The 5 Hardest Citizenships to Get


It gets hard to obtain citizenships in some countries whose decision-makers decide that it is for the country’s benefit to keep close to the particularities of their cultures. To do so, those  countries tighten the citizenship laws to make it tough and even impossible for a foreigner to become a citizen in it. In the following list are countries in which it is near to impossible to get a citizenship :

1/ North Korea

North Korea

The only clear way to obtain a North Korean citizenship is by decent i.e. if one of his parents is North Korean. Even birth doesn’t grant citizenship. The citizenship via a naturalization process exists, however, procedures are ambiguous and it can only be granted by the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly. Dual citizenship is not recognized, and citizens need to get permission to leave North Korea.  But, they can obtain the South Korean citizenship if they wish to by fleeing to South Korea.

2/ UAE

United Arab Emirates

The UAE’s citizenship laws are not any less easy, but they are set in clear procedures and  requirements. Along with the possibility of citizenship by decent, many regulations are made on citizenship by marriage: An Emirati man can pass citizenship to his foreign wife if she wishes to after 3 years of marriage. The foreign wife loses her Emirati citizenships if she remarries a foreign man. An Emirati woman needs a prior authorization from the Naturalisation and Residence Directorat. If she doesn’t, she loses her citizenship. She cannot pass citizenship to her husband and if the couple wishes to, it is up to the Presidential Court to  decide.

The citizenship by naturalisation requires a 20-year legal stay in the country. The duration of  stay is reduced to 3 years if the applicant is of Omai, Qatari, or Bahrini origins, or no residency limits at all for applicants who made sificat services to the country.

The UAE law does not recognize dual citizenships.

3/ Vatican

Vatican City

The Vatican city counts 532 citizen all of whom are either cardinals, diplomats of the Holy See and officials.  Citizenship in Vatican is granted for those who have a religious or official mission in the country and removed as soon as the citizen is o longer on the mission.The diplomatic citizenship is temporarily conferred to the members of the citizen’s spouse and children.

4/ China

People's Republic of China

Chinese Citizenship laws are mainly concerned with the citizenship by birth.* Again, getting a citizenship by naturalization is possible according to the Chinese nationality law but still not very common to foreigners not belonging to the 56 indigenous ethnicities recognized by China ( Koreans, Russians .. ). After naturalization, the applicant needs to give up his/her original citizenship.

(* Children born in china to a Chinese parent or stateless parents who settle in China can get the Chinese citizenship. Children born outside China to a Chinese citizen who have not been a Permanent Resident in a foreign country can obtain the chiese citizenship too. )

5/ Bhutan


Bhutan is among the most isolated countries in the world. Before 1999, Bhutanese used to be prohibited from using television by fear of losing their identity. Recently, Bhutan have made attempts to open up its policies, still the laws regarding citizenship are tight.Children to one Bhutanese parent must have resided in Bhutan for least 15 years from the date of application. Foreigners  must be at least 21 years of age and must prove physical presence in Bhutan for at least 20 years. The residence period is cut to 15 years for government employees. The Bhutanese government is free to reject applications for naturalisation without mentionog the reasons.


However strict, the regulations stated above are only on paper. Rarely, do foreigners get allowed to have a citizenship in the above countries since the stated procedures are not put into practice most of the time.


 Nidhal Chemkhi