citizens will no longer be part of the EU. The ramifications of this are currently being worked out. Britain after Brexit will have an impact on new passports issued within Britain but there is sure to be some workaround for British citizens living and working in other EU Countries.

How do I get an EU Passport and EU Citizenship?

The Best Non-Schengen Countries to Visit in Europe if Your Visa is Running Out this a great article if your Visa is running out and you don’t have an EU Passport, Stefan has provided some fantastic tips and suggestions for you.

Getting an EU Passport from the USA or Canada

For those of us from North America, the law of jus Solis (right of soil) and jus sanguinis (right of blood) might be the answer for you. What this means is that most European countries have a mechanism by which those who have never resided in the country can obtain residency and citizenship and therefore your European passport.

This right of blood means that depending on the country you may have a right to a passport for that country through your parents or grandparents. In some cases, there are countries that are welcoming back individuals who were forced to leave or became a citizen of another country due to civil disputes and wars that carved up nations, or those who were forced from their countries of birth through fascism, pogroms, escapees from Nazi Germany, Poland and so on.

A large part of obtaining citizenship in the country of your ancestors will rely on obtaining the necessary documentation. This can be a somewhat stressful procedure, as many of the smaller European countries like Greece have not centralized their databases of this kind of information.

You do not need anyone’s permission to obtain copies of birth certificates, death certificates or marriage certificates. You simply apply online as most countries have this facility by providing the dates and names according to the demands of the system, pay your money and the certificate will be mailed to you. 

If you are unsure of dates, many government databases can help with the searches. For example, we had to find a marriage certificate, we knew the approximate dates and the names of both parties and the search facility that we used found the certificate for us – it was dated a year later than expected but nevertheless we now have the certificate.

What is EU citizenship by descent?

These 4 points are the way forward to becoming either a European citizen or a citizen of any country in the world.

  1. Citizenship by Descent – If you have a parent, grandparent, and in some cases, a great grandparent who was a citizen of a European country and you meet certain conditions you can become a citizen of that country.
  2. Naturalization – You obtain a residence permit in your European country of choice and then wait until the required period of time has passed to become a citizen by naturalization.
  3. Citizenship by Investment – You make an investment in the country and, in return, the country grants you citizenship.
  4. Citizenship by Exception – A government body (parliament, the prime minister, the president, etc.) has the power to grant you citizenship, often based on exceptional merits.

Check out this link about Applying for a Visa for Beginners you may find it extremely helpful.

Irish citizenship by descent

Getting an Irish passport is the dream of many of us who were either born in Ireland and emigrated when young or who consider Ireland their spiritual home. Today there are more Irish that live outside Ireland than actually live in the country, and many of those whose family suffered and left thanks to the famine and poverty desperately want to return to Ireland someday.

We spent nearly a year obtaining our Irish passports and we finally succeeded. It wasn’t difficult as luckily I was born in Northern Ireland and am guaranteed an Irish passport by right of being born in Ireland. My husband was born in London to Irish parents and we had a bit more paperwork to find to get his Irish citizenship sorted. 

Anybody born on the island whether they are born in Northern Ireland or in the Republic is automatically entitled to Irish citizenship. If your parents or grandparents are Irish, you are also entitled to claim citizenship.  You can even pass on Irish citizenship to your children as long as you register your citizenship before your children are born.

If you were born in Ireland but do not have an Irish passport you can simply fill out a passport application and send it in with the required birth certificate and you will receive a passport.

If your parents were born in Ireland you will have to provide a copy of their birth certificates, along with your own and possibly a marriage certificate for them which we had to do for my husband. This is a little strange but hey government right? It tool a little longer for him to receive his passport but he did eventually get it.

If your grandparents were born in Ireland you can become an Irish citizen and get a passport.

  1. One of your grandparents was born on the island of Ireland, or;
  2. One of your parents was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, even though they were not born on the island of Ireland.

In these cases, you can become an Irish citizen through Foreign Birth Registration.

Once a person is entered onto the Foreign Births Register they are an Irish citizen and entitled to apply for an Irish passport.

Registering your birth

Currently it can take up to 18 months to get your birth registered and to register your birth on the Foreign Births Register, you must:

Adult applicant applying on the basis of an Irish born Grandparent

You must send in the following original documents:

  • Completed, signed and witnessed application form (witnesses are the usual Bank Manager, Doctor, Dentist, Notary etc.)
  • Original civil birth certificate this must be the long form one with parents information listed.
  • Original civil marriage certificate
  • Photocopy of current ID document (i.e. passport, drivers licence, national identity card) certified as a true copy of the original by application form witness
  • 2 separate original proofs of address
  • 4 colour photographs (2 of which to be witnessed)

Original documents relating to the Irish citizen parent:

  • Original civil birth certificate of Irish citizen parent (showing parental details)
  • Original civil marriage certificate of Irish citizen parent (if applicable) OR other change of name document (if applicable)
  • Photocopy of current state-issued ID document (i.e. passport, drivers licence, national identity card) certified as a true copy of the original by a professional from the list of witnesses OR original civil death certificate (if applicable)

Documents relating to the grandparent born in Ireland (unless stated, originals must be submitted):

