How to Get a European Passport & Full EU Citizenship
- Last updated on . Written by Offshore Protection.
It is not surprising that many people are eager to become European citizens and, along with it, acquire a passport from a top-tier EU nation. Though European citizenship is highly sought after though it is not exactly easy to acquire. Whether or not you can get your hands on a coveted EU passport will depend on a few things.
This article will outline how to go about getting EU citizenship, where we will briefly mention six ways you can do so. We will be focusing on European Citizenship by investment programs as they currently offer the best way to get citizenship in Europe today.
Table of Contents:
- What is a European Citizenship?
- Why an EU Citizenship & What are the Benefits?
- How to Become a European Citizen?
- 6 Ways to Get a European Passport
- Getting an EU Passport - Other Residency & Citizenship Programs
- List of European Citizenship Programs
- What Is The Easiest EU Citizenship To Get?
- What Is The Fastest Way To Get An EU Passport?
- Is European Citizenship the Best Option for You?
- Challenges Involved In Obtaining European Citizenship
- Alternative Options For Citizenship
- Alternative Tier B Caribbean Second Citizenship Solutions
What is a European Citizenship?
Citizenship from the EU allows you to enjoy the benefits that come from having the right to move, settle and be employed all across the 28 EU member countries.
A passport from any one of the member countries gives you access, privileges and rights to move freely across any border in over two dozen countries, have access to visa-free travel, and a national care system that is some of the best in the world. It is for these reasons that has made Euporan citizenship one of the most coveted and sought-after titles to hold.
Why an EU Citizenship & What are the Benefits?
There are a number of reasons why anyone would want to move and live in the European Union. Here are just a few:
- Access to working in 28 countries
- Ability to live and have permanent residency
- Visa-free travel
- Great national healthcare system
- Rights and protections as an EU citizen
- Ability to start a business and own property
- Plan B citizenship
- Social benefits
How to Become a European Citizen?
There are several ways to become a European Citizenship. The best route for each individual will depend upon their own circumstances, as well as the country in which they want to acquire EU citizenship.
6 Ways to Get a European Passport
1. Citizenship by Descent
Citizenship by descent (aka ancestry) is by far the easiest and cheapest way to become a European citizen for those who are eligible. In order to qualify, you need to have either parents, grandparents, or in some cases, great-grandparents who are/were born citizens of the European country in question. The number of generations which you can trace back to qualify depends on the particular country’s citizenship by descent rules.
The following European nations all have established citizenship by descent programs in place: Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, UK, and Poland (among others).
Citizenship by descent is the best option due to the fact that it usually costs well under $1000 and can be completed in a few months to a year in most cases. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to have European ancestry, which means they should pursue one of the other two methods outlined below.
2. Citizenship by Naturalisation
The next, and most common option is to acquire European citizenship through a naturalisation process. This is a more varied option, with numerous different routes, timelines, and costs involved. The first, and most important point to stress is that obtaining citizenship by naturalisation inevitably takes time and effort, irrespective of the specific route taken. However, it is the only viable option for many.
Each European country has its own set of requirements and processes in order to become a naturalised citizen. The one thing which they all have in common is that in order to become a naturalised citizen, you first need to acquire permanent residency status.
The ways to accomplish this and ultimately become a naturalised citizen include:
In almost every European country, it is possible to qualify for residence if you manage to get a full-time job there, start paying taxes, and fulfil other basic criteria. After a certain period of time (usually about 5 - 10 years), you will then be eligible to apply for citizenship. The difficulty with this option is that you usually need to be hired by a local company who then sponsor you.
Marrying an EU citizen usually ensures a fast-track process to residency and thereafter citizenship. The process followed is much the same as others acquiring citizenship by naturalisation, but the timeline can be significantly shortened in some European countries. The difficulty here is obviously you need to find another person who agrees.
Several European countries offer residency permits to those who start a business. There are usually strict criteria governing what is deemed a “real” business, and the applicant should physically reside in the country while they are going through the process. European countries which offer residence to business owners include Belgium, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Hungary, and Latvia. Starting a business is a great way to enter into the EU, however, there are significant barriers to that make entry more difficult with requirements that can be capital and time intensive.
