MALTA | CYPRUS | BULGARIA
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
We are all born equal. Or at least that’s what we are made to believe. The bitter truth is however, that throughout the human history, citizenship has been the ultimate divider between wealth and poverty, between freedom and slavery.
Many great people have fought against racism. Only few have tackled the discrimination based on citizenship.
Why bother reading the introduction?
Below, we will explain how to legally obtain full EU Citizenship by Investment through a fast-track procedure. You will find the most current information, such as which countries in the EU have legal Citizenship by Investment Programs (CIP), the different requirements, the costs and fees, the associated risks and pitfalls, the legal procedures, the expected success rate, etc. You will also find the advantages of each particular passport, such as visa-free countries, tax incentives, etc. You can skip the introduction part and go straight to the dedicated sections for the CBI (Citizenship by Investment) programs of Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria. We strongly recommend you however to keep reading through the introduction in order to understand better the historical values of the Citizenship and its transition into what we are now used to understand by this term.
Citizenship, according to most historians, is dating back to ancient Greece where it arose together with the first laws. The citizenship during those times, although much different from the legal definition of citizenship now, provided higher status to the citizens in comparison with the non-citizens, thereby allowing the citizens to have free time and to participate in the public life of the "Polis".
The ancient Greek citizens realized the importance of citizenship mainly because of its direct relation to freedom. Although not every non-citizen has been a slave, the citizenship status has been the formal seal of freedom for the ancient Greeks. In times of wars, the citizens have fought together against the enemy to avoid being enslaved by warfare and this has led to the main obligation that comes along with the citizenship status – to defend the "Polis" (later the country).
Later, the Romans brought the ancient Greek values of citizenship forward, expanding them into the so called right of the citizen to be "free to act by law, free to ask and expect the law's protection". The citizenship right meant also the ultimate right to have "possessions and immunities".
At the end of the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance, people transitioned from being subject of the monarchy, usually the king or the queen, into being citizens of a city or country, that later transformed eventually into a nation. The cities had each different laws and legal systems and the citizens had certain rights to choose their officials (later known as "voting right").
Citizenship rights have been dependent on racial criteria throughout the course of the human history. Even in modern times, for example in the USA from 1790 to the mid of the twentieth century, citizenship has been granted only to people of "European descent". The US "Naturalization Act of 1790" stated that "any Alien being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof.".
The restrictions to obtain citizenship, based on race, were further "developed" by the Nazi regime in Germany. The fascist ideology led to the invention of three categories with very distinctive rights and duties: "citizens", "subjects" and "aliens". Logically, "citizens" possessed full rights and privileges. Jews, even those born and raised in Germany, were consequentially stripped off their citizenship. German women were considered "subjects" (non-citizen) until they married German citizen.
Luckily, the right of citizenship based on race or gender is considered to be non-existent today. Luckily, the right of citizenship is considered to be a basic human right - the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that the right to have or change citizenship cannot be denied (albeit referenced as to "nationality") So far so good.
The real discrimination starts when we compare the rights that are provided by different countries' citizenships. We can divide the rights and obligations of each citizen into two main categories on basis of whether these are applied by the citizen’s own government and laws or by the other countries (where the citizen is considered to be a foreigner). For instance, a Belgian citizen is not a subject to compulsory military service in his country, while a Cypriot male citizen is obliged to serve in the Cypriot National Guard. At the same time, if a Cypriot citizen would need to travel to Kenya, he could enter the country completely visa-free. The Belgian national however would need to apply for entry visa on arrival in Nairobi.
The above example is only illustrative and is in now way a good representation of the real problem that the citizens of country with "low quality passports" have (as both the Belgian and the Cypriot passports are considered to be a "top quality passports" that provide a wide array of privileges to its holders).
So what is a "low quality" passport?
A passport is considered to be of "low quality" if it provides limited rights to its holder. One of most important factor to be considered is the number of countries where the passport holder can visit visa-free. As an example, passports issued from countries such as China, India, Bangladesh, Russia, Iran, Turkey, the Philippines, South Africa, Syria, Pakistan, etc. are considered to be of "low quality" in terms of visa-free travel. Generally, among professionals in the "global citizenship" industry, it is deemed that a passport that allows visa-free travel to less than 135 countries (a.k.a. passport rank) is considered to be of "low quality". Passport rank of below 100 is usually regarded as "junk".
At the other end of the spectrum, passports allowing visa-free travel to more than 135 countries are considered to be of "good quality". Those edging to the upper border (150-155) and going beyond the 160 mark are considered to be of "ultimate quality". It is worth mentioning that all EU countries enjoy visa-free travel to more than 155 countries worldwide and this is only one of the reason why EU citizenship (and passport) is considered to be the ultimate naturalization choice among wealthy individuals worldwide.