  • Original civil birth certificate of Irish born grandparent (showing parental details)
  • Original civil marriage certificate of Irish born grandparent (if applicable) OR other change of name document (if applicable)
  • Photocopy of current state-issued ID document (i.e. passport, drivers licence, national identity card) certified as a true copy of the original by a professional from the list of witnesses OR original civil death certificate (if applicable)

Adult applicant applying on the basis of an Irish born Grandparent

Documents relating to the applicant (unless stated, originals must be submitted):

  • Completed, signed and witnessed application form (see list of witnesses at 1 above)
  • Original civil birth certificate (showing parental details)
  • Original civil marriage certificate (if applicable) OR other change of name document (if applicable)
  • Photocopy of current state-issued ID document (i.e. passport, drivers licence, national identity card) certified as a true copy of the original by application form witness
  • 2 separate original proofs of address
  • 4 colour photographs (2 of which to be witnessed) – do not attach these to the application form

Documents relating to the Irish citizen parent (unless stated, originals must be submitted):

  • Original civil birth certificate of Irish citizen parent (showing parental details)
  • Original civil marriage certificate of Irish citizen parent (if applicable) OR other change of name document (if applicable)
  • Photocopy of current state-issued ID document (i.e. passport, drivers licence, national identity card) certified as a true copy of the original by a professional from the list of witnesses OR original civil death certificate (if applicable)

Documents relating to the grandparent born in Ireland (unless stated, originals must be submitted):

  • Original civil birth certificate of Irish born grandparent (showing parental details)
  • Original civil marriage certificate of Irish born grandparent (if applicable) OR other change of name document (if applicable)
  • Photocopy of current state-issued ID document (i.e. passport, drivers licence, national identity card) certified as a true copy of the original by a professional from the list of witnesses OR original civil death certificate (if applicable)

Once you have registered your birth you can obtain an application form from your nearest consulate and from that point simply fill it out with the required birth certificates, marriage certificates, photos and payment and you should receive your Irish passport with no bother.

Learn more about becoming an Irish citizen on the Irish Embassy website and find your local Irish embassy or consulate here.

View of Pollet Arch

Want to know How to Move to Ireland with or without citizenship by descent? 

Austrian Citizenship via descent

BY DESCENT:  Children automatically become Austrian citizens at the time of their birth, when the mother is an Austrian citizen. The same applies if the parents are married and only the father is an Austrian citizen.

If born to married parents before 1 September 1983, people can claim citizenship if their father was an Austrian citizen at the time of their birth, according to Austrian legislation.

For those born after that date, citizenship can be claimed if either parent was an Austrian citizen at the time of their birth.

Those born out of wedlock will gain citizenship only if the mother was an Austrian citizen at the time of the child’s birth.

Marrying an Austrian man or woman will only give you alien citizenship status in the country, and even then, this is only after six years of residence in Austria.

Belgian Citizenship via descent

A child of a recognized Belgian mother, father or grandparents, regardless of the child’s country of birth, even if the father dies before birth on or after 1 January 1985. Belgian citizenship is acquired by birth in Belgium to a Belgian citizen OR; the Belgian parent was born abroad and makes a declaration, within a period of five years following the child’s birth, requesting that he be granted Belgian nationality.

Bulgarian Citizenship via descent

A Bulgarian citizen by descent is any person of whom at least one of the parents is a Bulgarian citizen. This is a two-stage process; the applicant must first apply for a Certificate of Bulgarian origin with the State Agency. Once this is received, they can then apply for Bulgarian Citizenship with the Ministry of Justice.

Cyprus Citizenship by descent

Those born abroad to at least one Cypriot citizen can register with a local consulate for citizenship. Those born between 1960 and 1999 to a Cypriot mother can register as a citizen of Cyprus upon turning 21.

You can also apply through UK citizenship. If you were born before August 16, 1960, are a UK citizen, and your father is Cypriot, you can apply for citizenship this way.

Czech Republic Citizenship

Many people whose parents, grandparents or great-grandparents were born in the Czech Republic qualify for Czech citizenship through descent.

In essence you need to have at least one direct ancestor who:

  • Was born in the Czech Republic.
  • Was a Czechoslovakian citizen up to December 31, 1992, and has not specified whether they are a Czech or Slovak citizen since.

Danish Citizenship by descent

If either the mother or father of the child born outside Denmark is Danish, they can obtain citizenship by descent. If you are of Danish descent, you can normally be granted a residence permit if you can prove that both your parents or all four of your grandparents are Danish citizens by birth.

This is a really interesting article written by Mary on how she obtained her Schengen Visa as a Phillipino who was in Vietnam and applied through the Danish Embassy.

Dutch Citizenship via descent

I was a little surprised by Dutch law, as it appears to be very sexist and a little strange when you consider who the one who gives birth is. If your birth was prior to 1984, you can only be a Dutch citizen by law if your father was a Dutch citizen at the time of your birth. It does not matter whether you were born in the Netherlands or abroad.

Dutch citizenship by descent getting an EU passport

If you were you born after 31 December 1984, you can become a Dutch citizen if your mother or your father was a Dutch citizen but your father must have acknowledged you as his child before you were born. In other words, his name must be on your birth certificate.

