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How to obtain a residence or a second citizenship by investment in real estate in Europe?

Sometimes businessmen think about buying a flat or even a cottage by the sea somewhere abroad in order to obtain a residence permit or even a passport of that country. However, you cannot get a residence by investment in real estate just anywhere.

An immigrant investor program in Europe

Fortunately, there are government programmes in several jurisdictions for those who are interested in investing in real estate. They allow obtaining a residence or citizenship within a reasonable timeframe.

Vasily Kluev, a Client Services Director of Imperial & Legal, tells us about 10 countries where you can get a second passport or a permanent residence card after buying a house, apartment or a share in a holiday resort under construction.

Several Schengen countries run federal immigration programmes that allow investors from non-EU countries to gain a residence permit by investment. In two other smaller European countries, you will have the opportunity to become a full EU citizen for comprehensive investments in the economy including real estate.

Spain residence by investment

Where and how much to invest?

As a rule, to obtain Spain residence, investors buy houses and apartments in holiday resorts of the country, which cost €500,000 or more. It is also possible to invest in commercial property and land. The purchased property can be sold after 5 years and you will get your money back or it will be kept for renting and living.

Who can take part in Spain residence by investment program?

Not only the main applicant, but also their family members (a spouse, minor and financially dependent children and parents) can obtain Spain residence by investment.

Other requirements for Spain residence by investment

  • The applicant and their dependants must have a health insurance.
  • A residence permit in Spain is required. This is not a problem if you purchase a residential real estate. If you invest in a land or a commercial property, you will have to rent an accommodation in order to get a residence permit.
  • An investor must submit the application for a residence card. For this purpose, a Spanish visa (type D) is issued for one year.
  • A residence permit will be granted for 2 years and subject to renewal for another 2 years.
  • You must spend at least 7 days a year in the country not to be refused an extension.
  • If you intend to apply for a permanent residence permit in the future, you should not leave Spain for more than 10 months in the first 5 years.
  • The whole procedure for applying for Spain residence by investment usually takes no more than 5 months.

Европейский вид на жительство за покупку недвижимости в Испании

Portugal residence by investment in real estate

Where and how much to invest?

  1. Purchase of immovable property with a value of at least €500,000 in resort areas of the country.
  2. Purchase of a property with a value of at least €350,000. It must be either older than 30 years or located in cultural and historical places, which require reconstruction. Such a purchase usually entails additional costs for major maintenance.

A property must be held for at least 5 years. After that, you can sell it and recover your investment.

Who can take part in the Portugal residence by investment program?

You can include your spouse, minor children and financially dependent children in your application for Portugal residence by investment.

Other requirements for Portugal residence by investment

  • All people included in the application must have good health condition and a health insurance.
  • You have to be in Portugal at least seven days a year.
  • The applicant must have an accommodation and a residence permit in Portugal.
  • Personal presence in Portugal for all applicants is required for a residence permit.
  • The process of obtaining a residence permit in Portugal takes from 2 to 6 months.

Европейский ВНЖ через покупку недвижимости в Португалии

Latvia residence by investment

Where and how much to invest?

In order to obtain Latvia Golden Visa, you need to purchase real estate in the country, which costs at least €250,000. You can become the owner of a great flat in a prestigious part of Riga or an apartment in the resort town of Jurmala.

Who can take part in the Latvia residence by investment program?

The main applicant, their spouse, minor children can obtain Latvia residence by investment.

Other requirements for the Latvia residence by investment program

  • As in the previously considered jurisdictions, applicants must be in good health and a paid health insurance for at least 1 year.
  • A Latvia residence permit is valid for five years and must be renewed every year.
  • Qualified immigration advisors from Imperial & Legal can shorten the process of obtaining a residence card to 30-90 days.

Европейский вид на жительство при покупке недвижимости в Латвии

Residence by investment in Europe: How to choose a country?

The answer to this question depends on your circumstances and preferences. For immigration purposes, people traditionally invest in Spanish real estate, but in recent years, Portugal has become increasingly popular, where houses and flats are cheaper and you can buy a more interesting object for the minimum investment amount.

If you need residence in Europe for a visa-free travel, we recommend considering Latvia. An additional advantage of this Baltic state is moderate prices for accommodation.

EU citizenship by investment

If you aren’t satisfied with an EU residence permit, it’d be worth considering the passport programmes of Cyprus and Malta, which offer investors citizenship by investment that is the same as a normal EU citizenship.  If you have a Maltese or Cypriot passport, you are free to live, work, study or do business in EU countries. EU citizenship allows you to cross the borders of over 170 jurisdictions around the world without a visa.

Malta citizenship by investment

Where and how much to invest?

Investment consists of three parts:

  1. From €650,000 goes to a government contribution
  2. €700,000 are invested in real estate. By law, you will have to own a house or flat in Malta for at least 5 years. During this time, you are not allowed to rent out your purchase.
  3. €10,000 must be donated to charities.

Who can take part in the Malta Citizenship by Investment Program?

You can include your spouse, minor children, financially dependent children under the age of 26, parents and grandparents on your application for obtaining Malta Citizenship by Investment. The amount of government contributions and government fees for due diligence checks depend on the number of people.

Other requirements for Malta citizenship by investment

  • Invested money must be obtained legally
  • Good health and a clean criminal record
  • 1-year residence
  • Regular trips to Malta to learn about the language and culture of the new homeland
  • Obtaining a Maltese passport takes one year

Европейский паспорт при покупке недвижимости на Мальте

Cyprus citizenship by investment

Where and how much to invest?

Investment in the economy of the Republic of Cyprus can be made in a number of ways. We will look at the option, which is directly connected to investment in residential construction or real estate:

  1. €200,000 – two non-refundable contributions to Cypriot public funds.
  2. €2,000,000 – the cost of a residential property on the island or investment in the construction of a residential property so that at least €500,000 is for a purchase of permanent residence.