Generally, the most important factors that weight on the "quality" of certain citizenship status are:
As we see, the citizenship status is of vital importance for virtually everyone. Especially, the people who need to travel frequently, either for business or leisure, are immensely affected if they hold a "low quality" passport. Is there a solution for this obvious injustice? There certainly is. Read on to find out how you can benefit today from the legal opportunities that exist in some countries.
The general rule that applies in virtually all democratic countries is that unless you are born as their citizen, in order to become one later (almost) instantly, there are 3 (main) possibilities, namely: naturalization by origin, naturalization for special merits and naturalization by investment. We will explain these options below.
If you have ancestors in a country other than your own, and you believe that this country’s citizenship will allow you more freedom, it’s worth researching whether you can apply for citizenship by origin. If this is not the case, please read about the next options.
Many governments provide almost instant citizenship under their programs for "citizenship for special merits in front of the country". The "special merits" can vary widely and in many cases can even include special merits in the field of sports. For example, some prominent football players are being granted citizenship in order to play for the national teams. Before you jump from excitement though, please note that in order to qualify for citizenship for special merits, you need to really be an exceptional individual and be able to contribute immensely to the country. Most countries that provide such naturalization options approve usually only one or two applications for citizenship for special merits per year. If you are not among the lucky ones, the only feasible option for you to become Global Citizen and enjoy more freedom in your life is to opt for "Citizenship by Investment" (a.k.a. "Investment Citizenship").
This is the ultimate fast-track citizenship option for virtually anyone with adequate financial resources. Our research made in 2017 showed that 87% of all persons who wished to obtain fast-track alternative citizenship (of better quality) from a country where they have no ancestors (so no citizenship by origin is possible) have chosen the Investment Citizenship route.
Why is "Citizenship by Investment" the "hot ticket" for the last 20 years?
With market share of 87% of all fast-track naturalizations (except of course citizenship by origin), the Investment Citizenship is without any doubt, the ultimate solution for everyone with successful business model or other sustainable source of income, to achieve the freedom we should be all entitled to. In the 21st century, international journeys become more and more accessible. Doing business on global level requires extensive travel and any visa restrictions are an enormous hurdle for the internationally oriented entrepreneurs. At the same time, political unrest and military conflicts are resulting to more and more visa restrictions. At the same time, wealth is being accumulated by many businesses and the demand for freedom skyrockets. Logically, the standards for providing Citizenship by Investment by the developed countries (i.e. the EU), are constantly reviewed and strengthened.
We can clearly see from the chart, the trend of the demand for (fast-track) second citizenship. The demand is high immediately after WW2 and then it decreases steadily to the 7% mark in the 80’s. After the fall of the Soviet Union and the Berlin wall, it starts rising again. The next steep increase is after the 9/11 attacks and the so called "Arab Spring" revolutions that began in 2010.
Estimates for 2020, show that about 26% from the world population will be in need of another citizenship by then. This means that more than 2 billion people will be willing to invest their wealth in another country in order to obtain freedom through (better) citizenship. Obviously, only a tiny fraction will possess the required resources, but this is still a huge number.
We will explain below what the legal options are at the moment, to obtain fast-track Citizenship by Investment from European Union country. We will compare the pros and cons of each citizenship program and will help you to decide for yourself which program is best suited for your personal needs.
Currently, there are only three countries in the European Union that have official Citizenship by Investment programs, namely Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria. These three countries provide each its unique investment options to become EU citizen in about one year time (even faster in some cases). We will explain below all nuances and will give some insights about which one may be the best option for each particular client.
Malta is a tiny island in the Mediterranean sea, just off the coast of Italy. Its investment citizenship program is considered to be the most prestigious of all EU programs, however it is also the most expensive one. Citizenship can be granted after twelve months of permanent residency. A serious due diligence process has to be successfully passed through.
Cyprus is another paradise island in the eastern part of the Mediterranean sea with very close links to Greece. The investment citizenship program of Cyprus is known for its speed and the opportunity to invest in beautiful real estate properties in prime locations. Its multi-cultural society makes Cyprus the citizenship of choice for many investors worldwide.
Bulgaria is the only non-island country in the EU that provides investment citizenship option. The Bulgarian CIP is known for its extremely low cost and liquid investment choices (ie bonds, shares, etc.). Bulgaria has one of the lowest population densities in the EU countries, which is the main reason for the Bulgarian parliament to approve the favorable conditions for the program.
All three countries (Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria) are fully fledged members of the EU, so it makes absolutely no difference which country’s passport one holds, within the borders of the European Union. All three citizenships provide unlimited and absolutely equal rights to its holders within the territory of the EU. In other words, whether having Cypriot citizenship and residing in Germany, Maltese national living in Cyprus, Bulgarian residing in Malta or anywhere else in the EU – the EU citizen rights are absolutely equal in all EU member states.
