Even when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union (if that is what happens), there were still be 27 other countries that are members. So, if you are one of the many Canadians working in the EU on a UK passport, it's time to start looking for relatives.

British in Canada? Want to move to Canada after Brexit?

 

Keeping Your EU Work Privileges After Brexit

By European Economic Area.svg: Kolja21, Fry1989 derivative work: Danlaycock (European Economic Area.svg) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

European Economic Area by Danlaycock / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

How can you do that? Well, it depends upon what kind of exit is negotiated between the UK and the EU. But let's assume the worst: let's assume that the UK leaves the EU and the moment that becomes official, all UK passport holders in the European Union lose their rights to live and work (and their health care coverage).

 

Claiming Citizenship By Descent for the Remaining European Union Member States

If your parents are ethnically Latvian but do not meet the above requirements, a residence period in Latvia is required to have naturalized (see to the right).
If your parent naturalized since August 21, 1991, you can claim Latvian citizenship through that parent.

Country Citizenship through descent?
(birth abroad)
Naturalization
Austria Through a parent:
If you were born before September 1, 1983; also, parents had to be married
If born to unmarried parents before September 1, 1983, citizenship through mother only unless declaration of father's paternity within 8 weeks of birth.
10 years continuous residence plus
  • Knowledge of German.
  • Renunciation of other citizenship(s) - Note that you can only renounce Canadian citizenship through the Canadian government, so this would be a formality only.
Belgium Through a parent:
  • If you were born before January 1, 1967; also, parents had to be married or parent had to "acknowledge" or "legitimize" you.
  • If born from January 1, 1967 until December 1, 1984, you must have been born in Belgium unless father is a citizen or mother is citizen who was born in Belgium.
  • If you were born on or after January 1, 1985, you must have been born in Belgium OR, if born abroad, your Belgian parent was born in Belgium, and your foreign-born Belgian citizen parent made a formal request for Belgian nationality within 5 years of your birth.
Naturalization is virtually impossible in Belgium. Instead, there is something called "Nationality by Declaration" (which must be made in Belgium), which you qualify for if you are:
  • Born in Belgium and with main place of residence in Belgium, without any interruptions since birth OR;
  • A declaration may be made by a foreigner who is the parent of a Belgian child OR;
  • One is married to a Belgian citizen and has been living together during the past three years and provided the foreign spouse has legally resided in Belgium for five years OR;
  • If one has resided in Belgium for five years, provided the person is handicapped, invalid, or retired OR;
  • The person has had a main place of residence in Belgium for at least ten years, and has an unlimited residence permit, or authorisation to settle in Belgium OR;
  • A former Belgian citizen who lost citizenship other than by forfeiture;

If you are currently 22 years of age or under, the requirements are slightly different:

  • Born in Belgium OR;
  • Born abroad and one of the person's adoptive parents is a Belgian citizen at the time the declaration opting for Belgian nationality is made OR;
  • Born abroad and one of the person's parents or adoptive parents was a Belgian citizen when the person was born OR;
  • Born abroad and with a main place of residence in Belgium with the person's parents or adoptive parents for at least one year before the child turned six.

You must meet these additional requirements:

  1. Your main place of residence must have been in Belgium during the 12-month period preceding the declaration; and
  2. Your main place of residence was in Belgium either between the ages of 14 and 18 or for a period of at least nine years.

The applicant is exempt from these latter two criteria if one the person's parents or adoptive parents was a Belgian citizen or had previously held Belgian citizenship at the time of the person's birth.
You may also get Belgian nationality through marriage; if your spouse is a citizen, you can apply.

Bulgaria Through a parent. To naturalize in Bulgaria you must
  1. Be 18 years of age;
  2. Have been granted permission for permanent residence in the Republic of Bulgaria not less than 5 years ago;
  3. Have not been sentenced by a Bulgarian court for a premeditated crime of a general nature and which has not been the subject of criminal proceedings for such a crime, unless the person concerned has been rehabilitated;
  4. Have an income and occupation enabling you to support yourself in the Republic of Bulgaria;
  5. Have a command of the Bulgarian language subject to verification in accordance with a procedure established by an order of the Minister of Education and Culture, and
  6. previous citizenship or will be released from his/her citizenship as of the moment of acquiring the Bulgarian citizenship (this means you must renounce your Canadian citizenship).

