Inflation, remote work, and political unrest have all sent some of America’s ultra-wealthy packing their bags for a villa overseas during the past few years. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade may be the latest reason to add to the list.
These jet-setters have their eyes set on a “Golden Visa,” a program in which they can invest in a second passport and, potentially, citizenship in another country. These programs experience a wave of applicants during political and social turmoil, Murat Coskun, managing partner of passporting firm Get Golden Visa, told Fortune in May.
He said it’s a back-up plan for Americans. “They want to have the optionality; they want to have some sort of global mobility.”
Each country has different investing requirements. Some require a donation for as little as €100,000, while others require a real estate purchase for as much as €500,000. As Coskun explains, some of these programs provide direct citizenship while others offer direct residency with the option to eventually turn that into a citizenship.
For example, Portugal requires you to spend a week on average every year in the country for five years to apply for citizenship. In Greece and Spain, you need to spend more than half the year there for several years to be eligible to apply for a citizenship, he says.
Those three countries happen to be Get Golden Visa’s most popular golden visa programs, per Coskun. Here’s how to get a second passport in these Mediterranean hotspots.
Portugal was the first European country to surpass Get Golden Visa’s threshold of 10,000 applicants in 2021, Coskun says. It’s appealing for those in the crypto world, as Portugal provides incentives and loopholes for individuals earning money from crypto ventures.
To gain residency in Portugal, one can invest in a venture capital fund or real estate or pay €350,000 to renovate an older estate. They can also invest €250,000 in conserving Portugal’s national heritage, according to investment migration consulting firm Global Citizen Solutions.
Portugal’s programs can be enticing for those looking to get out of a city, as the minimum investment for a second home drops by 20% in more rural ares.
Another Mediterranean country beckons to dissatisfied Americans. The recent policy to freeze VAT—a tax typical in the European Union—on recently built properties has made Greece the second most appealing European destination for Get Golden Visa applicants.
Coskun also attributes the interest to a change in the Greek income tax code, which has helped usher in wealthy expats. It institutes that no matter the total income an investor makes abroad, they will pay a fixed tax of €100,000 annually.
In exchange for a five year residence permit in Greece, one needs to buy at least €500,000 in real estate. They can also invest at least €400,000 in Greek government bonds, investment funds, or shares of Greek investment companies.
Spain also calls to investors willing to drop at least €500,000 in real estate, €2 million in government bonds, or €1 million in a bank deposit or shares of a Spanish business. They can also earn residency by starting a business in Spain that can lead to greater innovation and benefit the country’s economy, per Global Citizen Solutions.
One must apply for a renewal to the residence card at the end of their first year, third year, and eighth year of residence.
Jumping through such hoops are worth it for those seeking a lower cost of living and a life that’s more about working to live and less about living to work. As Coskun says of these countries, “It’s much more laid back, you don’t have that nine to five rat race.”
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