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Top 7 countries in Europe with fastest residency by investment programs

Foreign nationals can obtain residency permits by investment in just 2 — 3 months in Spain and Cyprus. This makes the Golden Visa programs of these countries the fastest in Europe.

Investors who are willing to wait a couple of months longer, can join residency-by-investment programs in Greece or Portugal. They allow getting permits with a minimum investment of €250,000 — this is the lowest investment threshold in Europe.

Fastest permanent residency in Europe

Fastest residency by investment programs in Europe

In the European union, the fastest residency‑by‑investment programs are provided by: 

  • Spain — 2+ months;
  • Cyprus — 3+ months;
  • Malta — 6+ months.
2+ months
The fastest residence by investment program in the EU

Aside from that, an Austrian residence permit for financially independent persons can be obtained in around 4 months. This option does not require an investment — the applicant will only have to provide that they have enough funds to reside in the country.

1. Spain Golden Visa Program: 2—3 months

Investors can obtain a residence permit in Spain, if they invest in the country’s economy €500,000 or more. There are six investment options to choose from, with property purchase being the most popular one.

The investor has to buy one or multiple properties for residential or commercial properties. The accommodation can be rented out and bring profit. In five years, the applicant can obtain permanent residency and resell the investment properties.

Timeframe. The Spain Golden Visa program is one of the fastest residency‑by‑investment programs in Europe, with the most convenient obtainment process. It takes only 2—3 months from applying to acquiring the residency permit. 

Requirements for applicants. The main applicant has to be over 18 with no criminal record or depts in Spain. They need to be able to prove the legality of their income and make sure that the investment money was earned outside of Spain.

The investor can add to the application: 

  • spouse or registered partner, including those in same-sex couples; 
  • children under 18 years old;
  • children over 18 who are unmarried and depend financially on the investor;
  • parents who depend financially on the investor.

2. Permanent residency in Cyprus: 3+ months

Cyprus permanent residence program offers cosmopolitans different options of investment to choose from: purchase of residential or commercial property, acquisition of shares of Cypriot companies, or units in investment funds. 

The minimum investment amount depends on the chosen timeframe.

Timeframe. With an investment over €300,000, it’s possible to obtain a residence permit in around 3 months. If the applicant opts for a smaller investment, they will have to wait around 12—18 months. 

Requirements for applicants. To join the program, the investor has to be over 18 years old, have no criminal record or bans to enter EU states and the UK, and not be under sanctions. 

Aside from that, the main applicant needs to have legal income of at least €30,000 per year, own or rent accommodation in Cyprus, and provide a medical report.  

Along with the investor, their close family members can join the application. This applies to: 

  • their spouse or registered partner in a relationship of at least 2 years; 
  • children under 18, including those from previous marriages; 
  • children under 25, if they are unmarried and financially dependent on the main applicant; 
  • children with physical or mental disabilities of any age; 
  • parents.

When an investor adds family members to their application, the minimum investment amount doesn’t change. However, their yearly income from sources outside of Cyprus and Greece has to be bigger. It increases by €5,000 for each child and for the spouse and by €8,000 for each parent.

3. Austria residence permit: 4‑8 months

Financially independent persons can obtain residency in Austria, if they have stable passive income and own or rent accommodation in the country. People who obtain this kind of permit are required to stay within the country for at least 183 days a year. 

The applicant has to receive legal income in another country. It can be income from owning a business or holding shares in a company, a salary from a remote job, pensions, royalties, etc. 

The required amount for obtaining the permit is calculated based on the family composition. For instance, if the investor is going to move to Austria alone, his income has to be at least €1,933 monthly. For a married couple, it’s €2,944. For each child added to the application, the minimum income increases by €298.

Above the set income, the investor should have enough funds to pay for additional regular expenses: rent, medical insurance, and car maintenance.

Timeframe. The whole process of acquiring the residence permit, including the preparations, takes around 4—8 months. 

Requirements for applicants. The investor has to have no criminal records, know German at the A1 level or higher, and provide medical insurance. 

The main applicant can also request permits for their spouse and children up to 14 years old. Aside from that, children from 14 to 18 can join the application if they don’t have criminal records, know German at the A1 level or higher, and have medical insurance.

4. Permanent residency in Malta: 6‑8 months

The Malta Permanent Residence Program allows investors from non-EU countries to become residents of the country by investment. There are several investment conditions applicants are required to fulfil: 

  • purchase or rent real estate in Malta; 
  • pay government fees; 
  • make a charitable donation. 

Aside from that, the applicant has to confirm that they have assets of at least €500,000, with at least €150,000 in liquid financial assets. 

If the investor chooses to rent real estate, the minimal price for it has to be €10,000 for properties in the south of Malta and the island of Gozo, and €12,000 for properties in other regions of the country. 

