Some countries in Europe and the Caribbean officially offer a residence permit or citizenship in exchange for a real estate investment. Such programs shorten the time required for completing the formal procedures and ease the requirements on applicants. For example, applicants can get citizenship and resident permits without knowing the local language or living in the country.
Real estate investment — at least €700,000 for 5 years
The Maltese citizenship is granted for exceptional service by direct investment. Since 2021, the procedure has changed, and now naturalization is a mandatory step. This means that the applicant must first obtain a residence permit before applying for citizenship 1–3 years later.
Citizenship can be obtained for the whole family of the main applicant: a spouse or registered partner, children under 29 years old and parents aged over 55 years.
The applicant needs to comply with the following three conditions:
- buy residential real estate for €700,000 or rent housing for at least €16,000 per annum. The ownership or renting period is 5 years after receiving of the certificate of naturalization;
- invest €600,000 or €750,000 in the Malta National Development Fund when holding a Maltese residence permit for three years or one year, respectively;
- make a donation of €10,000 to a cultural, sports or other non-governmental organization.
The applicant can choose a residential property in a resort in any part of Malta that meets the conditions in terms of value. Renting is more popular: after five years, the housing can be changed to another one.
Real estate investment — at least $250,000 for 3 years
The Turkish program offers advantageous terms. Citizenship can be obtained without living in the country, learning the language or proving the legality of the source of income or capital. In addition, the procedure takes only 2–3 months to complete.
A Turkish passport allows visa-free travel to Asian countries: Japan, Singapore, and Thailand. As a result of Turkey's cooperation with the United States, a Turkish passport holder can obtain an E2 investor visa for 5 years.
The main applicant’s spouse, their children under 18 years of age and their parents can also be included in the application.
The main applicant needs to invest at least $250,000 in real estate for a period of three years. The investment can then be returned without affecting the validity of the applicant’s new citizenship.
There is a well-developed real estate market in Turkey. Most foreign investors invest in Istanbul, the economic center of the Middle East with attractive conditions for business and life. In order to get citizenship by investment, applicants often buy a one- or two-bedroom apartment in the city center. Apartments and villas in resorts in Antalya, Bodrum, Belek and other coastal cities are also a popular alternative.
Real estate investment — $200,000 for 5 years
The Dominica citizenship by investment program is one of the most affordable among the Caribbean programs. Passports can also be obtained by all close relatives of the main applicant: parents, grandparents of both spouses, children under 30 years, and even brothers and sisters. There is no requirement to live in the country or visit it. Registration takes place remotely and is completed in 3 to 6 months.
All Caribbean countries offer similar investment terms: there is a choice between non-refundable contributions and refundable investments in real estate, as well as additional fees. Let us look at Dominica as an example. When describing the rest of the programs, we will consider only real estate investments.
The main applicant has to choose between the following two options:
- make a non-refundable contribution of at least $100,000. For each additional dependant, an additional $25,000 to $50,000 needs to be paid;
- buy real estate for at least $200,000.
Additionally, the main applicant will need to pay due diligence and administrative fees. The final amount depends on the investment option selected and the number of applicants. For example, for a family of four, i.e., parents with two children, the cost will be $193,700 for a non-refundable contribution or $253,700 for buying real estate.
The applicant can buy a share in a tourist real estate project approved by the Dominica government: a hotel or a recreation and entertainment complex. A servicing company looks after the management of the property, which can be sold three years later.
Saint Lucia Citizenship
Real estate investment — $300,000 for 5 years
The Saint Lucia program is similar to other Caribbean ones. It differs from the program offered in Dominica in terms of investment options and the number of countries that can be visited visa-free.
The main applicant’s spouse, children under 30 years old and parents over 56 can apply for a Saint Lucia passport. The real estate bought in relation to the program can be sold in 5 years. The rest of the requirements are similar to those in Dominica’s program.
The minimum investment required in real estate is $300,000. Additional costs, depending on the number of family members in the application, include a due diligence fee, a non-refundable administration fee and a processing fee. For example, due diligence costs $7,500 for the main applicant and $5,000 for each additional program participant.
The program allows investments in hotels, luxury real estate and other government-approved tourism infrastructure projects.
