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6 Cheapest Golden Visas In Europe: Ultimate 2022 Guide [UPDATED]

In this article we’ll take a look at the cheapest Golden Visas in Europe, weigh up the benefits and disadvantages and explain how you can use them as a pathway to dual citizenship (and some of the world’s most powerful passports).

Here are the 6 cheapest Golden Visas in Europe:

  1. €100,000: Malta Permanent Residency Program (MPRP)
  2. €250,000: Greece Golden Visa real estate route
  3. €175,000: Portugal Highly Qualified Activity (HQA) Visa
  4. €280,000 Portugal Golden Visa (rehabilitation in low-density zone)
  5. €350,000: Portugal Golden Visa (standard rehabilitation)
  6. €250,000: Latvia Investor Visa 

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It’s a common misperception that Golden Visas are only for the super wealthy.

You might be surprised to discover that a number of affordable investor residency schemes exist across Europe – well within the reach of someone with funds from selling a modest property in the UK or US, for example. 

Most EU Golden Visa programs allow investors to gain residency in a country in exchange for making a substantial investment there.

This investment is typically in real estate, but can also be in other formats, such as private equity or venture capital funds, government bonds, or donations to art or scientific research.

After a certain number of years, EU Golden Visa investors can apply for citizenship of the country, which grants them an EU passport and all the associated benefits.

But not all Golden Visas are created equal. There are lots of different routes to acquire European residency by investment.

That’s why it’s critical to examine the nuances of each scheme, beyond just looking for the cheapest golden visas.

I’ve done the research and here’s my shortlist of the six cheapest Golden Visas in Europe.

Let’s dive in!

The 6 Cheapest Golden Visas in Europe

#1. Malta Permanent Residency Program (€100,000)

  • Basic cost: €100,000 
  • Timeline to citizenship: 5 years

Overview

Launched in the spring of 2021, the MPRP is Malta’s newest contribution to Europe’s cheapest Golden Visas stable.

It enables successful applicants and their families to take up permanent residency in the Schengen area, with no physical stay requirements in Malta. 

With MPRP, you’re not obliged to purchase a property, but can just rent one instead.

After maintaining residency for five years, you can apply for Maltese citizenship.

However, we’ve heard mixed reports about how easy it is to apply via the standard (i.e. not the citizenship by investment program) Maltese citizenship by naturalization route.

It’s possible that your application could be significantly delayed, or even refused for no specified reason.

We recommend doing further research on Malta expat forums and Facebook groups to learn more about other people’s experiences.

At just €100,000, the MPRP comes in a lot cheaper than Malta’s well-known citizenship by investment program, which starts at €600,000 and leads to a passport in around 18 months. 

However, your €100,000 is a donation to the Maltese government; you can’t recover it as you would with a regular investment. 

What’s more, applicants for the MPRP are required to show evidence of having €500,000 worth of total assets (including property, investments or savings). That could be a significant barrier for some.

Pros of Malta Permanent Residency Program

  • Low cost of investment
  • No physical stay requirements 
  • No need to purchase property 
  • Includes immediate family, plus parents or grandparents
  • Can apply for Maltese citizenship after five years

Cons of Malta Permanent Residency Program

  • The €100,000 is a sunk cost that can’t be recovered 
  • Also requires proof of total assets at least €500,000

#2. Greece Golden Visa: Real estate route (€250,000)

  • Basic cost: €250,000
  • Timeline to citizenship: 7 years

Overview

Greece’s Golden Visa is popular because it’s one of the cheapest Golden Visas in Europe.

There are several routes available, but the lowest cost option is purchasing residential property.

The minimum threshold here is €250,000. You should also expect to pay around 10% of the property value in taxes and legal fees.

You don’t need to actually live in Greece to maintain your residency status.

However, those who plan to eventually apply for Greek citizenship will need to spend at least 183 days per year on Greek territory.

Greece’s citizenship timeline is 7 years and you’ll need a B1 level in Greek language.

Pros of Greece Golden Visa 

  • One of Europe’s cheapest Golden Visas
  • Affordable taxes and legal fees
  • No need to live in Greece to maintain residency status 

Cons of Greece Golden Visa

  • Long citizenship timeline of seven years
  • High language requirements (B1) for citizenship
  • Onerous physical stay requirements necessary for citizenship

#3. Portugal Highly Qualified Activity Visa (€175,000)

cheapest golden visas
  • Basic cost: €175,000
  • Timeline to citizenship: 5 years

Overview

Portugal’s newest investor visa, the Highly Qualified Activity (HQA) visa isn’t an EU Golden Visa per se, but it offers many of the same benefits as the cheapest Golden Visas.