How the CIP (as well the citizenships) of Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria fare against each other?
As already stated, the citizenships of the three EU countries provide absolutely identical rights within the EU. In terms of worldwide visa-free travel, the total number of visa-free countries is almost the same for all contestants. However Malta ranks first with 10 points (the maximum score possible), because of its important visa-free regime with the USA. Cyprus and Bulgaria, although Bulgaria leads slightly to Cyprus with a couple of visa-free countries more, score both with 7 points, as this difference is negligible.
The next criteria, although subjective in its roots, is the status (prestige) that comes with each of the three citizenships. All three countries’ citizens are very well respected virtually everywhere in the world, however, based on GDP (per capita), Malta is definitely the one that leads the group as it ranks again first with 10 points. The runner-up is Cyprus with 7 points and the third place is for Bulgaria with 5 points, mainly because of Bulgaria’s communist past (1945-1989).
The speed of the CIP’s (or how fast the applicant will obtain citizenship by investment) is also an important factor to be considered. Malta and Bulgaria score each with 5 points as their CIP’s foresee a timeframe that gravitates around the one year mark. Cyprus fares better with 7 points as it possible to obtain its citizenship in six to eight months.
The last, but not least important criterion is the cost of the three CIPs. Here the absolute winner is Bulgaria with 10 points, as the Bulgarian CIP doesn’t require the applicant to neither make a contribution to the government nor to pay taxes on its investment. Additionally, the Bulgarian investment threshold is lower than the one of Cyprus (can not be compared directly with Malta as the Maltese CIP is "contribution" based). The second place is for Cyprus with 5 points and the final position is taken this time by Malta with only 2 points, because of its very expensive CIP conditions.
Ultimately, both Malta and Bulgaria score 27 points, with Cyprus only 1 point behind. The main conclusion that can be made is that all three countries’ CIPs and citizenships are of approximately the same "value", while Malta is enjoying the highest prestige rating and visa-free entry to the USA, but comes with extremely high price tag for its CIP.
We provide turnkey citizenship services and we are proud that we have never had a single application for investment citizenship being rejected, neither in Malta nor in Cyprus or in Bulgaria. This is mainly due to the fact, that we are assisting the authorities to perform the required due diligence checks and no corners are being cut at any stage of the citizenship application. We are known to have very strict client acceptance procedures, which is another explanation of our 100% success rate. We will be not able to assist clients who are unable to provide absolutely clear criminal record, nor clients who do not posses the required financial resources and are looking to finance their investment.
Each of the three countries investment citizenship programs require extensive due diligence in order to comply with the strict standards that are set by the EU bodies. This is probably the most important part of each of the CIP. We work close with the authorities to assist them in assessing correctly each candidate and to issue the adequate legal statement about the applicant’s suitability. We are able to advice the customer of whether his application is likely to be approved or not, in order to save him valuable resources in case the application is likely to be turned down.
We provide all our services on turnkey basis. We will advise the client on all legal aspects of his citizenship procedures. We will then prepare and submit all documents for the application of the candidate. When required by the applicable legislation, the applications will be submitted by licensed lawyer in order to ensure full compliance. We will also represent the client in front of all governmental authorities, and if required, in front of the financial institutions (ie banks).
When required, we will provide financial advice to the client and will explain the pros and cons of the available investment options that are required by each of the relevant CIPs. We will provide professional advice on all tax matters and eventual tax consequences, so the future EU citizen can tackle best his tax issues even prior to his citizenship application being approved.
Depending on the citizenship option being chosen, we may be able to provide an unconditional money-back guarantee. In such case, the applicant will be certain that in the unlikely event that his citizenship application will not be approved, we will reimburse all fees being paid, including the state fees.
After the citizenship decree for the client is issued, we will provide additional follow-up services, such as comprehensive tax advice and assistance in formation of local entities, real estate purchase and rental, investment advice, etc. We will also support the client with his dealings with the local authorities in all other aspects.
The Citizenship by Investment program of Malta consists of three financial conditions that need to be met:
A) For single applicant:
B) For married couple:
Alternatively, the property purchase of 350 000 EUR can be replaced by a property rental on the island for not less than 16 000 EUR per year.
All above numbers are exclusive of 10-12 % government and processing fees.
How are the new citizens of Malta taxed?
Can the family members be included in the citizenship application?
Does the applicant need residing in Malta for certain period in order to qualify for citizenship under the Maltese CIP?
What is a "genuine link"?
How long does the naturalization process take?
Who is the Maltese CIP most suited for?
