Europe's top 3 residency & citizenship by investment programs


Europe's top 3 residency and citizenship by investment schemes

Residency or citizenship by investment programs are a popular way for European countries to attract foreign investment. Portugal, one of the first European countries to have launched such a program, has generated more than €5,000,000,000 worth of investments since its launch in 2012. 90% of this amount has been invested in Portuguese Real Estate. No wonder that other countries followed Portugal's example and developed their own residency and even citizenship by investment programs.

Why Invest in Permanent Residency?

There are many reasons why residency and citizenship by investment programs are so popular among extra-European citizens. New business opportunities arise or are more achievable for those being able to travel freely. As many passports are very restrictive when it comes to visa-free travel, a European passport or even permanent residence permit allow for free travel. Global mobility is key to successful international business and entrepreneurship. Furthermore, residency outside of your native country or your business's country may allow tax-exemptions and optimisation, especially because many residencies by investment programs try to attract even more investment with extra-ordinary tax benefits. As most programs also allow for family reunification, the applicant can also ensure a safe and well educated future for their spouses and children. Last but not least, security is a big factor when choosing a residency in a safe and politically stable country.

In which European country should you invest?

All European countries offering residency or citizenship by investment programs allow a safe living and economical advantages to the applicants and their families. There is not a 'best country' to invest in. All depends on the applicants personal needs. So let's compare 3 of the most popular residency and citizenship by investment programs.

Portugal's Golden Visa

The The Golden Visa program in Portugal  was the first of its kind in Europe and is the most popular residency by investment program in Europe until today. Portugal's Golden Visa can be obtained for property investments starting from €500.000 (€350.000 in some specific cases) only. This low entry requirement in terms of money as well as the fact that Portugal is a member state of the Schengen area are probably the most important reasons for choosing Portugal. Applying for permanent residency in a country that is a member of the Schengen area has the big advantage to not only obtain the right of living and working in the country itself, but also allows for visa free travel and conducting business in all member states of the Schengen area. Portugal offers many tax incentives to foreign investors and has a very low cost of living compared to other European country. Add to this the open-minded and very peaceful population, a simple, but very tasty cuisine, a low crime rate and a big variety of cultural and outdoor activities, and you will understand why Portugal's Golden Visa scheme is so attractive. In fact, it has attracted so much foreign investment that its economy has not only become one of the more stable economies in Europe, but also one of the fastest growing.

Cyprus Investment Program

When deciding to invest in a foreign country, location is key. The location of Cyprus, at the crossroads of Africa, the Middle-East and Asia as well as Europe is difficult to beat by any other European country. Although an Island, Cyprus is extremely well connected to the rest of the world through its two international Airports, offering a variety of daily international flights throughout Europe, the Middle-East and Africa. Like Portugal, Cyprus has everything needed for a quality life-style: great international schools, a low crime-rate, cosmopolitan cities and cultural as well as outdoor activities.

Although the initial investment to be made in Cyprus is much higher than in Portugal (one must purchase property worth €2.000.000 or more), the program will turn the applicant into a citizen or Cypriot Passport holder instead of only providing a permanent residence permit. This is important as Cyprus is not yet a member of the Schengen Area and a passport therefore is necessary to travel freely across Europe (and the rest of the world). Unlike Portugal's Golden Visa Program, which is a residency by investment program, the Cyprus Investment Program is a citizenship by investment program.

Interesting fact: Cyprus applied to be part of the Schengen Area of countries earlier last year. Once part of the Schengen Area, many benefits of the Cyprus Investment Program like Europe-wide visa-free travel will already be possible with a permanent residency,  meaning the applicant does not have to wait for the Cypriot citizenship approval.

Citizenship by Investment Malta

With investments of about €880.000 or more, the Maltese citizenship by investment program is probably one of the most affordable in Europe. Located just a short hop away from Tunisia and Italy, the Island of Malta is well connected through its international airport and offers a mild and sunny climate all year round.

Malta offers a very low cost of living, an open-minded and multilingual society, a rich culture and history and all of this under a mild and welcoming climate. It is a very safe place to live and it's cuisine is influenced by the Mediterranean as well as Arab cuisine alike, catering for all tastes.

The 3 citizenship and residency by investment programs at glance****

* For certain projects in tourism or refurbishment projects, investments as from €350.000 are eligible

** While 5 years seems like a long time, visa free travel and the conduct of business is already possible with a residence permit as Portugal is part of the Schengen area of countries.

*** Figures for obtaining the Maltese Citizenship. For a residence permit, the minimum investment is as low as €290.000.00

**** Laws and program incentives change at a quick pace. Please ask your lawyer or investment advisor for updated information.

***** Citizenship can be obtained after 5 years of permanent residency.

Choosing the perfect residency by investment program. Where to start?

Choosing the right residency or citizenship by investment program according to your personal needs or the needs of your family or business is important. Local laws keep changing and the investment opportunities for acquiring residency or citizenship through such a program are very broad. We therefore recommend getting in touch with professional investment advisers as a starting point. Good investment advisers are not only aware of present laws and restrictions, but also keep a close eye on future developments and possible changes in law. Last but not least, these advisers usually have a large portfolio of investment opportunities that will not only allow you to benefit from tax-advantages, citizenship and residency permits, but also to generate a return on your investment by seeking the best business opportunities or for example by generating returns on your property investment by letting it on the long-term or holiday rental market.

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