If you’re looking to obtain citizenship by investment in Europe, take a look at our citizenship by investment comparison guide for 2020 for information on all the most popular Golden Visa programs and what to look for when choosing one.

What is citizenship?

What exactly does citizenship mean? Well, citizenship means you are entitled to a number of rights in the country in which you obtain it. This includes:

  • The right to live and travel freely in the country, as well as in other countries with which the nation has special agreements with
  • The right to vote
  • The right to work

In return, you accept the responsibility of complying with the laws and rules of the state in question.

What is citizenship by investment?

Citizenship by investment is a process by which an individual obtains a second passport and second citizenship through investment in the economy of the country. Depending on the country, there are usually specific requirements for the investment you can make, and different benefits associated with the passport you acquire.

So can I buy a passport?

Often when people talk about how you can buy a passport, they talk about citizenship by investment. However, no one can “buy a passport” legally, but with citizenship by investment programs you can ultimately obtain a second passport more quickly and easily than through other immigration methods.

Which countries offer citizenship by investment?

There are many countries around the world that offer citizenship by investment programs. By investing in these programs, investors can obtain citizenship not only for themselves, but also for their dependents, including their parents, children, stepchildren, and grandparents.

Citizenship by investment countries

Here are some countries with popular citizenship by investment programs:

  • 🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda
  • 🇵🇹 Portugal
  • 🇪🇸 Spain
  • 🇬🇷 Greece
  • 🇧🇬 Bulgaria
  • 🇰🇲 Comoros
  • 🇨🇾 Cyprus
  • 🇩🇲 Dominica
  • 🇬🇩 Grenada
  • 🇲🇹 Malta
  • 🇰🇳 St Kitts and Nevis

There are also a number of other countries that offer citizenship by investment programs. Citizenship by investment programs in Europe are also known as “Golden Visa” programs. Some of the most popular Golden Visa programs in Europe are offered by Portugal, Greece, and Spain.

Requirements for citizenship by investment programs

Each country has a different set of requirements that investors must fulfill in order to obtain citizenship. For example, some programs request medical exams which require candidates to prove they are in good health, others do not.

The vast majority of countries do however demand the following two requisites:

  • That you do not have a criminal record
  • That your funds come from a legal source

Citizenship by investment options

Transfer of funds or government bonds

A transfer of funds or government bonds is usually the fastest way of obtaining citizenship through investment. The benefit of this method is that if your application is unsuccessful, your money will be returned.

Real estate investment

Investing in real estate can in some cases be more costly and involve more paperwork and bureaucracy. However, at the same time, depending on which country you choose to invest in, an investment in real estate can bring in considerable returns.

Citizenship by investment vs residency by investment

There are two different routes to citizenship, which usually vary depending on the country of choice.

Citizenship by investment

This type of investment accelerates the citizenship process, allowing investors to obtain a second passport within a matter of months. There are usually no language requirements.

Residency by investment

These types of programs are better known as “Golden Visa” programs. They usually take longer than citizenship by investment programs, and applicants must wait for a period of 5-9 years before obtaining a passport. During this time the initial investment must be maintained, and the investors receive residency permits.

Citizenship by investment comparison 2020: why invest in a second passport?

There are a number of different reasons why you should invest in a second passport:

  • As security against political and economic instability
  • Increase your business options
  • To protect your assets against excessive taxation
  • Reduce your fiscal obligations
  • Visa-free travel to more countries around the world

The benefits of a second passport through citizenship by investment

There are a number of benefits in obtaining a second passport through a “Golden Visa” or citizenship by investment program, some of which are:

  1. Live in a European country without a visa
  2. Travel more freely to more countries
  3. Access to national services
  4. Access to education
  5. Investor tax benefits
  6. Entitlement to a pension
  7. Enhanced business opportunities
  8. Better quality of life
  9. Your family members also have the right to citizenship

How to choose the best citizenship by investment program

Your choice of citizenship by investment program will depend entirely on your circumstances and requirements, however, there are some investment programs that are more popular than others. We’ve compiled a comparison of some of the most successful programs for you to compare.

