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COMPARE: Which European countries have the strictest rules on dual citizenship?

Being a citizen of your country of long-term residence brings a lot of advantages, especially when it comes to peace of mind, but some countries in Europe have far stricter rules than others.

COMPARE: Which European countries have the strictest rules on dual citizenship?
COMPARE: Which European countries have the strictest rules on dual citizenship? Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

However, gaining citizenship in another state is not a walk in the park. Beyond the bureaucratic headache, and varying residency rules and exceptions, some countries may require to give up the nationality of origin as a result of the process.

Few countries in Europe require foreign nationals to do this, but some do. Here is an overview of how the countries covered by The Local deal with dual citizenship, starting with the ones with the strictest rules.

‘Special circumstances’

Austria, Germany and Spain generally do not allow dual citizenship, except in some special circumstances. This means that foreign nationals who obtain the citizenship of one of these countries have to give up their nationality of origin.


“In principle, anyone who acquires Austrian citizenship by conferral loses their foreign citizenship,” says the Austrian government website. This also applies to Austrian citizens who acquire a foreign citizenship.

Austria only waives the requirement to renounce previous citizenship if this is in the special interest of the state on the basis of “extraordinary achievements” in the past or expected in the future.

Austrians at birth can maintain citizenship if they apply to do so before acquiring another nationality and if this is justified by “special circumstances”, for instance if losing it would have “a severe detrimental impact on their ability to work” or, in the case of minors, if this is in their best interest.

Children with at least one Austrian parent are Austrian and can have dual citizenship. “The child does not have to decide on their (sole) nationality upon reaching the age of majority. However, the other state involved may require them to make such a decision,” the website adds.

Thanks to a recent law, Austrians who left the country before 15 May 1955 because of persecutions by the Nazi regime, and their descendants, can have their citizenship restored and retain any other citizenship they have since acquired.


Only EU and Swiss nationals can retain their citizenship of origin when they naturalise as German, and so can German citizens with these countries. British citizens were allowed to retain dual citizenship if they applied for naturalisation until the end of the Brexit transition period, but now they also have to renounce it.

Children with a German parent acquire German citizenship at birth and can keep dual citizenship permanently.

It is possible to retain dual citizenship if the country of origin does not allowed to renounce it or this is not possible for other reasons (for instance in case of conflict). 

German citizens who wish to naturalise in another country and keep German nationality can apply for a retention permit. In this case they will have to provide evidence of “continuing ties with Germany” and of “substantial reasons” for acquiring the other nationality.

Individiuals who between 30 January 1933 and 8 May 1945 were deprived of their German citizenship on political, racial or religious grounds, and their descendants, may have their citizenship restored and retain any other citizenship they have since acquired.

The current government coalition has promised in its programme a “modern citizenship law” allowing for multiple nationalities, but this is yet to materialise.

While in Austria applying for citizenship requires at least 10 years of continuous residence in (six for EEA citizens), as well as knowledge of the language and a ‘positive attitude’ towards the country, in Germany the requirement is 8 years. But foreigners who complete an ‘integration course’ can apply after 7 years. People who apply for German citizenship also need to know the German language and take a naturalisation test to prove they are familiar with the legal system, society and living conditions. Spouses or registered same-sex partners of German citizens can apply for naturalization after 3 years of legal residence.


As a general rule, people naturalising as Spanish citizens have to renounce their previous nationality. This is not required of nationals of Latin American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal or Sephardic Jews of Spanish origin.

This refers to a law that allowed Sephardic Jews descendants of those expelled from Spain in the 15th century to acquire citizenship. However, the deadline to apply for citizenship via this route has expired in 2021 (a similar citizenship route is open in Portugal).

For citizens from these countries the residency requirement to apply for naturalisation is 2 years. It is otherwise one year for people married to a Spanish national, 5 years for refugees or 10 years in other situations. 

Spain has also recently signed an agreement that allows dual citizenship with France.

Spanish citizens by origin can naturalise in another country and retain their citizenship if they require so within 3 years of acquiring the other nationality.

Children born in Spain can acquire citizenship if the parents are from a country that does not recognise the nationality of children born abroad.

Dual citizenship permitted

In many other countries, such as France, Italy and Sweden, as well as Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland and the UK, dual citizenship is permitted.

