South Africans increasingly have an interest in obtaining a second nationality. Either to permanently relocate or simply as an option if things do not work out in South Africa or to be able to offer their children an alternative.
European countries tend to be particularly popular. Free quality education, low crime rates and strong social security systems are among the main reasons for wanting to relocate.
What a lot of South Africans are not aware of is that some European countries offer these so-called ‘Residence through Investment’ schemes. The foreign national needs to make a sizeable investment into the economy of the country to be granted residence and eventually a passport of that country. An added advantage of a European passport is that it allows you to settle and work anywhere within the European Union, a market of 27 countries.
The top 4 European investment schemes in detail:
- Cyprus – offers the quickest way to European citizenship. In only 6 months you and your family will receive a passport. On the other hand, a hefty EUR 2 million must be invested into the economy and must remain in Cyprus for a number of years. Of this sum, EUR 500,000 will be invested in real-estate in Cyprus and remain there for life. With a strong Euro, this option is only within reach of wealthy South Africans. There are no other requirements to actually relocate and reside in Cyprus, making it attractive option.
- Malta – to obtain citizenship in 12 months, a once-off donation of EUR 650,000 must be made to the Maltese government and an additional EUR 150,000 must be invested in Maltese government bonds for a period of 5 years. In addition a property must be rented for at least EUR 16,000 a month over an extended period or purchased for more than EURO 350,000. This scheme, although solid and providing access to a European citizenship, is probably not feasible for the vast majority of South Africans. There is no further requirement to relocate and reside in Malta, making it attractive offer for wealthy South Africans.
- Portugal – offers a cost-effective scheme probably within reach of a number of middle class South Africans. The following three investment brackets are available accommodating different levels of affordability:EUR 280,000 investment in a property. Note that the property must be purchased in ‘government identified areas’ in the rural parts of Portugal. Such properties tend to be located relatively far away from urban areas and the potential for renting out the property is probably quite limited.
- EUR 350,000 investment in property. Note that the property must be at least 30 years old in certain urban government identified areas. There is an obligation to renovate the property. These properties tend to be in middle sized cities, but not in popular cities such as Lisbon.
- EUR 500,000 investment in property. There are no restrictions on where the property that can be purchased, even in the main tourist destinations, making the return on investment much higher than the first two options. After purchase of property, a residence permit will be issued, allowing the applicant and family members to work and live in Portugal. Effectively, after 6 years a Portuguese passport will be issued for to all family members. Portugal currently has some requirements around residence however an annual holiday to Portugal of 14 days or longer will suffice.
- Greece – offers a cost-effective scheme within reach of many South Africans. A property investment of only EUR 250,000 must be made anywhere in Greece. The property prices in Greece tend to be relatively low and the return on investment in places such as Athens or the Greek Islands is be high. After purchase of property a residence permit will be issued, allowing the applicant and family members to work and live in Greece. Effectively, after 7 years a Greek passport will be issued to all family members. Greece still has a mandatory military conscription in place for male citizens aged between 18 – 49. Once naturalised, you are obliged to serve in the army and as a result will jeopardise your South African citizenship. This is a good retirement possibility. Greece currently has no formal requirements around residence but would like to applicants to retain a continued interest in the country. We recommend applicants take an annual holiday to Greece.
Let IBN Immigration Solutions advise you on options available. Above requirements are guidelines but may differ on application. We therefore strongly recommend that you set up a consultation with us so we can tailor a solution suitable to you and your family needs.
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By Hans Kroll