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EU citizenship and European passport

European citizenship for the whole family to live, work and study in Europe
Freedom of movement – travel the world without visas

Why Europe?

Europe has long been attracting wealthy foreigners with its high living standards, economic freedom and numerous opportunities for employment, successful business and excellent education. However, to fully benefit from these and more, you must get a European passport.

What is a European passport?

A European passport would normally mean a passport of an EU national. This document gives the right to live, work and study in any country of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

European citizenship is also handy for travelling, as many countries worldwide are happy to welcome European nationals without a visa. A European passport is an excellent solution to start or expand business in Europe or/and establish business contacts around the world.

There are many ways to get an EU passport, but the most efficient one is through one of the special  European residence by investment programs whereby you obtain a residence permit and then apply for permanent residency and European citizenship.

If you do not want to live 5 to 12 years in a country to get naturalised, citizenship by investment programs offered by some European jurisdictions are your fast-track answer.

European passport – key facts

€250,000
Minimum investment

minimum 1 year
Time to passport

recoverable & non-refundable
Investment options

after 2 years
Investment returned

180+ countries
Visa-free travel

European passport by investment

Benefits of a European passport

It will take several pages to enumerate every advantage of becoming a European citizen, therefore we will limit ourselves to the most important ones.

Rights of EU nationals

Europeans can:

  • Travel in the EU without limitations.
  • Live in any EU state without restrictions.
  • Work or run a business in any EU country.
  • Study in the best universities across Europe.
  • Access same social benefits and healthcare services as other European nationals. You can retire in an EU country of your choice.

Visa-free travel

Passport of the European Union is your solution to entering in average 180 countries of the world. For some of them you don’t need a visa while others offer a visa on arrival.

How many countries you can go to without a visa depends on which country you choose to apply for second nationality. There are many passport ratings being updated each year to reflect worldwide mobility. We have selected for you European countries that offer investment schemes*.

Passport  Countries to visit**Rating
Spain1884
Austria1875
Portugal1866
Belgium1857
United Kingdom1857
Switzerland1857
Greece1848
Malta1848
Latvia18012
Cyprus17415
Montenegro12445

* This rating is valid for the first quarter of 2021.
** Number of countries where you can travel without a visa or get a visa on arrival.

A European passport means limitless opportunities for you and your family – free movement within the EU, working or running a business, studying in the best universities of the world and travelling globally without visas. Besides, it is a great plan B in case the worst comes to the worst in the home country and a way to optimise taxes.

Tax optimisation in Europe

Investors would be curious to learn how they can reduce their tax burden and protect their money. To become a tax resident in a country, it is not necessary to be national of that country. Residence by investment is sufficient to use tax benefits in Europe.

What are methods of tax optimisation in European jurisdictions that offer investment schemes?

  1. Special taxation regimes, for example remittance. Non-domiciled tax residents (non-doms) can choose to be taxed only on income received in the country.
  2. Zero or reduced VAT rates applicable to certain goods and services.
  3. Zero rates – property tax, capital gains tax, wealth tax, inheritance tax and gift tax.
  4. Lump-sum taxation.
  5. Double taxation treaties.

All of the above are legal means of tax optimisation and are not considered as tax evasion.

Method of tax optimisation

Jurisdictions

Remittance

UK, Malta, Portugal

Lump-sum taxation

Switzerland

0% on part of annual income

UK, Cyprus, Greece

0% wealth tax

Latvia, Guernsey

0% dividend tax

Cyprus, Guernsey

0% bank interest tax

Cyprus, Malta

0% capital gains tax

Latvia, Guernsey, Portugal, Belgium

0% property tax

Cyprus, Malta

0% inheritance tax

Cyprus, Latvia, Guernsey, Malta

0% gift tax

Cyprus, Guernsey

0% VAT

Guernsey

Zero or reduced VAT for certain transactions, goods and services

UK, Cyprus, Latvia, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Greece

Double taxation treaties

UK, Cyprus, Latvia, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland
Our experienced advisers at Imperial & Legal will help you find a European jurisdiction that will work best to protect your assets and reduce your tax burden.

Expanding business to European markets

Another key advantage of European citizenship by investment is an opportunity to develop and grow your business on the international arena.

The European Union has everything for you to succeed – a stable economy, extensive sales market, independent courts, tax incentives for small and medium-size businesses, etc.

UK companies can use tax laws to their advantage, if they know them, and pay no corporation tax on foreign profits. Malta and Cyprus offer favourable environment for international companies that trade outside their jurisdiction of incorporation. There is no corporation tax on a small British outpost in the English Channel – Guernsey.

Besides, if a founder or/and director of a company is a European national, it is much easier to open a bank account or borrow money in European banks which facilitates settlements with foreign customers and suppliers.

