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How to get European passport?

Many countries in the world accept dual citizenship and their nationals often grab this opportunity with both hands. For some it is a chance to live, work and study in an advanced economy, for others it is a ticket to the world, and yet others are seeking political or social stability and safety. Europe can offer all of these and more, therefore it’s a first choice for many foreign investors.

What are the benefits of a European passport?

We have found at least three solid reasons why it is advantageous and beneficial to obtain passport of one of the European states.

1. Freedom of movement

Check how many countries you can visit visa-free with your current passport. It may be a lot, or it may be just a few. And then compare this to any European country, and we can guarantee it will be different. Besides, an EU passport allows its holder to live, work and travel in any member state of the European Union.

Even if you would need to apply for a visa to some countries such as China or Russia, you might stand a better chance of obtaining it with a European passport than with your current one. Please discuss this with an adviser.

2. High living standards

Not all European countries are doing great, but if we take the 15 Western European states that created the Union, all of them have strong economies, political stability and social benefits system. Nothing can shake them off their feet – neither the immigration crisis nor Brexit nor coronavirus pandemic.

Choose European passport for yourself and your family and enjoy a safe life with access to excellent healthcare and education.

3. Financial stability and business opportunities

Wealthy people know that a trustworthy bank and stable currency are key to preserving and protecting your money. Besides, European residents can take loans and mortgages at lower interest rates than in their home country.

European tax laws are stringent, but there are always legal ways to optimise taxes. A few jurisdictions in the EU are ideal for registration of international companies with little interference from the government in the activities of small and medium-size businesses.

Solutions for getting European passport

We will tell you about four options of applying for and obtaining a passport of one of the European states.

1. Claiming asylum

The most ‘painful’ way of getting European citizenship. You must prove that you are in danger in your home country while immigration authorities of the receiving country have to accept that there is discrimination in your country by race, religion, political views or anything else.

A huge drawback is that potentially you will become persona non grata in your country.

2. Repatriation

You can apply for this if you have ancestors in a European country and can prove it. You must also know customs and traditions of your new motherland. The most known repatriation program was conducted by Germany after WWII. Other examples are Greece, Hungary, Spain and Ireland.

3. Naturalisation

It is the longest route to European citizenship, because it requires living in a country for a long time from 6 to 12 years. During this time, you must study, work or run a business unless you have come to reunite with family, including by marrying a European national.

4. Citizenship by investment

The easiest, but definitely not the cheapest, way of obtaining European citizenship. At the moment, it is offered by only a few countries in Europe. To get second passport, an investor does not have to live in a country for long, speak a local language fluently or know its customs and traditions. All you are asked to do is to invest a big amount of money.

How to get European citizenship by investment

Among countries that offer citizenship by investment programs we want to single out Cyprus, Malta and Montenegro (the latter is not in EU, but you would be able to travel visa-free in any EU state). All three are keen on attracting foreign investors. However, the requirements to applicants are rigorous. The easy bit is your age; you must be 18 and older. Apart from that you must be of good health and have clean criminal and immigration records.

All three jurisdictions start by granting you a residence card. Provided you and your family meet all criteria under each program, you will be given citizenship and passport. That’s where all three countries are the same, but they are very different in terms of investment options, procedure and timeline.


Cyprus citizenship by investment programme stopped accepting new applications from 1 November 2020. We will let you know if the Cypriot government launches a new citizenship program whereby foreign investors can get a European passport.

Alternative solutions

There are currently 2 investment programs for obtaining a European passport – Malta citizenship by investment and Montenegro citizenship by investment.

We also suggest that you have a look at Caribbean citizenship by investment programs – they are cheaper than their European counterparts while offering similar benefits: visa-free travel to a lot of countries, citizenship for a whole family, taxation benefits and much more. Caribbean countries for investment in second citizenship are St. Kitts & Nevis, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia and Grenada.

Cyprus citizenship by investment

It will take 6–8 months to get a Cyprus passport.

To do it, a foreign investor must invest at least €2,000,000 in the island economy, including non-refundable €500,000 for the purchase of a home which they must own for life, and in addition non-refundable €150,000 must be contributed equally to two funds, one for research and innovations and the other for land development and housing.

Where to invest if I want Cyprus passport

There are a few ways of investing your money that will buy you EU citizenship.

Investment in property

Purchase a flat or a house or invest in a development or infrastructure project. This either includes your home or comes as an extra.

Business investment

Buy shares and stocks, open or buy a company that is registered and has physical presence in Cyprus.

Investment in securities

Buy shares in investment funds as well as other stocks and securities issued by companies that are registered and are actively trading in Cyprus.

Combined investment

Choose a few investment options from above and mix them to achieve the required amount. Remember about €500,000 that you must spend on your home.

After 5 years of owning Cyprus assets (property, shares, etc.) you can resell it and get your money back, except for the €500,000.

