Where are the easiest countries to get citizenship in the world today? It all depends on you. There are different ways to get citizenship, and you need to find the best for you and your family. Indeed, the easiest citizenship for a US passport holder may be impossible for other nationalities. Likewise, the easiest country to get citizenship in Europe (EU) may be more difficult than other in parts of the world.
- Types of Citizenship
- Easy countries to get Citizenship by Birthplace
- Easy countries to get Citizenship by Descent
- Which are the easiest countries to get Citizenship by Investment?
- Countries with the Easiest Citizenship by Naturalization
- Which countries have the quickest citizenship by naturalization?
- The easiest countries to get citizenship through residency
- The easiest country to get citizenship in Europe (EU)
- Portugal – Easiest overall EU citizenship
- Spain – easiest EU citizenship Latin America, Philippines, or USA nations
- Austria and Germany – easiest for descendants of Nazi-era refugees
- Italy, Ireland, Poland, and Hungary – the easiest through ancestry
- Malta – the easiest European Citizenship by Investment Country
- Easy citizenship countries for you
- Second citizenship could be exactly what you need right now
- Appendix 1 – Countries with unrestricted birthright citizenship
Types of Citizenship
- By Birthplace. The nationality of the country in which you are born.
- By Descent. You can inherit nationality. Most commonly, this is from your parents, but it can be from ancestors hundreds of years ago.
- By Naturalization. If you are a resident of a country, there is a process to become a national. This path includes By Marriage, as there is often a fast-track to taking your spouse’s nationality.
- By Investment. Countries can grant nationality to people who contribute to their economies by investment or donation.
Easy countries to get Citizenship by Birthplace
Jus Soli (or the law of the soil) gives anyone born in the country the right to citizenship. This rule is also sometimes called “birthright” citizenship. This law is most common in the Americas, with no European country offering unrestricted jus soli nationality.
To claim this, all you need is to be born in a country that uses this rule. It doesn’t matter why your parents were there or what their immigration status was. Children of diplomats or occupying forces are the only people not eligible.
Some notable examples of jus soli nationality countries include:
- St Kitts and Nevis
- The United States of America (USA)
For a complete list of countries that offer unrestricted birthright through jus soli, please see Appendix 1.
Easy countries to get Citizenship by Descent
Your bloodline is crucial to many countries. Jus sanguinis is “the right of blood,” and you can reach right back into history with this rule.
Here are some of the easiest countries to get citizenship by descent.
Ireland lets you go back up to three generations. So, if you have a great-grand-parent of either gender, you could get Irish nationality. This generous provision means there are now twice as many Irish citizens abroad as in Ireland. While the joke that a sip of Guinness qualifies is not true, many still can become Irish through ancestry.
- You can get Irish citizenship if your grandparent was born in Ireland. This entitlement is not affected by when or where you were born.
- You can also get citizenship through a great-grandparent. You and your parent must be registered on the Foreign Births Registry. This entitlement is also not affected by where you were born. To become an Irish citizen from your great-grandparent, your parent, who is of Irish descent, must have registered in the Irish Foreign Births Register between the years 1956 and 1986, or if you were born after 1986 they need to have registered before you were born.
As a European Union country, Ireland can be an easy way to get EU citizenship for those lucky enough.
One of the best offers is Italian citizenship by descent. If you have Italian heritage, you may well be eligible.
On March 17th, 1861, Italy took the first steps towards becoming the country we know today. For citizenship, you need to have an ancestor who was an Italian citizen at that time or was born in Italy after then.
There is a restriction as the lineage must be unbroken. So, no ancestor has revoked their Italian nationality or become a citizen of another country before their next in line was born.
To illustrate, here are two scenarios.
- Your Italian ancestor moved to Argentina in 1890. While still an Italian citizen, they had a child that took Argentinian nationality. You are descended from that child. In this case, you can apply for Italian citizenship.