For a low investment of €175,000, the investor gets the same low physical stay requirements as a Golden Visa holder and the same timeline to Portuguese citizenship

The Portugal HQA Visa is designed for entrepreneurial investors who wish to launch and develop a research-driven startup via a Portuguese university. 

Applying for the HQA visa requires two key components:

  1. Setting up a Portuguese company
  2. Partnering with a Portuguese university to deliver the project in an incubator-style environment. 

If you manage your startup effectively, it’s possible to make returns on your investment. But, of course, that’s not always easy to predict.

For many investors, there’s the risk that their €175,000 investment will end up being a sunk cost. 

We partner with a dedicated provider that can handle the whole HQA Visa application process for you.

Pros of the HQA visa route 

  • Lower cost of investment than any Golden Visa 
  • Faster approval timeline than Golden Visa
  • NO RISK – FULL REFUND of entire investment if visa application fails
  • Low language requirements for citizenship
  • Low physical stay: only 7 days per year
  • Possibility to launch a successful startup and build intellectual property in Europe
  • Possibility to make a return on the initial investment, if the startup is a success

Cons of the HQA visa route

  • Risk of initial investment becoming a sunk cost if startup doesn’t succeed
  • Need for active involvement if you want to generate returns

Want more info on the HQA visa?

#4. Portugal Golden Visa: Real estate option 1 (€280,000)

The Portugal Golden Visa is one of the oldest and most popular Golden Visa programs in Europe. We believe it’s the best of the bunch.

Portugal offers eight different routes to get the Golden Visa.  Here we’ll look at two of the cheapest Golden Visas in Portugal – both based on real estate investment.

Overall, all Portugal Golden Visa routes offer the same great combination of flexibility, low minimum stay requirements, potential for significant tax benefits, a short timeline to citizenship, and easy language requirements for citizenship.

  • Basic cost: €280,000
  • Timeline to citizenship: 5 years

Overview

This is Portugal’s cheapest viable Golden Visa route. (I say viable, because there’s also a €250,000 option available. But this involves making a donation to support art and heritage projects in Portugal. It’s rarely used and not very appealing).

The rehabilitation in a low density area route requires a minimum investment of €280,000 in residential real estate suitable for rehabilitation in one of Portugal’s low density areas.

These are typically more rural areas in central Portugal, and suitable properties can be hard to find.

Investors can also access the Golden Visa at the €280,000 level by investing in a hotel development project in a low density area.

This makes the investment process easier because the project is already in progress and managed by professional developers.

Contact us for more information on available hotel projects at both the €350,000 and €280,000 levels.

Pros of low-density rehabilitation route

  • Low cost of investment, one of the EU’s cheapest Golden Visas
  • Fast timeline to citizenship 
  • Low language requirements for citizenship
  • Low physical stay: only 7 days per year 
  • Hotel development project investments available to make the process easier

Cons of low-density rehabilitation route

  • Suitable real estate in a rehabilitation and low-density area can be hard to find
  • Low density areas are typically rural and may not appeal to foreign investors
  • It can be challenging to make returns on your investment in a low density area

#5. Portugal Golden Visa: Real estate option 2 (€350,000)

  • Basic cost: €350,000
  • Timeline to citizenship: 5 years

Overview

This is another of the cheapest Golden Visas, allowing access to Portugal residency by investing a minimum of €350,000 in real estate for rehabilitation.

At this threshold, you’re not confined to low density areas, although some of the most popular locations in Portugal – such as Lisbon, Porto and coastal areas of the Algarve – have now been removed from the Portugal Golden Visa program altogether.

So what can you get at the €350,000 rehabilitation level?

To qualify for this level, the property must be within a rehabilitation zone and/or over 30 years old. Rehabilitation zones are defined by the local municipality.

Conducting some form of rehabilitation on the property is a requirement of the process. What constitutes rehabilitation can vary from light work to an entire structural refit.

You could also access the Portugal Golden Visa €350,000 threshold by investing in one of the development projects that are ongoing around Portugal.

In this way, the property already meets the rehabilitation zone requirements.

The developers handle all the complexity, so you just need to invest. With some careful planning, it’s possible to get a brand-new apartment in this way.

Madeira is one of our favorite locations for rehabilitation level investment. There are no plans to remove Madeira from the Golden Visa program. Plus, the island’s real estate market is hot at the moment.

Check out our detailed Madeira Golden Visa guide for more information about investment options on Madeira Island.

