Some investors ask us about the easiest countries to buy citizenship. The lure is easy to understand. At the same time as making an investment, investors can enhance their quality-of-life and knowledge of cultures. Additionally, being a global citizen opens doors to more investment opportunities. Hence, the popular citizenship investment programs are not new but have seen an increased focus in the last ten years.
Currently, several types of citizenship application processes exist worldwide, and eligibility criteria and requirements vary. These include citizenship by birth and citizenship by descent. This principle is known as jus sanguinis. Citizenship Naturalization is another process by which foreign nationals become citizens of another country. Some countries also grant citizenship through marriage to foreign spouses of their citizens after marriage and residence.
However, investors are looking at citizenship by investment, in which they buy citizenship by making significant financial contributions to the country’s economy.
Easiest Countries to Buy Citizenship
Citizenship by investment (CBI) allows individuals to acquire citizenship or permanent residency in foreign countries by making substantial financial investments. This means individuals can obtain citizenship or residency status in the destination country in exchange for specific financial contributions, like investing in property, government bonds, businesses, or other economic development projects.
Citizenship options have gained popularity in recent years. Several countries offer them to attract foreign direct investment, boost their economies, and create new business opportunities. The benefits include global mobility, business opportunities, quality of life and tax advantages. Individuals may benefit from tax incentives, including lower tax rates or tax exemptions on foreign income and capital gains. In addition, applicants benefit from access to education and healthcare, and some passports make it easier to travel because of visa benefits.
Each country’s citizenship program has separate requirements, application procedures, and investment options. Additionally, some countries have specific restrictions on dual citizenship, requiring applicants to renounce their current citizenship to become citizens.
Prospective applicants should conduct thorough research, seek professional advice from experienced immigration consultants or lawyers, and carefully weigh the benefits and implications before making any financial commitments.
About Dual Citizenship
Dual citizenship, also called dual nationality or multiple citizenship, refers to an individual citizen of two or more countries simultaneously. This means the person enjoys the privileges of citizenship options in both countries. However, not all countries allow citizens to hold dual citizenship, and the laws vary across countries.
Dual citizenship is acquired through various means, like birthright (being born in a country that grants citizenship based on birth), descent (having parents from different countries), marriage to a foreign citizen, naturalization in another country, or specific citizenship programs offered by certain countries. Some countries don’t accept dual citizenship and may require individuals to renounce citizenship to buy citizenship there. This is something to bear in mind.
Typical Citizenship Investment Requirements
The requirements for investment vary from country to country. Each country has its own specific criteria and regulations.
- Minimum Investment Amount: Each program has minimum investment amounts that applicants must meet to be eligible for citizenship. Investment amounts vary significantly between countries and investment options. Applicants must sometimes demonstrate a monthly income obtained legally from legitimate sources.
- Due Diligence and Application: Most programs insist applicants undergo due diligence processes. Applicants pay non-refundable application fees to cover the costs of processing their applications.
- Residency or Physical Presence: Some programs say applicants must spend specific time in the country before or after obtaining citizenship. However, many programs do not have strict residency or physical presence requirements.
- Language Levels and Health Insurance: Some countries ask applicants to demonstrate basic language levels and knowledge of culture, history, and legal systems. Some programs require private health insurance coverage for themselves and their family members.
- Dependent Family Members: Many programs allow applicants to include their spouse, children, and sometimes parents or grandparents as dependent family members in the application. The application will be reviewed by respective government authorities. The processing time varies, but some programs offer fast-track options for expedited processing.
1: Become a Citizen of Portugal Via the Golden Visa
Portugal’s program is called the “Golden Visa.” The program allows foreign investors to get residency in Portugal and, eventually, apply for Portuguese citizenship, which will also lead to European citizenship. Applicants must be non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens with clean criminal records.
They invest minimum amounts in residential or commercial properties in Portugal. The minimum amount varies depending on the property’s age and location. Alternatively, they transfer significant capital into Portuguese bank accounts or invest in Portuguese businesses or ventures. They can also create jobs that meet the national income wage in Portugal by establishing a company.
Applicants apply to the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) or the Portuguese consulate in their home country. The application should include proof of funds, property documents, and other supporting materials. If your application is approved, you will be granted temporary residency permits to live and work in Portugal. The initial residency permit is typically valid for one year and can be renewed.
After the initial period, renew your residency visa for two-year periods as long as you meet the program’s requirements. After five years, apply for permanent residency. After six years of holding a Golden Visa (five years of temporary and one year of permanent residence), apply for Portuguese citizenship if you meet the Portuguese language and integration requirements. Successful applicants will become a Portuguese citizen, and you may be eligible for a Portuguese passport and all the benefits that come with it.
- Your Guide to buying property in Portugal
- Best places to buy property in Portugal
- About the Golden Visa program of Portugal
2: Residency by Investment in Spain
Spain doesn’t actually offer direct routes to citizenship. Instead, their program allows investors to get temporary residency permits, leading to long-term or permanent residency in Spain. After ten years, they then apply for citizenship and a passport.
