Lighthouse

Malta and Portugal have the best citizenship programmes

When relocating to a new country, it's good to know all your options so you can ensure you have the smoothest transition possible. For one thing, there's the financial side to worry about, which is bound to include deciding on which is the best expat life insurance policy to buy as well as receiving expert pension transfer advice so that your retirement savings aren't negatively affected by the move.

You will, of course, also need to be aware of the entry requirements for each country. If you're moving to an EU member country, then this process should be relatively straightforward before March 2019, but it's likely to be far more complicated after Brexit.

Several countries have systems in place with the goal of attracting expats who will be able to gain residency in return for an investment. In a post-Brexit world, these may be the best options for some overseas movers. Although not be suitable for everyone, some of these systems are of a very high, reputable standard and hold a range of benefits for expats who are eligible. A recent survey has analysed which countries offer the best of these migration schemes.

Henley & Partners, a global citizenship and residence advisory firm, has just released its new report – Global Residence and Citizenship Programmes 2017-2018, which ranks the world's leading investment migration programmes based on a number of factors. Dr. Christian H. Kalin, Henley & Partners chairman, said that the publication is "an indispensable tool not only for all those interested in alternative residence or citizenship but also for professionals such as private client advisors, private bankers, and lawyers, as well as for governments operating investment migration programs".

The report looked at two different types of migration schemes: citizenship by investment, in which someone can obtain a second passport in exchange for a minimum investment, and residence by investment, in which permanent residence can be obtained after investing in the host country.

Henley & Partners evaluated the different programmes using a panel of independent experts comprising economists, citizenship lawyers, academic researchers, and other specialists. These experts focused on a wide range of factors when determining which was the best. These factors included reputation, quality of life, visa-free access, compliance, financial requirements, residence requirements, transparency, and relocation flexibility.

For each category, the experts scored the migration and citizenship schemes out of ten. At the top of the leader board for the citizenship by investment category was Malta with its Individual Investor Program (MIIP), which was awarded a perfect score in the visa-free access category (it allows visa-free travel to over 160 countries, including America and Australia) and in the relocation flexibility category.

The MIIP, which was set up in 2014 by the Maltese government to encourage expats to share their expertise and business connections with the country, scored an impressive 81 out of 100 and has come in top place in the report for the past three years. Its score put it far ahead of the countries in second place, Cyprus, which had a score of 72 and third place, Austria, with a score of 63.

By paying €650,000 to the National Development and Social Fund set up by the Government of Malta (which then finances various projects in the country, such as education, public health, and social improvement) and by passing a strict due diligence test, applicants will be granted Maltese citizenship and receive all the benefits of the MIIP.

Meanwhile, Portugal's Golden visa scheme was voted the best residence-by-Investment programme, which, like Malta, was the third year in a row the country had earned the title. Many other countries have similar Golden Visa systems, including Spain and the UK, but Portugal came out on top. The scheme gives foreign investors who spend €500,000 on property the right to live in Portugal (as well as their family members) and the ability to travel to all EU countries in the Schengen area. They initially receive a temporary residency permit that can be renewed, but after five years they can apply for permanent residency.

One particular category that Portugal's scheme scored very highly on was in tax advantages, with a perfect ten out of ten. One of the tax advantages that comes with a Golden Visa is that citizens do not need to pay taxes on income generated outside of Portugal if they do not stay in Portugal for more than 183 consecutive days.

A financial adviser can help you discover what else you can do to help to reduce your tax liability, such as provide you with pension transfer advice when moving to Portugal so that you can do what's best for your retirement savings.

At the moment, these schemes are there to help non-EU citizens. Of course, after Brexit, Britons will soon become third-country nationals and lose their automatic right of admission, putting them in a similar position to Americans and Australians.

Although, it can't be said with any certainty how negotiations will effect freedom of movement, Britons are sure to be a lot more restricted post-Brexit than they are currently. It's encouraging to know, therefore, that there are good systems in place that will still provide certain expats the opportunity to obtain a fully valid residency permit should they wish to move abroad in the future.

It's true these systems are only suitable for those with enough assets, but those who can't afford such schemes can still contact a Blacktower adviser to discuss other advantageous options open to them when moving to another country, whether they make they're planning to make the move before or after Brexit. By providing our customers with expert pension transfer advice and experienced guidance on all aspects of their wealth management, our advisers will help keep your financial health strong.

Back to Top