Since its inception, the EU has been and continues to be a desirable destination for many people, for many reasons. For the general population and particularly for business people and investors, residing and/or holding the passport of an EU country has a number of benefits:

  • 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

There are a variety of qualifying requirements for EU citizenship: by descent, if the applicant has a close relative who is an EU citizen; by naturalisation, if the applicant has lived and/or worked in an EU country to meet the qualifying time of residency to become a citizen; by marriage to an EU citizen; and by investment (also known as a Golden Passport), where the applicant invests a specified amount of money into the country through donations to Government programs, the purchase of property or opening a business.

Every country within the EU sets its own requirements for residency and citizenship and some are quicker, cheaper or easier with their processes than others.  Astons’ international team of experts is ideally positioned to advise you on every aspect of EU residency and citizenship.  Contact us here for a free consultation on your specific requirements.

Which EU Countries Offer The Easiest Routes to Citizenship?


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, Malta’s citizenship by investment program requires an investment of at least 700,000 Euros into real estate, leading to citizenship in three years.


Portugal is an incredibly popular destination. There are options for a Golden Visa for those with passive incomes as routes into the country along with the routes of citizenship by descent and naturalisation. Residency is generally granted within eight to ten months, leading to citizenship after five years. The minimum investment for a Portuguese Golden Visa is 280,000 Euros.


Residency in Ireland is speedy to obtain, usually in around two months, with citizenship granted after five years if all requirements are met.  There is no language requirement and the country particularly welcomes those who can prove Irish descent.  However, citizenship by investment will cost a minimum of one million Euros invested for at least three years, and the applicant must prove that they have a net worth of 2 million Euros.


Sweden has some of the most accommodating rules for obtaining citizenship, making it one of the easier countries to apply to.  There is a residency requirement of five years, which can be reduced to three years on proof of marriage (or cohabitation) for at least two years, to a Swedish citizen, along with other proof of commitment to the country such as learning the language, a long duration of marriage or proof of being able to support themselves financially.  Other citizenship routes do not have a language requirement.  The application process is fast, taking around 15-18 months to complete.  The Swedish investor visa requires 100,000 Euros and the applicant must move their business to Sweden or start a business there. They must be able to support themselves for at least two years.


Along with Sweden, the process of gaining citizenship in Belgium is fairly easy.  The applicant has to prove a level of financial commitment to the country known as “economic participation”, for example by paying Belgian taxes for a length of time and be able to prove that they can support themselves.  They also need to have lived in the country for at least five years and to show knowledge of one of the country’s official languages – French, Dutch or German.   Residency can be obtained by means of the Belgian Investor Visa program, by which the applicant has to invest at least 200,000 Euros into an existing business or start a new one in the country.


France offers a fast route to citizenship for those who have completed postgraduate studies at a French University, offering citizenship after just two years of residency.  For all others, the qualifying period of residency is five years.  Applicants must demonstrate knowledge of French at an intermediate level, and also show a knowledge and understanding of French culture, history and politics.  There are routes to residency via a Talent Passport which has a Business Investor Category, or a residency passport for financially independent individuals.  Timescale of the application process for citizenship is generally 18 months to two years from the date of application.


Cyprus has a 60-day rule whereby anyone residing in the country for more than 60 days in a year is regarded as a tax resident.  This fast route to residency enables the holder to apply for citizenship after five years, providing relevant criteria are met.  There is a Cypriot residency by investment program where the applicant must purchase a residential property with a value of 300,000 Euros or more.  Once a person has had five years of residency within a seven-year period they are able to apply for citizenship of Cyprus.

The Netherlands

Applicants will need to have a knowledge of the Dutch language and pass a civic integration exam and will have to have been a resident for five years.  However, anyone who is granted citizenship of the country must relinquish their original passport as The Netherlands does not allow dual citizenship.

Other European Programs

Austria, Italy, Greece, Germany and Spain require residency of between seven and ten years before it is possible to apply for citizenship.  In Germany and Spain, citizenship would require the applicant to relinquish their existing passport as they do not allow dual citizenship.  Spain does, however, grant citizenship after one year of residency to spouses of Spanish citizens.

Montenegro, although not yet a member of the EU does have a significant presence in Europe and is likely to be admitted to the EU in the near future.  It has had a citizenship-by-investment program with a minimum investment of 450,000 Euros split between property and a government donation, but this has been limited to just 2,000 people and is due to close in December 2022.

Astons’ knowledgeable international experts are pleased to be able to offer you a complete service with advice and help at all stages of the residency and citizenship processes in Europe and worldwide.  Please contact us here for a fast and friendly consultation.