Requirements for European Citizenship by Investment

Published: 23 May 2024

Navigating the myriad pathways to acquiring citizenship in Europe through investment can be a complex process, laden with various legal and financial stipulations. European Citizenship by Investment programs provide a golden opportunity for non-EU nationals to gain citizenship through substantial economic contributions, facilitating not only enhanced global mobility but also access to a stable and prosperous lifestyle. This article delves into the intricate requirements and significant advantages of these programs, highlighting their pivotal role in global economic integration.

Key Takeaways

  • The investment can take various forms, such as real estate purchases, contributions to government funds, or business investments. The minimum investment amounts and specific requirements vary by country.
  • Obtaining EU citizenship through investment provides numerous benefits, including visa-free travel within the Schengen Area, the right to live, work, and study in any EU country, and access to high-quality healthcare and education systems.
  • Applicants must undergo stringent due diligence processes to ensure they have no criminal background and meet all legal requirements.
  • Some programs require applicants to reside in the country for a certain period before obtaining citizenship, while others do not.

What is European citizenship through investment programs?

European citizenship through investment programs offer individuals the opportunity to obtain citizenship in a European country by making significant financial investments. These programs are designed to attract foreign capital and boost local economies by encouraging investments in real estate, government bonds, or local businesses. Here’s a brief overview of how these programs typically work.

Investment Options

Most European citizenship by investment programs require applicants to invest in one or more of the following areas:

  • Real Estate: Purchasing property within the country, often with a minimum investment amount specified by the program.
  • Government Bonds: Investing a specified amount in government bonds, which is usually held for a fixed period.
  • National Development Funds: Making a non-refundable donation to government-sanctioned funds dedicated to national economic and social projects.
  • Business Investment: Investing in new or existing local businesses, often creating jobs or bringing innovation to certain economic sectors.

What are the Benefits of European Citizenship by Investment

European Citizenship by Investment programs serve as a gateway to a spectrum of substantial benefits for investors and their families, ranging from enhanced global mobility to improved living standards and economic opportunities. These programs are tailored to affluent individuals looking to secure a stable and prosperous future in the European Union. Here is an exploration of the multifaceted advantages that come with obtaining European citizenship through investment.

  • Unrestricted Global and European Mobility: One of the standout benefits of European citizenship is the ability to travel visa-free or with visa-on-arrival access to over 180 countries worldwide, including all of the Schengen Area. This not only simplifies travel but also significantly enhances an individual’s global mobility, making international travel for business or leisure more accessible and less burdensome.
  • Right to Live, Work, and Study Across the EU: European citizenship bestows the rights to live, work, and study anywhere within the 27 member states of the European Union. This opens up a continent’s worth of opportunities for employment and education, allowing citizens to pursue careers and schooling in highly regarded institutions across diverse cultural landscapes without the need for lengthy immigration procedures.
  • Access to High-Quality Healthcare Systems: EU citizens benefit from access to some of the world’s most comprehensive public healthcare systems. This ensures not only top-tier medical care but also social security benefits that provide a safety net in terms of health and general wellbeing, which is particularly advantageous for families and retirees.
  • Participation in the Political Process: Holding EU citizenship also grants the political rights to vote and stand in elections for the European Parliament as well as local elections in the country of residence. This level of civic engagement allows citizens to have a say in shaping the policies and developments of their communities and the broader European landscape.
  • Enhanced Business and Investment Opportunities: EU citizenship opens the door to expansive business and investment prospects within the EU’s single market. Investors can benefit from the free movement of goods, services, capital, and people, alongside fewer restrictions on establishing and operating businesses across the union, fostering greater entrepreneurial initiatives and investment ventures.
  • Family Reunification and Inclusion: Many European citizenship by investment programs facilitate the inclusion of immediate family members in the citizenship application. This not only streamlines the process of family reunification but also extends the benefits of EU citizenship to spouses, children, and sometimes extended family members like parents or grandparents, thereby enhancing their mobility and security as well.
  • Opportunities for Tax Optimization: Certain EU countries offer advantageous tax regimes to new citizens, such as Portugal’s Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) program, which can significantly reduce the tax burden on foreign income. This aspect of EU citizenship is particularly appealing to high-net-worth individuals looking to optimize their tax liabilities and protect their wealth.
  • Security and Stability: European citizenship serves as a valuable ‘Plan B’, providing a secure and stable backup that can be crucial in times of personal or geopolitical unrest. The political stability, economic strength, and high safety standards of EU countries offer a reassuring promise of security for investors and their families.
  • High Standards of Living: The EU is renowned for its high quality of life, which includes robust infrastructures, extensive cultural offerings, environmental consciousness, and a high level of education and healthcare services. These factors make living in the EU highly desirable for individuals from all walks of life.
  • Lifelong Citizenship and Legacy: European citizenship is typically granted for life and can be passed to future generations, allowing descendants to inherit the myriad benefits of EU citizenship. This perpetual advantage underscores the long-term value of investing in European citizenship, making it a profound legacy for future generations.