If you have only been a permanent resident in Bulgaria for 3 years, you still may be eligible for citizenship if you meet one of the following conditions. You

  • have been, for at least 3 years, and still are, legally married to a Bulgarian citizen; OR
  • were born in the Republic of Bulgaria; OR
  • were granted permission for permanent residence before you turned 18.
Croatia Both parents must be Croatian, OR, if one parent is Croatian, you are a Croatian citizen if
  • you were born in Croatia, OR
  • the non-Croatian parent is stateless, OR
  • your birth abroad is registered with Croatian authorities before your 18th birthday, OR
  • you are stateless if you are not given Croatian citizenship
You can naturalize if you meet the following conditions, you
  1. are 18 years old and that and not "deprived of working capacity";
  2. are dismissed from your foreign citizenship, or that submit proof that you will acquire "dismissal" if granted Croatian citizenship (does not apply if you're stateless, if you cannot lose your citizenship through naturalisation, you have to prove that by submitting proof you can only renounce);
  3. have lived and have a registered residence in the Republic of Croatia until the submission of the request for at least 8 consecutive years and have been granted foreigner status on your permanent residence;
  4. you are proficient in the Croatian language and Latin script, and are "familiar with the Croatian culture and social arrangement";
  5. "respect the legal order and customs of the Republic of Croatia"

There are a number of other naturalization possibilities for permanent residents or descendants of Croatian citizens intending to live in Croatia, but the situations are very specific so are omitted here.

Cyprus Through a parent if
  • You are at least 18 years of age AND
  • You were born to a Cypriot parent between August 17, 1960 and 1960 and June 11, 1999, and your birth was registered with the Cypriot authorities within two years of your birth OR
  • You were born to a Cypriot mother after June 11, 1999.

If you or your parent were born in Cyprus prior to August 17, 1960, you can register as a citizen under certain conditions.

You can naturalize in Cyprus if you
  1. qualify to swear the "Affirmation of Faith to the Republic";
  2. have either resided in the Republic or been in the public service of the Republic, or partly the former and partly the latter, throughout the period of 12 months immediately preceding the date of your application; and
    • that during the 7 years immediately preceding the said period of twelve months you have either resided in the Republic or been in the public service of the Republic, or partly the former and partly the latter, for periods amounting in total to not less than four years; and
    • • Provided that: the players of group sports, the coaches, sports technicians, domestic workers, nurses, persons working for Cypriot employees or for offshore companies and residing in the Republic exclusively for the purpose of work as well as their spouses, children or other persons dependent on them, must, during the 12 years which immediately precede the twelve-month period mentioned in the paragraph above, have a total of residence in the Republic of at least 9 years;
  3. you are "of good character"; and
  4. you intend in the event of a certificate being granted
    • to reside in the Republic; or
    • to enter into or continue in the service of an international organisation of which the Republic is a member, or in the service of a society, company or body of persons established in the Republic.

There are some specific circumstances under which you may not have to qualify via the above conditions.

Czech Republic Through a parent
Note: if you or your parent had citizenship in Czechoslovakia, there is still a provision under Czech law to declare Czech citizenship
To naturalize, you
  1. have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years;
  2. have lived in the Czech Republic for most of that time;
  3. are "of good character";
  4. are proficient in Czech.

If you are under 15 years of age, these requirements may be waived.
The permanent residence requirement can be waived if

