Europe has become an enticing destination for many expats from the Americas, Asia, and other places around the world. With numerous stable countries to choose from, a wide selection of climates, low costs of living, and safe places to store wealth, applications to migrate to Europe have skyrocketed.

If you’re among the many non-EU citizens searching for a safe location to protect your finances and improve your quality of life, you might have heard about Golden Visa Europe programs. European countries that provide a Golden Visa scheme allow third-country nationals (non-EU/EEA and non-Swiss) to acquire residency and – in some cases – citizenship in exchange for a qualifying contribution to the nation’s economy.

This guide will provide some insights into the best Golden Visa Europe programs. We’ll compare the different requirements for European Golden Visa investment schemes that offer permanent residence permits compared to EU Golden Visa programs that offer citizenship by investment and golden passports.

With a breakdown of the Golden Visa Europe requirements in different countries, from the Portuguese Golden Visa Program to the Greece Golden Visa scheme, we’ll put you on the path to acquiring a European Golden Visa for you and your family members.

Some of the topics covered include:

What is a European Golden Visa?

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A Golden Visa in Europe is a government-sponsored program established by EU countries to boost the economy and improve national development. These Golden Visa schemes attract third-country nationals by allowing them to make a specified minimum investment in the country in exchange for a temporary residency permit, permanent legal residence, or citizenship and a golden passport, depending on which EU Golden visa is applied for.

The minimum investment amount for EU Golden Visa programs varies from country to country, as well as from the type of investment that is made. In most cases, the cheapest Golden Visa Europe program will be one that grants a temporary residence permit rather than permanent residency or golden passports–the latter typically requires a more substantial investment.

EU Golden Visa investment schemes have a range of investment options for potential applicants to choose from. The most popular choice among Golden Visa applicants is real estate investment, as real estate is historically one of the most secure assets to protect wealth. 

In many countries in Europe, real estate is priced well and yields excellent returns. An investment into real estate can provide a home for the investor,  all while allowing them to gain an EU Golden Visa in the process.

European Golden visas offer several investment alternatives to acquire citizenship or residence by investment. These are usually:

  • An investment in government-approved private equity funds
  • Purchasing shares of an existing company
  • Starting a new business that creates jobs
  • Donating to a government development fund or buying government bonds

You can also rent residential property as a means of contributing to the economy to be eligible for certain Golden Visas in Europe.

Besides a minimum investment amount, the stipulations for Golden Visas often extend to a minimum period of residence in the country, although, depending on the visa, the minimum stay is very minimal compared to an immigration visa like a work permit.

In some cases, EU Golden Visas allow you to obtain a golden passport without having to maintain permanent residence in the European Union, and you’re free to enjoy visa-on-arrival and visa-free access to all the countries an EU passport allows.

The Benefits of the Golden Visa Europe

Invest in Europe: With an investment in the world’s most economically stable continent, you can ensure your assets are secure and protected after acquiring a Europe Golden Visa. Economic collaboration across European countries via the European Union also opens up investment possibilities.

Get an EU passport: Acquiring a golden passport and European citizenship through a Golden Visa scheme in EU countries like Portugal and Spain opens up a world of travel doors, offering visa-free travel and visa-on-arrival access to more than 170 countries around the world.

Various investment routes: Not only can you invest in real estate to qualify for Golden Visa programs, but you have the option of investing in existing companies, government-approved private equity funds, and government bonds. Popular Golden Visa programs like the Italy Golden Visa allow applicants to create new innovative businesses with excellent growth potential.

High return on investment: Striking the ideal balance between risk and reward is the main objective for many international investors. Golden Visa investment programs that offer a residence permit provide an avenue to lucrative investments in real estate and businesses that yield high returns.

The entire family is eligible: The dilemma faced when migrating to a foreign country is bringing family members without incurring significant fees. The Malta Permanent Residence Program (MPRP), for example, allows the applicant to include immediate family members without requiring additional investment.

Similar to the MPRP, applications for the Cypriot Golden Visa program allow family members to be included.

Reside in one of Europe’s best countries: If you’re looking for a safe, stable, and prosperous country to reside in, there are several EU countries to choose from that offer Golden Visas, and many of them lead the world in quality-of-life factors that make the prospect of relocating to a foreign country much more appealing.

Take Malta’s MPRP program. This program allows investors to live in the ILGA-Europe’s highest-rated country for the promotion of LGBTQ rights, while the Portugal Golden Visa program would offer residence in one of the top-ranked countries in the Global Peace Index study by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP). Regardless of your demographic, stability and peacefulness are easy to acquire in Europe.

Freedom of movement in the Schengen Area: The unique aspect of life as a resident or citizen of EU countries in the Schengen Area is access to borderless travel between multiple countries. The main difference between the Schengen Area and other regional collaborations like Mercosur in South America is that there are no passport or ID checks when traveling from country to country within its zone.