The final way to become a naturalised EU citizen is to start by obtaining residency by investment. For those who have the capacity this is the best way to get citizenship as it has less requirements. This differs to the various citizenship by investment programs offered in the Caribbean and other parts of the world, in that you are not immediately granted citizenship once you have made your investment. You will need to undergo the naturalisation process just like everyone else, but it is a sure and fast way to get your foot in the door with residency.
These programs have commonly become known as “Golden Visas”. The two most popular programs in Europe are offered by Portugal and Spain. Both will set you back around EUR 500,000. There are other options offered by Greece, Latvia, and Bulgaria. These tend to be cheaper at around 250,000 EUR but are more complicated and there is less certainty of successfully being granted residency.
European Citizenship by Investment Programs
Citizenship by Investment programs similar to residency by investment, the difference being is that you do not need to wait as long and can forgo many of the residency requirements for a fee, have grown in popularity among Tier B nations offering quick and easy citizenship by making an investment/donation to the country’s economy. While these popular programs are mostly found in the Caribbean such as Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis, however Europe also has similar programs too note.
Historically, there have been two European citizenship by investment options available: Cyprus and Malta. Unfortunately, Cyprus recently suspended their program, however, there have been new programs that have been born as the need of second citizenships and passports have risen dramatically.
Montenegro Citizenship by Investment
Montenegro established a citizenship by investment program back in 2019 that offers citizenship by investment for 350,000 EUR that can be completed in 3 months.
While not officially part of the EU it does give you access to Europe and with a 100,000 EUR donation together with 250,000 EUR investment in real estate you can get a passport that is quickly gaining in popularity.
Learn more about the program here.
Malta Citizenship by Investment
The program is formally called the Malta Individual Investor Program and is targeted to high net worth clients requires a donation of either EUR 600,000 or EUR 750,000 (the latter reduces the 36-month process to 12 months), plus EUR 50,000 for spouse and/or any dependents.
The program is currently one of a kind in Europe. There are no other programs in the EU that gives you citizenship in 1 year for 750,000 EUR which gives you the ability to live, work and have all the rights of a Maltese citizen and access to 156 countries visa-free. It is required that your purchase a house for 700,000 EUR and hold the property for a minimum of five years as well as give a 10,000 EUR donation as well as 10,000 EUR for the due diligence.
Learn more about the program here
Getting an EU Passport - Other Residency & Citizenship Programs
Europe offers a number of other programs toward citizenships many of which start with residency through investment and after x number of years you then become qualified to apply for a passport and full citizenship. Ther are often called Golden Visas, with only difference with these programs is that these take longer and they have slightly different obligations than the citizenship by investment programs in the Caribbean for example which have minimal requirements and can be completed in as little as 1-3 months.
In order to qualify for Europe's golden visa programs, the primary requirement is that you live as a resident in the country, although in some cases you do not physically have to reside in the country (ex. Portugal).
Portugal Golden Pasport
Portugal has become one of the fastest-growing citizenship programs as there is no live-in-country requirements. you only need to stay there for two weeks a year. Right now it is the most sought-after citizenship because you can qualify for permanent residency and after 5 years you qualify so that you can then apply for citizenship and then get a Portugal Passport.
This is for individuals who would rather live elsewhere, have 350,000EUR on hand and are looking for a plan b. The benefit of this is that you can use that money as an investment in a piece of property, so you actually don't lost any investment in the program. You just need to keep the house.
Malta Golden Passport
Malta recently launched a new program called the Malta Permanent Residency Program (MPVP) which gives investors permanent residency for 100,000 EUR. This will likely become popular as it was only launched in 2021 in response to the massive growth in second residency and citizenship applications. The option does not guarantee citizenship, but it does make you eligible to apply for citizenship after 5 years through the regular naturalisation process.
