The Cheapest Golden visa program in Europe is Malta MPRP. Malta offers direct permanent residence in schengen for one time government contribution of 100,000 euro plus fees. Renting a property or buying a real estate is required. Family members can be included.

There are number of golden visa programs operating in Europe, you may have heard a lot about Portugal and Greece, Hungary but not Malta. This is because Maltese residency program is not widely promoted and the benefits of scheme is little known to foreign investors.  Below are official golden visa programs in Europe. Golden visa programs should not be confused with investor visas which are issued for business or entrepreneur purpose. Over 90% of the investors in golden visa schemes invest in property as passive investment.

First we start with Malta.

1. Malta

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 100,000 euros (one time Govt fee as donation)  under renting option. The total cost for families will reach around 135,000 euro (inclusive of all agency, lawyer fees and rent for one year which is 10K euro per year). It is not recoverable investment, works like one off donation to Malta. Remember you get schengen permanent residency card granted for 5 years.

There is another option is directly buying real estate for €300,000 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 or Gozo.

Basic Eligibility: No criminal record and Applicants must prove net assets worth atleast total of €500,000 euro in total assets (eg. property, savings, investments etc can also proven jointly with family members), else you cannot apply for Malta residency.

Health insurance coverage and no criminal record. Remember,  Malta requires you pay a flat one time fee to government, which is non-recoverable investment. If you are looking for fully recoverable investment, consider these investment options

. 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 (third generation) can also included for additional fee
– Citizenship not possible under this scheme.
– Tax advantages
– Allowed switch to  citizenship scheme (residency to citizenship)

Processing time is 6 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.

Maltese Citizenship

Maltese GV program recipients can file for citizenship by naturalisation application can be technically filed after 5 years in Malta, but the waiting period being significant 15 years. We want to make it clear that citizenship very difficult to acquire through this program. This is why maltese golden visa program is only suitable for those who want only permanent residency in schengen and not citizenship. This is a suitable program if your home country prohibits dual nationality, very attractive for chinese, indians, singapore, saudi arabia, qatar, uae etc..

If you want a direct citizenship in Malta, and come from wealthy background and can afford 750,000 euro donating to malta government, apply for Malta exceptional residency to citizenship program with citizenship time is just 12-14 months. It is worth noting that Malta does not have citizenship or language test unlike other EU countries.

2. Portugal

Portugal GV is simply very affordable scheme, there are reasons being so popular. It is the Best of all Golden visa schemes. It is the best program out there if you are after EU citizenship after six years by just spending 2 weeks residency annually. There is a reason for this. Real estate is the best investment and this way you dont lose money.

Portugal GV scheme is now closed for real estate investment from Oct 7, 2023. Now only investment fund or scientific or cultural investment possible.

  • Cultural Production – €250,00 (€200K in low density region region – donation not refundable)
  • Artistic Investment – €250,000 (€200K in low density region – refundable)
  • Investment Fund – €500,000 (refundable after 5 years with 4-6% returns)

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.

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.

From Aug 1, 2023, Greece will be doubling golden visa investments to 500,000 euro in property sector in athens and few other areas. All other regions will accept 250,000 euro property investment.

There are also additional options for 400K euro bank deposits and Govt bonds only to be deposited for two years.

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 €100,000 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.

5. Bulgaria / Cyprus

The GV programs in Bulgaria and Cyprus are up and running. Both Cyprus and Bulgaria offer golden visas for atleast EUR 300,000 property investment. One problem with this is both countries are still not in schengen and despite spending hundreds of thousands of euros, you wont be able to travel visa free in schengen zone (must apply visa everytime). It is advisable to first check you invest in a country in schengen area as it hampers ability for visa free movement. Since Bulgaria and Cyprus have EU membership, one big advantage is if you have the patience to be a non-schengen resident for five years in these countries, there is a good possibility to acquire EU citizenship in these countries.

6. Hungary

Hungary has opened real estate golden visa program for €250,000 in real estate fund or €500,000 (luxury residential properties). It is a two year guest residency visa  with indefinite validity until you hold the investment or property. Hungarian citizenship is possible after 8 years of uninterrupted resdience. Other conditions include language test and no criminal record. You get free movement within the schengen area.

Fastest EU Citizenship

If you aim for EU passport Golden visas in the future, where to get fastest EU citizenship option? Important to understand EU citizenship is not for sale (cannot be bought for money no matter how much you invest). Lot of hardwork required to live long term as legal resident, pass language and integration test with the society.

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

Portugal – 5 years (no compulsory living required just 7 days per year)
Malta – 5 years (must live but wait is very high 15 years)
Greece – 7 years (must live)
Latvia – 10 years (must live)
Bulgaria – 5 years  (must live)
Cyprus – 5 years (must live)
Netherlands – 5 years (must live)
Hungary – 8 years (must live)

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

Portugal €500,000 Investment Fund
Greece €250,000 Real Estate
Malta €100,000 Donation
Italy €250,000 Startups
Netherlands €1,250,000 Venture capital
Hungary €250,000 (real estate)
Spain €500,000 Real Estate
Luxembourg €500,000 Bonds
Bulgaria €300,000 Real estate
Cyprus €300,000 Real Estate

How to pick the best country?

To decide on the Best Golden Visa 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. It is sometimes best to acquire citizenship in an english speaking country, so that you dont struggle learning a local language. Greece and Latvia also impose language requirement for becoming a citizen, even for golden visa investors.

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