The total amount of obtaining a Cyprus passport is €2,200,000, you can sell €1,500,000 worth of assets after 5 years of ownership. As Cyprus Citizenship by investment program becomes more popular, over time your investment will increase in value enough to recover some of your costs.

Who can take part in the Cyprus Citizenship by investment program?

The main applicant, a spouse, minor children and even financially dependent adult children up to the age of 28 can be included in the application for Cyprus citizenship by investment.

An investor can also obtain passports for parents over the age of 55 if you purchase a property in Cyprus that costs at least half a million euros. If a spouse’s parents are included in the application, the additional cost is €1 million.

Other requirements for the Cyprus Citizenship by investment program

  • All applicants over the age of 13 are subject to due diligence checks.
  • All applicants must have good health conditions and no criminal records.
  • It is necessary to prove the legal origin of the funds for the investment.
  • Personal visit to Cyprus of passport applicants is required.
  • It takes six months to obtain citizenship by investment.


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.

Альтернативные варианты получения второго гражданства за инвестиции в недвижимость

Alternative solutions for obtaining dual citizenship by investment

If your priority is free-visa travel within the EU and other countries, and a purchase of real estate is only an investment vehicle, then the Caribbean citizenship by investment program is the right option for you.


Amount of investment in real estate

St Kitts & Nevis

from $200,000


from $200,000

Antigua and Barbuda

from $400,000


from $220,000 if you invest in a share along with other investors and from $350,000 if you invest alone

Saint Lucia

from $300,000

Specifics of obtaining Caribbean citizenship by investment

Buying real estate in the Caribbean is one of the most affordable ways to obtain a second passport, which is comparable to an EU passport in terms of travel opportunities and tax optimisation.

You don’t have to buy a whole house or a flat, you will be tempted to buy a share in a resort or spa complex under construction in the vast majority of cases because of the remoteness of the region and a low investment threshold.

The standard procedure involves you not only obtaining a second passport with the help of an intermediary law firm, but also selecting a property to invest in from a list of government-approved projects. When you make the investment and obtain citizenship, a contract is signed with a management company which takes care of your property, as well as finding clients and renting it out. The proceeds from the commercial use of your purchase, minus a fee, are regularly transferred to your bank account.

Regardless of which investment immigration programme you choose, the experienced specialists at Imperial & Legal are ready to advise you on any questions, which you may have, and provide full legal support at all stages of obtaining residence permit or citizenship in the chosen jurisdiction, as well as help with organising your move to another country.

FAQ about acquiring European residency or citizenship by purchasing real estate

What European countries offer citizenship to foreign investors who buy real estate?

Formally speaking, no Europeancountry will give you a passport if you only buy an expensiveproperty there. This schemeis offered only to participants of the Caribbean citizenship by investment programmes who enjoy visa-free travel to Schengen states and the UK.

Now, with Cyprus having suspended its citizenship by investment programmes, only two European countries are ready to issue a second passport in exchange for a combined investment in the national economy. What does “combined” mean? It means that your financial contributions would not be restricted just to buying a house, an apartment or a plot of land.

In our article above, we talked you through the process of acquiring EU citizenship by investment in the economy of Malta, including investment in real estate. Another country offering a similar option is Montenegro, a picturesque country on the Adriatic coast. Your investment in a property and donation to the national fund will secure you a second passport in 6-7 months. Though Montenegro is not currently anEU member state, you will still be able to travel to the Schengen countries without visas. Bear in mind that the price of citizenship by investment in this country may soar several years later, when Montenegro becomes a member of the European Union.

How much must I invest in real estate in Montenegro to become a citizen of this country?

  • at least 450,000 EUR must be spent on a property if it is on the coast in the south of the country;
  • at least 250,000 EUR must be spent on a property if it is in the north of the country where the government is actively developing ski resorts.

Additionally, 100,000 EUR must be invested in the national fund of economic development. At least 22,000 EUR (subject to the number of your dependents) must be paid in extra fees necessary for processing your application. In 5 years, you will be able to sell your real estate in Montenegro and get part of your money back.

Please bear in mind that, if you plan to get a second passport, you can invest only in the properties that have been approved by the authorities of Montenegro. Usually, the list of such properties is not very extensive. If you prefer to buy outside of this list, you will only be able to get a temporary residence permit. As a resident of Montenegro you will have to wait 10 years before you can become a citizen instead of 6 months.

Can I relocate to France having a Latvian residence permit through investment in property?

Unfortunately, not. You are a resident of the country where you invested. However, if you have a Latvian residence permit, you can travel around the EU without restrictions and even stay in any of the Schengen countries for up to 90 days in any 6 months. But a residence permit does not give you the right to relocate and find a job in another EU country.

You can relocate to France or any other European country only if you have acquired Latvian citizenship which automatically means that you have become an EU citizen. However, you will need to live in the country for at least 10 years and learn the language in order to obtain a Latvian passport.

What European country offers the fastest way to get EU citizenship by investment?

Out of all the examples we have listed, the Portuguese Golden Visa appears to be the most attractive option. It allows investors to get Portuguese residence by investing in a property. The programme allows an investor to apply for permanent residence after having lived in Portugal for five years and become a proud holder of an EU passport a year later.

The applicants are expected to live in Portugal on the permanent basis as well as:

  1. to have good command of the Portuguese language;
  2. to have their own accommodation in the country;
  3. to have enough savings to maintain themselves and their family.

The Portuguese investment programme has a variety of advantages including preferential taxation regime during the first 10 years of residing in the country and a wide choice of real estate properties you can invest in.

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