Citizenship by investment comparison 2020: most popular programs

Country Minimum investment Type of investment Stay requirement Time until citizenship Ease of process
🇦🇬  Antigua and Barbuda $132,850 Transfer of funds 5 days per year 7 months Easy
🇵🇹 Portugal €280,000 Real estate and other options 7 days per year 5 years Easy
🇬🇷 Greece €250,000 Real estate and other options 183 days per year 7 years Easy
🇨🇾 Cyprus €2,000,000 Real estate and other options n/a 9 months Medium
🇩🇲 Dominica $262,550 Real estate and other options n/a 6 months Medium
🇪🇸 Spain €500,000 Real estate and other options n/a 10 years Easy
🇲🇹 Malta €900,000 Investment and donations n/a 18 months Easy

 

Factors that can influence your decision are whether you intend to relocate or not, equally the type of investment you intend to make is important, and can require a thorough examination of potential returns.

Portugal Golden Visa: the ideal choice for those looking to relocate to Europe

Portugal’s Golden Visa program (officially known as the “ARI” Autorização de Residência para Atividade de Investimento) is one of the most popular citizenship by investment programs in Europe. This is largely due to the high standard of living, stable economy and government, as well as the potential for high returns on investments.

Benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa program

  • Freedom of movement across 26 European countries
  • You can apply for a Portuguese passport after 5 years
  • You can also obtain residence permits for your family with a single investment
  • You only need to spend 7 days there per year to maintain residency
  • You can also take advantage of the non-habitual tax regime (which can entail substantial tax reductions or even total exemption over a ten-year period)
  • There are a range of different investment options available, many of which are relatively inexpensive and can result in high returns

Spain vs Portugal Golden Visa

The main benefits of the Portuguese citizenship by investment program in comparison to the Spanish one is that investments can be made for a lower amount. Investors in the Portugal Golden Visa can also obtain a European passport in just 5 years, whereas investors in the Spanish Golden Visa must wait 10 years.

The Portuguese Golden Visa has so far had almost double the applications of the Spanish Golden Visa, and on average Portuguese Golden Visa applications include more dependents than the Spanish one.

Another key difference is that the Spanish Golden Visa has no “stay requirement” (number of days required to spend in the country) to maintain residence whereas the Portuguese Golden Visa requires that applicants spend 7 days per year in the country for 5 years.

Greece vs Portugal Golden Visa

Greece has rivaled Portugal in recent years in terms of the most popular citizenship by investment programs in Europe. This is largely due to the two programs being similarly priced and having similar requirements. There are however some key differences between the two.

The Portuguese real estate market has grown at a stable rate over the past few years, while the Greek real estate market is still experiencing a period of stagnation which began with the global financial crisis.

Portuguese real estate prices are projected to continue rising in the coming years, therefore presenting a much more stable and secure investment than Greek real estate. The Portuguese economy has also been bolstered by a surge in tourism and shored up by an increase in tech companies and startups in Lisbon.

Take a look at our guide to buying property in Portugal for more information about real estate investment in the country.

The Greek program also requires that applicants spend 183 days per year in Greece, for 7 years in order to get a European passport. The Portuguese program only requires applicants to spend 7 days per year in the country, and investors can obtain a European passport after just 5 years.

Would you like to know more about the Portuguese Golden Visa program?

Take a look at our complete guide to the Portugal Golden Visa.

Frequently asked questions about citizenship by investment comparison

Do I need to relocate to get citizenship by investment?

No, in many cases you do not have to relocate in order to obtain citizenship by investment. In some cases, you have to spend a short time in the country each year in order to maintain residency.

Which is the best country for citizenship by investment?

The best country for citizenship by investment depends entirely on your circumstances. It can help to get in touch with a specialist to discuss your requirements and the options available to you.

How long does it take to get citizenship by investment?

It depends on which program you choose. Some of the fastest programs are in countries such as Cyprus and Barbuda, which take less than a year.

Which programs offer the highest returns for investment?

Real estate investments in countries such as Portugal and Greece have offered high returns in the past, particularly on rental properties in popular vacation spots.

What is citizenship by investment?

Citizenship by investment is a process by which an individual obtains a second passport and second citizenship through investment in the economy of the country. Depending on the country, there are usually specific requirements for the investment you can make, and different benefits associated with the passport you acquire.

Which countries offer citizenship by investment?

Some countries which offer the opportunity to obtain citizenship by investment are Portugal, Greece, Malta, Spain, St Kitts and Nevis, Cyprus, and Grenada.

What are the requirements for citizenship by investment?

It is usually required that you do not have a criminal record, and that your funds are acquired from a legal source. Some programs also request medical exams and language proficiency tests.

Do you need to relocate to get citizenship by investment?

No, in many cases you do not have to relocate in order to obtain citizenship by investment. In some cases, you have to spend a short time in the country each year in order to maintain residency.

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