  • You born on the territory of the Czech Republic, or
  • You have lived in the Czech Republic for at least 10 years continuously, or
  • You held Czech citizenship sometime in the past and can prove it, or
  • You were adopted by a Czech citizen, or
  • Your spouse is a Czech citizen, or
  • At least one of your parents is a Czech citizen, or
  • You relocated to the Czech Republic before 31 December 1994 on the invitation of the Czech government, or
  • You are stateless or have refugee status in the Czech Republic.
Denmark Through your mother or through your father if your parents are married if you were born on or after July 1, 2014
If born to a Danish parent (as above) before July 1, 2014, you must have also
  • Lived in Denmark at one point before you turned 22 years of age; OR
  • Lived in 1 or more of the other "Nordic countries" for a period not less than 7 years.
You must be a permanent resident of Denmark in order to be eligible for citizenship. The remaining qualifications depend upon your citizenship: 9 years of continuous residence in Denmark are required unless
  • You are a refugee, and then the requirement is reduced to 8 years;
  • You are married to a Danish citizen, then for each year of marriage the residence requirement is reduced by one year, up to 3 years, so if you were married to a Danish citizen for 10 years, you'd only have to live in Denmark for 6 years continuously to be eligible.
Estonia Through a parent To naturalize you must
  • Be 15 years of age or older;
  • Have lived in Estonia legally for at least 8 years, with at least 5 years of residence as a permanent resident;
  • Prove your Estonian language ability (unless you have attended an Estonian-language educational institution);
  • Take a citizenship test;
  • Show a "demonstrated means of support";
  • Swear a loyalty oath.
Finland Through a parent. There are two ways you can naturalize in Finland:
  1. Citizenship by application: You must
    • have lived in Finland continuously for 5 years, OR
    • have lived in Finland a total of 7 years since age 15, with 2 years continuous residence up to the date of your application, AND
    • have knowledge of Finnish or Swedish.

    If you are married to a Finnish citizen or in a registered common law relationship for at least 3 years, the residence requirement is reduced to 4 years.

  2. Citizenship by declaration. There are two categories:
    1. Residents between 18 and 23 years of age must be "domiciled" in Finland and have lived in Finland for a total of 10 years (or 5 years in Finland, 5 years in another Nordic country)
    2. Citizens of Denmark, Sweden, Iceland or Norway who didn't naturalize in one of those countries and have lived in Finland for a total of 6 years.
France Through a parent Unlike most European countries, you can apply for citizenship if you are married to a French citizen, even if you do not live in France, provided you have been married for at least 5 years. Your French citizen spouse must be registered as a citizen living abroad and you will have to complete a language test.
If you are living in France you can naturalize if
  • You are a citizen of another EU country and have continuously lived in France for at least 5 years;
  • You have lived in France continuously as a permanent resident for at least 5 years;
  • You live in France and have been married to a French citizen for at least 4 years.

In all cases you must attend a citizenship interview where they will assess your language skills and integration into society.
The residence requirement will be reduced to 2 years if you have completed 2 years of post-graduate education in France or otherwise contributed to society.
The residence requirement is waived for anyone who serves in the French Armed Forces and may be waived for refugees.

Germany See our page on German citizenship If you fulfil all of the following criteria you are entitled to naturalize as a German citizen:
  • You have been a permanent resident in Germany for at least the last 8 years. This period can be reduced if
    • You have completed an integration course the residence requirement may be reduced to 7 years.
    • You show that you are especially well integrated and have a higher level of command of the German language than the basic requirement for the German citizenship (i.e., higher than CEFR level B1). In this case the residence requirement may have the residence requirement reduced to 6 years.
    • You are the spouse of a German citizen, then you may be naturalized after 3 years of continual residence in Germany. The marriage must have persisted for at least 2 years.
    • If you are a refugee or stateless, you may be able to apply after 6 years of continual residency.
    • If you once were a German citizen but lost it by naturalizing in another country.
  • You have legal capacity or a legal representative.
  • You confirm your present and past commitment to the free democratic constitutional system enshrined in the German Basic Law (or that you are currently committed to such principles and no longer support ideas contrary to such principles).
  • You are a European Union or Swiss citizen in possession of the appropriate residence permit which permits the free movement of persons OR you are a non-EU/Swiss citizen who has been granted a permanent right of residence.
  • You are able to support yourself without recourse to benefits.
  • You have not been sentenced for an unlawful act and are not subject to any court order imposing a measure of reform and prevention.
  • You possess an adequate knowledge of German.
  • You possess knowledge of the legal system, the society and living conditions in the Federal Republic of Germany.

To naturalize, you are normally expected to prove you have renounced your existing nationality, or you will lose this automatically upon naturalisation. An exception applies to those unable to give up their nationality easily (such as refugees). A further exception applies to citizens of Switzerland and the European Union member states.
There are special provisions for victims of Nazi persecution and their descendants.

Greece Through a parent If you are ethnically Greek you merely need to reside in Greece and declare your citizenship.
Otherwise, you must live in Greece for at least 7 years before applying for citizenship.
Hungary Through a parent In order to naturalize, you must
  1. Have lived continuously in Hungary for at least 8 years;
  2. Have no criminal past at all
  3. Have a stable livelihood;
  4. Have good character;
  5. Pass a test on the Hungarian constitution.