There are also some issues with having to give up your nationality if you want Dutch citizenship these are the rules:

Dual nationality

In addition to your Dutch nationality, you might have one or more other nationalities. Depending on the situation you might have to choose between your Dutch and other nationality.

Renouncing other nationalities after naturalisation

If you have more than one nationality, it is not always clear what your rights are. For instance, your country of origin may require you to do compulsory military service. The Dutch government wants to limit dual nationality as much as possible. If you have only one nationality, it will be clear what your rights are. That is why people who want to acquire Dutch nationality through naturalisation are, as a rule, required to give up their other nationality if possible. This is called the renunciation requirement.

Loss of Dutch nationality

You might automatically lose your Dutch nationality if you acquire another nationality.

Exceptions to the renunciation requirement

In several situations, you are not required to give up your original nationality.

  • In some countries, you automatically acquire the nationality of that country if you are born there. And it is up to every country to decide when their nationals lose their nationality. Greek and Iranian nationals, for example, cannot give up their nationality: it is not legally possible. In Morocco giving up your nationality is not accepted in practice.
  • If you are married to a Dutch national, you may keep your own nationality. The same applies in the case of a registered partnership.
  • Refugees who want to be naturalised are allowed to keep their original nationality. This only applies to people who are recognised as refugees in the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao or St Maarten.

Other nationalities no longer recorded in the personal records database

Since 6 January 2014, second or multiple nationalities are no longer recorded in the Personal Records Database. If you have another nationality besides Dutch nationality, this will no longer be noted when you register.

Estonia citizenship via descent

A child of a recognized Estonian mother or father, regardless of the child’s country of birth, even if the father dies before birth.

Finland citizenship via descent

BY DESCENT: This may be granted a residence permit if at least one of your parents or grandparents is or has been a native Finnish citizen.

If your grandparent or parent has subsequently lost his/her Finnish citizenship when applying for citizenship in some other country, for example, it will have no impact on the matter.

France citizenship via descent

Whether they were born in or out of the country, you can become a French citizen so long as one of your parents is as well. All generations before you must have registered birth certificates before you can register your own.

How do I get an EU Passport and EU Citizenship?

France is a founding member of the European Union and like other countries in the EU, becoming a French citizen gives you access to live, study and work in any of the 28 EU countries.

Greece citizenship via descent

As with Ireland and Italy, anybody with a grandparent born in Greece is theoretically entitled to claim Greek citizenship. However, an uncentralized system of documentation does make it quite difficult in Greece to obtain the required ancestral certificates and documents though so be prepared for a lot of searching.

If you succeed, a word of warning: Greece is one of the few European countries that still have mandatory military service for males aged 19–45.

Germany citizenship via descent

Germany will only give you citizenship if your mother or father was a citizen. A child becomes German through birth if at least one parent holds German citizenship. This applies irrespective of the place of birth. However, a child born to a German abroad does not acquire German citizenship if the German parent(s) themselves were born abroad on or after 1 January 2000 and continue to live there, unless this means the child would be stateless or the birth is registered with the German embassy or consulate within a year.

If only the father is German and he is not married to the mother, acknowledgement or legal establishment of paternity is required. This sort of procedure may only be initiated before the child turns 23.

The citizenship of the other parent is irrelevant with regards to acquiring German citizenship, though the child usually also acquires the foreign citizenship of the other parent by birth, resulting in multiple nationalities. Germany has one exception to the standard rules:

Former German citizens, who between January 30, 1933, and May 8, 1945, were deprived of their citizenship on political, racial, or religious grounds, and their descendants, shall on application have their citizenship restored. They shall be deemed never to have been deprived of their citizenship if they have established their domicile in Germany after May 8, 1945, and have not expressed a contrary intention.

Germany confers citizenship for children and grandchildren of former Germans who were deprived of their citizenship status between January 30, 1933, and May 8, 1945, on racial, political, or ethnic grounds. You can read more about it here.

Hungary citizenship via descent

Hungary updated its nationality law in 2011 to permit anybody with Hungarian ancestry, including great-grandparents, to claim citizenship by descent. However, you have to speak at least a rudimentary level of Hungarian and pass a language test.

While most people that apply for Hungarian birthright citizenship attain citizenship from their parents, grandparents or great grandparents, you can try tracing back further with the right paper trail. Hungarian legislation was updated in 1993 to allow more opportunity for Hungarian descendants to return to their homeland.

Italy citizenship via descent

Theoretically, anybody with a grandparent born in Italy can claim citizenship, just as a prospective Irish citizen can. In fact, Italy is even more generous: you can even claim citizenship through an Italian-born great-grandfather on either side. (But not a great-grandmother.)

Italy - getting EU citizenship

Italian citizenship is passed on from parent to child without limitation of generation. You only need to produce evidence that everyone in your direct line of ascendants has maintained their Italian citizenship without interruption since 1861.

Read the government statement on Italian nationality law here.

Luxembourg citizenship via descent

If either parent was born in Luxembourg, their children can claim citizenship by descent.

Lativia citizenship via descent

A child of a recognized Latvian mother or father, regardless of the child’s country of birth, even if the father dies before birth.