Second passport for the whole family

It is not just you that can apply for residence or citizenship by investment in Europe, but also your eligible family members.

Foreign investors applying in European jurisdictions can include their spouse or partner, minor children or even dependent children over 18, parents and grandparents.

Country

Who can be included in the application

Spain

Spouse, financially dependent children under 26 years old

Austria

Spouse and minor children under 18

Portugal

Spouse and minor children under 18

Belgium

Spouse and minor children under 18

Switzerland

Spouse and minor children under 18

UK

Spouse and minor children under 18

Greece

Spouse and children under 25 who depend on you financially

Malta

Spouse, parents and financially dependent children under 26

Latvia

Spouse, minor and financially dependent children

Cyprus*

Spouse, children under 28 who are your financial dependants, your or/and your spouse’s parents (€500,000 or €1M of additional expenses)

Montenegro

Spouse and dependent children

*The scheme has been suspended.

European citizenship by investment is no different from citizenship by birth – both can be passed down to future generations. Therefore, by investing in an EU passport you invest in your future and the future of your children and grandchildren.

Dual and multiple nationality

Most jurisdictions offering investment programs allow and acknowledge dual and multiple nationalities. Therefore, you don’t have to renounce your current citizenship in order to get a European passport. Only a few countries do not allow their citizens to have a second passport. To find out more about multiple and dual citizenship, follow the link here.

How to relocate to Europe on any budget

How fast you want to get a second passport will determine how much money you must invest in it. You would not need a lot of money to settle in Europe if you apply for residence by investment. However, you must be prepared to live there 5 to 12 years before you can naturalise.

Latvia Golden Visa program will cost you €250,000 to buy a high-quality property in the capital or by the sea. You are not required to invest anything to move to Switzerland, but you must pay an annual lump-sum in tax and you can only apply for naturalisation after 12 years of living in the country.

If you are not ready to stay in one place for years and you travel a lot for business, have a look at European citizenship programs. Investment in Malta passport starts at €1,310,000 where €600,000 is a non-refundable contribution to a government fund (€750,000 if you want to get a passport in one year). It is much more expensive than European residence by investment schemes; however, you will be able to obtain Malta citizenship after 3 years (or 1 year) and open doors to many opportunities both for business and travel.

If European residency or citizenship by investment programs do not suit your purpose, but you still want the freedom to travel without visas, get a second passport for the whole family and optimise taxes, we recommend having a look at Caribbean citizenship by investment.

Legal advisers at Imperial & Legal have a lot of experience working with many of the European citizenship and residence programs. We offer comprehensive support to wealthy individuals that are looking to invest in a second passport or want to get an EU residence card.

We believe that any client who comes to us must get a customised solution reflecting their needs and goals. No matter what you want to achieve – freedom of travelling, reducing tax burden, preserving your personal assets or ensuring your children’s future – our qualified immigration advisers will find you the best solution.

FAQ about European investment programs

What is the difference between European residence and citizenship?

A residence permit gives you the right to live in an issuing country for a long time. A European residence card will guarantee a visa-free entry to all Schengen and EU states. However, you will only be able to live and work in the country that granted you the permit.

A residence card has an expiry date and must be extended. A passport is given for life.

It is much easier and cheaper to get an EU residence by investment than European citizenship by investment. Residence applications are not as stringent as citizenship applications. However, there are exceptions – those applying for a Malta or Cyprus passport don’t have to pass a language test or prove their integration in a local society.


What is the best EU passport for visa-free travel?

Spanish citizens can travel to 188 countries without a visa or with a visa on arrival. As of Q4 2021, Spain is rated 4th in the global passport ranking.

Please be aware that naturalisation process takes 10 years of living in Spain.

A Malta passport is your ticket to 184 countries which is not a big difference. However, you can apply for its passport under Malta citizenship by investment program in just one year after obtaining a residence card, i.e. 10 times faster.


What is the fastest way to get EU nationality and passport?

It will take you 1 year, a certain amount of money and legal support of qualified immigration advisers to get Maltese citizenship. At the moment, it is the fastest way for a non-EEA national to obtain an EU passport.


What is the best European investment scheme for a big family of three generations?

Malta citizenship by investment scheme allows to apply for a passport with a lot of family member. You can include your spouse, minor and financially dependent children under 26, your and your spouse’s parents and grandparents over 55. Please bear in mind that additional applicants come at a cost and the total investment amount will increase with each dependant you add.

Though UK Tier 1 Investor visa is more demanding and does not allow to include parents or grandparents in an application, it has its indisputable benefits – you can get all your money back after obtaining permanent residence and, before that, your investment can be generating an income.

Want to get a European passport?

We offer full support in obtaining European passport in the country of your choice. Get in touch now to discuss your requirements.

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