If you have a Hungarian spouse and you have been married for at least 3 years, the residence requirement is reduced to 3 years.
If you are ethnically Hungarian, the residence requirement will be reduced to 5 years.

Ireland Through a parent or grandparent (birth must be registered) You must have lived in Ireland for at least 5 years to apply for Irish citizenship.
If you are married to an Irish citizen, you must have lived in Ireland orNorthern Ireland for at least 3 years.
Italy Through a parent.
There are provisions in Italian law for people born in Istria, Rijeka (Fiume) and Dalmatia (all currently within Croatia) to reclaim Italian citizenship.
If your grandparent was born in Italy, but not a parent, you can keep citizenship by living in Italy as an adult for 2 years, or by serving in the Italian military.
To naturalize you must
  1. Have lived in Italy for 10 years
  2. Have no criminal record
  3. Have "sufficient financial resources."

The residence requirement is reduced

  • To 3 years, if you have Italian grandparents
  • To 4 years, if you are a citizen of another European Union member state, such as the UK
  • To 2 years, if you are married to an Italian citizen (1 year if you have children).
Latvia Through parent:
  • If parent born in Latvia before 1940 Or
  • by request if parent born on or after August 21, 1991.
To naturalize you must
  1. Have lived in Latvia for at least 5 years
  2. Know the Latvian language
  3. Know the basic principles of the Latvian constitution
  4. Know the text of the national anthem
  5. Know the history of Latvia
  6. Have a legal source of income
  7. Swear the loyalty oath
  8. Renounce your previous citizenship (in some cases, depends on the country)
  9. Not be subject to the provisions in the "Law on Citizenship" that exclude certain people (members of the Nazi and Bolshevik parties, for example).
Lithuania Only in exceptional circumstances, however the law just changed on July 1, 2016 Information in English about current Lithuanian citizenship legislation is difficult to find. If you find a source, please let us know at webmaster@immigroup.com
Luxembourg Through a parent, if that parent can prove they were a Luxembourgish citizen as of January 1, 1990 In order to naturalize you must
  1. Be at least 18 years of age
  2. Have lived in Luxembourg for at least 7 consecutive years
  3. Pass a Luxembourgish language exam
  4. Take a class on "civic instruction."
Malta Through parent, grandparent, great-grandparent etc
  • You must live in Malta for 5 years or
  • You must have been married to a Maltese citizen for at least 5 years (no residence required) or
  • Purchase of citizenship through the "Individual Investor Program."
Netherlands
  • If born before January 1, 1985, father must be Dutch
  • If born from January 1, 1985 onward, either parent can be Dutch, however a condition was imposed as of April 1, 2003: if your parents were unmarried at your birth and your father is the Dutch parent, he had to claim you as Dutch before you were born.

There are additional requirements for "latent" Dutch nationals:

  1. The applicant was born before 1 January 1985;
  2. Mother was a Dutch national when the applicant was born;
  3. father was not a Dutch national when the applicant was born;
  4. The applicant did not obtain Dutch nationality between January 1, 1985 and December 31, 1987 through the option of simplified naturalization and then subsequently lost their Dutch nationality; AND
  5. The applicant has no criminal record.
Simplified Naturalization is available anyone who meets any of the following criteria:
  • An adult who was born in the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao or Sint Maarten and who has lived in any of these places continuously since birth
  • A person born in the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao or Sint Maarten who has lived in any of these places for an uninterrupted period of at least 3 years and who has not acquired the citizenship of any other country (i.e., a stateless person)
  • An adult who has been legally resident in the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao or Sint Maarten since he or she was 4 years old
  • An adult who used to be a Dutch subject and who has been legally resident in the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao or Sint Maarten for at least 1 year and whose residence is without any restriction as to length
  • Someone who has been married to a Dutch subject for at least 3 years and who has been legally resident in the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao or Sint Maarten for an uninterrupted period of at least 15 years
  • Someone aged 65 years or older and who has been legally resident in the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao or Sint Maarten for an uninterrupted period of at least 15 years
  • A minor who is acknowledged by a Dutch subject who has been cared for and brought up by this Dutch subject for an uninterrupted period of at least 3 years
  • A minor who, as a result of a Court decision or by law at the time of your birth, is under the joint custody of a non-Dutch parent and another person who is a Dutch subject and who, since the start of this custody, has been cared for and brought up by this Dutch subject for a period of at least 3 years during which the child has had his or her principal place of residence in the Netherlands.