- The same scenario, but the ancestor who immigrated took Argentinian nationality and revoked their Italian citizenship when they arrived. They then had their child. In this case, you would not be eligible.
There are exceptions and additional rules, but Italy may be your easiest country to get European citizenship if you meet those two requirements.
We’ve written a detailed guide to Italian citizenship and passport with everything you need in one place.
Like Italy, Poland has recognizes blood rights. However, their descendant rule goes back to 1920, just after independence in 1918. You must have an ancestor born in Poland after 1900 (so they were still a minor when the law was passed.)
Your claim is based on any ancestor having lived in Poland as a Polish citizen after that time. You can apply if you have an ancestor who meets those criteria.
Poland only recognizes you if your Polish nationality was passed on unbroken. So, suppose any of your ancestors revoked their Polish citizenship before the birth of the next generation. In that case, you will not be eligible.
A new Hungarian nationality law was passed in 2011. If you have family that meets the requirements, you may be eligible for citizenship.
The law covers descendants of anyone who was a Hungarian citizen before 1920 or between 1941 and 1945. The law includes areas that used to be part of Hungary but are now parts of neighboring countries such as Slovakia and Romania.
And, there is no restriction on how far back you can go. As long as you can show an unbroken, qualifying link, you may be eligible.
There is a requirement to speak basic Hungarian before you apply.
Other countries that offer some form of ancestry program
Here are some other countries that offer citizenship by descent programs that go beyond your parents.
- United Kingdom
Descendants of those persecuted
Several European countries offer citizenship to descendants of victims of state persecution. Examples of this include:
Portugal Sephardic Jewish citizenship
If you can show you are descended from the Sephardic Jewish community, you may be eligible for Portuguese citizenship. This community was persecuted and expelled from the Iberian Peninsula around 1492.
German and Austrian citizenship for Nazi victims
The Nazi government stripped Austrian and German citizenship from many people for political, racial, sexual orientation, or religious grounds. Descendants of those impacted can apply for accelerated citizenship.
Israel’s Law of Return
Many people can be eligible for Israeli nationality through the Law of Return. It is not just a “citizenship by descent” program; it has a broader scope.
To qualify, you must be one of the following:
- The descendant of a Jewish citizen.
- Married to someone eligible under the Law of Return (including same-sex partnerships).
- A practicing Jew, including converts from another religion.
For those who qualify, you must intend to settle in Israel. You’ll need to live in Israel for three months before you get citizenship and a year before getting a passport.
The easiest nationality might be one you buy; however, Citizenship by Investment programs range in cost and quality. And the returns on your investment can vary.
Here’s a detailed article on Investment Visa programs with more pros and cons, but we’re just looking at the easiest here.
Malta’s Individual Investor Program (MIIP) offers a quick and easy way for European Union citizenship. But it doesn’t come cheap.
You’ll need to have an income of more than €100,000 or have savings of €500,000.
You’ll make a €650,000 non-refundable donation to the Malta national development fund.
Then, you’ll need to invest €150,000 in Malta Government Bonds or securities listed on the Malta stock exchange. You must hold the investment for a minimum of five years.
Finally, you’ll need a property in Malta. You can purchase one for more than €350,000 or rent for more than €150,000 per year.
Meet those requirements, and this is one of the easiest European citizenships to get.
Antigua and Barbuda CBI
A one-time donation to the Antigua National Development Fund in the minimum sum of USD $100,000 allows you to obtain citizenship. The amount is USD $125,000 for a family of five and over.
You will also need to pay a processing fee of USD $25,000 for up to a family of four. Also, you need to pay USD $15,000 for each dependent after that.
This program gives you and your family full citizenship in this Caribbean nation. A passport from Antigua and Barbuda provides you with visa-free travel in 126 countries globally. This access includes all the Schengen countries, Canada, and much of South America.
St Kitts and Nevis CBI
This citizenship by investment program focuses on real estate investment. To qualify, you will need to invest more than US$200,000 in a pre-approved real estate project. After seven years, you can sell the property.