Pros of the rehabilitation route

  • Low cost of investment 
  • Fast timeline to citizenship 
  • Low language requirements
  • Low physical stay: only 7 days per year
  • Option to invest cheaply in Madeira, one of Portugal’s hottest real estate markets
  • Possibility of securing a brand-new property through one of the ongoing development projects

Cons of the rehabilitation route

  • Suitable properties may be hard to find
  • The rehabilitation process can involve significant complexity
  • Risk of unexpected legal issues arising from rehabilitation works 
  • Added stress of managing ongoing rehabilitation works

#6. Latvia Investor Visa (€250,000)

cheapest golden visas in Europe
  • Basic cost: €250,000
  • Timeline to citizenship: 10 years

Overview

Our final option is somewhat lesser known: the Latvia Investor Visa.

One of the cheapest Golden Visas in Europe, it allows successful applicants to secure residency in Latvia for a minimum of €250,000, invested in real estate or government bonds.

There’s also an added fee of €25,000, or 5% of the real estate value (whichever one is higher).

Latvia Investor Visa holders only need to visit the country once a year to maintain their residency status.

That includes the rights to live, work and access healthcare in Latvia, plus travel freely across the Schengen zone.

It’s possible to upgrade your Latvia Investor Visa to permanent residency, but only after five years.

Although it’s one of the cheapest Golden Visas in Europe, Latvia is not an appealing option for those seeking EU citizenship.

For starters, you can only apply for citizenship after being a permanent resident for five years.

Considering that you’ll need five years of temporary residency with the Investor Visa to reach permanent residency status, the total timeline to Latvian citizenship is at least 10 years. That’s double the timeline of Portugal.

What’s more, Latvia doesn’t recognize dual citizenship (you’d have to renounce your old one), except for except for existing EU citizens, plus citizens of NATO and European Free Trade Association countries, or of New Zealand, Brazil and Australia.

Latvia also has stringent language requirements for citizenship, requiring all applicants to have “fluency” in Latvian.

To our minds, Latvia is the least suitable option out of the cheapest golden visas in Europe.

Pros of Latvia Investor Visa

  • One of Europe’s cheapest golden visas
  • Offers real estate option plus government bonds option
  • Possibility of return on your investment

Cons of Latvia Investor Visa

  • Long timeline to citizenship (10 years)
  • Doesn’t recognize dual citizenship (except for existing EU citizens, plus citizens of NATO and European Free Trade Association countries, or of New Zealand, Brazil and Australia) 
  • Stringent language requirements and citizenship exam

FAQs: Cheapest Golden Visas in Europe

What is the cheapest EU golden visa?

Malta’s new Permanent Residency Program (MPRP) could be Europe’s cheapest Golden Visa program. The basic cost is just €100,000. This is not an investment, but instead a donation to the government. You won’t be able to recover your costs.

What is Malta Golden Visa?

Malta’s Golden Visa is Europe’s only remaining citizenship by investment program. It allows you to obtain a Maltese EU passport in a timeline of 1-3 years, by investing at least €600,000 in Malta. If you invest €750,000, you can shorten the citizenship timeline to 1 year.

Can you buy citizenship in Malta?

The shortest timeline to Maltese citizenship is one year, available for a minimum investment of €750,000.

What is the easiest country in the EU to get citizenship?

Malta is the easiest country in the EU to get citizenship, if you’re willing to pay a high fee (€750,000). Otherwise, Portugal is the most affordable and fastest route to EU citizenship, with a range of flexible residency options, from the Portugal Golden Visa to the D7 passive income or retirement visa.

What is the Greece Golden Visa?

The Greece Golden Visa Program is a route for foreigners from outside the EU to acquire residency in Greece, in return for an investment of €250,000 in Greek real estate. It’s one of Europe’s cheapest real estate investment golden visas.

Which country is best for Golden Visa?

Portugal is Europe’s best country for the Golden Visa, offering a wide range of different types of investment, different investment thresholds, and low physical stay requirements.

Does Austria offer Golden Visa?

Yes, Austria does offer a Golden Visa program, but the requirements are very different from others. To get the Australian residency by investment, you have to invest in either an Austrian business (€10 million) or the government development fund (€3 million). These routes can create jobs and positively affect the Austrian economy.


Conclusion

In this article we explored the cheapest golden visas in Europe.

As you can see, they all have their pros and cons, so it’s important to think carefully about your long-term objectives before choosing an EU Golden Visa program to invest in.

Portugal offers the best all-round pathway to citizenship. It has three of Europe’s cheapest golden visa routes, all with the potential not only to recoup your investment but also to make gains.

We personally believe the Portugal HQA visa is not only one of Europe’s cheapest golden visas, but also one of the best available routes to EU citizenship.

The Portugal HQA visa is faster to process, less risky (full refund if application fails!), and much less expensive than the standard Portugal Golden Visa.

If you have an entrepreneurial, technical or managerial background and €175,000 to invest – it’s a no-brainer.

Interested in the Portugal HQA Visa?

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