There are some exceptions in Latvian law due to WWII.

Pursuant to Clause 1, Article 2 of the Citizenship Law, namely persons who were citizens of Latvia on 17 June 1940 or their descendants and who are not citizens of another country.

Pursuant to Article 2 of the Citizenship Law, a procedure under which the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs accepts and examines applications and registers a person as a citizen of Latvia is established by Cabinet Regulation of 24 September 2013 Procedure for Registering a Person as a Citizen of Latvia.

Exiles (those who were forced to leave Latvia between June 17, 1940 and May 4, 1990, due to foreign occupation) and their descendants who were born until October 1, 2014
Latvian citizenship can be requested by those who were citizens of Latvia on June 17, 1940, and who fled occupation and left Latvia between June 17, 1940, and May 4, 1990, and for this reason did not return to Latvia, as well as their descendants, who have been born until October 1, 2014.  Dual citizenship is allowed with any other country!

At the time of birth at least one of the parents was a citizen of Latvia
In this case dual citizenship is allowed for those who are citizens of the member states of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), NATO or if you are a citizen of Australia, Brazil or New Zealand (children are eligible for dual citizenship with any country, but at age 25 will have to make a choice).

How do I get an EU Passport and EU Citizenship?

Lithuania citizenship via descent

A child of a recognized Lithuanian mother or father, regardless of the child’s country of birth, even if the father dies before birth. As well as being able to claim descent through grandparents, and great grandparents that were citizens of the Republic of Lithuania which existed from 1918 to 1940 and your ancestor left the country before it restored its independence in 1990.

Malta citizenship via descent

The son/daughter, who was born prior to the 21st of September 1964, of a female who was born in Malta and who became or would but for her death, have become a citizen of Malta on the said date.

The son/daughter of a female citizen of Malta (who acquired Maltese citizenship by birth in Malta, by registration or by naturalization, and who was a citizen of Malta at the time of your birth) and you were born outside Malta on or after 21st September 1964 and before the 1st August 1989.

How do I get an EU Passport and EU Citizenship?

The direct descendant, second or subsequent generation, born abroad of an ascendant that was born in Malta of a parent who was also born in Malta. (If the descendant is a minor, then the person who at law has authority over that child shall submit the relative application).

Poland citizenship via descent

Poland has generous but complicated rules about citizenship, that revolve around “unbroken succession.”  This seems to be based on military service, which was compulsory until 2009.

If your Polish ancestor became a citizen of another country after 1951, you should be eligible to claim citizenship. If they became a foreign citizen before 1951, it was considered to be a renunciation of their Polish citizenship, which breaks the line of succession.

However, Poland also seems to have considered citizenship for its male citizens to be unrenounceable if they had military service obligations. Therefore, you may still be eligible to claim Polish citizenship even if the military service was to another country. If you can get around this mess of conflicting laws and regulations, great-grandparent born in Poland can assure you of citizenship by ancestry.

Portuguese citizenship via descent

A child of a recognized Portuguese mother, father or grandparents, regardless of the child’s country of birth, even if the father dies before birth can become a citizen.

Romanian citizenship via descent

The children born from Romanian citizens on Romanian territory are Romanian citizens.

Furthermore, Romanian citizens are also those:

  1. a) Born on the Romanian territory, even if only one of the parents is a Romanian citizen;
  2. b) Born abroad and both parents and only one of them has Romanian citizenship.

Romanian nationality law is founded on the social policy of jus sanguinis by which nationality or citizenship is not determined by place of birth, but by the citizenship of one’s ancestor. It contrasts with jus soli (“right of soil”), in which citizenship is determined by one’s place of birth

Spain citizenship via descent

To obtain Spanish citizenship either or both of your parents must have been born in Spain. There is one exception like Germany to atone for its fascist past. If you have a Spanish ancestor who left Spain between 1936 and 1955 (i.e., during the years of the Spanish Civil War and the ensuing dictatorship), you’ve got a good chance of claiming Spanish citizenship.

How do I get an EU Passport and EU Citizenship?

We have spent many months exploring Spain as a retirement destination and we just love Southern Spain, in particular, the region around Almeria. If you are interested in moving to Spain and living in the country you will find a super informative piece written on how to do this by the Wandering Wagoners Abroad Blog. The Move to Spain blog has all the information you need to move here on a non-lucrative visa.

Slovakian citizenship via descent

Citizenship of the Slovak Republic is automatic for a child who at least one of the parents is a citizen of the Slovak Republic

Slovenian citizenship via descent

A child gains the Slovenian citizenship by birth:

–  If both parents of the birth mother and father are Slovenian Citizens,

–  if only one parent of the child born is Slovenian Citizen and the child is born in Slovenia,
– if one parent of the child born is Slovenian Citizen, and the second is unknown or has unknown citizenship or is without a second parent and the child is born in a foreign country.

Sweden citizenship by descent

A child born before 1 April 2015 acquires Swedish citizenship at birth if the child’s mother is a Swedish citizen (Swedish mothers have only been able to pass on their citizenship since 1 July 1979); or – the child’s father is a Swedish citizen, the child is born out of wedlock, and the child is born in Sweden.