In addition to travel, expats who obtain citizenship through Golden Visa programs acquire the right to live in any country in the Schengen Area and European Union.

Requirements to Apply for a Golden Visa

European Golden Visa requirements vary from country to country; however, here is a list of some of the main conditions that need to be met before starting the Golden Visa process:

  • Be over 18 years old
  • Be a third-country national (non-EU, non-EEA, or non-Swiss)
  • Not be a national of or have close ties with a country on a prohibited list
  • Not have a criminal record
  • Make a qualifying investment

European Countries that Offer a Golden Visa


Because of its beauty, excellent quality of life, stunning beaches, and great weather, Portugal has been one of the top destinations to relocate and invest in Europe. Since its launch in 2012, the Portugal Golden Visa program has allowed thousands of investors and their families to acquire Portuguese residency, many of which have advanced to build closer ties with Portugal by obtaining a permanent residence permit or Portuguese citizenship. 

golden visa europe

The benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa:

  • Residence in a country that offers a high quality of life
  • Multiple Portuguese investment routes starting from as little as €200,000 ($213,000)
  • Eligibility for a Portuguese passport in five years
  • No minimum stay requirements
  • Option to become a non-habitual resident and pay little to no tax for ten years

In February 2023 alone, a total of 130 Portuguese residence permits were rewarded to foreign investors and their family members.

Important note: The Portugal Golden Visa is coming to an end. You can check out this article for more information on the end of the Portugal Golden Visa and to find alternative options to gain residency in Portugal.


The landscape of Spain offers five different climate ranges, from a temperate climate in the north with warm summers and cold winters to hot summers and cool winters in the south. The country’s rich culture, architecture, and delicious food make Spain an ideal location for non-EU citizens.

Since introducing the Spain Golden Visa investment program in 2013, the Spanish government has encouraged foreign investors and expats to invest in the country. In exchange, Golden Visa holders receive Spanish temporary residence permit within a few months and the right to live, work and study in Spain.

The benefits of the Spanish Golden Visa program:

  • Free to enjoy Spain’s fantastic and varied quality-of-life factors
  • Lucrative real estate investment opportunities
  • Fast processing time to obtain Spanish residency
  • Borderless travel access to countries within the Schengen Area

Spanish Golden Visa investment options:

  • Purchase real estate property with a minimum value of €500,000 ($532,000)
  • Issue a bank deposit of at least €1 million ($1.06 million)
  • Invest a minimum of €1 million in shares of Spanish businesses
  • Invest at least €2 million ($2.13 million) in Spanish government bonds or public debt

Take a look at our Spain Golden Visa Ultimate Guide by local experts

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Cyprus is a true jewel of the Mediterranean. With its breathtaking coastal atmosphere, fascinating history, widely spoken English, and optimal weather, Cyprus is becoming increasingly popular among foreigners looking to acquire a Golden Visa in Europe.

The Cypriot Golden Visa – officially called the Cyprus Permanent Residence Program – was implemented by the Cypriot government to boost the nation’s economy. The investment program grants permanent residency and allows Golden Visa holders to obtain EU citizenship by naturalization after seven years.

Golden Visa applicants must make an investment with a minimum value of €300,000 ($319,000) into the program to receive the residence permit, and this can be through three forms of investment: 

  • A property investment in residential or commercial real estate
  • Purchase of shares in a Cypriot company
  • Purchase of units of Cyprus-registered investment funds

The benefits of the Cypriot Golden Visa program:

  • No residency requirements
  • Freedom of movement within the Schengen Area
  • Access to international schools teaching the British curriculum
  • Tax benefits such as no gift or inheritance tax, and a low corporate tax rate of just 12.5 percent

If you’re looking to secure a European Golden Visa through direct investment, click here for more information on the Cyprus Golden Visa.


Islands upon islands of picture-perfect beaches, friendly local people, excellent weather, and delicious Mediterranean cuisine; Greece has it all, and the country is more than willing to share these benefits with foreigners through the Greece Golden Visa program.

Greece is one of the cheapest countries that offer Golden Visas, with a minimum investment amount of just €250,000 ($266,000) in real estate. After making the investment, Greece Golden Visa holders receive a Greek residence permit in a few short months, with Greek citizenship possible after seven years of residing in the country.

With no stay requirements, and the option to include your whole family in your application, the Greek Golden Visa is a winner for investors looking to access the European Union.

Note that the minimum investment in real estate for the Greece Golden Visa will rise from €250,000 to €500,000 ($532,000) on 1 May 2023.

The benefits of the Greece Golden Visa program:

  • Visa-free travel within Europe (26 nations part of the Schengen Zone)
  • The whole family is eligible for residency
  • Calm and peaceful lifestyle and world-class beaches
  • Option to rent out your investment property


Malta is a small island in the Mediterranean with plenty of charm and a fantastic quality of life. Boasting a world-class healthcare system, affordable living costs, and mesmerizing landscapes, Malta is a beautiful European country to live and invest in. The new Malta Permanent Residence Program (MPRP) allows foreign investors to acquire permanent residency by investment.