Alternatively, invest in a pre-approved real estate project of upwards of US$400,000 for the main applicant. You can sell this property after five years.
There is a third option; donate $150,000 to the St Kitts and Nevis Sustainable Growth Fund.
Vanuatu has a Citizenship by Investment program that often takes less than two months, making it one of the fastest programs in the world.
The process is simple. You must be able to prove that you are worth more than $500,000 as a first step. Then, donate $130,000 to a government development fund, pay your $5,000 application fee and collect your passport.
Countries with the Easiest Citizenship by Naturalization
For most people, citizenship by naturalization is going to be your best bet, even though it can take a long time. But, if the easiest countries to get citizenship are your target, this is a path to a second passport.
This process has four steps.
- Move to a country as a temporary or permanent resident.
- Stay in the country legally for the naturalization period.
- Pass any required language, nationality, or cultural exams.
- Apply for your new nationality and passport.
The appeal here is just living in the country is often a much easier first step. You can see our full list of the easiest countries to move to.
Which countries have the quickest citizenship by naturalization?
How long you have to wait for naturalization is different depending on the country and your circumstances. Some countries can be as short as two years, while others as long as ten.
Many counties offer shorter residency qualification periods for refugees, spouses, adopted children, and other groups.
Just remember, the fastest naturalization period isn’t necessarily the easiest country to get citizenship; it is just the quickest!
Argentina has the fastest standard citizenship by naturalization
Argentina has the shortest standard time. Argentina’s nationality lets you live and work in any MERCOSUR country with only two years’ qualification. Argentina also offers a wide range of qualifying visas.
Peru also has a two-year qualification.
Countries with a three-year residence requirement:
- Honduras (with just one year for Central-American nationals and two years for Spaniards and Ibero-Americans.)
- Poland (joint fastest EU citizenship by naturalization.)
- Serbia (joint fastest European Union citizenship by naturalization.)
Countries with a four-year residence requirement:
- Brazil (Three years if you own a qualifying property or business.)
Some countries with a five-year residence requirement (not a complete list):
- The easiest countries to get citizenship through residency
The first step is to find a way of legally living in another country and then to apply for citizenship by naturalization. Here are some of the easiest countries to immigrate to.
These agreements between countries allow each other’s citizens to live and work in each other’s countries. After a period of residency, you can become a citizen of that country. Here are some agreements:
- The Nordic agreement between Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
- European Economic Agreement (EEA) is an agreement between all 27 EU countries, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. Citizens of these countries can live, work, and move freely in the EEA Area.
- The Trans-Tasman Agreement between Australia and New Zealand allows citizens of both countries to live and work freely in each other’s countries.
- The MERCOSUR agreement makes it easier for citizens of South American countries to get residency in each other’s countries.
Signatories to these agreements are often the easiest countries to get citizenship if you qualify.
Residency by Investment
Governments across the world offer residency visas if you invest in their economies. Using a residency by investment program can be one of the easiest ways to get citizenship in high-demand countries. Please visit our Investment Visa page for a complete view of available opportunities.
Portugal Golden Visa
To access this residency by investment program, you must invest upwards of €280,000 in property or other investments.
Click on this link for all the information you need on Portugal’s Golden Visa.
Spain Golden Visa
Invest €500,000 in real estate, and you can apply for the Spanish Golden Visa. After ten years of residency and proof of basic Spanish, you can apply for citizenship. There are other alternatives for the Golden visa. These include a €1,000,000 purchase of shares or a €1,000,000 bank deposit. Alternatively, investing in government bonds for €2,000,000.
Please see this article for more details of Spain’s Golden Visa.
Mauritius Residency by Investment
This island paradise welcomes investors. There are two main options for Mauritius Residency by Investment.
- Buy an approved property for more than USD375,000 for your residence or as an investment. You are eligible for residency as long as you own the property.
- Invest more than $375,000 into a qualifying Mauritian business, and you’ll get a 20-yer residence permit.