Swedish nationality law determines entitlement to Swedish citizenship. Citizenship of Sweden is based primarily on the principle of jus sanguinis. In other words, citizenship is conferred primarily by birth to a Swedish parent, irrespective of place of birth.

United Kingdom citizenship via descent

Just so, you know England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are not nations. They’re all part of the UK, they each have their own parliaments and laws but they are still considered one nation. The Republic of Ireland — that is to say, the southern part of Ireland — is not part of the UK.

How do I get an EU Passport and EU Citizenship?

British nationality law stipulates that you must have a British parent, and furthermore, that parent must be British-born, not a citizen by descent. It used to include grandparents but that has now been changed.

The UK is known for its strict immigration policies, but they allow a path to citizenship for those who can prove that one of their parents was born in the UK.


Interested in alternative ways to get your EU citizenship or passport? If you have plenty of money you can literally “buy” your way into most countries in the world including EU ones.

Malta and Cyprus

For those without ancestors to claim citizenship from there is another path to EU residency or citizenship – through property investment.

Malta and Cyprus offer fast-track citizenship to investors, although you must be able to prove you have significant resources (ie. cash). If you ever get the chance to visit Cyprus you will note the legions of Russians and Chinese buying up property all over the country.  Of the two, Cyprus is the simplest and fastest.

The current investment options include:

  • Residential properties€1.5 million (plus VAT if any)(Can even be a single primary residence for €2M)or commercial properties€2 million (plus VAT if any)
  • Purchase or establishment or participation in Cypriot companies or businesses for €2 million investment in Alternative Investment Funds or financial assets of Cypriot companies or Cypriot organisations that are licensed by CySecCombination of the investments mentioned above. Within this criterion, the applicant may purchase special government bonds of the Republic of Cyprus, up to €500.000for more information on Cypriot residency and EU citizenship click here

Malta takes longer – up to two years – and also demands official residency for 12 months and a non-refundable donation of €650,000 (£566,000). 

The current investment options in Malta are:

  • A non-refundable contribution of at least €650,000 (£569,925) to National Development and Social Fund, and;
  • Purchase of €150,000 (£131,521) in government stocks/ bonds, and;
  • A property transaction, which can include a purchase (for a minimum of €350,000) or a rental (for a minimum of €16,000 per year), held for five years.
How do I get an EU Passport and EU Citizenship?
© Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons


For residency in Latvia, here’s what’s required:

  • A minimum of €286,000 ($333,064 or £257,472) over a period of five years in a credit institution, or;
  • To invest in equity capital, the foreign national must invest a minimum of €36,000 ($41,924 or £32,409) and must pay a minimum of €28,600 ($33,306 or £25,747) in the next year.

You can apply for citizenship after five years through the process of naturalization (i.e. language test, history test), but here’s the problem apparently Latvian is almost impossible to learn so the chances are pretty slim of gaining citizenship.


To gain residency in Greece, you need to invest a minimum of €250,000 (£219,301)in Greek properties.


Options include:

Capital Transfer

  • A transfer of at least €1 million into a Portuguese bank account, or approved investment option, or;
  • €350,000 investment in research activities that are part of the national scientific and technological system, or;
  • €350,000 investment in artistic production or the national cultural heritage, or;
  • €350,000 in investment or venture capital funds committed to the capitalization of companies incorporated under the Portuguese law, with a maturity of at least five years.

Property Aquisition

  • Real estate purchase of at least €500,000, or;
  • Real estate purchase of at least €350,000 for the refurbishment of properties older than 30 years, or in an area of urban regeneration.


  • Creation of a minimum of 10 new jobs, or;
  • €350,000 for the incorporation or increase of share capital of a Portuguese company, creating or maintaining a minimum of five permanent jobs, for a period of three years.


Spain has an Investor Permits program called Golden Visa, which can eventually lead to citizenship.

  • Minimum investment of €500,000 (£438,602) in real estates, or;
  • Minimum investment of €1 million in shares of Spanish companies, or;
  • Minimum deposit of €1 million at a Spanish bank, or;
  • Minimum investment of €2 million in government bonds.
  • After five years, the applicant can request permanent residency.
  • After 10 years, they can request citizenship.

Don’t want to live in Europe but need to know as an American how to get a Schengen Visa?  This is a super detailed post by Jordan of WayfaringwithWagner that gives you the lowdown on understanding the Schengen rules for U.S. citizens (Canadians as well) 

Want to move to the UK?

Planning on retiring to Ireland? Here’s what you need to know.

Did you know if you are a spouse of an EEA/EU citizen, you are still required to apply for a Schengen visa? Read Rayazan’s post on her blog EverythingZany to learn more about applying for a Schengen Visa from the UK

What’s your experience been like getting an EU Passport?

Getting an EU Passport or EU Citizenship Pin – save it for later reference

How do I get an EU Passport and EU Citizenship?

More European travel stories here

78 thoughts on “How do I get an EU Passport and EU Citizenship?”

  1. This is fascinating and highly informative information. As the holder of a British EU passport (but not for long though – the less said about that the better :-)), it’s really interesting to look at this subject from a different perspective.

