14 benefits of EU citizenship
Of the top 10 happiest countries in the world, five countries are from the European Union. The region is renowned for its high quality of life, stable economic growth, and vast business opportunities. It is no wonder that the number of EU citizens continues to grow yearly.
Let’s revise the main benefits of the EU passport and all possible ways to obtain one.
EU passport benefits: an exhaustive list
Regardless of the country you reside in, an EU passport — or even a residence permit — gives you several indisputable advantages.
1. Residence in Europe. In any of the 27 EU countries, you may rent, buy, rent out, and sell a property. You can also freely travel and stay in any EU country.
2. High standard of living. European countries are generally renowned for providing a high quality of life. The regulations of food, safety, and consumer rights are among the strictest in the world. The level may vary in different countries, but, on average, life in the EU is more comfortable than in most other countries.
3. Ease of travel. EU passport holders enter visa-free to any Schengen country, including European countries currently not in the EU: Norway, Lichtenstein, Iceland, and Switzerland. They can also enter and stay in the UK for up to six months even after Brexit.
EU passports are among the strongest in the world, as they provide free entry to 180‑190 countries.
4. Working in Europe. With a European passport, you can work in any EU country and probably have preference over those without EU citizenship.
Note, however, that having just a residence permit and not a passport can prevent you from working in a particular country. This is the case with, for example, Austria: foreigners with residency for financially independent persons have no right to work there.
5. Social security. You are protected by European laws at any stage of your life, from studying to working to retiring. With good financial management, the European pension allows you to live comfortably and even travel the world.
6. Education. European education is considered to be among the best, with worldly‑recognised universities and prestigious diplomas — such as, for example, the Sorbonne in France or Copenhagen University in Denmark. It is also a good way to ensure your children will know several languages, as many educational institutions teach in two or three languages.
Enrolling in universities is often cheaper for EU passport holders, meaning that getting EU citizenship allows you to save money on education.
7. Healthcare. With European insurance, you have access to excellent healthcare, both for treating any illnesses that may arise and boosting the quality of your everyday life. Also, EU citizens don’t need visas to travel to other countries of the Union, meaning that you can choose and quickly get to the best clinics regardless of which EU country they are in.
8. Safe haven. Whatever happens in your primary country of residence, you will be able to enter the EU without restrictions — even if the borders are closed, as was the case during the pandemic.
9. Privacy protection. In the EU, they take your personal data seriously: starting with the GDPR law protecting your data online to the protection of your financial privacy offline, you can be sure that in non-criminal situations, your privacy and personal data will be of the highest priority with any officials.
10. Right to vote. As a citizen, you have the right to vote in the elections and also occupy positions in the government. Again, different countries have various rules about this, but by obtaining a passport, you certainly receive a right to participate in decisions regarding the country and shape its future.
11. Consular protection outside the EU. When travelling abroad, many things can happen — and it doesn’t hurt to know that you have all the protection of an EU citizen. The EU consular in any country will assist you in case of any trouble.
12. Advantages for business. As a citizen, you have much broader opportunities for opening a business in the EU and a much simpler way to do so. In some situations, it can take an EU citizen only three days to register a business. At the same time, for the non-citizen, the procedure might be much longer or even impossible altogether.
13. Financial advantages. The EU has double-tax treaties with many countries, meaning that you can optimise your tax burden and not pay your taxes twice. It is also much easier to open a bank account, get a loan, or extend a credit limit in a European bank for an EU citizen compared to a non-resident.
14. Fast-tracking in airports. Usually, there is a separate queue for EU citizens on arrival at EU airports — and it’s much shorter than a regular one. A win is a win!
All ways to get an EU passport
Each European country has its own rules regarding how to get citizenship. Here are the most common ways.
By descent. EU countries do not grant citizenship solely because a child was born on their territory. Some countries, like Malta, automatically grant citizenship to children if their parents are citizens. Others will want one or both parents to live in the country if they wish to pass the citizenship to a child.
By marriage. Being married to an EU citizen sometimes means getting citizenship, as well.
There used to be a number of fraud schemes for getting European citizenship based on fictitious marriages. However, the laws are strict: in some countries, like Germany, the couple has to live together for at least three years before the non-EU spouse is granted citizenship. The reveal of fraud results in immediate deportation.
By naturalisation. If you, as a foreigner, have lived in the country for several years, learned the language and integrated into the society, you can apply for citizenship by naturalisation.
The application time varies: for example, in Portugal, one may apply for citizenship after five years of residency. In Austria, it can take up to 30 years to obtain citizenship.
By naturalisation for direct investment. There are currently no “instant citizenship” programs in the EU when you invest and get a passport directly. However, you may get a residence permit by investment in Portugal, Malta, Greece, Spain or another country and apply for citizenship by naturalisation after living in the country for 5—10 years.
Also, Malta may grant you citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment. If you intend on investing €690,000 or more, you may apply for citizenship by naturalisation after a year or three of residence.
Individual cost calculation of the Maltese citizenship
Residency by investment in the EU
Although it is impossible to obtain a European passport directly by investment, several investment programs may considerably ease your way to EU citizenship.
Typically, you make an investment and get a residence permit or permanent residence first. Then, after 5—10 years of living in the country, you can apply for citizenship by naturalisation.
Here are several countries that grant residency by investment.
Portugal. One of the easiest and fastest ways to obtain European citizenship, a Portugal Golden Visa, enables you to apply for citizenship after five years without even living in the country most of the time. Other benefits include safety, a warm climate, a low cost of living compared to the rest of Europe, and a special NHR tax status.