The minimum investment in residential property ranges from €500,000 to €1 million, depending on the property’s location. The application can be submitted in Spain or at the Spanish consulate in the applicant’s home country.
The investor will be granted a temporary residency permit, which allows them to live and work in Spain for one year. The temporary residency permit can be renewed for additional two-year periods if the property isn’t sold.
3: Malta for a European Passport
The “Malta Individual Investor Programme” (MIIP) allows individuals to get a Maltese passport and citizenship through combined financial contributions.
The MIIP welcomes non-European Union citizens who meet specific eligibility criteria, including good health and sufficient financial means. Applicants either contribute to the Development and Social Fund (NDSF), or buy a property, and keep the investment for five years. Minimum amounts vary depending on location and type of property.
Applicants must submit comprehensive applications, including supporting documents, payment of taxes, and investment evidence, and undergo due diligence checks. For approved applications, applicants and eligible dependents receive Maltese residency. After residency and fulfilling all requirements, including maintaining the property, apply for Maltese citizenship.
If the citizenship application is successful, applicants and dependents become Maltese citizens. This includes obtaining a Maltese passport and enjoying the benefits and rights of Maltese citizenship. In addition to property investments and financial contributions, applicants may be required to meet other conditions, like language proficiency and proving genuine links to Malta.
4: Antigua and Barbuda – Top Caribbean Countries
Antigua and Barbuda is a twin Caribbean island nation located in the Caribbean. Citizens enjoy visa-free travel to over 150 countries and territories, including the European Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and many other desirable business and leisure travel destinations. As citizens, individuals can travel, live, and work in any country that accepts their citizenship, providing greater global mobility and access to international opportunities.
The CIP (citizenship investment program) includes immediate family members in the application, like spouses, dependent children, parents, and grandparents. Additionally, the CIP does not require applicants to reside there, making this country convenient for those who do not wish to relocate immediately.
Antigua and Barbuda offer attractive tax benefits for its citizens, including no wealth, inheritance, gift, or capital gains taxes. One investment option under the CIP is contributions to Development Funds or investing in government-approved property projects, contributing to the nation’s infrastructure and economy.
5: St. Kitts and Nevis
The St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program, established in 1984, has attracted thousands of foreign investors seeking citizenship in the Caribbean. The program allows individuals and their families to acquire citizenship and a second passport through qualifying financial contributions. One choice is for applicants to make SGF contributions which support various national development projects, including infrastructure, healthcare, education, and tourism.
But applicants can also invest in approved property projects for five years, like luxury resorts or high-end properties, with minimum amounts set by the government. Applicants can include children and dependent parents aged 55 and older in their application.
St. Kitts and Nevis recognizes and allows dual citizenship, enabling investors to maintain their original nationality while holding citizenship, and there is no requirement for applicants to reside there. They do not impose personal income, wealth, gift, or inheritance taxes, making this country an attractive, tax-friendly destination.
6: Turkey – Get a Turkish Passport
Turkey’s citizenship by real estate program allows foreign investors to get Turkish citizenship by buying property. This program was introduced in 2018 to attract foreign direct investment and boost the country’s housing market.
The program accepts foreign individuals at least 18 years old and meets specific financial and legal requirements. To qualify, an applicant must buy property in Turkey worth at least USD 400,000. Most government-approved properties for the program are in Istanbul since the government wants to overhaul the city’s real estate market.
The investment must be confirmed by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization. Once the investment is made, the applicant applies for Turkish citizenship at the Directorate General of Migration Management. The applicant must provide proof of investment and other required documents, including a valid passport, application form, and additional supporting materials.
The applicant and family members, like spouses and children under 18, can gain Turkish citizenship. Turkey allows dual citizenship, so applicants retain their original nationality while holding Turkish citizenship.
7: Be Residents of Canada
Canada does not have direct real estate investment programs for individuals to get citizenship solely through financial investments. However, Canada does offer permanent residency through various programs, which, in turn, leads to Canadian citizenship through the regular naturalization process.
The start-up visa program is for entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas that create jobs benefitting the Canadian economy. To be eligible, applicants need the support of designated organizations. They must meet other criteria, including language knowledge and sufficient settlement funds.
The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program targets high-net-worth individuals who invest significant sums in government-approved investments for fixed periods. Successful applicants receive a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ), leading to permanent residency in Quebec.
Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) offer pathways to permanent residency for investors and entrepreneurs who plan to establish or invest in businesses in a specific province. Whereas the Express Entry system is a points-based immigration system that manages applications for three federal economic immigration programs:
- Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP),
- Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC).
Points are awarded for age, education, work experience, language, and adaptability. Suppose an applicant receives an Invitation to Apply (ITA) through Express Entry and successfully applies for permanent residency. In that case, they eventually become eligible for Canadian citizenship by naturalization.
Once an individual becomes a permanent resident, they must meet specific residency requirements and physical presence obligations before they become eligible for Canadian citizenship through the regular naturalization process. Generally, permanent residents must reside in Canada for at least 1,095 days (three years) out of the last five years before applying for citizenship.
