Photograph of the villa pool and house beyond at Villa Can Juanito, Porto Cristo Spain — Pascal Habermann | Unsplash

Golden visa residency-for-investment in a second country offers up living, business and finance options. Villa Can Juanito, Porto Cristo Spain — Pascal Habermann | Unsplash

Popularity of residency-for-investment golden visa schemes in Europe remains high among discerning investors

The advantage of living in another country has several attractions. Holding a second passport opens up a world of travel opportunities as well as the option to relocate and even retire in an attractive, foreign destination. And these benefits are just the beginning for golden visa holders.

For many, the right to live in an EU country offers new business opportunities by tapping into the wealth of the continent and its trillion-dollar economies. Owning property in a second — or even third — country also provides greater options for financial management and tax structuring.

Alongside the financial benefits, EU residency affords the bearer significant travel freedom. Schengen member states are among the world’s top ten passport powers. Finally, many EU member states have world-leading healthcare and education for those looking to relocate their entire family.

It is possible to obtain residency rights and citizenship through lengthy processes that involve living in the country for a specified period. However, many nations offer fast-track residency-for-investment schemes specifically designed for the refined investor. Dubbed “Golden Visas” these programmes offer the quickest route to begin reaping the benefits of second citizenship.

Residency-through-investment: the Golden Visa programmes

“Golden Visa” schemes provide a fast route to living and working in another country, typically via the purchase of property or investment in a country’s economy, such as through government bonds. The minimum cost of properties among EU member states ranges from €250,000 up to €2 million.

These schemes have become highly popular of late. Many investors are looking to restructure their portfolios with a greater proportion of their wealth tied to real estate. This is in part due to recent unrest and upheaval around the globe as the elite look to property markets to hedge their investments against possible future losses.

Real Estate Continues to be a Popular Investment Strategy even in the Current Market 

Residency-for-investment schemes are ideal for those looking to quickly obtain residency rights in another country for themselves and their families. Application processes vary, but they all require candidates to meet specific financial requirements before being approved. Specific criteria depend on your country of birth. Broadly, applicants need to show they are in good health, of sound conduct and prove the legality of their investment funds.

Highly successful Golden Visa programmes in the European Union

Below are five of the most highly desirable European countries offering residency-for-investment programmes including minimum investment amounts and the benefits of each scheme.

Cyprus Golden Visa programme

Cyprus is one of the most popular destinations for investment migration and for good reason. For many investors, it provides an attractive European base of operations on the Mediterranean (conveniently, the majority of citizens speak English). It is one of the safest countries in the world and it is a major economic hub for shipping, tourism, offshore finance and trade. These benefits are coupled with the island nation’s year-round sunshine and its affordable property prices. Together, these features make Cyprus a no-brainer for discerning investors.

Acquiring permanent residency in Cyprus requires a minimum investment of €300,000 in a newly constructed property. Residency is granted in around 60 days, making it one of the simplest and quickest Golden Visa programmes. Residency extends to family and children under the age of 25. Once obtained, you just need to visit the country once every two years to retain residency rights.

Photograph of a traditional townhouse in Limassol OId Town, Cyprus — Tania Mousinho | Unsplash

Cyprus has one of the most attractive investment residency programmes in Europe. Limassol OId Town, Cyprus — Tania Mousinho | Unsplash

Cyprus residency programme — at a glance:

  • An investment of €300,000 in a new property
  • 60-day application processing time
  • Visit every two years to maintain residency status
  • Full family is eligible including spouse, dependents under 25 years of age, parents and grandparents
  • Travel rights through the EU and Schengen zone

View the latest Cyprus residential properties for sale exclusively on MillGens

Greece Golden Visa programme

An ideal Mediterranean climate, highly affordable property and a relaxed yet refined culture have made Greece a sought-after destination for a long time. The country is particularly popular among British investors thanks in part to the historic ties the two countries share. Although the property market contracted by 40 per cent after the 2008 financial crisis, prices have rebounded in recent years

Greece’s Golden Visa programme offers the most cost-effective route to European residency. The programme requires a property investment of €250,000. However, be prepared for taxes and charges to push the price closer to €300,000. Since real estate prices are relatively low, it is indeed possible to spread the investment sum over several residential and commercial properties. Application processing times are officially 30 days but again be prepared for the wheels of bureaucracy to turn somewhat more slowly.

