For many investors, citizenship in the EU is beneficial and desirable for a number of reasons. For those outside the EU there are a number of ways in which inviduals can get EU citizenship, each with differing timescales and processes. Astons’ team of international experts can advise and guide you on all aspects of gaining EU residency and citizenship. Contact us for friendly and knowledgeable advice. In the meantime, our guide below will start you off with the information you need.
What Are The Advantages Of Having EU Citizenship?
- Freedom to live and work in several countries
- Opening access for business to many different markets
- Possible tax advantages
- Ease of movement between all of the EU countries plus the three countries in the European Economic Area (Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) and Ireland.
- Visa-free access to up to 188 countries across the world
- Protection of the consulate of any EU country travelled to
- A safe haven in times of social or economic unrest
- Healthcare and educational advantages
- The right to vote and run for office in EU elections
- Protection of EU privacy laws
- Owning property without having to obtain a permit
- Passing EU citizenship onto spouse, dependent children and future generations
What Are The Qualifying Requirements For EU Citizenship?
- By descent – if you have a close relative who is an EU citizen you may be able to claim citizenship through your relationship to them. A close relative is usually defined as a parent but in some cases may be a grandparent or great-grandparent. They must not have relinquished or lost their EU citizenship, even if they no longer live in the EU.
- By naturalisation – if you have been resident and/or worked in an EU country for enough time to be able to claim citizenship of that country and by extension, the EU. Alternatively, naturalisation can be obtained by marriage to an EU citizen.
- By investment (also known as a Golden Visa) – several EU countries have citizenship by investment programs which will enable the investor to gain citizenship immediately or to gain residency and be eligible to apply for citizenship after a set period of time.
Which EU Countries Allow Citizenship By Descent?
The following countries allow for citizenship by descent. Those marked with an asterisk allow citizenship up to the third generation, ie the great -grandchildren of EU citizens can qualify:
Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria*, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece*, Hungary*, Ireland*, Italy*, Latvia, Lithuania*, Luxembourg*, Malta, Netherlands, Poland*, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia*, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.
How Long Will It Take To Gain EU Citizenship?
This will vary depending on which route you qualify for. As a rough guide, the following timescales apply:
- Citizenship by descent – 6-12 months
- Citizenship by naturalisation – 5-10 years (as little as 1 year if married to a Spanish citizen)
- Citizenship by investment – 1-5 years
Which Are The Best Countries Leading To EU Citizenship?
Montenegro, although not yet a member of the EU itself, does have a secure place in Europe, being a member of the European Monetary Union, NATO, WTO and OSCE. It is a strong future candidate for EU membership. Montenegro has a program by which people can gain citizenship of the country, and therefore citizenship of a country very likely to gain EU membership, by investment. However, this has been a limited program, open to just 2,000 people in total and closes permanently on 31 December 2022 so if this is the chosen route, action will need to be taken quickly. Once underway, the process is a fast one with citizenship achieved in approximately 6 months. It is also a low-cost program in comparison to other countries in Europe, with a minimum investment of 450,000 Euros split between property and a government donation. There is no requirement for residency. Citizenship provides visa-free travel to over 123 countries. Spouse, children under 18 and dependent children over 18 can be part of the application.
Malta has one of the speediest routes to citizenship of the country and by extension the EU, with a fast-track program enabling citizenship within one year in return for an investment of at least 750,000 Euros into government programs, government bonds or donation to an approved organisation. Alternatively, its other citizenship by investment program requires an investment of at least 700,000 Euros into real estate, leading to citizenship in three years.
Becoming a citizen of Turkey is a straightforward, speedy and popular option and opens up access to the rest of the EU. It offers a fast-track route with citizenship being achieved in as little as two months in return for a minimum investment of US $400,000 into real estate. Citizenship of Turkey offers visa-free travel to over 110 countries. Spouse, children under 18 and disabled children of any age are all included.
Other European Programs
Many other EU countries offer permanent residency which will enable the person to apply for citizenship for themselves and their families after some years. Once citizenship of the country has been obtained, this then confers EU citizenship. The countries with the fastest timelines include France, Belgium, Portugal, Cyprus and Ireland at five years each. Austria, Italy, Germany, Spain and Greece can take up to ten years to grant citizenship after residency, although spouses of Spanish citizens can gain citizenship after just one year if they are already resident. Until recently, Cyprus had a fast-track program for European citizenship by investment, which although expensive at a minimum donation of £2,150,000, resulted in citizenship in just six months. However, the program is currently suspended
Contact our team of friendly and knowledgeable experts here for a free consultation to equip you with the most up-to-date advice on all aspects of citizenship.