Which Countries Offer a Golden Visa in Europe?

| December 3, 2021

Money makes the world go around. According to the cynics, it can buy anything, and when it comes to visas and residencies, they’re right.

In many countries around the world, you can bypass complicated visa programs and prolonged naturalization laws and simply pay your way to a visa. Essentially, it allows you to jump the queue and makes the process much quicker and easier.

It’s all because of something known as a Golden Visa, a “residence by investment” program that exists in countries throughout the European Union.

What is a Golden Visa?

The Golden Visa program was designed to promote investment by inviting wealthy residents to a fast-track residence program. By making an investment or donation in a country, individuals can become legal residents and may also grant access to their children and spouses.

After remaining in the country for a fixed period of time, those investors can then apply for citizenship.

If you’re able to acquire a Golden Visa from a country within the European Union (EU), you will be given the freedom of movement that is afforded to all EU residents and visa holders.

Which Countries Offer a Golden Visa?

Requirements for golden visas differ from country to country. In most, you need to purchase property or stocks. In others, you can simply make a deposit into one of the country’s banks.

Some of the golden visas currently available in the EU include:

Austria Golden Visa Program

  • Investment Amount: €3 Million to €10 Million
  • Requirements: Limited to 300 per year

The Austrian Golden Visa program requires either a €3 million investment into a government development fund or a €10 million business investment. Permanent residency is granted following such an investment.

There is also an additional “Residence by Investment” scheme which requires an investment of €40,000 and 10 years of residency.

Belgium Golden Visa Program

  • Investment Amount: €350,000
  • Requirements: Can apply for citizenship after 5 years

You don’t need to live in Belgium to be classed as a resident, and so you can invest, claim residency, and then use it to move freely throughout the EU. However, you will need to live there for 5 years if you want to become a Belgium citizen. You will also be required to complete a language test in either German, French, or Dutch.

Greece Golden Visa Program

  • Investment Amount: €360,000
  • Requirements: Self-employment visa and German business

The German program is a little different and the investment is more optional, albeit “heavily encouraged”. To start the process, you need to register for a self-employment visa and then launch a business in the country. After 3 years, you can apply to be a permanent resident and following 8 years you can apply for citizenship.

Greece Golden Visa Program

  • Investment Amount: €250,000 + taxes
  • Requirements: Applies for 5 years and can be renewed.

The Greek Golden Visa scheme is one of the most accessible in the EU. Investors can purchase property of at least €250,000 (plus taxes), purchase bonds/shares to the value of €800,000, or invest €400,000 in a Greek company.

The permit takes 30 to 60 days to arrive and lasts for 5 years with renewals available. After 7 years, investors in Greece can apply to become Greek citizens.

Italy Golden Visa Program

  • Investment Amount: €250,000 to €2 Million
  • Requirements: Visa lasts for 2 years and must be renewed.

The amount you are required to invest will depend on where your money is invested. The lowest is for Italian start-ups. The highest is for government bonds.

Ireland Golden Visa Program

  • Investment Amount: €500,000 to €1 Million
  • Requirements: Invest in an arts/culture program or investment fund

Citizenship is not granted with a Golden Visa but permanent residency is.

Malta Golden Visa Program

  • Investment Amount: €300,000 to €350,000+
  • Requirements: Buy or lease property and make other investments

The Maltese Golden Visa is one of the most popular. It requires a €300,000 to €350,000 property investment (depending on location) or rent of between €10,000 and €12,000 a year. A donation of €28,000 or €58,000 must also be paid (less for owned property; more for rented property), followed by a €2,000 non-government donation and a €40,000 admin fee.

The routes to full citizenship are generally shorter, easier, and cheaper than in other countries and you can typically start the process after just 36 months of residency.

Portugal Golden Visa Program

  • Investment Amount: €250,000 to €1 million
  • Requirements: Can apply for citizenship after 5 years

By investing €250,000 in arts, creating a business that supports 10 jobs, transferring €1 million to a Portuguese bank, or purchasing a property for €500,000, you can secure a Golden Visa in Portugal.

Spain Golden Visa Program

  • Investment Amount: €500,000 to €2 million
  • Requirements: Valid for 2 years, can be renewed for 5

The cheapest way to gain access to Spain is by investing in real estate for €500,000. Alternatively, investors can buy shares for €1 million or bonds for €2 million.

Are Golden Visas a Good Option?

There are two instances in which a Golden Visa will be viable for you.

The first is if you want to move to a country and fast-track residency. If we take Greece as an example, you could buy a house for €250,000 and then live in that house. That would be enough to give you residency and after staying there for 7 years and learning the language and culture, you could become a citizen.

The other option applies to those who have a lot of money and seek greater travel freedoms. In such cases, you can simply make an investment, claim your residency, and then enjoy the benefits that it provides. You will need to maintain that investment if you want the residency to continue and to be renewed, but it’s an investment, not a purchase, so the money could still be there when you’re ready to pull out.