How can I travel within Europe with a residence permit?
A residence permit allows its holder to live in the chosen country for a stipulated time. It is usually valid for 1 to 3 years, subject to renewal.
People usually get residence permits to work, study, reunite with family members or for other compelling reasons. However, some countries issue residence permits to investors or financially independent persons.
Permanent residence is usually granted after several years of living in the country. But it’s possible to get it by investment in Malta and Cyprus.
Permanent residence is a life-long status. However, a permanent residence card must be renewed every few years — but less often than a temporary residence permit. For example, a Malta residence permit must be renewed every year, while a permanent residence card — once in five years.
Travel opportunities. Suppose you get a residence permit or permanent residence in Portugal, Greece, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, or Malta. Thus, you will be able to visit other Schengen countries without visas and spend there up to 90 days out of 180.
A period of stay in the country of residence is unlimited and doesn’t count in a 90-day stay in the Schengen Area.
Andrew owned a company that developed mobile apps. He wanted to expand his business to Europe and open a branch in an EU country.
To visit the Schengen Area, Andrew had to get a visa. He decided to get a travel document to gain free access to the region.
The businessman chose the Portugal Golden Visa Program to achieve his goals. A residence permit allowed Andrew to register a business in Portugal, vacate in local resorts and attend European business conferences.
Relocation to the country of residence. Some countries require residents to come for a few days to maintain their residence permits or permanent residence. Others, like Austria and Switzerland, require their residents to spend at least six months a year on the country’s territory. We recommend such residence permits only to cosmopolitans who want to relocate.
Investors don’t have to live permanently in Portugal, Greece, Spain, or Malta to keep their residency. Relocation to the country of residence is a right, not an obligation. Investment programs of these countries are suitable for visa-free travelling within the Schengen Area.
Terms of obtaining residency in Europe
|Country and status||Investment amount||Obtaining period||Travel opportunities||Mandatory residing|
|Portugal residence permit||€250,000+||8+ months||Living in Portugal and visiting the Schengen countries visa-free||7 days a year|
|Greece residence permit||€250,000+||6+ months||Living in Greece and visiting the Schengen countries visa-free||—|
|Malta permanent residence||€150,000+|
If renting housing for 5 years
Application processing time
|Living in Malta and visiting the Schengen countries visa-free||—|
|Spain residence permit||€500,000+||2—3 months||Living in Spain and visiting the Schengen countries visa-free||—|
|Portugal D7 Visa||No investments are required. Applicants prove they have enough money to live in Portugal||2+ months||Living in Portugal and visiting the Schengen countries visa-free||6+ months a year|
|Austria residence permit for financially independent persons||No investments are required. Applicants prove they have enough money to live in Austria||3+ months||Living in Austria and visiting the Schengen countries visa-free||6+ months a year|
|Switzerland residence permit for financially independent persons||₣450,000+ as a lump-sum tax||6+ months||Living in Switzerland and visiting the Schengen countries visa-free||6+ months a year|
Cyprus permanent residence and an Andorra residence permit don’t provide the right to visit the Schengen countries without visas because these countries aren’t a part of the Schengen Area. Investors obtain residence in these countries to relocate, optimise taxes and do business.
If a resident has lived in the country of residence for several years, they can apply for citizenship. An EU passport unlocks visa-free entry to 170+ destinations worldwide.
How can I travel with second citizenship?
Some countries allow their citizens to have several passports. For example, dual citizenship is permitted in Portugal, Greece, Switzerland, Malta, and Cyprus.
Laws of Austria and Spain prohibit having a second citizenship. To get a passport from one of these countries, a person must give up their first citizenship.
A few states grant citizenship by investment. It is an easier and faster path: in this case, obtaining a second passport takes from two months to three years. As a rule, investors don’t have to take language and culture exams and, in some cases, even visit the country of second citizenship.
Let’s see how one can travel with dual citizenship.
Caribbean and Vanuatu citizenship allows the holder to enter 90+ countries without visas.
