The Easiest Way to Gain EU Citizenship? Buy It.
It’s no secret: many people loathe the populist movements that saw Britain exit the European Union and the United States elect a true political outsider. They fear disruption of the status quo and the vesting of power in individuals they feel are ill suited to lead or govern. Indeed, this anxiety has afflicted some wealthy individuals from both countries, with some “threatening” to renounce their citizenship and expatriate their assets. In other words, some rich people are leaving the United States and Britain, and they are taking their ball with them. So where do they go? In what countries are these well-off individuals taking up residency and obtaining citizenship? Perhaps unsurprisingly, many have found their new home in European Union countries. Relatively high standard of living, good education, good roads…Paris, Rome, Copenhagen, Prague…why not? In addition, and importantly, many EU countries provide fast-tracked residency permits and citizenship for those who make sufficient investments in property or businesses.
There are 28 countries in the European Union with 28 different fast-tracked programs to obtain citizenship. Soon there will be 27. Which countries offer the easiest, cheapest, and fastest means to citizenship? Henley and Partners, a citizenship consultancy firm, recently surveyed the various programs offered by the members of the 28-nation bloc. The results demonstrated that EU countries prefer their residents have a vested interest in the state, often requiring loans to the government or the purchase of real property.
For example, Bulgaria’s residency program, which is on the more onerous side, requires the applicant to invest $625,000 into a state bond fund for five years. The Mediterranean island of Cyprus (which has a corporate tax rate of 12.5%), however, requires the applicant to purchase property worth at least $375,000.
Don’t like the water? Become a resident of Latvia after buying $300,000 of real estate. Prefer to live amongst the ruins of the Knights Hospitaller who repelled the Ottoman Empire invasion in 1565? Buy $343,000 of property in Malta, and enjoy the 15% tax rate imposed on permanent residents, along with the history.
For those desiring something more exclusive, the Island of Jersey imposes residency costs of $156,000 per year. However, residency is only available to those making more than $780,000 per year. Residents commonly enjoy the weather and low tax rates.
For those without sufficient assets for investment, Belgium often provides residency after the applicant obtains employment in the country. Processing times generally take less than two months.
Whether one is politically, ideologically, or financially motivated to permanently relocate, the European Union offers several fast-tracked residency programs for those with the capital to purchase property and fulfill other unique requirements.
— By Michael S. Cooper, Barnes Law
Michael Cooper is an associate attorney with Barnes Law, and is licensed to practice law in California.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.