Both pathways lead to Mauritius citizenship for you and your family.
Latvia Residency by investment
This European Union country has an excellent residency by investment program that is proving very popular with investors.
There is a range of options in which you can invest. Each investment class has a different threshold.
- Share Capital (Business with less than 50 people) – €50,000
- Share Capital (Business with more than 50 employees) – €100,000
- Real Estate – €250,000
- Government bonds – €250,000
- 5-year fixed deposit in a Latvian bank. – €250,000
There are other fees involved. Head here to find out more information about the Latvia Residency by Investment program.
Many countries offer residency if you can prove an income that will allow you to meet your living expenses. Your income may be from, for example, an investment, an offshore business, or a pension. The residency visas in this group have many names and often have slightly different requirements and restrictions. Here are a few examples of income visas around the world.
- Spain offers permanent residency if you can show an annual income of €25,920 plus €6,480 for each dependent through its Non-Lucrative Visa. This renewable visa is for one year. Notably, after five years in the scheme, you can apply for permanent residency in Spain.
- As a freelancer earning at least €800 per month, you could be eligible for a “Freiberufler” visa. This income-based visa gives you residency rights to live and work in Germany.
- Portugal’s D7 Passive income visa is an excellent option. The law says income of €7,200 a year is sufficient, but our partner recommends €12,000 a year.
- Nicaragua has a cheap income permanent residency visa. Proof of a monthly income from reliable sources of US$750 for you and US$150 for each family member is sufficient to qualify.
Related Blog you may enjoy: The fastest ways to a European passport
15 Countries with Easy Citizenship for Retirement
Many countries around the world welcome retirees who have a steady pension or retirement income. And, many retirees moving to these countries take up citizenship in their new home. Your dream retirement abroad destination could also give you an easy county to get citizenship.
Here’s a selection of retirement visas available with their monthly income requirement.
- Argentina – USD $500 (The Argentina Pensionado visa)
- Nicaragua – USD $600 (and USD $150 for each family member. You must be over 45 years of age)
- Honduras – USD $600
- Costa Rica – USD $1,000. Importantly, you need to be able to prove that this income will last for your lifetime.
- Dominican Republic – USD $1,500
- Guatemala – USD $1,000
- Panama – USD $1,000 (The Panama Pensionado Visa)
- Thailand – USD $2,000 (Or a deposit account of USD$ 25,000. You must be over 50 years of age.)
- Aruba – USD $2,300 (You need to be over 55)
- Malaysia – USD $2,500 (You need to be over 50 and show approx. USD $80,000 in assets)
- Mauritius – USD $1,500 (Mauritius Retirement Visa)
- Portugal – USD $1,250 (The Portugal D7 Passive income Visa)
- Spain – USD $2,600 (The Spain non-lucrative visa)
- Vanuatu – USD $2,800
- United Kingdom – USD $2,900 (You must be over 60 and have an existing connection to the UK.)
With these programs qualifying for naturalization, these are all countries with easy citizenship for retirement.
The easiest citizenship using your professional skills
Many countries have a points-based immigration system aimed at in-demand professions giving an easy route to citizenship.
If your profession is on the list, you could be eligible for a residency visa. The program may have other requirements, for example, proficiency in English.
Skills needed often include IT, medicine, and finance. However, countries also prioritize skills as varied as bakers, botanists, and architects.
We’ve written a detailed article on Skilled Migration Visas to help you find the best program for you.
Panama Friendly Nations Visa
Panama made significant changes to this program in August 2021, and this article reflects those changes.
This visa is for Expats with professional or economic ties to Panama, and it applies to all citizens of the 50 qualifying countries. This link has a list of the Friendly Nations.
You can qualify in three ways.
- Be an Expat employee of a Panamanian company.
- Purchase Panamanian real estate worth more than $200,000.
- Deposit more than $300,000 for more than three years in a Panamanian fixed-deposit account.