The European Citizenship by Investment programs offer more than just a legal status; they provide a comprehensive suite of benefits that cater to the financial, personal, and familial needs of international investors. With opportunities for significant personal and economic growth, these programs represent a prudent investment in a secure, prosperous future within the thriving bounds of the European Union.

What are the Tax Benefits of European Citizenship by Investment

European citizenship by investment programs provide not only mobility and security benefits but also significant tax advantages, which are particularly appealing to high-net-worth individuals looking to optimize their fiscal responsibilities while expanding their global footprint. Here’s an insightful exploration of the various tax benefits these programs offer:

Favorable Tax Regimes Across Europe

Many European countries that offer citizenship by investment feature attractive tax regimes that can substantially reduce the tax burden for new citizens. These regimes are designed to attract foreign investment and talent by offering low tax rates or even zero-tax policies on certain types of income, which can vary widely from one jurisdiction to another.

Special Non-Domiciled Tax Status

Some European countries extend special tax statuses to new residents from their citizenship by investment programs, which can lead to significant tax savings, especially on foreign-sourced income:

  • Malta: This Mediterranean country offers a non-domiciled status to its new citizens, allowing them to pay a flat tax rate of 15% on foreign income remitted to Malta, subject to a minimum tax payment of €15,000 per year. This favorable tax treatment can result in considerable savings for those with income sources outside Malta.
  • Greece: Similar to Malta, Greece offers a flat tax regime for new residents, where a flat fee of €100,000 covers all foreign income regardless of total earnings, providing a straightforward and predictable tax scenario.
  • Portugal: The Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) program in Portugal provides a fixed tax rate of 20% on certain types of foreign income and potential exemptions on other foreign income for up to ten years, making it a lucrative option for retirees and remote workers.

Wealth Preservation and Asset Protection

European jurisdictions often provide robust legal frameworks that support asset protection and wealth preservation, helping to safeguard investments from external threats. This benefit is crucial for individuals looking to protect their wealth from political, economic, or legal uncertainties in their home countries.

Reduced Inheritance and Estate Taxes

Several countries with citizenship by investment programs have beneficial policies regarding inheritance and estate taxes. These policies can significantly reduce the tax burden associated with transferring wealth to future generations, facilitating a smoother and more financially efficient wealth succession process.

Access to Offshore Banking and Investments

Obtaining citizenship in a European country often provides access to sophisticated financial services, including offshore banking and investment opportunities. These services offer enhanced privacy, diversified investment portfolios, and sometimes more favorable tax treatments.

Strategic Exit Tax Planning

For those looking to renounce their original citizenship, some European countries offer strategic benefits that can help mitigate the impact of exit taxes. This careful tax planning ensures that individuals can transition their tax residency without incurring prohibitive costs.

Compliance with International Tax Regulations

European citizenship by investment programs are designed to be compliant with international tax standards, ensuring that new citizens maintain transparency and fulfill their tax obligations responsibly. This compliance is crucial for avoiding complications and ensuring that the tax advantages are sustainable and legal.

The tax benefits associated with European citizenship by investment programs make them a highly attractive option for individuals seeking to enhance their quality of life and financial well-being. These benefits, coupled with the ability to live, work, and study anywhere within the EU, provide a compelling value proposition for potential investors.

Countries Offering Citizenship by Investment

Countries around the world have developed Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs as a means to attract significant foreign investments in exchange for the granting of citizenship. These programs often target high-net-worth individuals looking to gain additional citizenships that provide them with enhanced global mobility, business opportunities, and a secure living environment. Here is an overview of several prominent CBI programs:

Malta Exceptional Investor Naturalisation (MEIN)

Country: Malta
Investment: Applicants can choose between investing €600,000 with a residency requirement of 36 months, or €750,000 for a shortened residency requirement of 12 months.
Requirements: Applicants must make a significant financial contribution, reside in Malta for the required period, and undergo a comprehensive due diligence process to ensure integrity and security.
Benefits: Successful applicants gain full citizenship rights, including the ability to live, work, and study anywhere in the European Union, along with visa-free travel across the Schengen Area.

Cyprus Investment Program (Currently on Hold)

Country: Cyprus
Investment: The program required a minimum investment of €2 million in real estate, land development, or infrastructure projects.
Requirements: Investments had to be maintained for at least three years. Applicants needed a clean criminal record and, in some cases, a valid Schengen visa.
Benefits: Although the program is currently suspended, it previously granted full citizenship rights, including EU citizenship and the associated freedom of movement within the EU.