St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship
Real estate investment — $200,000 for 7 years
The St Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment program is the oldest in the world: the first passports by investment were issued there in 1984. This indicates the reliability of their program and the continuous interest of applicants. A St Kitts passport application can include children under 30 years old, parents over 55, and siblings.
Investment options are:
- an investment of $400,000 in real estate, which can be recouped by selling the property after 5 years; or
- an investment of $200,000 for an investment return period of 7 years.
In addition the applicant needs to pay the due diligence fee and make a non-refundable contribution. The amount of the contribution depends on the family members included in the application: the contribution for a child is $10,000 and $40,000 for a sibling.
Real estate worth up to $200,000 can be selected from a special list of state-approved properties. Additional investment options are available for properties costing $400,000.
Real estate investment — $220,000 for 5 years
The Grenada citizenship by investment program is the only Caribbean program that offers visa-free travel to China and allows you to obtain an E2 investor visa in the United States. Parents, grandparents and siblings can be included in the application. Children under 30 can be included in the application if they are financially dependent on the main applicant.
The minimum investment in real estate is $220,000. As with other Caribbean programs, there is an extra charge for eligible family members.
An investor can buy a share in government-approved hotels, resorts and villas. The property can be sold and the investment recouped after five years.
Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship
Real estate investment — $200,000 for 5 years
The Antigua and Barbuda citizenship by investment program is not significantly different from other Caribbean programs. The family of the main applicant can also receive an Antigua and Barbuda passport: grandparents, parents over 55 years old, children under 30 and siblings. The applicant does not need to live in the country.
Previously, the main applicant had to come to the country to take the oath. Now this is done at Antigua and Barbuda’s representative office abroad or by videoconferencing.
А visit to the island for five days within five years after receiving the passport by investment is still required. This time period is being revised by the government due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in closed borders and more complicated travel arrangements.
The minimum investment in real estate is $200,000 for five years. Joint investments are possible. Government-approved tourist infrastructure developments can also be purchased.
Residence permit in exchange for real estate purchase
Some European countries offer a resident permit by investment instead of citizenship. The programs offered by Portugal, Spain and Greece are popular.
The European Union is trying to prevent residence permits being issued to applicants whose sources of income cannot be clearly demonstrated to be legal. It has therefore imposed strict requirements on the issuance of residence permits by investment. Due to the objections lodged by the European Union in 2020, the Cypriot government closed its citizenship program and the other participating countries have tightened the requirements for applicants interested in getting residence permits or citizenship by investment. Moreover, Due Diligence in Europe is carried out according to uniform standards.
A European residence permit allows the holder to travel within the Schengen area without a visa. They can live permanently in the country that issued the residence permit and up to 90 days in any half-year period in other countries in the zone. In addition, residence permits by investment entitle the holder to apply for citizenship earlier than other resident permit holders. Therefore, such programs are often used as a shortcut to get an EU passport.
Portuguese Residence Permit
Real estate investment — €350,000 for 5 years
The residence permit by investment in Portugal offers investors favourable terms. They can automatically include a spouse and financially dependent children under 26 years of age.
The applicant needs to spend at least seven days a year in Portugal, obtain a household registration, and buy medical insurance. After five years, they are eligible to apply for permanent residence or citizenship.
The investment property can be selected remotely. The purchase and sale of the real estate is arranged by Immigrant Invest lawyers in Portugal.
The applicant must visit the Portuguese Migration Service to give their biometrics. Depending on the number of participants in the application and the complexity of the due diligence, the registration of a residence permit takes from 2 to 6 months.
The Portuguese residence permit by investment program offers the applicant considerable flexibility in selecting a suitable investment: ranging from buying real estate to creating jobs. Over 90% of the applicants prefer to buy real estate as it is a predictable and reliable investment.
Real estate options available under the residence permit by investment program in Portugal:
- buy residential or commercial property for at least €500,000;
- buy residential property for €350,000, as long as it has not been renovated for more than 30 years or it is located in areas requiring renovation.
The choice of real estate is vast: luxury villas, apartments, shares in hotels and apartments for renovation. An investment of €500,000 can be made in one or more properties, while an investment of €350,000 is limited to just one property. In sparsely populated regions, the cost of housing is 25% lower.