List of European Citizenship Programs
Cost: Investment is usually through donation, real estate, bonds, or other investment
Time frame: The time it takes to be able to apply for citizenship and a passport
|The United Kingdom||2,000,000 GBP||6 years|
|Greece||250,000 EUR||7 years|
|Portugal||350,000 EUR||5 years|
|Spain||500,000 EUR||10 years|
|Greece||250,000 EUR||7 years|
|Germany||350,000 EUR||8 years|
|Ireland||1,000,000 EUR||7 years|
|Nederlands||1,250,000 EUR||5 years|
|Austria||3,000,000 EUR||10 years|
|Bulgaria||512,000 EUR||5 years|
What is the Easiest EU Citizenship to get?
Portugal is the easiest European citizenship that you can get in the EU. Their program is extremely generous as it allows citizenship after only 5 years without the need to live in the country (you only need to visit for 2 weeks a year) giving you visa-free travel to 160 countries.
After five years the only thing you need to show is a basic grasp of the language and proof of ties to the country which usually comes in the form of investment, business, property etc. The cost is 350,000 EUR where you can buy a property or piece of real estate that have been approved (which are usually blocks of land that require renovation) which would qualify you for citizenship.
What is the fastest way to get an EU Passport?
Malta offers the fastest way to get European citizenship. In 12 months and a donation of 750,000 EUR together with an investment of 700,000 EUR in real estate, you can get your Maltese passport which will give you access to the rest of the EU and visa-free travel to 180 countries.
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Is European Citizenship the Best Option for You?
European citizenship and a second passport undoubtedly comes with a host of advantages as was mentioned above. However, it is important to consider whether going through the process of becoming a European citizen is really the best option for you.
Challenges Involved in Obtaining European Citizenship
A European passport is the holy grail of passports, but this also means that it is not easy to get. For those who qualify for European citizenship by descent, the process can be quite straightforward and easy.
However, for everyone else looking to acquire European citizenship through other avenues, they should be warned in advance that it is not an easy process. In almost all cases it will require a combination of time, money, and effort.
There are extensive background checks and stringent requirements to qualify (such as fulfilling physical presence requirements to maintain residency, learning the language and culture, etc.). Even after a lengthy naturalisation process, there are no guarantees of finally being successful in becoming a full citizen.
Alternative Options For Citizenship
For the reasons mentioned above, it is worth considering the alternative options available. Aside from being easier, there is a good chance that some of these alternatives would be just as well suited to your particular needs, if not even better. If you can not get citizenship through marriage, descent or naturalization then the last option is through investment.
There are many countries which offer much easier access to permanent residency and/or second citizenship which are cheaper and quicker than the Malta or Portugal programs many of which are found in the Caribbean. These countries offer good Tier B passports which are often perfectly sufficient, especially for those who already own a Tier A passport from a major nation such as the US, Australia, or Canada.
These countries offer the added benefits of lower taxes, better financial privacy, increased personal freedoms, and often extremely pleasant climates and living conditions.
See our pick for some of the best countries to get citizenship by investment.
Alternative Tier B Caribbean Second Citizenship Solutions
Places like Nevis & St. Kitts and Dominica have some of the most popular citizenship programs in the world. They offer full citizenship with minimal investment and no need to visit the country beforehand.
You might find that there are other second citizenship options available to you which are cheaper, easier, and potentially better suited to your own situation.
Though in every case, unless you can get citizenship through descent, marriage, or naturalization Caribbean CBI programs are the best programs around as they are much cheaper (approx 150,000USD), can be completed quicker (1-3 months) and have far fewer requirements than other European Visa programs. That being said if you do have the time, money and patience then an EU passport is an unparalleled investment.
Becoming a European citizen is a ticket for a different lifestyle. However, it is also important to analyze your situation and needs before deciding to venture out on the path because of the time, effort, and monetary commitments involved. While there are definitely easier paths toward getting second citizenship, having a European passport is a golden ticket.
Please note: Offshore Protection does not offer work visas services nor services related citizenship through ancestry. We only offer citizenship by investment and golden visa services. Read more for info on EU work visas and EU ancestry visas.