In case of purchase of real estate, the price for it should start at €300,000 if it’s located in the south of Malta or on the island of Gozo. For other regions of the country, the minimum price increases to €350,000.

The contribution to the government fund is €58,000 in case of rent and €28,000 if the investor buys a property. The charitable donation is €2,000 — it can be sent to any non‑governmental organisation in Malta. 

Aside from that, the investor is required to pay a €40,000 administration fee. 

Timeframe. It takes around 6—8 months to obtain permanent residence by investment in Malta. 

Requirements for applicants. The main applicant needs to: 

  • be over 18 years old;
  • have no criminal record or prosecution; 
  • not be under sanctions; 
  • have no history of visa denials in countries that maintain a visa-free regime with Malta; 
  • have legal income; 
  • have medical insurance. 

Along with the investor, their close family members can obtain residence permits. This applies to their spouses and registered partners, children. Children over 18 can join the application only if they are unmarried and principally dependent on the investor. 

Parents and grandparents of the main applicant and their partner can also get permits if they are principally dependent on them.

5. Greece Golden Visa program: 6 months

The Greece Golden Visa program provides non-EU citizens with several options to invest in exchange for a residence permit. The minimal investment amount is €250,000. 

Most frequently investors choose to purchase real estate. This kind of investment is returnable — five years after obtaining the residence permit, investors can apply for permanent residency or citizenship by naturalisation and resell their property. 

Other options include renting a hotel for 10 years, purchasing land for construction, inheriting real estate, and buying securities. 

Timeframe. The applications for Greece residence permit are processed within 1‑2 months. Based on our experience, the whole process including the real estate purchase and paperwork takes around 6 months. 

How to obtain a Greece Golden Visa in 6 months

Arsen and Amina, a couple from Astana, love travelling to Europe. To escape the visa hassle, they had already bought a property in the Czech Republic and obtained residency there. 

However, they found it inconvenient to have to renew their permits every year. Besides, they wanted to own real estate in a warm country next to the sea. 

The couple decided to sell their property in the Czech Republic and invest the money in residency in Greece instead. This way, they can renew their permits only once every five years.  

Learn how they obtained residency in Greece in 6 months

Requirements for applicants. Non-EU citizens over 18 years old who are capable of confirming the legality of their income and have no criminal record can join the program. 

Under the same application, residency can be granted to: 

  • spouse or a registered partner; 
  • unmarried children under 21 years old, including those of the partner if they are under the investor’s custody;
  • parents of the investor and their partner.

6. Switzerland residence permit for financially independent persons: 6+ months

A Switzerland residence permit is available to foreigners who are willing to pay a lump-sum tax for 1 or 5 years.  

The amount of the lump-sum tax ranges between ₣450,000 to ₣1,000,000 per year and depends on the investor’s income. 

Aside from the tax, investors also are required to pay a ₣18,000 social security contribution per each adult family member. Additional costs include medical insurance, legal services, and preparation of documents. 

Investors and their family members are required to stay at least 6 months within Switzerland to keep their residence permits. They can’t, however, work in the country. 

Timeframe. Usually, the acquisition process takes around six months, including 2—4 months of Due Diligence. 

Requirements for applicants. Investors are required to be older than 18 years old, have no criminal record, and be capable of confirming the legality of their income. Their annual worldwide expenses should exceed their rent in Switzerland by 7 times.

Investors can include their close family members. This applies to their spouses or registered partners of at least three years and children under 18 years old. 

7. Portugal Golden Visa: 8—10 months 

The Portugal Residence Permit Program implies obtaining a residency permit after making an investment of at least €250,000. 

The most popular investment options include purchasing real estate from €280,000 and acquiring investment fund units for at least €500,000. Both these options are returnable in at least five years. 

Timeframe. Portuguese authorities process the applications within 6—8 months. With all the preparations and fulfilling the investment conditions, the residency permit can be obtained in under a year. 

Requirements for applicants. To be able to join the program, the investor has to be over 18 years old, be able to confirm the legality of his funds and have no criminal records. The money for the investment has to be earned outside of Portugal. 

Along with the investor, residence permit can be issued for their close family members: 

  • spouse or registered partner of at least two years; 
  • children under 18;
  • children from 18 to 26, if they are financially dependent on the investor; 
  • parents of the investor and their partner; 
  • siblings of the investor under their custody.