Malta citizenship by investment

Maltese passport takes 12–14 months to get.

Minimum required amount for participation in this program is €1,150,000 for a single applicant. However, all investments are mandatory, and you cannot choose, like in Cyprus.

How much do I need to invest in Malta?

  • €650,000 is a non-refundable donation to the state.
  • €350,000 must be spent on real estate purchase or you must rent long-term for at least €16,000 a year.
  • €150,000 is the amount to buy government bonds and shares of Maltese companies.

Both securities and property must be in your ownership for at least 5 years before they can be sold. Good news is, during this time you can lease or sublease your property.

Montenegro citizenship by investment

It is only a matter of 7 months before you get your European passport.

Please remember that this beautiful seaside country is not yet a member of the European Union. However, Montenegro passport is not that different from Malta and Cyprus, because it guarantees visa-free entry to 123 countries including Schengen. Therefore, we cannot call it an EU passport, but it is a European one.

How much to invest to get Montenegro passport

Here comes a pleasant surprise. The required investment is not as huge as in Cyprus or Malta. There are two amounts that must be invested.

  • Donate €100,000 to a local development fund.
  • Invest €250,000 – 450,000 in a development project approved by the government. The amount depends on the location. A project in an underdeveloped area would cost you less than one in a touristic location.

On top of that, you will be charged a one-off application fee – €15,000 for the main applicant.

Do I need to live in Europe to get European passport?

Quick answer is, no. It is a great bonus for those who cannot or does not want to spend all the time in any of these countries. However, you will need to travel there anyway, for example, to make an investment in Cyprus. But you can reduce the number of trips by using services of professional lawyers.

Immigration advisers from our company will help you do all the paperwork and apply for second passport remotely with minimum involvement on your part. Apart from immigration, we can advise you what investment option to choose, support you during relocation if you decide to move to your new home and much more.

FAQ about getting an EU passport

What is the most common mistake of immigrants who plan their relocation to Europe?

The main mistake is to forget about what the European Union and the Schengen Area mean. Instead of going for one of the Golden Visa programmes and getting a residence permit of Portugal, Spain, Malta or Latvia, people keep trying to get a residence permit of Germany, France or Italy. In other words, they choose countries which are already overcrowded with both legal and illegal migrants. Besides, you will be required to stay there legally for 10-12 years and spend a lot of time and effort in order to gain citizenship.

Which European country offers the cheapest way of obtaining citizenship by investment?

Currently there are two passport programmes available in Europe, and the cheaper one is the citizenship of Montenegro.  One of the former republics of Yugoslavia is situated on the coast of the Adriatic Sea and is enroute to join the EU. Besides, a passport of this small country already allows you to visit any of the Schengen member states without a visa.

If you participate in the Montenegrin citizenship programme, you will have to make a donation of €100,000 to the national fund plus some extra fees. You will also have to invest €250,000 in a development project of a ski resort in the northern part of the country. So, the total investment will amount to €350,000 of which you can get €250,000 back  in 5 years by selling the property.

In contrast, the minimum sum you will have to pay to get Maltese citizenship is €1,250,000 where€750,000 is non-refundable. On the other hand, the Maltese immigration legislation is the only one which allows an investor to get a European passport in a year’s time.

Which European country is the best to relocate to if you are in no hurry to get second citizenship and a European passport?

It depends on your individual circumstances and preferences. There are a lot of countries in the Schengen Area which have a policy of attracting private investment in exchange for a residence permit. Imperial & Legal can offer you detailed information  about any jurisdiction in Europe you might be interested in. Here are just 2 examples.

  1. Latvia offers the programme of Latvia Golden Visa. It allows you to become a resident of the country by purchasing a nice flat in the centre of Riga or a high-end accommodation on the Baltic coast. This country is ideal for those who like mild continental climate of the Central Europe with its calm and slow-paced life.
  2. Portugal, the most western of the European countries, offers favourable conditions to investors. The minimum amount you will have to invest to get a residence permit is €250,000, and there is no need for you to stay permanently in the country. Portugal is nothing inferior to the leading EU countries in terms of comfort and security.

Is there a residence by investment or citizenship by investment programme in the UK?

Yes, there is: you will have to invest at least £2,000,000 in the real economy, in other words – in British companies, and to spend at least 5 years in the country. An applicant is not required to take either English test or Life in the UK test to get a Tier 1 Investor Visa. Besides, when you come to the country, you are free to dedicate yourself to whatever you want, provided you do not violate British laws and your business does not require any licence.

In order to get ILR, an indefinite leave to remain, you will have to stay in the country for 5 years (this can be reduced to 2-3 years if you invest more), and eventually obtain UK citizenship. If this sounds good to you and you want to know more about it, book a consultation to discuss your situation with our advisors.

Tired of getting general advice?

We will work with you to find a customised solution for your immigration, second citizenship, business, tax and other needs.