What is EU Citizenship, and Who Qualifies?

What is EU Citizenship, and Who Qualifies?

Title: What is EU Citizenship and Who Qualifies?

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What is EU Citizenship, and Who Qualifies?

The EU has a population of over 510 million people, which makes it the world's second-largest economy after the US.

Many people are looking for European citizenship and residence permits to enjoy the benefits of EU citizenship. Many people all over the European Economic Area (EEA) have become citizens by various means, ranging from citizenship by investment to their great-grandparents, making them eligible.

EU law and the European parliament can occasionally be confused surrounding these topics. However, almost anyone can become an EU citizen if they put in enough time, effort, and dedication. If you're interested in getting a residence card from the EU, then feel free to read on — this is everything you need to know about becoming an EU citizen!

What is EU Citizenship?

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 member states that are located in Europe. EU citizenship was created by the Treaty of the European Union, which came into force on November 1st, 1993. It established the status of EU citizens and the rights they enjoy, as well as the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within the internal market. 

EU citizenship is a status enjoyed by citizens of EU Member States. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) introduced the concept. The Treaty requires EU Member States to grant EU citizenship to nationals of other Member States.

The EU Consists of the following 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

EU citizenship is not a nationality. It is a status that gives EU citizens the right to move and reside freely in other member countries of the European Union as well as Iceland and Norway. EU citizenship confers some rights and responsibilities that non-EU citizens do not have, such as the right to vote in European elections and stand as a candidate or equal treatment with nationals in access to employment.

A Certificate of Citizenship is a document that proves you are an EU citizen and that you have the right to reside in the EU. Suppose you are moving from one Member State (e.g., Italy) to another (e.g., Germany). In that case, local authorities often recognize your Certificate of Citizenship for registration, health insurance, etc.

Who is Eligible for EU Citizenship? 

You may be eligible for EU citizenship if you have family ties in an EU member state. You can apply for citizenship in the country where your family member is from, or if you're not eligible for that country's naturalization program, you can use it in a country where you have lived for at least five years (or two years if married).

Suppose neither of these options works out for you. In that case, there is an exception: If one of your grandparents was born in Europe and has been a citizen of an EU member state since May 5th, 1992, then that person's descendants are also eligible.

Where To Apply for EU Citizenship

You can apply for EU citizenship status through the following organizations:

  • Your country’s embassy
  • The European Commission (EC)

Your Country's Embassy

This is likely your first stop if you want to register as an EU citizen and travel freely within Europe. However, this option usually only works for those living in an EU country without other citizenship and who have lived there for five or more years.

The European Commission (EC) 

If you're not eligible for dual citizenship under any of these rules, the EC may be able to help you receive permanent residence status through their Reception Directive program. They'll conduct a background check on applicants before deciding whether or not they qualify under another provision of the law.

However, they can only assist individuals who already have family members living legally within Europe or work authorization documents allowing them entry into any member country's territory. So if neither applies in your case, this may not be an option either!

The Benefits of Having an EU Passport

The benefits of being an EU citizen are significant. Once you become a citizen of one EU member state, you are entitled to live and work in any other European Union (EU) Member State without applying for a visa. 

This means you can relocate your business or family from Madrid to Paris or from Lisbon to Dublin without needing new permission from the host country authorities. Fundamentally, this means that you can have visa-free travel throughout the EU.

In addition, as an EU citizen, you automatically have freedom of movement within the Schengen area – which comprises 26 countries, including France, Germany, and Italy – meaning you can travel freely throughout these countries without having to stop off at the border checkpoints along the way.

Furthermore, once your application has been approved by the national authorities in one country (see below), this entitles you not only access but also rights: 

  • You can take advantage of healthcare systems abroad if necessary
  • Your spouse and dependent children under 21 years old may accompany you when visiting another member state
  • Consular protection is provided by other embassies abroad if yours does not maintain representation there (for example, when visiting a third country)

How to Become an EU Citizen as a Non-National

You must be a permanent resident of an EU country to become an EU citizen. If you are not a permanent resident but are eligible for citizenship in your own country (meaning that you have resided there for at least five years), then you can still apply for citizenship in the EU country where you live.

However, if there is no way for non-EU citizens to obtain citizenship through their home countries, they may qualify through one of the following methods:

  • By having legal residence in the relevant EU member state continuously and legally (without interruption) for five years
  • By being married or registered as partners with a national from an EU member state
  • By having sufficient knowledge of the language spoken in their chosen European Union country – depending on whether this is required by law as part of obtaining citizenship

What is the Difference Between EU Citizenship and Nationality?

You may have heard the term EU citizenship, but what does it mean? And how is it different from nationality?

EU citizenship is a legal status that allows people to move, live, study, and work freely in any member state. It's not a nationality; however - someone with EU citizenship does not gain the race of their country of residence. Instead, they have an additional layer of rights under European law as part of their status as an EU citizen.

As well as allowing freedom of movement across all member states, EU citizens also enjoy other rights. These additional rights include the freedom to vote in local elections where they live (although this isn't guaranteed everywhere) and some protection against discrimination at work because they are not considered "foreigners."

One example is that if you're working abroad temporarily for less than three months, you won't be covered by your employer's health insurance scheme. If you were an Italian national living in France, this wouldn't apply, though, since Italy has made bilateral agreements with France which means its citizens can access healthcare systems there.


EU citizenship was created to give individuals rights and responsibilities within an international legal framework, as opposed to their national law or citizenship. It also allows them to move freely within all Member States without needing a visa or work permit. 

In addition, they can vote in local elections in their country of origin if they have been living there for at least three months before the election date.

If you're interested in EU citizenship, we can help. Our team is made up of experts who work with EU citizens every day. We have experience guiding clients through the entire process of obtaining citizenship and will be happy to assist you through our articles!

ETIAS is based on ensuring that the people who want to have access to Europe can get it with minimal confusion and frustration. While the laws and processes may seem overwhelming, rest assured that the answers are likely on our website! We're always writing articles to help people learn more about European travel.

At ETIAS, we know that many people have different reasons for wanting to travel and move to Europe. We have lots of experience bringing new levels of knowledge and experience to people of all different ages, backgrounds, and priorities.

If you want to learn more about ETIAS and how we help you with your needs, feel free to check out our website and articles here! Even if things seem confusing, we're sure you'll find the answers you're looking for in no time!



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