Spain gave citizenship to more people than any EU country in 2021

The Local Spain
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Spain gave citizenship to more people than any EU country in 2021
Spain gave citizenship to more people than any EU country in 2021. Photo: Josep LAGO / AFP

Spain granted 144,800 new citizenships in 2021, which represented 17 percent of all naturalisations in the whole of the European Union.


Spain came in first place, giving citizenship to more people than any other EU country in 2021, with the majority of these from Morocco.

This was followed by France with 130,400 (16 percent of the total); Germany with 130,000 (16 percent); Italy with 121,500 (15 percent); and Sweden with 89,400 (11 percent).

The people who received the highest overall number of EU citizenships were again the Moroccans with 86,100 from all over the EU, while 48.8 percent of these received Spanish nationality.

READ ALSO: How foreigners can get fast-track citizenship in Spain

The other groups that also received Spanish nationality were Romanians (10.5 percent of the total of 28,600 naturalised in Europe); Brazilians (15.7 percent of the total of 20,400 naturalised); Russians (7.8 percent of the total of 17,300 naturalised); Ecuadorians (68.2 percent of the total of 12,200 naturalised); and Colombians (77.3 percent of the 10,800 naturalised).


Out of the those that received EU nationality, the Syrians came just behind the Moroccans, with 83,500 people, 70 percent of whom acquired Swedish or Dutch citizenship; and the Albanians with 32,300, 70 percent of whom became Italian nationals.  

Romanians came in fourth with 28,600 people and then the Ukrainians, who have experienced a large exodus because of the war with Russia, with 18,200 new naturalisations, mainly in Poland and Italy.

READ ALSO: How long are waiting times for the Spanish citizenship process?

A total of 827,000 people acquired citizenship from one of the Member States of the European Union in which they lived throughout 2021, which represented an increase of 14 percent (+ 98,300) compared to 2020, according to the latest data available from Eurostat.

The number of foreigners living in Spain also helped the country’s Social Security system to gain 190,913 foreign affiliates during 2022, which is 8.4 percent more than in 2021, closing the year with 2,460,719 registered in the system, a new record.  

Of the total registered with Social Security at the end of 2022, 826,806 came from EU countries (33.6 percent) and 1,633,913 from third countries (66.4 percent).  

The highest number of foreign-employed groups came from Romania (330,857), Morocco (305,428), Italy (158,635), Colombia (127,891) and Venezuela (125,201).

READ ALSO: How to apply for Spanish citizenship for a baby born in Spain to foreign parents

The industries that gained the most foreign employees in 2022, were electricity and gas (+26.8 percent); information and communications (+25 percent); professional, scientific and technical activities (+17.2 percent); artistic and entertainment activities (+16.3 percent), and hospitality (+15.2 percent).


Spain is one of the European countries where getting citizenship through residency can take the longest - 12 to 13 years if you factor in processing times. The general rule is that if you want to apply for Spanish citizenship, you will have to reside legally in Spain without long absences for ten years. 

Nationals from Ibero-American countries where Spanish or Portuguese is spoken including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela, as well as nationals of the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Andorra or Portugal, can, however, apply for Spanish nationality after legally residing in Spain for two years. 

Marrying a Spaniard also means that the process is speeded up - from 10 years to just one. 


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