Please forward this error screen to sharedip-160153161238. It would take you at least 20 years to get citizenship here in Andorra. Here, where residency rules are relatively straightforward, naturalization is extremely tough to come by. In fact, it’s one of the most grueling naturalization timelines on earth, behind brazil citizenship by investment 2017 San Marino and Liechtenstein.
Spain, where I’ve been spending the month, isn’t much better at 10 years, plus four more for bureaucracy. For those who want a fast second passport, there are only two options: be lucky enough to have certain European lineage, or fork over some cash. Citizenship by investment is a process whereby wealthy individuals can obtain a second citizenship extremely quickly in exchange for an investment or donation. US citizens who wish to quickly renounce their citizenship. Pragmatically, renunciation requires a second passport, and if you’re a high-earner, the cost of an economic citizenship might be far less than the tax and compliance costs of remaining American. Chinese and Arab citizens are the largest investors in citizenship by investment programs.
The wealthy in these and other countries can afford the cost in exchange for the greatly increased travel benefits. I’m seeing a lot more South Africans looking at these programs as the rand plummets and wealth grabs near. There are also nationalities that are restricted from doing business in certain countries and would benefit from a quick passport for business opportunities. Israelis, who are banned from about a dozen countries, are an example of this. That doesn’t mean that having another passport is a bad idea, as I believe more countries will make it hard to escape their tax net in the future. However, you probably don’t need a passport six months from now.
Economic citizenship is for people with a pressing need to have another passport now, be it for tax reasons, business, or travel. Residency by investment is not the same as citizenship by investment. Golden Visa programs like those in Portugal and Spain will eventually yield a second passport, but it will take at least six years. These second residency programs are great for tax residency or for a future Plan B passport, but they are merely creating yet another path to residency, with citizenship being the future benefit of residency.
For our purposes, we will consider programs that offer anyone the chance to become a citizen of the country within approximately one year or less. Austria does in extraordinarily rare cases, are excluded. If you are interested in hearing Andrew’s take on the new CBI Index and their ranking of citizenship by investment programs watch this video. Some claim that Bulgarian citizenship is possible after just one year, but in reality, the program takes two years and is not nearly as straightforward as some might suggest.
Also, if the European Union were to fall apart, I imagine Bulgaria would be the first country to get bounced out. VERDICT: I may change my mind on this one later, but for now I’d skip it. Ironically, Cyprus is the country Israeli goods often travel through on their way to be sold in the Arab world. Cyprus is a member of the European Union and, until recently, offered the fastest naturalization I’ve ever heard of: just 57 days.
Now, the process will take up to one year as the EU cracks down. Cyprus citizenship was always pricier than other options, but unlike most other programs, you can invest rather than donate, meaning you might expect to see most of your money back after a few years. You may remember that Cypriot citizenship was originally offered to wealthy Russians who lost millions in the country’s banks. That’s something to be mindful of, considering the minimum investment period for your millions is three years. VERDICT: Cyprus offers EU citizenship, but not Schengen area access. If you were planning to start a company or buy a seaside villa in the seven figures, consider it. Maltese citizenship, partially due to some earlier vagueness from the government.
Malta is the only citizenship by investment program that sells access to both the European Union AND the borderless Schengen Area. Considering that, Malta is almost immediately a better deal than Cyprus for many people. Unlike Cyprus, Malta requires a government donation in addition to the typical fees present with all programs. 25,000 for a spouse and each minor child. 150,000 in Maltese government bonds — or occasionally Maltese stocks — for a period of five years. After that, it takes one year to issue your Malta passport. VERDICT: I’m not bullish on Maltese real estate, but I’m not running for the hills, either.
650,000 goodbye, this is a great program. Kitts and Nevis runs the original economic passport program, in operation since I was born in 1984. Other Caribbean programs have copied it, and the program has enjoyed a lot of success up until now. The donation is almost always the better option, as the real estate is vastly over-priced and, as some clients have told me, not even very nice. 400,000 and up, and there are many providers ready to sell you everything from a shack to a timeshare in a five-star hotel.