Photograph looking down terraced steps with the sea beyond in Fira, Thera Greece — H Fall | Unsplash

Greece is among the most cost-effective European “Golden Visa” programmes. Fira, Thera Greece — H Fall | Unsplash

Greece residency programme — at a glance:

  • Commercial and/or residential real estate investment from €250,000
  • No residency requirements
  • Residency available for all family including children up to 21 years old
  • Access to travel within the 26 Schengen nations
  • Minimal application requirements (no language or medical tests required nor business experience)

View the latest Greece residential properties for sale exclusively on MillGens

Spain

International investors are attracted to the Iberian nation by its climate, cuisine, Western Mediterranean culture and its European connectivity. The country’s English-speaking real estate agents are a real benefit for many as well. Other benefits include travel within the Schengen zone, rapid application process with minimal fees and personal income is only taxable if you reside in Spain. While the Spanish property market has slowed in recent years, forecasts are optimistic for growth even considering the COVID-19 impact.

Gaining residency status in Spain requires either a property investment of €500,000 (spread across any number of properties with multiple investors), a €1m investment in government bonds, company shares, or private investment funds. Once granted, the entire family has residency rights and there are no minimum stay requirements. Minimum stay requirements must be met to apply for permanent residency, however.

Coastal photograph of a holiday villa and shoreline in Cala S'Almunia, Spain — Riseuhu | Unsplash

Spain is a highly attractive (and affordable) second residency destination. Cala S’Almunia, Spain — Riseuhu | Unsplash

Spain residency programme — at a glance:

  • €500,000 real estate investment in either one or several properties and can include multiple investors
  • No residency requirements
  • Full family eligibility
  • Permanent residency available after five years and citizenship after ten years

The European Countries Offering Some of the Most Attractive Elite Residency and Citizenship by Investment Packages

Portugal Golden Visa programme

The Atlantic Iberian nation has experienced a record number of Golden Visa applicants in recent years thanks to the attractiveness of Portugal as a destination coupled with the relatively low cost of the programme and its benefits. The country offers a high standard of living and the property market remains competitive making now a good time to invest.

The Golden Visa programme requires a €500,000 real estate investment or a €1m business capital transfer. The real estate investment is discounted where the property is over 30 years old and in need of renovations or a remote region. Just seven days in-country are required in the first year of residency and 14 days in subsequent years. Full family residency rights are granted — including dependents — and there are no language proficiency requirements or interviews. 

Seaside photograph of Porto, Portugal — Nick Karvounis | Unsplash

The Portuguese Golden Visa programme is among the most successful in Europe. Porto, Portugal — Nick Karvounis | Unsplash

Portugal Golden Visa residency programme — at a glance:

  • At least €500,000 real estate investment
  • Discounted rate for older properties
  • Minimum residency requirements
  • Full family residence
  • Permanent residency available after five years and citizenship after six years
  • Travel within the Schengen zone
  • Attractive tax threshold with no taxes paid unless residing in the country for over 183 days in each calendar year

Latvia Golden Visa Residency

The Latvia Golden residency programme has only been active for the past decade but during that time it has attracted an exceptionally high number of applicants. Located on the Eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, the nation is renowned for its diverse heritage, unique cuisine, and striking mix of medieval and art nouveau architectural styles. 

The Golden Visa programme is exceptionally cost-effective, with residency granted in exchange for a €250,000 real estate investment. The entire family is eligible for the scheme and permanent residency can be granted after five years if you have stayed in the country for the majority of the time. The Balitc State has been a member of the European Union since 1991 making continental travel easily accessible for residents.

Photograph of an attractive townhouse front door in Vidus Iela, Riga Latvia — Kristaps Grundsteins | Unsplash

Latvia is a distinct and highly desirable location for investment-for-residence. Vidus Iela, Riga Latvia — Kristaps Grundsteins | Unsplash

Latvia Golden residency programme — at a glance:

  • Invest €250,000 in real estate
  • Full family eligibility
  • No minimum residency requirements for visa
  • Travel within the Schengen zone
  • Permanent residency available after five years

Safeguarding Wealth via European Residency and Citizenship Investment Programmes