Research by Astons, the international experts on residency and citizenship through investment, has revealed which European passports provide more power than the United States, when it comes to the freedom of movement they offer.
Astons analysed the latest data on European nation’s offering either citizenship through investment, or residency through investment with a longer-term view of securing citizenship further down the line.
The research reveals which secondary Golden Passports or Golden Visas provide the additional benefit of the greatest level of visa-free travel, a visa on arrival or electronic travel authorisation (eTA) to the most foreign countries.
The research shows that the United States is one of the most powerful passports in the world, allowing unhindered travel to a total of 171 countries around the globe. However, there are no less than 13 other European nations who offer a higher degree of global access to investors.
The UK, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Poland and Portugal currently offer access to 172 nations. Despite their strength, there are a further seven European nations that provide the ability to travel unhindered to even more additional global nations.
Austria currently tops the list, allowing investors access to 174 global nations. However, with a minimum investment required of $3.3m, Austria is also by far one of the most expensive Golden Passports to obtain. The government also holds sole discretion over the granting of Austrian citizenship and so there is no guarantee that applications will be approved.
The good news is that Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Malta and the Netherlands, come a close second to Austria, with all seven nations providing unhindered travel to a total of 173 foreign countries.
With a minimum investment of $276,392, an Italian passport ranks as the world’s most powerful at the most affordable cost when investing. Investors are able to gain permanent residency in Italy after five years via the Italian Start Up Visa, with citizenship by naturalisation and an Italian passport becoming possible after 10 years of the initial granting of the visa.
At $398,005, Germany ($398,005) also ranks amongst one of the most affordable with the greatest global access, allowing investors who start a business that fulfils an economic need to gain residency, before securing citizenship after six to eight years.
Luxembourg and Spain are both home to minimum investment thresholds of $552,785, with their residency by investment programs allowing investors to apply for citizenship after five and 10 years respectively.
However, perhaps the strongest of them all is Malta and its Maltese Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment Program. While the minimum investment threshold is slightly higher at $773,899, Malta is the only European nation that offers a direct path to citizenship. With citizenship granted after three years of residency, it is also one of the fastest programs available to investors.
Finally, those investing within the Netherlands via their business and investment foreign investor visa can become permanent residents after five years, although the minimum investment threshold is higher at $1.381m.
Immigration Expert for Astons USA, Alena Lesina, commented:
“There’s no denying that the United States is one of the most powerful passports in the world but this perception of power really differs depending on just what priorities an investor has.
For many high-net-worth individuals, the ability to travel without the need to undergo a laborious visa process each time is one of the biggest factors that influences investment into Golden Visas and Golden Passports.
In this respect, there are a number of nation’s that offer just that little bit more global mobility than the United States and for a considerably lower investment cost, although the time it takes to achieve citizenship or permanent residency does vary.
In this respect, it is Malta that currently holds the greatest appeal both in terms of a fairly reasonable investment threshold, an abundance of global mobility, as well as a swift route to obtaining European citizenship. What’s more, Malta also boasts a very favourable taxation system which is far more comfortable than say, the United States, and this also makes it attractive in the eyes of investors.”