The share of properties requiring renovation is growing. Many developers take care of the repair and maintenance of housing and even guarantee its subsequent rental income.
Spanish Residence Permit
Real estate investment — €500,000 for 5 years
The residence by investment program in Spain gives the opportunity to work and run business in the country, as well as travel freely within the EU. However, in order to obtain Spanish citizenship, the applicant will need to live in the country permanently and, depending on their original country of citizenship, renounce their original citizenship.
A residence permit can be obtained by the whole family: the main applicant, their spouse, children under 26 and dependent parents.
The procedure for obtaining a residence permit in Spain:
- The process takes 4–5 months.
- Medical insurance is required for each applicant.
- Documents must be submitted to the Spanish Migration Service by the applicant in person. This can be done by visiting the country on a D visa.
- Spanish registration is required. The applicant can be registered at the purchased property or at the property rented by them.
The minimum investment amount in residential or commercial real estate is €500,000. The property can be sold and the investment recouped after five years.
Greek Residence Permit
Real estate investment — €250,000 for 5 years
The Greece residence by investment program is particularly affordable: a relatively small investment in real estate, quick registration and renewal for an unlimited period.
The entire family of the main applicant can obtain a residence permit: spouse, their parents and children under 21 years of age. The procedure takes three months.
A residence permit card is initially issued for five years without requiring the applicant to live there. After a period of seven years, the applicant can apply for citizenship.
The main requirement for real estate is an investment of at least €250,000. It does not matter whether ownership is shared, the property is leased or there are multiple properties.
The program offers investors the following options:
- buy residential or commercial real estate;
- buy land for construction, including the cost of construction work;
- rent an apartment for 10 years.
How to choose a country
Buying real estate gives foreign investors the opportunity to get citizenship or a residence permit. The terms can vary for each program. To choose the right program, the applicant needs to consider the minimum investment amount, the return period and the number of countries that can be visited without a visa.
Malta offers the fastest path to citizenship. An investor can apply for citizenship after 12 months of residency. The full process takes about 14 months.
Turkey has less strict requirements, a fast registration process and a large selection of properties. Although a Turkish passport is not suitable for traveling in the Schengen area, it allows visa-free travel in Asian countries. It also makes the holder eligible for US and UK investor visas.
In the Caribbean, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Dominica offer similar conditions with fast and remote processing. The countries that can be visited visa-free and the amount of investment required vary according to the program selected.
Portugal, Greece and Spain offer a residence permit, but not citizenship, in exchange for buying real estate. Each of these programs allow visa-free access to the European Union. Among these three programs, the Portuguese program stands out: it combines less strict requirements with a large selection of real estate properties.
Comparison of Investment Paths to Citizenship or Residency
|Country||Obtained status||Min investment in real estate||Investment return period|
|Malta||citizenship||€700,000 for purchase,|
or €16,000 per annum for rent
|Saint Lucia||citizenship||$300,000||5 years|
|St Kitts and Nevis||citizenship||$200,000|
or 5 years
|Antigua and Barbuda||citizenship||$200,000||5 years|
|Portugal||residence permit||€350,000||5 years|
|Spain||residence permit||€500,000||5 years|
|Greece||residence permit||€250,000||5 years|
Frequently Asked Questions
The real estate investment option is most popular for citizenship or residence by investment programs. Almost all countries have included this option in their programs.
Citizenship by investment in real estate costing at least $200,000 is offered by countries in the Caribbean. The applicant can get a second passport for St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and Saint Lucia.
A residence permit by making the best real estate investment can be obtained in Portugal, Spain and Greece. Although Greece has the most affordable investment requirements among these three countries, Portugal’s program is most popular due to the advantages it offers the applicant.
Minimum Cost of Buying Real Estate
|Residence permit program||Cost|
Malta offers state investment programs for permanent residence and a residence permit. Also an investor can obtain citizenship by naturalization for direct investment. In order to participate, one needs to fulfill the required terms, including buying or renting residential real estate. In relation to buying a home, the highest threshold is set for obtaining citizenship.