    1. It’s pretty cool right? I have heard from lots of folks in the US and Canada who are now actively searching for EU relatives lol

  2. This is extremely useful information. Sadly, it’s my great-grandparents not grandparents or parents that are from Europe so I guess I don’t qualify.

  3. That’s a most interesting read! You did some extended research there! It’s quite an issue to travel in and out Europe every three months resp. as George is South African, we went half a year to the United Kingdom and then back to Europe to extend is allowed stay. We have now a visa in France for a year, because I’m a legal partner of him (and I’m Swiss). That helps. George’s roots are historically in Greece and the Netherlands, but that is probably too long ago, somewhere in the early 20th century.

    1. The good thing about being a Swiss national is the ability to live and work anywhere in the EU. He may be eligible for Greek citizenship as it is the one country that does extend pretty far back in time though.

  4. Very informative piece! I actually looked into getting a Lithuanian passport by ancestry a couple of years back but it seemed like a complicated process. I should look into it again!

  5. This is a great guide! Im going to share it on my FB page as lots of people always ask how I became Irish! Easiest way to live in EU for sure

  6. Yay – This is a great guide! Im going to share it on my FB page as lots of people always ask how I became Irish! Easiest way to live in EU for sure

    Thanks for the guide 😉

    1. LOL yep luckily I was born in Ireland, the North but it entitled me to Irish citizenship which is brilliant. I so want to retire to Ireland someday when I have finished travelling but a bit torn right now between Ireland and Spain.

  7. This is absolutely fascinating, but probably would not help me. I know the birthplace of my paternal grandfather (Belarus), which is not a member. For my maternal grandfather (born in Austria), I have a town name but I have not been able to find it. I fear (from some research a fellow blogger did) that the birthplace of my maternal grandfather was liquidated by the Nazis and its citizens of my religion slaughtered. I would have no idea how to try to go about looking further into trying to get a record.

    1. Alana, if you can prove that you had a Jewish Grandfather in Germany/Austria (which was one country under the Nazis), applying for (at least a German) passport is just a formality. And as far as I know you would not have to give up your current nationality to obtain German citizenship. Having German citizenship, you’d be be free to to live and work in any of the 28/27 EU countries. See official info here:

      1. Are you saying that if my grandfather was from Austria and was forced to flea in 1938 that I could be eligible for German citizenship? I can definitely prove this. How sure are you that it extends to people who where not from Germany? Im an American living in Prague, I want to stay in the EU permanently and this would make my life a lot easier.

  8. Amy Rebecca Krigsman

    I’m excited to learn that I may be eligible for dual citizenship in Poland. I’ve always wanted EU citizenship. Definitely something to look into.

  9. Do you have any info on Austria? Turns out my husband’s grandfather was from Austria! I am Spanish so it would be fantastic if he could get the passport.

    1. Yes and thanks I guess I missed Austria so here are the rules

      Children automatically become Austrian citizens at the time of their birth, when the mother is an Austrian citizen. The same applies in case the parents are married and only the father is an Austrian citizen.

      If the parents are not married and only the father of the child is an Austrian citizen, however the mother is a national of another country, the child acquires Austrian citizenship, when within 8 weeks the Austrian father recognizes his parenthood or the fact that he is the father is determined by court. In all cases where recognition of fatherhood or the determination by court is done after his timeframe, children may be awarded Austrian citizenship in a simplified procedure.

  10. Sadly if you choose to get the Dutch nationality you will, in most cases, have to give up your original nationality. The Netherlands will only allow dual nationality in certain cases such as when you are from a country that doesn’t allow you to give up its nationality. In other cases, you can be born in the Netherlands and having lived there almost all your life, you will have to give up your Dutch nationality if you take on another one. Dutch expats are very upset about this, because this way you might need a visa to visit your own home country. It’s just outrageous!

    Rambling a bit, but I just meant to say that if your ancestors were Dutch, unlucky you, because even us real Dutchies don’t get to hold two different passports… But anyway, being Dutch is not a bad thing so life could have been worse 🙂

    1. Interesting I know the Dutch have pretty stringent rules – but if you were born in another country for example Canada you cannot give up your citizenship as it is acquired by birth. There are other countries that you cannot give up your nationality (I have put those into the original post) and this does not mean you had to be born in that country. So yes while this is true to a certain extent for many who may want Dutch citizenship (as in those born in N. America) they don’t need to become a “non-citizen” of their country of birth but they can have dual nationality with their Dutch citizenship.

  11. WOW! I had no idea that you could get an EU passport by descent. My grandpa was from Ireland so I’m about to look into this! My husband’s grandparents are from Malta, but it looks like he wouldn’t be able to get a passport since his mother was born in the US. This article is super useful! Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. You are very welcome – when you apply for your Irish passport you can go online and order copies of the birth certs and wedding certs that you need quite easily. They will mail them to your home address and you can apply from where you are living.

  12. Rachel silverwood

    This post is super helpful! Learnt so much reading – I shall refer anyone to this post who asks about getting a EU passport! Thanks for sharing

  13. This is a very useful blog post! I’m already an Italian citizen so I really don’t have to apply anywhere (other than the US where I currently live – three more years!). However, many of my friends here in the US are currently trying to gain one of these citizenships!