How long it takes to obtain residency by investment in Europe: summary

Country Obtainment period Minimal investmentFamily members to join the application
Spain2—3 months€500,000
  • spouse or registered partner;
  • children;
  • parents.
Cyprus3+ months€300,000
  • spouse or registered partner;
  • children;
  • parents.
Austria 4—8 months€1,933 monthly + rent
  • spouse or registered partner;
  • children.
Malta6—8 months€150,000+
  • spouse or registered partner;
  • children;
  • parents;
  • grandparents.
Greece6+ months€250,000
  • spouse or registered partner;
  • children;
  • parents.
Switzerland 6+ months₣450,000 yearly
  • spouse or registered partner;
  • children.
Portugal8—10 months€250,000
  • spouse or registered partner;
  • children;
  • parents;
  • siblings.

Benefits of residence in Europe 

Residency in a EU state allows its holder to live in the country with no limits for as long as the permit is valid. Above that, the status provides investors with other benefits. 

Visa-free travels. Residents of any Schengen state can travel to other countries within the area visa-free. This applies only to short visits for up to 90 days every six months. 

Tax optimisation. Investors can become tax residents in the countries where they obtained their residence permits. Usually, the requirement is to spend at least 183 days a year within the state.

While there are generally no special tax benefits for investors, the state’s tax system itself can be beneficial. For instance, in Greece, new tax residents pay a flat tax of €100,000 on global income. And Malta’s tax system is favourable to businesses — some companies can get a tax refund of 100%.

Business opportunities. Some countries allow working and doing business with residency permits obtained by investment — for instance, Spain, Greece, and Malta. The investors can move their business to the state and take it to the international level. 

Prospects of obtaining citizenship. Investors who obtained their residency by investment can become citizens of the state by naturalisation in the future. Depending on the country, it will be possible to apply for citizenship in 5—10 years.  

How to become a citizen of a European country after obtaining residency by investment

Each country has its own requirements for residents who want to obtain passports by naturalisation. In most cases, candidates for naturalisation need to: 

  • retain the residency status for 5+ years; 
  • physically reside in the country for the most part in the year;
  • learn the country’s language and history.

In some cases, investors will have to give up the passport of their country of origin. This applies to countries that don’t allow second citizenship, for example, Spain.   

Timeframes of obtaining citizenship in EU countries for investors

CountryYears of residency before applying for citizenshipOpportunity to keep the other citizenshipObligation to stay in the countryRequirement to take exams
Spain10 yearsApplicants can’t leave Spain for longer than 10 months during the entire period of residency
  • Proficiency in Spanish at A2 level;
  • Spanish culture and law.
Cyprus5 yearsApplicants are required to reside continuously in Cyprus for 12 months before application
  • none.
Austria 11+ yearsApplicants are required to stay in the country for 183 days a year
  • German language skills;
  • basic knowledge of the country’s political system and history.
Greece7 yearsApplicants can’t spend outside of Greece more than 10 months overall.
  • Greek language;
  • the state’s history, geography, and government structure.
Switzerland 10 yearsApplicants are required to stay in the country for 183 days a year
  • Proficiency in German, French, Italian, or Swiss Romansh at B1 level.
Portugal5 years“Golden visa” investors need to spend 7 days a year in the country to apply for citizenship.
  • Proficiency in Portuguese at A2 level.
  • Frequently asked questions

    How long does it take to get permanent residence in Europe?

    The Golden visa program in Spain provides investors with an opportunity to obtain residency permits in 2—3 months. This is the fastest residency-by-investment program in the EU. Ten years after acquiring their residence permit, investors can apply for a permanent residency. 

    If the investor wants to obtain a permanent residency status, the fastest programs would be those in Cyprus and Malta. 

    Cyprus residency-by-investment program allows to obtain permanent residency in around 3 months by the expedited procedure.

    Malta allows foreign nationals to obtain permanent residency by investment in 4—8 months. The investor will be granted the status once their application is approved and will not have to wait for five or more years.

    Which country in Europe is easiest to get citizenship?

    There’s no fast way of obtaining citizenship in the EU by investment. Some countries offer residency-by-investment programs, such as Greece, Portugal, and Spain. 

    Investors who choose to join one of these programs can later obtain citizenship by naturalisation — this will take at least five years.

    Malta allows foreign nationals to obtain citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment. Applicants fulfil multiple investment conditions to obtain residency permit. They are required to retain residency status for 1 or 3 years to be able to apply for citizenship.

    How to get Austria permanent residence?

    There are different types of residence permits in Austria.

    Investors can move to the country by obtaining a residence permit for financially independent persons. To do so, the applicant has to provide proof of income of around €2,000 above rent and other regular expenses.

    How to obtain residency in Spain?

    Investors can obtain a residence permit in Spain with an investment of €500,000 or more. There are six investment options to choose from, with property purchase being the most popular one.

    Other ways to become a resident of Spain include getting a student or working visa, and moving to the country as a family member of a Spanish citizen or as a refugee.

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    Top 7 countries in Europe with fastest residency by investment programs