In France the residency requirement for naturalisation is generally 5 years, showing integration into the French way of life and knowledge of the French language.

In Italy it is possible to apply for citizenship after 10 years of residence, or 4 for EU citizens and 2 for a resident married to an Italian citizen. A language test is also required.

Sweden is one of the few countries where a language test is not needed. The general rule is 5 consecutive years of residence, with absences of more than six weeks during a year subtracted from the total. People married, in a registered partnership or cohabiting partners with a Swedish citizen can apply after three years.

On the other hand, Denmark has one of the strictest citizenship laws. Naturalisation requires an extra waiting period of two years after obtaining a permanent residence permit, which usually takes eight years. There is also a citizenship test.

Denmark allows dual citizenship after the law changed in 2015. Former Danish who lost their citizenship by acquiring a foreign one before 1 September 2015 can reacquire it by making a declaration to the Ministry of Immigration and Integration by 30 June 2026.

After a recent change in regulations, dual citizenship is also allowed in Norway. Those who lost their Norwegian citizenship before 2020 can reacquire it by submitting a notification of citizenship.

There are stricter rules, however, in the Netherlands. Foreign nationals acquiring Dutch citizenship, or Dutch nationals acquiring a foreign one, need to give up their citizenship of origin, except in some specific circumstances – for example, for those acquiring their spouse’s or partner’s citizenship or those holding an asylum residence permit.

Restrictions also exist in many Eastern European countries.

This article was produced by the team at Europe Street news.

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Denmark to introduce new fee for repeated citizenship applications

The Danish government will ask persons applying for citizenship for the third or subsequent time after previous rejections to pay additional fees, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration has announced.

Denmark to introduce new fee for repeated citizenship applications

Under current rules, a person whose application for citizenship is rejected can apply again in future without paying an additional fee.

The government has decided to change this so that a third or subsequent application by the same person will incur an additional fee, the immigration ministry said in a statement.

The fee for applying for citizenship is currently 4,000 kroner. When a person submits an application, they can apply again at no extra cost should their application not be successful under the existing rules.

There are a number of reasons a Danish citizenship application can be rejected, including criteria related to residency, language, criminal records and financial self-sufficiency. A Danish citizenship test must also be passed before applying.

READ ALSO: How to apply for citizenship in Denmark

The government says it does not intend to impose an additional fee for a second application, but that an extra cost would apply to further applications after this.

The objective of this is to “prevent applicants who receive a rejection from uncritically reapplying in cases with no outlook towards a different result, thereby risking increased processing times for naturalisation cases”, the immigration ministry statement reads.

“The ministry has seen numerous examples of an applicant applying several times and receiving a rejection every single time. The government does not question the right to apply, but there is no use in being allowed to apply again and again without having to pay a fee,” Immigration Minister Kaare Dybvad Bek said in the statement.

“I think it is entirely fair to say that if you want to apply for the third, fourth or fifth time, you must pay at the checkout,” he continued.

“At the same time, I think it is fair enough that you can reapply a single time without paying a new fee, for example if there was just a single thing that has prevented someone from becoming a Danish citizen,” he said.

In addition to new fees for third or subsequent applications, the government wants to reduce the application fee for young people who were born or grew up in Denmark.

The European Convention on Nationality requires that young people born and raised in Denmark should have an easier path to citizenship, the ministry statement notes.

“In Denmark, we have generally strict rules when it comes to acquiring citizenship. And that’s how it should be. But when it comes to young people who were born and raised here, we have special obligations under the Convention on Nationality and I therefore think it is appropriate to reduce the fee for this group,” Bek said.

The existing fee for applying for citizenship in Denmark far outstrips the equivalent in neighbouring Sweden, where it costs 1,500 Swedish kronor to apply. In Norway, the fee is 6,500 Norwegian kroner if you are over 18 years old, but lower for citizens of other Nordic countries and people aged under 18.

READ ALSO: How do Denmark’s citizenship rules compare to Sweden and Norway?

A law change would be required to implement the new fee for repeated citizenship applications. The government said it expects to table a bill in the next parliamentary year, which commences in October.

Because the coalition government has a parliamentary majority, any bill it tables has a high chance of being adopted.

No decision has yet been made on either the amount of the additional fee, or on the reduction for young people who were born or grew up in Denmark.