After two years, you can apply for Panamanian PR, and after five, you can apply for Panamanian citizenship and a passport.
See our detailed article for everything you need to know about the Panama Friendly Nations Visa.
The easiest country to get citizenship in Europe (EU)
The European country with the easiest citizenship will depend on your situation. Given that, here are our picks for the easiest path to an EU passport. The fastest citizenship in Europe many not be the easiest EU passport, depending on how you qualify.
Portugal – Easiest overall EU citizenship
The range of options makes Portugal one of the easiest countries to get citizenship in Europe, and one of the most popular.
- Varied and accessible residency options.
- 5-year naturalization.
- Residency by Investment and the Golden Visa Portugal.
- Flexible marriage definitions, including same-sex and common law.
- Third-generation citizenship by descent.
- Sephardic Jewish citizenship.
- Flexible birthright rules.
Find out everything you need to know about Portugal citizenship in our detailed article.
Spain – easiest EU citizenship Latin America, Philippines, or USA nations
Spain’s long naturalization period is a problem for some people. However, the great discounts make it an easy country to get citizenship in Europe for millions of people.
- Spain has a long naturalization period of ten years. But, the government reduces the wait to just two years for citizens of former colonies. So, for nationals of those countries, you can get dual citizenship only two years after establishing legal residence. This is one of the fastest citizenship in Europe by naturalizaiton.
- This pathway is also open to USA citizens. But there is an extra step. Move to Puerto Rico for twelve months before moving to Spain, and you will qualify for this reduction in naturalization time as well. You need to apply for a “Certificate of Puerto Rican Citizenship” as a USA citizen who has lived on the island for twelve months.
See how to get Spanish citizenship here.
Austria and Germany – easiest for descendants of Nazi-era refugees
For some, the easiest country to get citizenship in Europe may be one with a difficult history for your family.
- Both these EU countries offer accelerated and streamlined pathways to nationality. These can be fast way to European citizenship and an EU passport.
See all your options for German citizenship in our guide.
Italy, Ireland, Poland, and Hungary – the easiest through ancestry
These four countries all have generous and flexible approaches to citizenship by descent. If you have ancestors from these countries in the family tree, you should explore your connection. That relative may be the key to the easiest country to get citizenship in Europe for you.
Malta – the easiest European Citizenship by Investment Country
Malta offers the easiest direct citizenship by investment option in Europe. Malta’s Individual Investor Program (IIP) offers full EU citizenship after 12 months. This is the fastest citizenship by investment in Europe. It is also one of the fastest ways to an EU passport for those without any family connection. Find out more on our Investment Visa page.
Easy citizenship countries for you
When looking at the easiest country to get citizenship, there are some factors you should look at.
- Which nationalities do you already hold?
- Which country were you born in?
- Who is your partner? What is the status of your relationship, and what are their nationalities?
- You ancestry. Specifically, where are your parents and grandparents from, and what is your family history?
- How much money do you have available to invest or spend on a second passport?
- What are the pathways to residency for your chosen country?
- How long are you willing to live in a country before becoming a citizen of that country?
The easiest country to get citizenship is one that has an accessible pathway for you.
Second citizenship could be exactly what you need right now
As you can see, there are many ways to get citizenship in a second country. Family ties, investment, and residency are three of the easiest ways to achieve this.
And, in these uncertain times, having a second passport could be a lifeline. Head to our detailed article to find out what Dual Citizenship is and all the benefits it offers. It’ll help you consider the whole picture, including tax, financial impacts, and where you want to reside.
Now you know the easiest countries in the world to get citizenship, how do you choose?
Helping you choose your next home
We have three articles to help you pick the perfect place for your dream lifestyle. Please check out the Best Countries in the World to Live, The Cheapest Places to Live, and the Safest Countries to Live In.
Enjoyed this article? Pin it to Pinterest
Appendix 1 – Countries with unrestricted birthright citizenship
Countries with unrestricted birthright citizenship
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Saint Kits and Nevis
- St Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines