Second citizenship

Portugal, Malta or Spain? Choosing the ideal country for your family

Family values ​​are the most important component of our clients' lives. Many cases of Immigrant Invest are based on solving problems that prevent families from improving their living situation.

In today's article, we talk about which European country can be called ideal for moving. For comparison, we take on Malta, Spain and Portugal.

Portugal, Malta or Spain? Choosing the ideal country for a family

What can prevent moving to Europe?

Lack of official status. Before choosing a country, you need to think about on what official basis your family will live in it. Issuing visas is definitely not suitable for this, since they are valid for a limited time and are not suitable for all family members.

For legal residence in the country, you need a more long-term and solid status, e.g. a temporary or permanent residence permit. Compared to obtaining citizenship, getting a residence permit and permanent residence requires less costs and is suitable for wealthy families.

Terms of obtaining and conditions of status. It is not possible to obtain a residence permit in Europe quickly and easily in all countries. Getting a residence permit in France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, and even more so in Sweden, Norway, Denmark will be extremely problematic with the process taking many years. Moreover, everything can end in a fiasco, since no one guarantees you a positive result, even if you buy real estate, open a business or get a job in one of these countries.

We recommend paying attention to European countries that have government programs for investors. If you meet all the conditions, then you will receive a residence permit for your entire family without delay, in 5-6 months.

Where is it easier to get official status in Europe?

Malta has two state investment programs. An investor can obtain Malta citizenship only by naturalization and one of the paths is for special services by direct investment.

Residence permit in Malta. You get status for paying the income tax of 15%. Simultaneously, you become a tax resident of the country and you also rent a property in Malta worth €12,000 per year.

Permanent residence in Malta is issued if the investor fulfills four conditions:

  1. Rent or buy housing on the island. Rental price is generally €10,000 per year, and purchases start from €300,000.
  2. Pay a state contribution: €58,000 when renting a home and €28,000 when buying.
  3. Pay an administrative fee of €40,000.
  4. Make a charitable donation of €2,000.

The investor also confirms that he owns assets worth at least €500,000. Of these, €150,000 must be liquid financial assets.

Permanent residence in Malta for a family that loves Italy

Adam actively develops his business and cooperates with Italian partners. He plans to expand the company and enter the European market.  His daughter Katherine and wife Helen are learning and improving their Italian. Our client’s mother Natalie is not a fan of staying at home and often also goes with the family to Italy.  We drew the attention of the client to the state program of permanent residence in Malta. As a result of our conversation, Adam came to the conclusion that this particular program is the optimal solution to his problems.

Client’s story

Malta citizenship by naturalization for special services by direct investment is available as well. The applicant first receives a residence permit and passes a Due Diligence check. After a year or three years, he gets the opportunity to apply for citizenship. 

To obtain a passport, an investor needs to:

  1. Rent or buy housing on the island. Rental price starts at €16,000 and purchases are around €700,000.
  2. Make a non-refundable contribution to the state fund of €600,000 if they apply for citizenship three years after the residence permit, and from €750,000 if a year later.
  3. Make a charitable donation of €10,000.
Individual cost calculation of the Maltese citizenship

Portugal residency by investment. The Portuguese government offers a maximum of investment options from the countries we compare. The most popular of them are related to real estate.

€500,000+
purchase of any residential or commercial property
€350,000+
purchase of objects over 30 years old that require reconstruction

To get Portugal residence by investment, applicants can also:

  • buy shares of companies resident in Portugal in the amount of €1.5 million;
  • buy shares in investment funds in the amount of €500,000;
  • finance scientific research from €500,000;
  • invest in the restoration of national heritage from €250,000;
  • invest in a business from €500,000 with the creation of at least 5 jobs;
  • open a company and create at least 10 jobs.

From 2022, residential real estate is allowed to be bought only in the interior regions of the country, as well as in autonomous regions like Madeira and the Azores. It is no longer possible to obtain a residence permit in Portugal for the purchase of residential property in large and coastal cities popular among tourists such as Lisbon, Cascais, Porto and others. Commercial property is not subject to restrictions.

Spain offers five investment options in exchange for obtaining a residence permit for the whole family:

  1. Purchase of residential, commercial real estate or land in the amount of €500,000.
  2. Purchase shares of companies that are residents of Spain for €1,000,000.
  3. Deposit in one of the banks of Spain for €1,000,000.
  4. Purchase of government bonds for €2,000,000.
  5. Opening a company and creating jobs.
Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Spain

Investments and costs of obtaining a status

From the perspective of the costs for obtaining a status, at first glance, the permanent residence program in Malta looks preferable: an investor spends from €150,000.

A residence permit in Portugal and Spain will cost from €500,000 as that's how much you need to buy liquid real estate. But in Malta, you also need to rent or buy housing. It will cost at least €10,000 per year when renting or from €300,000 when buying.

In all three countries, investments are returnable: you need to own assets for 5 years, after which they can be sold. At the same time, the Maltese government provides support to investors in the sale. In Portugal and Spain, you will have to sell the property entirely on your own.

Administrative costs in all three programs are approximately the same and are around €25,000 to €30,000.

Terms of obtaining the status

Spain and Portugal are in the lead in terms of registration time as applications for a residence permit are considered in a period of 3 to 6 months. The cards themselves are prepared within a month.

From 3 to 6 months
terms of obtaining a residence permit in Portugal and Spain

In Malta, upon obtaining permanent residence, only due diligence lasts 6 months. By this time, you also need to add the term for the implementation of investments which takes 2-3 months.

How many family members can be included in the application?

This is the most important question that worries all investors. Here, the permanent residence program in Malta also wins, as it allows you to include children, parents, grandparents of any age in the application. Thus, it is truly a family program.

A residence permit in MaltaPermanent residence in MaltaMalta citizenshipA residence permit in PortugalA residence permit in Spain
InvestorInvestorInvestorInvestorInvestor
SpouseSpouseSpouseSpouseSpouse
Children under 25Children — without age restrictionsChildren under 29Children under 26Children — without age restrictions
Parents and grandparents — without age restrictionsParents and grandparents — without age restrictionsParents and grandparents over 55Parents — financially dependent if younger 65Parents and grandparents — without age restrictions
Siblings

Travel across the Schengen arearnand residing in the EU

The permanent residence in Malta, a residence permit in Portugal and Spain allow you to move equally and freely without visas within the Schengen area. However, they do not give the right to live and work in other EU countries. To do this, you will need Malta citizenship. Then almost the entire visa-free world will open for you, including the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, and the USA.

Is it necessary to live in the country?

Under the terms of the Portuguese program, its participants spend 7 days a year in the country. That is, if you do not plan to permanently reside in Europe now, you can go with the whole family on vacation for a week.

According to the Spanish program, you need to spend 1 day in the country. 

As for Malta, there are no such requirements for holders of permanent residence for investment. It is not necessary to live in the country.

The prospect of obtaining EU citizenship

After five years, the permanent residence cards of Malta remain with your family members for life. If you wish to obtain citizenship, you will need to apply and pass an English or Maltese language proficiency test.

Conditions for obtaining a European passport in Portugal are similar. A residence permit allows you to apply for citizenship here after 5 years of residence, provided that you know Portuguese at the basic A2 level.

A residence permit in Spain, combined with residence in the country for 10 years, gives you the right to apply for citizenship after this period.

Portuguese citizenship after a “golden visa”

Our client Andrew wants to promote his services to European markets. To do this, he needs to visit Europe often and open a bank account. He also does not want to constantly issue or renew visas, control the number of days spent in the Schengen arearnor leave after 183 days a year.  Under the Portuguese residence permit program, after 5 years he can get an EU passport. At the same time, it is not required to reside in the country 183 days a year, and the investment amount is from €500,000.  Andrew was in no hurry to obtain a second citizenship, so he was quite satisfied with the period of 5 years. Moreover, the program at this stage of life solved all his main tasks.

Client's story

Quality of life

Malta, Portugal and Spain are about the same in terms of living standards and occupy high positions in European and world rankings. For example, in the Prosperity Index ranking from the Legatum Institute in 2021, Spain ranked 24th, Malta — 25th, Portugal — 28th.

We will not undertake to recommend this or that country, since the choice often depends on the personal preferences of families. Malta, Spain and Portugal are southern countries with a friendly culture, a high level of security, and a mild climate. It should be noted that Malta is chosen mainly by people who want to connect to the UK, as British culture is actively cultivated on the island.

Who won the comparison?

We will not draw unequivocal conclusions, since the programs of all three countries address various issues and problems. However, as a universal option that suits most families and is the most popular, we recommend that you pay attention to the permanent residence program in Malta.

Contact Immigrant Invest. We will find the best option for solving your problems and help you obtain official status in a country that is ideal for you and  your family.

Portugal, Malta or Spain? Choosing the ideal country for your family

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