  14. Very thorough post thanks! I tried to get a Greek passport as my grandfather was born there but as you say, it’s difficult to get documentation and there was actually no record of his birth or anything about him. I was so disappointed!

  15. Wow this is so impressive and comprehensive. Thanks for breaking down such a complex process!

  16. Really interesting article. I’m living in Ireland (temporarily on working holiday visa. A lot of people have asked if I’d want to stay longer, but getting Irish citizenship is quite hard. Unfortunately I’m fifth generation Canadian, so I can’t get any kind of EU citizenship from my parents/grandparent. I do like my Canadian passport, but it would be nice to have dual citizenship with an EU one as well.

  17. This is really useful citizenship information! I’m lucky, because I already have my dual citizenship (my mom is German and dad’s from the US), but we actually get asked about this at work from time to time — so I’ll have to keep your website in mind as a resource for more information on the topic. Thanks!

  18. This is such good information! I long to live in Europe, my family hails from England, Ireland, and France. I am also planning when and where I will be giving birth to my not-yet-planned children!

  19. Wow, this is an impressive collection of information. I’ll be passing it on to my Czech boyfriend since I’ve been nagging him to get his dual citizenship!

  20. what a great and informative post! I am European so I don’t really need to worry about it but my husband is American and I wish he’s grandparents were European ( well they had European parents but they were born in USA) as it would make some stuff easier for us 🙂 As for now he has family visa which is also a solution for getting European passport 🙂

  21. My best friend finally got her dual citizenship all sorted out for her and her son (husband not so lucky). She’s Polish and her grandmother and both of her parents were born there so it was easy for her. I’d love to look into the process of getting dual citizenship in Portugal through property ownership. Maybe that can be your next post, lol!

    1. LOL I am actually working on a post now about how to get residency as a property owner or as a retiree so keep an eye on this space.

  22. This is such a great post! It really in depth and you did a lot of research. I hope some people figure out they can expand their nationality! I know so many people that could claim some of these. I already have triple citizenship, and I’m looking at starting a business in Estonia, which includes E-citizenship to Estonia and the EU. It doesn’t look like I have any more options based on this, so I think I’m good at three. haha Thanks again for doing all this research!

    1. Good for you – I follow your blog and SM channels love your stuff. So what type of business are you planning on? Always fascinated by entrepreneurial stories.

  23. I was born in the UK and hold a passport, but it was very interesting to read your post, I will recommend it to friends that we have made around the world who have expressed an interest in this. Thanks for sharing all of this information!

  24. This is really fascinating. I’ve never really considered getting anything like this. I don’t think I would qualify anywhere for a passport. When I did a little research, it seems my family has been here for awhile. It was still pretty interesting to read about all the rules, and I find it interesting that they have all of the exceptions for times of war or political strife. Thanks for the information!

  25. This is great information on how to apply for EU passport. As mainly very less information is available on internet, it becomes very difficult to know which country suits according to us. Many of my friends are looking for dual citizenship and so I will share this post among them.

  26. I was hoping that either the Dutch or Scottish heritage would work for me, but alas, such is my lot it is far too difficult. Plus I think my Scottish heritage is too remote (1800’s) in order to claim that at this point. I really enjoyed reading this, and feel like it is a HUGE resource for those looking to move overseas.

  27. Very useful and informative article for those who are striving to get these citizenship. Rules have to be followed and so good that you have elaborated on them too. Interesting that males of Greece have to enroll in Army there.

  28. This is such a detailed and informative article, well done! I believe it contains more information than the official sources and websites. May I ask you more about housesitting? I am thinking to do the same, but I am not sure if the offers are worth the investment for the membership.

    Thank you in advance!

  29. This is such an enriching article. I would love to spend a few years in Europe for sure. But getting is passport is a tough job. UK has been very tough with its immigration rules, though I love UK. Thanks for sharing it.

  30. I was born in the UK and am married to my Australian husband. He has great grandfathers from the UK.

    Does this mean that I cannot go back to live with my husband in the UK ?

    If we cannot, I don’t know if I can stay in Australia, as even after 11 years, I still don’t like it and miss my friends and family!

    It is a huge decision that I have to make!

    Any advice or information would be so appreciated!

    Thank you so much for all your help … you are making a difference:)

    1. Hi Norah – you can easily return to the UK all you have to do is ask the British Embassy in Australia what information they need to process a visa for your husband to live with you in the UK. This should be a pretty straightforward thing to do. Because you are from the UK and you have been married or living together for over 11 years it will be very easy to get him a visa to live in England.

  31. Judi Wilkinson

    Such a helpful post, thank you.

    I am not sure what is the best way to go about doing an enquiry without costing a fortune. My Grandmother was Welsh (born in Whales and later moved to Rhodesia), my adoptive father has a British passport, my Husband was born in Newcastle and I was born in Rhodesia in 1968 (I am still trying to get an unabridged birth certificate). We would really like to get British passports but I would love to have some solid advice from a reliable source before I take on this mammoth task. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Well your husband is entitled to British citizenship automatically through being born in the UK. As for yourself where was your mother and birth father born? Generally speaking if your mother or father was born in the UK you would be entitled to a British passport via descent. If they weren’t born in the UK it might be trickier. Because your husband is a UK citizen and can get a passport you could live in the UK as his spouse but not get a passport until you have lived there I believe for 5 years, then you would be entitled to apply for citizenship.I hope this helps, it shouldn’t be too expensive just the cost of all the birth certificates etc – you don’t say where you live now or where your birth parents were born so its hard to say.

