The Cheapest Golden visa program in Europe is Malta.

There are number of golden visa programs operating in Europe, you may have heard a lot about Portugal and Greece but not Malta. This is because Maltese residency program is not widely promoted and the benefits of scheme is little known to foreign investors.

Golden visa programs should not be confused with investor visas. Below are official golden visa programs.

First we start with Malta.

1. Malta Residency (MPRP)

Under the New Malta Permanent Residency program (MPRP) popularly known as “Maltese Golden visa”, launched on March 29,  2021, makes it cheaper, you only have to pay 100K euros (Govt fee plus donation)  under renting option. The total cost for families will reach around125K euro (inclusive of all agency, lawyer fees and rent for one year). It is not recoverable investment, works like one off donation to Malta

There is another option is directly buying real estate for 300K plus Govt fees and other costs.

This program will allow you to rent a place for five years or buy a property directly in Malta.

Main applicants must prove net assets worth atleast total of 500K euro in total assets, else you cannot apply for Malta. 

Health insurance coverage and no criminal record. The full breakdown of prices is available here

Remember: Malta requires you pay a flat fee to government, which is non-refundable. It is not investment.

. Here are some of the benefits of Maltese golden visa scheme.

Passive investment scheme.
– Permanent residence in Schengen area
– No living requirements
– Free movement in schengen area
– Permanent residence certificate
– Full PR for family
– No age limit for children
– Live, work, study – settle – for an infinite time.
– Grandparents or parents can also included for additional fee
– Citizenship after 5 years.
– Tax advantages
– Allowed switch to  citizenship scheme (residency to citizenship)

Processing time is 8 months. You need to also visit Malta in person once after approval for biometrics for the e-residence permit to be issued. We ask you to apply well in advance.

Remember with Malta, you will be renting a home instead of buying a real estate, making it more cheaper.

MPRP is the only program in Europe which issues residency card as well as residence certificate, which is valid for a lifetime. It is also important to know this program allows you to work.

The Residency Malta Agency oversees both the programs.

2. Portugal

Portugal is simply a fantastic scheme there are reasons being so popular. It is the KING of all Golden visa schemes. It is the best program out there if you are after EU citizenship with some patience. There is a reason for this. During covid, real estate is the best investment and this way you dont lose money. Residential real estate demand and prices practically resisted covid in capitals and coastal areas. Lockdown measures have showed us how important a home is.

Portugal can be slightly expensive program requires €280,000 if you invest  280K euros in residential properties or buyback hotel shares or even in 350k euro investment funds.

Important to understand here if you invest in investment funds or 5 star hotels, it is fully recoverable after 5 years plus yields paid by the developer. It is the best program out there.

If you buy a residential property, yes it can also be sold after 5 years plus brings rental income. You won’t waste money. Note that property can be transferred down to generations (no inheritance tax in Portugal). As with the costs, you can expect total five year net costs of approx 12K euro per person for PGV including all charges on top of property investment.

All in all, after five years, you will be only spending 12K-15K euro as residual costs, considering the entire 280K euro is refunded. The trick makes the Portugal also the cheapest GV scheme.

Remember from Jan 1, 2022, the new golden visa rules will come into force, which will increase the minimum investment from 280K to 350K euros. We expect a huge last minute rush and the processing times will jump up by more than 10 months.

If your long term goal is becoming EU citizen, then Portugal is the way to go. Portugal is the only country that will give you EU citizenship and passport without even living. Portuguese citizenship possible after 5 years  just meet 2 week visit requirement. It gets even easier for children. You will need to visit Portugal few days and after 5 years you can file for citizenship (must take Portuguese language test). if you come from portuguese speaking country like Brazil, it is the best program you can ever think of.

From Jan 2022, New changes to Golden visa will be shifted to inner regions and property investments in Lisbon, Porto, Algarve and coastal regions will be closed. So it is a limited golden window of opportunity

3. Greece

The second most popular and cheapest golden visa scheme in Europe is Greece. Here you will be able to buy real estate for €250,000 real estate plus property taxes and legal costs around 10%. You can also invest in hotels, resorts or commercial projects including shares.

There are also additional options for 400K euro bank deposits and Govt bonds

4. Latvia

Thirdly, Latvia also has cheapest golden visa scheme but many clients do not find Latvia attractive as above countries. Latvia offers €250,000 real estate or bond option like Greece. Unlike Malta no financing option is available makes it expensive. There is also €50,000 business option, (could be cheapest), the real problem here is you end up paying another €50,000 on top of it, wasting your money. Another problem with the business option is it is an active investment (not a passive sleeping investment), you have to work, create jobs. Most of clients who come to us dont want to invest in business, only ask for a passive investments such as real estate, or financing bonds. You wont get permanent residency with business option and application process is quite hard and lengthy with Latvia. Some blacklisted countries cannot apply for Latvia.

Dont forget both Malta, Greece offer immediate permanent residency (green card equivalent) in the schengen area. This is very important status.

All three golden visa schemes have no residence requirements, which is another big advantage. Another important thing to consider.  Malta has the fastest time for citizenship among all the three cheapest schemes

Which golden visa program that offers fastest EU citizenship option?

Take a look at the naturalization time required for acquisition of EU citizenship (a coveted one indeed)

Portugal – 5 years (no compulsory living required)
Malta – 5 years (must live)
Greece – 7 years (must live)
Latvia – 10 years (must live)
Ireland – 5 years (must live)
Bulgaria – 5 years  (must live)
Cyprus – 5 years (must live)
Netherlands – 5 years (must live)

Here is a list of official European golden visa schemes and the minimum required

Portugal €280,000 Real Estate
Greece €250,000 Real Estate
Malta €100,000 Donation
Italy €250,000 Startups
Netherlands €1,250,000 Venture capital
Spain €500,000 Real Estate
Ireland €400,000 Charity Donation
Luxembourg €500,000 Business
Bulgaria €250,000 Business
Cyprus €300,000 Real Estate

How to pick the best country?

To decide on the GV scheme, be sure to consider the proximity of the country from where you live. For example Portugal is closer if you are from US, UK and Latin America. Greece is closer to you from Middle east. Malta also much much closer if you are from Egypt and other arab countries.

One other advantage with Malta is  official english language, for other countries it is not. Malta does not require a citizenship test but the applicant must know maltese and english. Greece and Latvia also impose language requirement for becoming a citizen, even for golden visa investors.

All in considering all above 3 golden visa programs, Malta is the clear winner for being the cheapest and best.