A Portuguese residence permit can be obtained for €250,000+ in 8+ months.
Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Portugal
Malta. Permanent residence status in Malta is valid for life, which is essentially the same as being a European citizen, minus passing the citizenship to children, visa‑free travelling outside of the EU, long stays in Schengen countries and voting rights. Safety, high-quality healthcare, business opportunities with Europe, and relatively low taxes are among the benefits of living in Malta.
Malta permanent residence application processing time is 4—6 months. The expenses consist of real estate investment, a charitable donation, a contribution to the state, and fees.
Greece. A residence permit for investment is granted for five years. After that, it can be renewed or changed into a permanent residence. In its stead, two years of permanent residence give you the right to apply for citizenship. The warm climate, affordable life, and rich cultural heritage speak in favour of living in Greece.
A Greek residence permit can be obtained for €250,000+ in 2—6 months.
Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Greece
Cyprus. Low taxes, no obligation to live in the country, and the prospect of applying for citizenship after five years are listed as advantages of Cyprus permanent residence. The resident status may automatically be passed to the children.
Cyprus permanent residence can be obtained for €300,000+ in 3 months.
Spain. One of the most thriving economies in the EU, Spain boasts a high quality of life and vast business opportunities. Investors aren’t obliged to live in the country after getting residency; they can trade their residence permit for permanent residence in five years.
However, note that obtaining citizenship in Spain is only possible in ten years after making an investment, and you must renounce your original citizenship when obtaining a Spanish passport.
A residence permit in Spain can be obtained for €500,000+ in 2—3 months.
Austria. One of the wealthiest European countries, Austria will want you to live there for more than 183 days a year to retain residency. A permit is issued for a year and can be renewed several times.
The permanent residence is granted after five years, enabling its holder to work in Austria. Getting Austrian citizenship can take up to 30 years and means renouncing your original nationality.
An Austrian residence permit can be obtained for €100,000+ in 4—8 months.
How to get an EU passport by investment: step-by-step procedure
The procedure is different for various EU countries, but here is a general outline. Getting EU citizenship generally takes 6—10 years. To find out the detailed process of getting residency and applying for citizenship in your country of choice, you’re welcome to look at its specific program.
Benefits of an EU passport: main points to remember
Benefits of an EU passport include free travel to 175+ countries, high quality of life, access to world-class education and healthcare, and more.
Marriage and naturalisation are the two most popular ways to get EU citizenship among third-country nationals.
To become an EU citizen by naturalisation, you generally have to live in the country for 5—10 years on a residence permit.
A residence permit is usually obtained through work, study, or investing in a country’s economy.
There are no “instant citizenship” programs in Europe. Obtaining European citizenship usually takes 5+ years, but the wait is generally worth it.
Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for citizenship and residence by investment programs in the EU, the Caribbean, Asia, and the Middle East. Take advantage of our global 15-year expertise — schedule a meeting with our investment programs experts.
Ultimate comparison of Golden Visa programs
Is getting EU citizenship worth it?
With EU citizenship, you receive a high quality of life, good education and healthcare, social security, and visa-free entry in up to 190 countries.
However, the taxes and general cost of living may be higher than in other countries, and there may be strong competition for job opportunities and housing. Some countries, like Spain, even ask you to renounce your original citizenship when getting a passport.
What are the benefits of being an EU citizen?
Benefits of an EU passport include access to a higher quality of life, good infrastructure, world-renowned education and healthcare, and visa-free entry to most countries. However, getting EU citizenship usually takes up to ten years, while obtaining a resident permit doesn’t take nearly as long and also opens most of the benefits.
Which citizenship is best in Europe?
That depends on your goals and values. In terms of the passport’s strength, the best choice would be Germany or Spain, as their passports allow you to travel visa-free to 190 countries. Germany, France, and Italy boast strong economies, while Greece and Portugal are renowned for their warm climate and lower cost of living.
Note, however, that even the most attractive choice could have its pitfalls: for example, when obtaining Spanish citizenship, you’ll have to renounce your original passport.
How to get citizenship in Europe?
Two common ways to get EU citizenship are marriage and naturalisation. Getting citizenship by naturalisation means you first have to live in your country of choice for an average of 5 years on a residence permit. The resident permits are generally obtained through work, study, or making an investment in the country’s economy.
What is the easiest way to get EU citizenship?
Portugal D7 visa for financially independent people is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to get an EU passport. To obtain this visa, you only have to receive passive income of at least €705 per month — for example, in pension or via investments. After five years of living in Portugal on a D7 visa, you can apply for citizenship by naturalisation.
Who has the strongest economy in Europe?
Germany is named the strongest economy in Europe, with a $3,8 trillion GDP in 2021. It is followed by the UK (currently not a member of the EU, but considered a European country all the same), then France, Italy, and Spain.
What countries can EU citizens visit without a visa?
Apart from all other Schengen countries, an EU citizen can stay in the UK without a visa for up to 6 months. The EU passports are strong ones, allowing their holders to travel visa-free to 182—190 countries depending on the state of the issue.
How long can an EU citizen stay in the UK?
An EU citizen can stay in the UK for up to six months without a visa. There is no specified maximum period, such as “6 months in every 12 months” — the rule is not to exceed six months in a single visit. In contrast, UK citizens can now spend in the EU up to 90 days in every 180-day period.
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