If you don't meet any of the above criteria, you have to naturalize the normal way. You must

  1. Be at least 18 years of age
  2. Hold a valid permanent residence permit, or a residence permit with a "non-temporary reason for stay"
  3. Have lived continuously for at least 5 years in the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao, or Sint Maarten
  4. Have "significantly integrated into Dutch society"
  5. Have no criminal record or fines within the last 5 years.
Poland Through a parent provided the parent didn't lose their Polish citizenship prior to 1951 You can become a Polish citizen in one of the following ways:
  1. By grant: this category allows the President of Poland to grant Polish citizenship to any foreigner who asks for it.
  2. By recognition: a foreigner is recognized as Polish, if they request citizenship, know the Polish language, are not a security risk, and meet one of the following two lists of criteria:
    • Lived in Poland for the last 3 years as a permanent resident
      • and have a stable and regular source of income,and
      • own or rent an apartment or house.

      OR

    • Lived in Poland, legally, for the last 10 years, and
      • currently have a permanent resident status, and
      • have a stable and regular source of income, and own or rent an apartment or house.

      OR

    • Lived in Poland for the last 2 years as a permanent resident, and have been married to a Polish citizen for the last 3 years. OR
    • Lived in Poland for the last 2 years as a permanent resident, and are stateless. OR
    • Lived in Poland for the last 2 years as a refugee. OR
    • Lived in Poland for the last 2 years as a repatriate.
  3. By restoration: applies to people who lost Polish citizenship before 1 January 1999.
Portugal Through a parent (birth must be registered) To naturalize you must
  1. Be at least 18 years of age
  2. Have lived legally in Portugal for at least 6 years
  3. Have sufficient knowledge of Portuguese
  4. Have effective links to the national community.
Romania Through a parent To naturalize you must have lived in Romania for at least 8 years and demonstrate your knowledge of the Romanian language and culture.
If you are married to a Romanian citizen, the residence requirement is reduced to 5 years.
Slovakia Through a parent In order to naturalize you must
  1. Have been a permanent resident in Slovakia continuously for at least 8 years prior to application
  2. Have satisfied Slovakia's obligations upon foreign residents;
  3. Not have a criminal record, pending extradition hearings, or European arrest warrants;
  4. Never had a deportation hearings or hearings for removal of asylum;
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of the Slovak language and a general knowledge of the country.

If you are married to a Slovakian citizen and can prove you've lived together in Slovakia, the residence requirement is reduced to 5 years.

Slovenia Both parents must be Slovenian or the non-Slovenian parent must be stateless, otherwise the birth must be registered In order to naturalize you must
  1. Have spent a total of 10 years residence in Slovenia, including 5 years continuous residence before the application
  2. Renounce your foreign citizenship (or provide proof it will automatically be lost)
  3. Show competency in the Slovenian language
  4. Demonstrate good character
  5. Be at least 18 years of age
  6. Be sufficiently established in Slovenia so as not to require welfare payments.

If you are married to a Slovenian for at least 2 years, the residence requirement is reduced to 1 year.

Spain Through a parent
If your parent lost Spanish nationality, you can claim it before age 20
In order to naturalize, you must be 18 or older and have lived in Spain for at least 10 years.
The residence requirement is reduced to 2 years for anyone with citizenship from Latin America, Andorra, Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal.
Sweden
  • If you were born before July 1, 1979, your father must be Swedish
  • If you were born between July 1, 1979 and March 31, 2015, your parents must have been married, regardless of which is the Swedish parent
  • For children born on or after April 1, 2015, the requirement for the parents to be married is waived.
In order to naturalize, you must have lived in Sweden legally for at least 5 years, unless you are a citizen of a Nordic country (requirement is reduced to 2 years).

So start looking through your family history and speaking to your relatives. Can you claim citizenship in one of these countries? If you can, you can keep your EU citizenship.

If not, have you lived where you are living long enough to naturalize? The official Brexit is still at least two years away, so that's your deadline.


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