8: Irish Citizenship
Ireland offers an immigrant investor program called the “Ireland Immigrant Investor Programme” (IIP), which allows high-net-worth individuals and families to obtain residency in Ireland through qualifying financial investments. While the IIP does not grant immediate citizenship, the country offers residency, which leads to Irish citizenship.
Ireland’s Immigrant Investor Programme accepts non-EEA (European Economic Area) nationals with a net worth of at least €2 million. Applicants must be of good character and agree to make qualifying investments in Ireland. They can invest at least €1 million in an Irish enterprise, either established or new, that creates or maintains employment for Irish citizens or Invest at least €1 million in an approved fund regulated by Ireland’s Central Bank that focuses on Irish businesses.
Alternatively, invest at least €2 million in any Irish REIT on the Irish Stock Exchange, or make philanthropic donations of at least €500,000 to public projects in Ireland’s arts, sports, health, culture, or education.
Applicants must submit documents and investment evidence to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) for evaluation. If approved, a letter of approval is issued. Once approved, applicants and family members receive initial residency permits. This permit allows them to live, work, and study in Ireland.
The initial residency permit is typically valid for two years. After the initial period, investors renew every two years, provided they meet the program’s requirements. After five years of continuous residency, they become eligible for long-term or permanent residence in Ireland. Once an investor has obtained long-term residency and meets eligibility criteria, they can apply for Irish citizenship.
9: Buy Citizenship in Grenada
Grenada’s Program, established in 2013, offers several investment options for applicants seeking citizenship. The National Transformation Fund (NTF) is the most straightforward option, where applicants contribute to various economic and development projects in Grenada. The minimum amount for the National Transformation Fund option is typically lower than the property and business options. Once the chosen investment is made, applicants apply for Grenadian citizenship through a licensed local agent or an authorized representative. Applicants and eligible family members, including spouses, children, and dependent parents, receive Grenadian citizenship.
10: St. Lucia
Established in 2015, the program attracts foreign direct investment to stimulate economic growth. The St. Lucia CIP offers several options for applicants seeking citizenship in the nation. Applicants invest in the National Economic Fund, which supports various development projects in St. Lucia, including infrastructure, healthcare, and education. Alternatively, invest in real estate or government-approved enterprise projects that create jobs and contribute to St. Lucia’s development. This option requires higher investment amounts.
Established in 1993, the program offers straightforward and efficient processes for applicants seeking citizenship. To qualify, applicants either invest in the Economic Diversification Fund Contribution (EDF) that supports various public and private sector projects in Dominica, including education, healthcare, and infrastructure. There is also the option to invest in property. Once the chosen investment is made, applicants apply for Dominican citizenship through licensed local agents or authorized representatives. The Dominica Investment Unit (CBIU) will review the application.
What is the easiest EU country to buy citizenship?
Obtaining citizenship in European countries is complex and time-consuming, and processes vary from country to country. While there is no single “easiest” EU country to get citizenship, some European countries may have more straightforward and faster naturalization processes than others. The standard route to citizenship in most EU countries is through residency, which typically involves legal and continuous residence, language proficiency, integration requirements, and meeting specific conditions.
- Malta: Malta’s Program (MIIP) allows applicants to obtain citizenship through financial contributions and meet other requirements. The program has fast-processing times and does not require physical residency in Malta.
- Portugal: Portugal’s program provides pathways to residency and eventual citizenship through qualifying investments.
- Cyprus: Cyprus offers a Citizenship Program by making qualifying investments, including property and other options.
- Greece: Greece’s program is similar to Portugal, allowing individuals to buy residency through qualifying investments, including real estate.
- Spain: Spain’s program offers residency to investors who make qualifying investments, eventually leading to long-term residency or citizenship.
How Much Do Citizenship by Investment Programs Cost?
The cost of citizenship investment programs varies significantly. Countries have different minimum investment amounts, application fees, and other associated costs.
- St. Kitts and Nevis: Starts at $250,000 for Sustainable Growth Fund donations or $400,000 for property.
- Dominica: Starts at $100,000 for the Economic Diversification Fund (EDF) option or $200,000 for a property.
- Antigua and Barbuda: The CIP starts at $100,000 for National Development Fund donations or $200,000 for property.
- Grenada: Starts at $150,000 for National Transformation donations or $220,000 for housing.
- Cyprus: Starts at €2 million for the real estate option. This may be one property, or you may purchase more than one.
- Malta: The Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP) starts at €650,000 for NDSF contributions or $700,000 for real estate.
- Portugal: Portugal’s program starts at €350,000 for homes in low-density areas or €500,000 for other property options.
Conclusion and Further Advice
In conclusion, buying citizenship is becoming increasingly accessible in many countries in recent years. This process provides attractive options for those looking for a new country to call home. It offers faster and simpler ways to experience different cultures and build a new life.
Overall, the governments of countries like Portugal, Dominica, and Antigua and Barbuda help people with an easier way to become a citizen of the world and create a better and brighter future for those involved. Therefore, if you are looking at the easiest countries to buy citizenship and would like to chat with an agent, call us today. Alternatively, also see our property portfolio that lists investment properties for sale worldwide.