Getting a residence permit in another country might be a good option for a number of reasons, the most obvious of which is the desire to relocate to a place that is more comfortable both for living and setting up a business. However, currently, we see another trend: a residence permit is also desirable for those who consider themselves to be citizens of the world and do not want to be tied to only one country.
A residence permit issued by the European Union usually gives you an opportunity to travel to other EU countries without any visa. Besides, an EU residence permit might be useful to those who want to
- travel to Schengen countries without bureaucratic red tape;
- get quality education complying with all the modern standards;
- keep and boost their savings;
- be treated in the best clinics with cutting-edge equipment;
- buy and rent real estate, cars and yachts.
Finally, for those who plan to live in the EU, a residence permit will be the first step towards their second citizenship.
Visa, permanent residence, residence permit and citizenship, what is the difference?
Before we start speaking about ways to become a European resident, let’s first establish differences between an EU residence permit and other immigration statuses.
A residence permit is an official document proving the right of a foreign citizen to stay in a host country for a long but yet limited time. The key difference between a residence permit and a short-term visa is the right to stay in the country for a relatively long time.
Thus, a long-term visa allowing its holder to live and work abroad for years can also be called a residence permit. However, sometimes a biometric residence card is also called a residence permit. It is issued to migrants in some countries.
In Europe, there are various residence permit types and ways to get them. Some residents are allowed to work in the host country, while in other jurisdictions, residents do not get the right to be employed. Depending on the immigration category, a permit holder may have no limits or restrictions, while in other cases, their residence in the country depends on their status (that is the case with study, work, business or spouse visas).
It is worth mentioning that when you get a residence permit, it secures your right to live only in the country that issued the document. Still, as has been mentioned earlier, you will be able to enter other Schengen countries and stay there for up to 90 days.
A status of a permanent resident means a deeper integration of a migrant into a new culture. In most European countries, potential permanent residents are expected to stay in the host country for at least five years, study a national language, culture and traditions. There are exceptional cases, though, when foreign investors could apply for a permanent resident status two or three years after relocation. Unlike holders of a temporary residence permit, permanent residents are not restricted in terms of the duration of their stay and activities they can undertake. However, permanent residence still does not allow you to live in any European country, just the one that issued your document, of course. Your period of stay in other countries remains limited to 90 days.
So, permanent residents in Europe have mostly the same rights as EU citizens: you can do whatever you like – work, study or simply do nothing. As a rule, a permanent resident is not yet entitled to take part in local elections, work on certain governmental positions, serve in the army or law enforcement bodies. Besides, permanent residence does not give you the opportunities in terms of travelling around the world that an EU passport does. So, applying for EU citizenship seems to be a logical step going forward.
Acquiring a citizen status is the final step on your way of integrating into the society. In most European countries, to get citizenship, you are expected to live in the country for 5-12 years, have an impeccable reputation, a fluent command of the national language and have knowledge about the national history and culture. Throughout these years, your status will constantly change: first, you are granted a temporary residence permit, then you become a permanent resident and at least a year later, you apply for citizenship.
As an EU citizen, you will be able to settle in any of the 27 EU countries as well as enjoy visa-free travel to numerous destinations.
Is it possible to apply for EU citizenship faster?
Yes, all investors have such an opportunity. However, there is currently only one EU country which offers you to get a second passport only one to three years after you invest in the national economy, that is the Republic of Malta.
Among non-EU European countries, Montenegro, a small country on the Adriatic coast, offers the most attractive programmes for investors.
How can I get a European residence permit?
If we analyse all existing options of getting a European resident status, we can divide them into two large groups:
- Obtaining a residence permit for certain entrepreneurial qualities or personal circumstances of the applicant.
- Getting a residence permit by investment in the national economy, including by purchasing a property.
In the first case, the country grants a permit to a person who
- comes to study, work or set up a business;
- has close relatives living in the country; note that your relative should have the status of a citizen or a permanent resident;
- is a spouse or civil partner of a citizen of the country;
- comes to have a long-term medical treatment;
- escapes from political repressions or military actions.
In the second case, an investor is usually in a more beneficial position as a residence permit is granted to them in exchange for their contribution to the development of the national economy:
- purchasing shares of a local company;
- contributions to an economic development fund;
- purchasing government bonds;
- depositing a large sum of money in a local bank;
- purchasing or renting a property for a long time;
- paying lump-sum taxes to the state budget.
Below, we are going to look at the purchase of a property as stand-alone investment or a part of a mix of investments for acquiring an EU residence permit.
Which European countries grant a residence permit for real estate purchase?
Latvian residence permit for investment in real estate
In Latvia, investors have an opportunity to take part in the Latvia Golden Visa government programme. If you contribute EUR 250,000, you will not only become an owner of a spacious and cosy apartment in Riga or Jurmala, but you will also gain the resident status which will allow you to travel across Europe without any problems.
Quiet and cosy Latvia may also become your Plan B if political and economic situation in your home country changes for the worse. You will enjoy the mild climate, European standards low cost of living.
