Is it possible to buy a European passport? Yes, it is. And we are not talking about some illegal scheming, but a lawful way to get second citizenship by investment. This is commonly called the Golden Visa because investors usually enjoy special benefits. Such programmes are specially designed in a lot of countries to stimulate the economy.
However, you will not receive your new passport in a couple of days after you have made your investment. If you opt for this route, first you will receive a residence permit. It will give you a great number of opportunities but still will not make you a citizen of the country. Eventually, you will be able to apply for naturalisation (that is how the process of obtaining citizenship is called).
Experts at the Imperial & Legal company shared with us what countries offer the quickest ways to get a second passport and citizenship by investment.
You can get a European passport of this country in a rather short time – just 12 months. However, you are under no obligation to stay a whole year in the country. Of course, you will need to visit the country several times to have all the documents prepared. But as for the rest of the time, you may stay in your home country or go travelling. Malta offers visa-free access or simplified access to 161 countries, including Japan, Canada and the USA. So there are a lot of countries you can travel to.
Let us come back to the investment. In order to get Malta citizenship by investment, you need to invest at least €1,360,000. The contribution process consists of several parts:
- Investment in residential property. You can acquire the property or take it on lease. In the former case it must cost at least €700,000. In the latter case – at least €16,000 per year. You can’t lease it out or sublet it. You must retain the property for at least 5 years
- Contribution to charity. The contribution must be at least €10,000, and, obviously, it is non-refundable.
- Government contribution. It is a sum that an applicant is required to contribute to obtain Maltese citizenship. The main applicant is required to pay €650,000. If you want to get passport for the whole family, you must add €25,000 for each minor dependant and €50,000 for each dependant over 18. This non-refundable contribution goes to the Treasury of Malta.
According to the Maltese immigration laws, a family includes not only a spouse, but also children under 18. It also may include children under 26, provided they are not married and have no stable source of income, as well as parents and grandparents over 55, financially dependent on and living with the applicant.
Imperial & Legal’s note: “Maltese citizenship gives you a lot of benefits: visa-free access to a great number of countries, favourable taxation (e.g., there is no property tax), no need to stay on the island permanently. There is only one trick about it – there is a quota of 1800 openings for the Maltese citizenship by investment programme. The limit is forecast to be approached in the near future. So those who wish to obtain a Maltese passport would do well to hurry up”.
The Republic of Cyprus
Here you will have to invest more, but it takes even less time, only six months, to obtain European citizenship. In contrast to standard periods of time, required in the majority of the European countries, one can call paperwork in Cyprus spectacularly quick.
If you want to become a Cypriot national, you will have to pay €2,000,000 (or more, if you feel like it) and make two compulsory contributions of €150,000 in total. There are three investment options too, and you can combine them. The point is that the total sum must be equal to or above the minimum threshold.
- Residential property. You need to invest at least €500,000 per person in residential property. It applies to the dependants too, so you will have to multiply this figure by the number of your family members, who will go with you. You can’t sell the property, it must be retained for life. But you can exchange it for some other residential property of equal value. So this may be called a non-refundable investment. But at the same time, you will get wonderful accommodation in Cyprus as your investment.
- Business. You can establish a company here and invest in its development, but it must be active and you must create at least five jobs for Cypriot nationals. There is no restriction as regards the business field, but the touristic sector is the one to lead in popularity.
- Financial assets. Local companies’ shares, units of investment funds, promissory notes and even government bonds. Note that you can only invest not more than €500,000 in government bonds. You must hold the assets for at least 5 years.
In six months’ time after you have invested you can apply for naturalisation. No need for you to take either a Language test (by the way, there are two official languages here, Turkish and Greek), or a History and Tradition test. You do not even have to live in the country to get citizenship. Investors enjoy comfortable environment here and do not face unnecessary difficulties. All that you have to do is to visit the island just once to go through all the formalities.
Imperial & Legal’s note: “Cypriot citizenship is very popular among wealthy businessmen. The financial threshold in Cyprus is high, so a Cypriot passport is available only to those who are comfortable with money. In return they get really favourable conditions. To get European citizenship in six months is an extremely attractive opportunity. However last year the national authorities made the money due diligence check tougher, so one will not be able to pay for European citizenship with unclear sources of funds”.
It is important to mention that this extremely popular Cyprus citizenship by investment programme is currently inactive, for it stopped accepting new applications in November, 2023 due to a number of reasons, and it remains unclear whether the Government will resume it. So if you wish to obtain a European passport and citizenship of a European country, you might consider programmes of other countries.
Besides Cyprus, there are other countries offering European citizenship by investment: Spain, Portugal, the UK, Switzerland, Belgium etc. However, it will take you on average from 5 to 10 years, and sometimes even more, to get from investment to naturalisation. The positive thing is that during all this time you will enjoy a residence permit with its benefits rather similar to those offered by citizenship.
Experts say, when choosing a country, you should take into account all the details and study the immigration law very carefully to become well-informed about the subject. Thus you will not only obtain European citizenship on the best possible terms, but also enjoy long-term gain from your investment. Remember residence by investment and citizenship by investment programmes are full of peculiarities and hidden hazards, that is why it is advisable to turn to qualified immigration experts – to save both your time and money!