The initial investment must be in real estate, either a property purchase or a lease. The minimum investment amounts are:

  • €300,000 for a property purchase in the South of Malta/Gozo or €350,000 ($372,000) in the rest of Malta
  • €10,000 ($10,650) for a rental property in the South of Malta/ Gozo or €12,000 ($12,770) in the rest of Malta

The residence program also requires two additional investments:

  • A non-refundable government donation of €28,000 ($30,000) when you purchase real estate or €58,000 ($62,000) when leasing a property
  • A charitable donation of €2,000 ($2,140) to a registered NGO

The Benefits of the Malta Permanent Residence Program:

  • Grants permanent residency in Malta in a short space of time
  • Low minimum investment requirement
  • Residence in the most LGBTQ-friendly country
  • Visa-free access to the Schengen Area (90 out of 180 days on a rolling basis)

Take a look at our guide to the Malta Permanent Residence Program

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Ireland is your quintessential country offering stunning countryside landscapes and optimal living standards. As part of the European Union, the Ireland Golden Visa enables applicants and their immediate family members to hold residency in an EU country, with visa-free travel access to the Schengen Zone. After six years, it’s possible to acquire Irish citizenship by naturalization and a golden passport.

The benefits of the Ireland Golden Visa program:

  • Diverse investment routes to Irish residency
  • Live in a wealthy country with ample leading university options for your children
  • European center for technology and business innovation

Important note: Please be advised that the Irish government ended its residency by investment program in February 2023. 

There are alternative investor visa programs to obtain a residency by investment in Ireland, such as the Start-up Entrepreneur Program (STEP), which you may be eligible for if you:

  • Are a person of good character
  • Have not been convicted of criminal offenses in any jurisdiction
  • Have the required €50,000 ($53,000) funding available
  • Have an innovative business proposal

Talk to Our Golden Visa Advisors

Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique consultancy firm with years of experience delivering bespoke residence and citizenship by investment solutions for international families. With offices worldwide and an experienced, hands-on team, we have helped hundreds of clients from around the world acquire residence permits or homes while diversifying their portfolios with robust investments.

We guide you from start to finish, taking you beyond your citizenship or residency by investment application.

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Frequently Asked Questions about the European Golden Visa

What Golden Visa programs can I find in Europe?

Several European countries offer golden visas to third-country nationals (non-EU/EEA and non-Swiss) in exchange for a qualifying investment. Spain, Cyrus, Greece, and Italy all have active Golden Visas. The Portuguese government is currently discussing the ending of the Portuguese Golden Visa, whereas the Ireland Golden Visa program has now been disbanded as of February 2023.

The Malta Permanent Residence Program grants permanent residency by investment. The investor visa also has a low minimum investment of €300,000 ($319,000) for a real estate purchase or €10,000 ($10,650) to lease real estate, plus two additional investments – a non-refundable government donation and charitable donation to a registered NGO amounting to €30,000 ($32,000) when purchasing real estate or €60,000 ($64,000) when leasing a property.

What is the best Golden Visa in Europe?

The best Golden Visa program is the Cyprus Golden Visa or residence by investment. The Cyprus Golden Visa is officially called the Cyprus Permanent Residence Program. In exchange for a minimum required investment of €250,000 ($266,000) for a real estate purchase, investors can acquire a permanent residence permit in Cyprus. There are also alternative investment options such as a purchase of company shares and investment in a mutual fund.

Can I get an EU passport with a Golden Visa?

The advantage of the best EU Golden Visa programs is that they can lead to EU citizenship and a European golden passport. For example, qualifying applicants of the Greek Golden visa are eligible for naturalization after seven years of residence in the country. In most cases, obtaining citizenship through a Golden Visa depends on whether the applicant has adhered to the residency requirements in order to be naturalized.

This is why Golden Visas, like the Cyprus Permanent Residence Program, are so valuable, as they grant a permanent residence permit, meaning successful applicants have no requirement to renew their visas. They can easily spend the required domicile period in the country, after which they’re eligible for European citizenship and a golden passport.

Are there any requirements to apply for Europe Golden Visa programs?

Each European Golden Visa program has its own eligibility criteria, and each country that offers a European Golden Visa program has different requirements and investment options. The universal requirements to apply for European Golden Visa programs are generally:

  • Be over 18 years old
  • Be a third-country national (non-EU, non-EEA, or non-Swiss)
  • Not be a national of or have close ties with a country on a prohibited list
  • Not have a criminal record
  • Make a qualifying investment

For the most popular Golden Visa programs, such as the Cyprus Golden Visa, you can also expect to be required to produce proof of an annual income of a specific amount before being granted a residence permit.