Welcome to our guide to getting a European Union (EU) passport. We hope this will be an interesting and practical resource for individuals who want to find out how to obtain citizenship of one of the 28 EU member states, and for immigration lawyers acting on their behalf.
For many British citizens, the end of EU membership and, as a consequence, free movement following Brexit is of genuine concern. Since the Brexit vote, thousands of British citizens have applied to become nationals of other EU member states so they can continue to enjoy the right to live and work across the EU.
Given both its proximity and historical ties, the Republic of Ireland has received the most applications from UK citizens. According to official figures released by the Irish Government in December 2018, its department of foreign affairs received almost 100,000 such applications last year (an increase of 22% on the previous year). The Good Friday Agreement has helped as anyone born in Northern Ireland can choose to be a British citizen, an Irish citizen or both.
So what options exist for UK citizens who do not have an Irish connection and for citizens of other countries? The idea for this project arose over six months ago when a colleague told me that he was applying for Portuguese nationality on the basis that he is a descendant of a Sephardic Jew who fled Portugal during a state-led campaign of persecution known as the Portuguese Inquisition, which took place in the 15th century. This conversation was followed by a series of enquiries from clients looking to find out whether or not they could obtain EU nationality based on both lineage and residence.
It is fascinating to see the differences and similarities across the EU. In some countries citizenship can be obtained automatically at birth or by non-nationals by application (some on the basis of financial investment), while in others it is permitted without residence through marriage to a national of that country or as a "token of honour" to those that have made a significant contribution to that country. Several countries will grant citizenship to those who are descendants of those who fled Communist persecution and, in a similar vein, others will grant citizenship to those who are descendants of those who fled persecution from the Nazi regime.
Despite the uniqueness of these examples, EU member states have more in common around nationality than they have differences. In every EU member state, a child born to one or more parents with citizenship of that country will acquire citizenship at birth, as will a child of unknown parentage found on the territory. Another area of commonality is the process of naturalisation, with every member state requiring a set period of residence, most requiring knowledge of the official language and most requiring demonstration of that country's customs and culture.
This project would not have been possible had it not been for the enthusiasm of our fellow lawyers from across Europe and their willingness to provide the individual entries for their jurisdictions.
On behalf of everyone who has collaborated on this project, we hope that readers will find it informative, whether they are embarking on a journey to obtain citizenship or are interested in this as a comparative exercise.
Due to the high volume of enquiries we receive, we only provide advice to those who arrange a consultation with our immigration team. To do so, please get in touch about your situation and availability.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.