Why and How to Get an EU Passport – A Fast Track to Europe

Never have European passports been as in demand as they are today. Under the threat of Brexit, even the British began to look for an opportunity to obtain another EU citizenship. There are many questions linked to European citizenship: What are the advantages of citizenship of EU countries? Is there a difference between European passports of different countries? And most importantly, how can one become a citizen of one of the EU countries?  

What are the benefits of being a citizen of an EU country?

An EU passport is invaluable possession for people leading international businesses. They can freely move around the world and have their spouse and children live, study or work anywhere in Europe. And contrary to US citizens who are required to pay US taxes regardless of their country of residence, no European citizenship imposes such obligations. With a European passport, you can also move to the UK until the country leaves the EU. Undoubtedly, EU countries give more benefits and imposes fewer restrictions than most others. Any EU citizenship gives its holder unparalleled access to a wide variety of options. They range from work, business, travel, medical services, education and place of residence. All those options increase with when you become a citizen of an EU country.

“Big EU countries” vs “Small EU countries”

At first glance it seems that the citizenship of “big EU countries” such as Germany, Spain or France looks more attractive than “small EU countries” such as Cyprus or Malta, but in fact it is a myth. Germany and Spain restrict other citizenships. French citizens cannot benefit from becoming tax resident in Monaco. Moreover, it is increasingly difficult to become citizens of these countries. They require the applicant to first become a resident of the country. Then, they must spend most of their time in the country before being able to apply. Finally, only after many years of permanent residence (five or more depending on the country) can they apply for citizenship.

Which EU citizenship? What’s practical?

All of the above leads us to the most important point: Which citizenship can practically be considered for a business person? Of course, each case should be assessed individually. However, if the client wants an EU passport quickly without committing to permanently reside for years to come in the country, Cyprus is really the only practical option. That is why the Cyprus program is widely recognised by most citizenship experts today as being the best EU program. The Cyprus program offers a unique opportunity to obtain European citizenship for the whole family including parents and children in 6 months with a solid and relatively short-term investment in real estate in Cyprus. Moreover, there is no requirement to live or visit the country regularly.

In addition, after obtaining the citizenship of Cyprus, there is a very attractive tax planning opportunity: A new Cyprus citizen can also become a tax resident in Cyprus. Why? 1- Because it exempts them from most taxes in Cyprus. 2- It requires a 60 day per year physical presence in the country. We will cover that tax residency program in a forthcoming article.

Will the EU citizenship programs last?

Will this program be available for many years to come? Unfortunately not. Under the pressure of the EU, Cyprus may soon have to cancel or change its citizenship program. The huge take-up from wealthy people of countries such as China, India and Russia, was a success big enough to draw the attention of the EU. Last year, Cyprus already had to double its waiting time for a citizenship (from 3 to 6 months) and people in the know expect further toughening measures.

After the abolition of the program, the only opportunity for a quick and efficient journey to Europe will disappear. The trend is for increasing regulations, tougher immigration restrictions and stricter border controls. All point to a gradual clampdown on European citizenship programs. Therefore, there is no doubt that the opportunities that are available today will not last for long.

A final thought:

What are you clients’ personal and financial goals? And what citizenship will they need to possess in 1-5-10 years to achieve them?

For more information on how to obtain an EU passport for your client contact Ilona: ilona@shorexcapital.com