Caribbean citizens can freely visit the UK and the Schengen countries.
Vanuatu citizens can visit the UK without visas. In March 2022, the European Council partially suspended the visa-waiver agreement with the country: only citizens who obtained Vanuatu passports prior to May 25th, 2015, could enter the Schengen Area without visas. In November 2022, the European Council officially abolished the visa‑waiver agreement with Vanuatu. The decision is to come into force on February 4th, 2023.
The Caribbean passport allows its holder to qualify for a 10-year visitor visa to the USA, while Vanuatu citizens qualify for a 5-year visa.
Caribbean countries and Vanuatu don’t impose mandatory residence requirements on investors who want citizenship. One should visit only Antigua and Barbuda: an investor must spend at least five days within the first five years of citizenship in the country.
Amal got retired and decided to spend his spare time travelling the world. He wanted to obtain second citizenship to save time on visas and bureaucracy.
We helped Amal and his wife to get Antigua and Barbuda passports. As a result, the spouses visited 13 countries within the first six months after obtaining second citizenship.
Maltese passport holders freely visit 186 countries, including the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, and the Schengen states.
Malta grants citizenship for exceptional services by direct investment. It is a naturalisation path: an investor gets a residence permit and applies for citizenship one or three years later.
The Turkish passport provides visa-free entry to 100+ destinations, including Japan and Singapore. In addition, Turkish citizens can get a 10-year visitor visa or an E-2 business visa to the USA.
Terms of obtaining citizenship by investment
|Country and status||Obtaining period and investment amount||Travel opportunities|
|Caribbean citizenship: |
Antigua and Barbuda
St Kitts and Nevis
|2 to 8 months|
|Visa-free trips to:|
Caribbean citizens can get B-1/B-2 visitor visas to the USA, valid for 10 years.
Investors with Grenada citizenship can open a business in the USA and get an E-2 visa. It allows visiting the States without limits on the period of stay in the country.
|Vanuatu citizenship||1—2 months|
|Visa-free trips to:|
A 5-year B-1/B-2 visitor visa is available for travelling to the USA.
|Malta citizenship for exceptional services||1 to 3 years|
|Visa-free trips to:|
A Maltese citizen can get a 10-year B-1/B-2 visitor visa to the USA if necessary.
|Turkey citizenship||6—8 months|
|110 countries, including Japan and Singapore, are visa-free.|
A 5-year C-2 Schengen visa is available.
A 10-year B-1/B-2 visitor visa and a 5-year E-2 business visa to the USA are available.
Besides travel opportunities, citizenship programs differ in the required investment amounts, time frames and conditions for the participation of family members. These criteria are also essential to consider when choosing the best-suited travel document.
For example, Caribbean citizenship is available to the whole family, including investors’ parents and siblings. In contrast, only investors’ spouses and minor children can qualify for Turkey citizenship. If getting a second passport is time-sensitive, Vanuatu citizenship might be the best choice, as one can get it in 1—2 months.
Compare residency and citizenship programs to assess all the pros and cons and select suitable options.
Frequently Asked Questions
With a residence permit of a EU country you can travel freely to other EU countries.
They are rather similar. A visa is a document that allows a foreigner to cross the border of a specific country or territory. It can be a non-immigrant and an immigrant. An immigrant visa is basically a residence permit that allows a foreigner to stay in the country for a long period, work or study there or perform other activities.
Citizenship is the best status for traveling as usually it allows you to enter more countries visa-free. For example, with Malta permanent residence you can visit only 27 countries of the Schengen Area without visas. At the same time, Maltese citizenship gives you an opportunity to freely visit 185 countries.
That depends on the countries of your citizenship and on the country you would like to travel to. The stronger your passports are, the fewer countries will require you to have a travel visa.
For example, if you have dual French-Italian citizenship you can travel to the USA and Australia without visas. But if you would like to travel to Bhutan with the same citizenship you would need to apply for a visa.