Austrian Citizenship by Investment

Country: Austria
Investment: Austria’s program is one of the most exclusive.
Requirements: The program demands not only a substantial financial investment but also a background check, economic contribution to the country, and proof of German language proficiency.
Benefits: Successful applicants gain full citizenship rights, which include the right to live, work, and study anywhere in the EU and the ability to travel visa-free to many countries worldwide.

These CBI programs represent a significant commitment both from the applicants and the host countries. They offer substantial benefits but come with stringent requirements that include financial investment and compliance with legal and regulatory standards. Each program is tailored to meet the economic needs of the host country while providing investors with valuable benefits, making them highly sought after by those seeking to expand their global access and secure a stable future for themselves and their families.

Recent Changes and EU Directives

The European Union has introduced new guidelines to tighten the regulations around CBI programs. These include:

  • Increased Minimum Investment: Raising the minimum investment amounts to ensure only high-net-worth individuals participate.
  • Mandatory Interviews: Implementing obligatory interviews for applicants and their family members.
  • Enhanced Due Diligence: Involving trusted EU, US, or UK firms in the due diligence process.
  • Prohibition of Certain Promotions: Banning advertisements that highlight visa-free entry to the EU as a primary benefit.

Which European Countries Offer the Most Favorable Tax Regimes for Citizenship by Investment

Several European countries offer favorable tax regimes for individuals obtaining citizenship by investment. Here are some of the most notable ones:


  • Non-Domiciled Tax Regime: Malta offers a favorable tax regime for non-domiciled individuals, where foreign income remitted to Malta is taxed at a flat rate of 15%, with a minimum tax liability of €15,000 per year. Foreign capital gains are not taxed, even if remitted to Malta.
  • Citizenship by Investment: Malta’s citizenship by investment program allows individuals to obtain citizenship through significant financial contributions, providing access to these tax benefits.


  • Non-Domiciled Tax Regime: Cyprus offers one of the most attractive non-dom tax regimes in Europe. Non-domiciled individuals are exempt from taxes on dividends, interest, and rental income. Additionally, Cyprus has a 60-day tax residency rule, allowing individuals to become tax residents by spending just 60 days in the country per year.
  • Citizenship by Investment: Although the citizenship by investment program is currently suspended, Cyprus remains a favorable destination for tax residency.


  • Non-Domiciled Tax Regime: Greece offers a non-dom tax regime where individuals can pay a lump-sum tax of €100,000 per year on foreign income, regardless of the amount earned. This regime is available for up to 15 years and can be extended to family members for an additional €20,000 per adult family member.
  • Golden Visa Program: Greece’s Golden Visa program allows investors to obtain residency, which can lead to citizenship, and benefit from the favorable tax regime.


  • Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) Program: Portugal’s NHR program offers significant tax benefits, including a flat 20% tax rate on certain types of income and exemptions on foreign income for a period of 10 years. This program is particularly attractive for retirees and high-net-worth individuals.
  • Golden Visa Program: Portugal’s Golden Visa program provides a pathway to residency and eventual citizenship, allowing investors to benefit from the NHR program.


  • Lump-Sum Tax Regime: Italy offers a lump-sum tax regime where new residents can pay a flat tax of €100,000 per year on all non-Italian income and gains. This regime is available for up to 15 years and can be extended to family members for an additional €25,000 per year.
  • Investor Visa: Italy’s investor visa program allows individuals to obtain residency and benefit from the favorable tax regime.


European Citizenship by Investment programs serve as a robust bridge connecting non-EU investors with the myriad opportunities within the European Union. By meeting specific investment criteria, applicants can unlock a treasure trove of benefits: from visa-free travel across the Schengen Zone and significant business opportunities across the EU to high standards of living and robust health and educational facilities.

Furthermore, these programs contribute significantly to the economic vitality of the host nations, embodying a mutual growth trajectory for both the investors and the local communities. As these programs continue to evolve, they remain a testament to the dynamic interplay between global mobility and economic prosperity.

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European Citizenship by

Investment Programs

European CBI Programs

Malta (Citizenship)

Malta citizenship by investment program is one of the best CBI programs currently available. With 187 countries to travel visa-free solidifies it as a leading option for investors who want to maximize their global mobility.

Minimum Investment:

750,000 EUR

Visa-Free Travel:

189 Countries

Processing Times:

14-18 Months


Montenegro closed their citizenship by investment program on the 31st December 2022. The Montenegro CBI program was a popular option since it offered access to the Schengen Area for a lower rate than the other European CBI programs.

Minimum Investment:

450,000 EUR

Visa-Free Travel:

125 Countries

Processing Times:

8-10 Months


Türkiye citizenship by investment program was launched in 2017. Türkiye has the E-2 Treaty with the USA which allows an easier pathway to residency in the United States of America

Minimum Investment:

$400,000 USD

Visa-Free Travel:

116 Countries

Processing Times:

3-6 Months

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