Residence for investment programmes – the so-called golden visas – offer the chance to buy a home in one part of the European Union but, eventually, live and work in any other part. As Brexit draws ever closer, many Brits with interests in Europe are looking at their options. Here are the six best.

 

The right to live in a new country – or even a new continent – is suddenly a commodity in demand, and there are plenty of vendors. For several countries around the world, the sale of residential property has been a major source of revenue. Portugal, in particular, a seafaring nation for centuries, has now found the world flocking to its upmarket property developments in the Algarve and Lisbon, bringing €2 billion in residential property investment to the country in the past five years.

The right to live in a new country is suddenly a commodity in demand, and there are plenty of vendors.

It isn’t just the British looking for such a visa. Recently the world has started to feel less safe than it did a year or two ago, with Brexit, President Trump, and strong leaders like Putin, Erdogan, Sisi and potentially Marine le Pen, squaring up to each other. Kim Jong Un has been testing missiles in Korea, the Chinese building island bases in the South China Sea… 2017 is shaping up to be a catchy new verse if Billy Joel feels like rereleasing We Didn’t Start the Fire.

For some people, moving country hasn’t been far enough, they are looking for a whole new hemisphere. A record 13,400 Americans are reported to have applied for residency in New Zealand in the week after President Trump won the US election (that’s 17 times the usual number), and there were similar rushes to French and Spanish golden visa websites.

Almost every country in the world allows the super-rich to gain residency, at a price, but only six countries in Europe allow the investment to be in a home.

Portugal

 

Affordable Algarve luxury, where €500,000 goes a long way

 

– Property investment of €500,000
– No resident requirements
– Permanent residency after five years, citizenship after six
– Full family residency granted
– EU Schengen visa travel granted
– High tax-free threshold (no taxes paid unless living in Portugal for over 183 days per year)

Golden Visas in Portugal are one of the most popular due to the desirability of Portugal as a destination and the flexibility and benefits of the Golden Visa programme. Those investing over €500,000 in Portuguese real estate are eligible to apply for the visa. Other eligible investments include a business capital transfer over €1 million, real estate refurbishing of €350,000 or more, plus a handful of other investment schemes. Portugal’s Golden Visa programme commenced in 2012 to offer non-EU members a way to conduct business within the Schengen territory. Aspects that make this visa programme especially attractive are the lack of residency requirements; visa holders need only to reside in Portugal for seven days during the first year and two weeks for the subsequent two years. Full family residency is granted (including dependent children), and no language or interviews are required. Another key benefit of this programme is permanent residency is granted after five years with citizenship eligibility after six.

In 2016 Portugal recorded a record number of Golden Visa applications and was the most popular Golden Visa programme in Europe due to the relatively low investment cost, relaxed residency requirements and attractive property market.

Portugal offers a high standard of living and affordability compared to other countries in Europe. Although 2016 was a strong year for real estate in Portugal it is believed property prices are still well below what they were before the global financial crisis (GFC). This presents a good time to invest in Portuguese real estate with projected gains in the coming years.

Contact the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service to discover how to start your application.

Download the Portugal Buying Guide by clicking here or go straight to our Portugal property listings to start planning your move.

Cyprus

 

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For Permanent Residency:
– Investment of €300,000
– Simple and fast process
– Visit required once every two years to maintain residency
– Full family residency granted (grandparents, parents and dependent children)
– Investment into new property only
– Travel throughout the EU

For Citizenship:
– Investment of €2 million
– No residency requirements
– Become full EU member
– Simple and fast process (European passport in two months)
– Full family citizenship granted (children up to 28)

There are two Golden Visa pathways in Cyprus. To gain permanent residency an investment of newly constructed property equal to or above €300,000 is required. This is one of the most simple and affordable Golden Visa programmes. The residency permit, which is granted within just a couple months, extends to family and dependants under the age of 25. Once this visa is obtained one visit to Cyprus every two years is required to maintain validity.

Those seeking citizenship to Cyprus and the EU require a property investment of €2 million. Obtaining citizenship through investment in Cyprus allows high-net-worth individuals to live and conduct business anywhere in the EU. All family members qualify under this programme and there are no residency restrictions that apply. Successful applicants can expect an EU passport within three months, making this scheme the quickest way to obtain citizenship within the European Union.

Cyprus is appealing for many reasons. First and foremost, the majority of people speak English, making living and doing business easy for English speaking professionals. The small island country reports over 300 days of sunshine a year, is one of the safest countries in the world and is a trade, tourist and shipping hub. Real estate in Cyprus is affordable compared to recent years and now is an excellent time to invest.

Contact the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs to find out more about Schengen Visas.

Download the Cyprus Buying Guide by clicking here.

Spain

 

Swap your London flat for one of these in Majorca and an EU visa?