Permanent residence in Cyprus
The Republic of Cyprus had granted European citizenship by investment for quite a long time until November 2020 when the programme was suspended. However, foreign citizens can still apply for permanent residence if they invest over EUR 300,000 in real estate in Cyprus. Other investment options include purchasing commercial property such as offices, hotels, shops, etc.
You can also choose a less convenient temporary residence permit. However, unlike permanent residence, it has to be extended every year. Besides, permanent residence permit allows you to leave the island for as long as you want, provided you visit once in two years, while a temporary residence permit means you cannot leave Cyprus for more than three months.
Residence permit by investment in Malta
There are several ways of getting a residence permit in Malta, including two programmes for foreign citizens who invest in a fast-track route to a tax resident status and optimising their taxes.
Imperial & Legal experts claim that the residence programme of Malta is more attractive as its participants can get EU citizenship by investment in one to five years. If you plan to get your residence permit using this scheme, you need to invest EUR 370,000-420,000, 300,000-350,000 of which has to be spent on purchasing real estate. The price depends on the region: most investors choose central and northern parts of the Malta island, while southern Malta and the Gozo island are less popular.
You can also become a resident if you rent an expensive property in Malta for over five years. To find more details about investment programmes offered by Malta, read respective articles on our website or book a consultation with our specialists.
Spanish permanent residence for investment in real estate
This programme is both the most popular and one of the most expensive in Europe. If you want to get a Spanish residence card, you are expected to invest at least EUR 500,000 in real estate. A residence permit is issued for two years subject to extension for another five years.
Portuguese residence permit for investment in real estate
To obtain a Portuguese Golden Visa, you have to invest EUR 350,000 in real estate. Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it? However, you will only be able to buy a property built in the last 30 years and located in a district in need of reconstruction or a property of historical and cultural value in need of refurbishment. If you plan to invest in a new apartment or a resort, the minimum price rises up to EUR 500,000.
Still, investing in Portuguese property is highly beneficial. Unlike in other popular countries, half a million euro in Portugal will buy you a more spacious, nicely done apartment in a prestigious district. Prices in Portugal are relatively low as there is no oversaturation of the property market with foreign capital like in other European countries.
Purchasing property in other European countries
Our article will not be complete if we don’t mention purchasing a property in other European countries that do not offer government residence by investment programmes. Is it worth buying a flat or a house as a long-term visa holder, an entrepreneur or a qualified specialist?
Our experts recommend buying a property or renting it for a long time in the country of your relocation as it will be factored in when your application for a residence permit will be considered by the authorities.
European residence by investment in real estate. Let’s sum it up
You can obtain a European residence permit by purchasing a property in many European countries. Unfortunately, in our article, we were able to touch upon only the most attractive options. Note that even if the country of your choice does not offer any residence by investment programmes, buying real estate will be a good argument in your favour when your visa application is being considered by the authorities.
With support from Imperial & Legal specialists, you will be able to get a good deal when purchasing a property in Europe, avoid hidden costs, get residence permits issued for you and your family and arrange for a comfortable relocation to the country of your dream.
FAQ about getting a residence permit by purchasing property in Europe
What advantages do I have if I obtain my residence permit by purchasing real estate abroad?
As it has already been mentioned, you will have many advantages:
- There are minimal requirements for this category of investors. In most cases, you will not even need to prove your knowledge of the national language.
- You are not restricted in your rights once you get a residence permit.
- The property you bought can be sold after a period of time (e.g. five years) and you will be able to get your money back.
- If prices for residential and commercial properties are on the up, you will benefit from capital gains.
- In some countries, you can even rent your property out and get extra income.
How long can I stay in another Schengen country as a resident of a European country?
If you obtained your residence permit in a Schengen country, you will be able to stay anywhere in the Schengen zone for up to 90 days every half a year.
Why does the required investment in real estate in Malta depend on its location?
The government of the Republic of Malta is interested in contributions made by potential residents by investment in less developed regions such as the Gozo island and the southern part of Malta. Besides, thanks to the mild tax regime and favourable business environment, Malta is very popular among foreign investor. Therefore, properties in central and northern parts of Malta are much more expensive, so a good house or flat in Valetta will cost you much more.
Calculation of investment in a Maltese residence permit
|Investment type||Central and northern regions||Southern part of Malta and the Gozo island|
|Purchase of a property||€350,000||€300,000|
|Non-refundable contribution to a non-governmental organisation||€2,000||€2,000|
What is the difference between Golden Visa and a Spanish residence permit?
If you invest in a Spanish residence permit by purchasing a property but stay in your home country, you will need a Spanish visa to enter the country. Immigration authorities issue a Golden Visa for foreign investors which allows them to stay in Spain for six months or a year depending on whether you have already made an investment or not. As a rule, this visa gives you enough time to buy your property and get a residence permit that allows you to stay in Spain for two years and then extend it for another five years.