We guide the client through all stages of the naturalization process until the citizenship decree has been signed. We advise on all aspects of the citizenship application, including the financial and investment requirements in Malta. Our lawyers will take care of all paperwork and submission of the documents to the authorities. We will arrange the, so fear because of its subjectivity, "genuine link" with Malta. At all stages, the client will count on our full support and professional advice. In some cases, our lawyers will also need to visit the client personally at his place of residence in order to accelerate the naturalization process.
The Cypriot Government has implemented a number of incentives to attract foreign investments in the country. The most well known one is the Cypriot investment citizenship program that allows a person to obtain Cypriot citizenship by investing an amount of 2 million Euro in real estate on the island. The different investment options, required for the participation in the Cypriot CIP, are explained below:
The applicant can combine any of the above options for as far as the total investment is not less than 2 million EUR. A special investment bonds, issued by the government of Cyprus, may be added to the total investment, for an amount of up to 500 000 EUR.
Another very important condition is the requirement for the applicant to purchase a residential property (has to be held for life-time) for an amount of at least 500 000 EUR. Should the citizenship applicant opt for the real estate investment option (p.1 above), then the price of the residential property will count towards the 2 million EUR requirement.
What is the time-frame for obtaining Cypriot citizenship by investment?
Can the main applicant include his family members with his application?
Is the applicant expected (obliged) to provide a clean criminal record?
Do the required investment amounts (2 million EUR, etc.) include Value Added Tax (VAT)?
Is Cypriot citizenship for life?
Do I need to reside certain (long) period in Cyprus in order to qualify for the Cypriot CIP?
Applying for Cypriot Citizenship by Investment requires, alongside the usual bureaucratic steps for the citizenship application, an extensive search for profitable real estate properties. Many citizenship applicants have not only received their EU (Cypriot) passports, but have also scored nice profits on the properties they have bought in order to comply with the requirements of the program (others have obviously lost money and even fortunes in the process). This makes the Cypriot CIP a two-step procedure. We will assist the client from start to end – we will not only help with the property hunt, the purchase negotiations, and the formalities of the deal, but will also provide an investment advice as to the rental potential of the selected properties. For the second step, the citizenship application, we will process the whole file of the citizenship applicant until the citizenship is granted.
The Bulgarian investment citizenship program is backed in the "Bulgarian Law for the Foreigners" and the "Law for the Bulgarian Citizenship". The investment requirements are definitely the easiest to be met among the other two EU CIP’s (Malta and Cyprus) and require a 2-stage investments as follows:
I. Permanent residency in Bulgaria:
II. Bulgarian citizenship:
There are also other options for investment, but they are overly complicated in its core and are extremely rarely utilized.
The explained investments options in p.1 and p.2 above (bonds and shares) can be combined together, while the investment in bank account under management is a separate investment option and can not be combined with the other two.
The most frequently utilized by the applicants for Bulgarian citizenship option is the investment in Bulgarian Sovereign Bonds (p.1) as it provides ultimate security and no financial risk is involved. The bonds can be also sold on the secondary market, so the investor doesn’t need to wait until the bond’s maturity date.
For how long is the investor obliged to keep his investment?
Is the investment in Bulgarian Sovereign bonds really safe?
Are the Bulgarian bonds denominated in BGN (Bulgarian Lev - the Bulgarian national currency) only?
Do I have to open bank account in Bulgaria in order to purchase Bulgarian bonds?
How can the investor be certain that the investment will be returned to him after the citizenship procedure is completed?
How long does the Bulgarian naturalization by investment take?
We provide turn-key Citizenship by Investment services in Bulgaria. We are the number one provider for consultancy services in the field to high-net-worth individuals. We have established close contacts with all key institutions, responsible for the citizenship application, and can provide the client with extremely fast processing times and, with some of our packages, a money-back guarantee. Our Bulgarian division has never had a single citizenship application rejected – a result we are proud with.
You can find much more detailed information about the Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment program at www.bulgarian-citizenship.org/citizenship-by-investment
"The Passport" is a project of Citizenship & Investments LLC - Consultancy Company with head office in Sofia, Bulgaria. The company is member of the VD&A group and is providing immigration and citizenship services to high-net-worth individuals from around the world.
With offices across the Globe - in Dubai, Hong Kong and Bulgaria, we are in position to cover all regions of the world, where the "Global Citizenship" values are most sought after. Our specialists are constantly travelling to all corners of the world in order to meet clients or to take part in international events as panelists and speakers of many international investment citizenship gatherings.
We provide services to applicants for EU citizenship by investment of Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria. EU legislation is harmonized among virtually all EU member states and the CIP’s, although unique by its virtues, are quite similar in their legal backing.
Our specialists are also, as part of our packages, advising the customers on different tax related issues, legal compliance with EU rules and regulations, as well as provide comprehensive wealth management advice.