 

– Real estate investment of €500,000
– No residency requirements for visa
– Full family residency
– Permanent residency available after five years
– Citizenship available after 10 years
– Easy travel in Schengen region

There was disappointment that the price was set so high when Spain introduced its golden visa scheme in 2013 – it had originally been mooted at €160,000. The uptake started slowly but it has been gaining momentum since 2015, however, with Chinese and Russians making up the majority of investors. As we move towards Brexit and Trumpism it seems likely that more international buyers will be drawn by Spain’s climate, style, connectivity and English-speaking property-buying professionals. Recent market data suggests that although Spain’s property values are rising fast they still have some distance to go and offer potential for capital gains in the near future.

Those seeking residency in Spain under the investment visa need to acquire €500,000 of property, €1 million in Spanish government bonds or €1 million in Spanish company shares or private investment funds. If opting for the real estate investment pathway any number of properties can make up the €500,000, and joint buyers can be involved in the transactions. Once qualified, full family residency is granted without any minimum stay requirements. After five years permanent residency can be granted and after ten years individuals may be eligible for citizenship (there are some minimum stay requirements for permanent residency and citizenship). Other benefits of this Golden Visa programme include easy travel in the Schengen region, income is only taxed if residing in Spain for over half of the year, and the application process is fast and with low fees.

You can start your application via the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

Download the Spain Buying Guide by clicking here or go straight to our Spain property listings to start planning your move.

Greece

 

The glories of the eastern Mediterranean, and so affordable

 

– Real estate investment starting at €250,000
– No residency requirements (unless applying for citizenship)
– Full family residency
– Easy travel in Schengen region
– Immediate permanent residency

Greece’s Golden Visa programme, which began in 2013, offers the lowest cost to residency in the European Union but the legal processes are beset by bureaucratic inefficiency. With a real estate investment of €250,000 (which ends up near €300,000 after property taxes), seeking residency in Greece via the Golden Visa programme is more affordable than other countries. The processing time for the application is just over a month, in theory, although usually much longer in practice, and then permanent residency is granted. Residency is available for family members including children up to the age of 21.

There are no requirements to live in Greece to obtain residency. Residents are able to start a business in Greece, but cannot be employed. Citizenship is available after seven years, but there are residency and minimum language requirements to obtain this. Greece is in the Schengen region and therefore easy travel is granted throughout the 26 countries in the zone. There is very little red tape to apply for this visa, no language tests, no business experience and no medical tests are required upon application.

Being the most affordable investment visa in the European Union, there has been interest from British applicants, and there are long and historic ties between the two countries. Greece has an ideal climate, an affordable property market and a laid back yet sophisticated culture. After the property market sank by at least 40 percent after the global financial crisis, prices are beginning to rebound and there are excellent property deals available. Property investments of €250,000 can include one property or a combination of properties both residential and commercial.

The Hellenic Republic Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a special Schengen Visa page, in English.

Download the Greece Buying Guide by clicking here.

Malta

 

The Italianate architecture of Valletta, but you’ll need deep pockets

 

– Real estate investment starting at €350,000
– PLUS other investments of at least €800,000
– PLUS an additional investment of €25,000 per family member
– Citizenship and passport within one year
– No residency requirements with citizenship
– Visa-free travel to over 160 countries worldwide
– Citizenship for family
– No taxes unless you’re a tax resident
– Easy travel in Schengen region

The Malta Individual Investor Programme (IIP), which grants citizenship after one year of residency, is the most expensive in Europe. First a €650,000 contribution to the Government’s Development Fund is required, followed by a €150,000 investment in approved instruments. On top of this, each family member must contribute €25,000. A real estate investment of €350,000 or a five year rental lease in Malta is also required. Once these pre-requisites have been met, applicants may receive citizenship in one year. There is no requirement to live in Malta after citizenship is granted and no taxes apply unless considered a tax resident. Malta citizenship allows citizenship within the EU along with many other reciprocal agreements around the world. Only high net worth, talented and well respected applicants are admitted into Malta under the IIP programme.

Malta is a very desirable place to live and acquiring citizenship in Malta is highly coveted. The country has some of the highest standards of living in the world and a stable political and economic environment. The education system in Malta is world-class and visa-free travel is available to over 160 countries with a Malta passport. The real estate market in Malta is strengthening and property prices are on an upward trend.

One benefit of Malta is that English is so widely spoken. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has a very accessible website where you can begin your visa journey.

Latvia

 

Riga’s Old Town

 

– Investment of €250,000 in property
– Full family residency
– Permanent residency after five years (resident requirements)
– Easy travel in Schengen region
– No residency requirements for visa

Introduced in 2010, the Latvia Golden Visa scheme has been spectacularly successful, with 15,000 issued so far (compared to fewer than 500 per year in Greece, which has similar prices). It allows investors to obtain residency in exchange for a €250,000 investment in property. This programme is limited to 800 applicants per year after which the investment threshold rises to €500,000. Applicants may apply for permanent residence after five years, but residency for the majority of that time is required. Full family residency is granted under the Latvia Golden Visa programme and Latvia is a member of the Schengen region.

Latvia has a very user-friendly website for visa applications. You can reach it by clicking here.

*The 26 Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

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