  32. Hi there , been searching for answers re my family History. I am South Africa born, my father also South African and Southern Rhodesian citizen , British National . Fathers mother born in New Zealand including her father who would be my Great grandfather. My father biological father born in South Africa his father who is my Great grandfather born in Scotland UK. On my mothers side my Great grandfather born in Whales UK. From my investigation I am eligible to apply for British citizen as my father was a Southern Rhodesian citizen and British National act registered . Any information re same would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    1. This can be a difficult process for the most part whereever your grandparents were born is not important as they don’t count for citizenship. It is your father whose birth might affect your citizenship. You don’t say whether or not you live in S. Africa or where you are currently living. But I would follow this link which should help you figure out if you can claim British citizenship I hope that helps a little.

    2. You can only gain UK citizenship by descent if either your father or mother are born in the UK. If your grandparents were born here you can get a 5 year ancestral visa, and once you have lived in the UK for 5 years apply for your indefinite leave to remain and then 1 year after that you can apply for citizenship.
      When it comes to southern Rhodesia, as far as I am aware i think that everyone had to renounce their citizenship to become a Zimbabwe citizen, so this could be hard especially given that Southern Rhodesia was a colony.

      I gained UK citizenship very easily because my mother is Welsh, and have been living here for 5 and a half years now.

  33. My ex husband’s family is Italian. I live in SA with my daughter and my ex husband in Australia. Can I apply for my daughter’s EU passport in South Africa if he lives in Australia or does he have to be present?

    1. I would check with the Italian consulate in SA to be sure. If you have the correct documentation you should be fine to apply from there, many people apply for their EU passports from different countries.

  34. Jennifer Bowra

    My daughter and her partner would like to live and work in Europe for a time .. both were born in Australia, however her partner’s father is Irish born. My daughter’s grandmother was Lithuanian and fled to Australia as a refugee after the war, and I myself as her mother was born in Germany. There is no birth certificate available for her grandmother but I do have my German birth certificate from 1947. We came to Australia in 1949 and were granted citizenship several years later. Please advise.

    1. Her Partner will be able to get an Irish passport easily all they will need is the birth certificate of her partner’s father and then contact the Irish consulate in Australia to get the correct application form. I believe because you are German by birth your daughter can gain German citizenship very easily. Again she would need to contact the consulate to obtain the correct paperwork for her German passport application. Because you are German all she will need is your birth certificate as one parent can bestow citizenship on their child. Once the passports are obtained they confer citizenship automatically and they will be able to move freely around the EU with those passports.

  35. Both my parents and grandparents etc were all born in Lithuania. They came to Australia as refugees after the war. I have a certificate from Denmark for permission to travel to Australia as both my mother and grandmother fled to Denmark first.
    I recently found my mothers Lithuanian passport as she travelled back there in the 90s, but many other documents are hard to find due to the fact much was destroyed during the war.
    Would HER passport be adequate support, obviously I would need identifying documents for my relatioship to her etc.
    I had looked into getting a Lithuanian passport by descent…but I am confused is an EU passport something different?
    Please could you recommend what i should do. Also there are no Lithuanian embassies in Australia.

    1. There are two consulates in Australia that I can find that should be able to help you with this one in Melbourne Lithuanian Honorary Consulate in
      39 The Boulevarde
      Doncaster, VIC 3108
      TELEPHONE(+61) 3 9840 0070
      (+61) 411 769 717
      FAX EMAIL [email protected]

      and one in Sydney

      Lithuanian Honorary Consulate in Sydney, Australia

      11 David Street
      Clifton Gardens, NSW 2088
      TELEPHONE(+61) 2 9969 6232
      FAX EMAIL [email protected]

      Give them a call and find out more. A Lithuanian passport is essentially an EU passport it isn’t something different they are one and the same but I know that can confuse a lot of people.

  36. Good day.

    My step father (born 1955, South Africa ) legally adopted me as a child. His mother and/or grandfather was from Italy. Would I be able to apply for citizenship?

    1. It is possible as adopted children can become Italian citizens as you can see from the quote. However, you will have to contact the nearest Italian consulate to find out what papers will be needed to be able to apply.

      “The minor adopted by an Italian citizen becomes an Italian citizen automatically, but the adoption must be recognized by the Italian Court for Minors and then transcribed in the registers of the Italian Municipality.”

    1. Yes, you should be eligible for Citizenship, but you will have to contact the nearest Latvian consulate to find out what paperwork you will need to be able to apply.


    1. If your grandfather was born in Italy and was an Italian citizen when your parent was born, it’s possible to apply for Italian citizenship through grandparents. However, you can only qualify in this way if your parent has not since renounced their right to Italian citizenship.

  38. I really liked reading your post! Very high quality content and useful information. With such a valuable blog I believe you deserve to be ranking even higher in the search engines.

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