Minimum Cost of Buying Real Estate in Malta
Programs that offer the option of real estate investment stipulate that the investment can be recouped, usually after five years. Therefore, it is important to buy liquid properties that can be sold quickly and easily. Our experts will help you find a property that meets your criteria and is in demand.
By meeting the terms of the program, the applicant receives income from the investment and can then sell the property after holding it for the required amount of time.
The minimum investment in real estate depends on the terms of the selected program.
The Caribbean Citizenship by Investment programs require the lowest amount of investment. For example, to get an Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, or St Kitts and Nevis passport, you need to invest at least $200,000. The minimum investment in real estate in Grenada is $220,000, and in Saint Lucia it is $300,000.
Greece’s residence permit program, the so-called “golden visa program”, offers the largest selection of real estate options for the so-called property investor visas, costing at least €250,000. An investor can also buy or rent a hotel or apartment in a tourist complex, buy a stake in a tourist complex, or purchase a land plot for construction or farming.
Malta residence permit and permanent residence. The minimum cost for a Maltese residence permit by investment depends on the region in which the property is located. The minimum value of qualifying real estate located in central or northern Malta is €275,000, while in the south and on the island of Gozo, a minimum investment of €220,000 is required. Under the Maltese permanent residence program, the minimum value of the real estate to be bought is €300,000.
At the same time, applicants in Malta can rent real estate. For a residence permit, the minimum annual rental cost ranges from €8750 to €9600, depending on the location. For permanent residence, the minimum investment in real estate is €10,000.
Portugal’s residence permit by investment program offers two options:
- Buying residential and/or commercial real estate for €500,000.
- Buying real estate of cultural and/or historical significance for restoration for a minimum amount of €350,000.
The government offers an incentive for applicants to buy real estate in sparsely populated areas. In this case, the minimum investment is reduced by 20% to € 280,000 and € 400,000, depending on the location of the region.
A residence permit by investment in Spain requires buying any property in the country for at least €500,000.
EU citizenship by investment paths require greater amounts. In order to obtain the Maltese citizenship for exceptional service by direct investment, the applicant needs to purchase real estate worth at least €700,000 or rent a property for €16,000 per annum.
The Caribbean countries provide a list of state-approved properties that foreign investors can buy. As a rule, they are tourist infrastructure developments. In order to obtain citizenship by investment in the Caribbean, the applicant can buy a share in a construction project or a finished object.
In Europe, the choice of the applicant is not limited to a state-approved list of properties. First of all, the applicant must meet the requirement of the minimum investment amount. Usually an investor needs to buy or rent residential or commercial property for five years. In some cases, special conditions apply.
The Greek residence permit program provides the widest selection of investments in real estate. An investor can buy a property or a stake, rent a hotel or apartment in a tourist complex, or buy a plot of land for construction or farming.
When buying real estate, the applicant has to pay the taxes and fees stipulated in the legislation of the selected country.
In order to participate in citizenship by investment programs in the Caribbean, you need to pay a government fee. In some cases, the amount of the fee depends on the size of the family participating in the program. For example, under the Dominica citizenship program, the government fee for one applicant is $25,000, for a family of up to four people it is $35,000, and for a family of up to six people it is $50,000.
In addition, the investor pays annual property ownership taxes and taxes on rental income if applicable in the country selected. The applicant also pays for utilities: electricity, water supply, gas and communications.
Residence permits and citizenship by investment differ in terms of the advantages that they offer the holder. For example, a Portuguese residence permit holder can live in Portugal, travel through the Schengen zone without visas and open accounts at European banks. However, they cannot be employed by a local company. The residence permit card has to be renewed regularly.
Another advantage of getting a Portuguese residence permit by investment is that the holder can apply for citizenship five years later. This process takes at least ten years to complete when applying through the standard naturalization process.
Together with Maltese citizenship, the applicant enjoys complete freedom of movement in the EU. They can live, work or conduct business in any EU country without any time limit.
Caribbean citizenship by investment gives the holder the freedom to travel around the world. A Caribbean passport holder can visit Schengen countries without a visa. Grenada citizenship by investment also allows you to travel without a visa to China and apply for an E-2 business visa to the United States.