Where is the easiest country to get citizenship?

Where is the easiest country to get citizenship?

We get asked this question a lot.  But the answer is not simple, because your individual circumstances are different, the ease accessing citizenship of countries will be different.  Questions that can impact where you can get citizenship easily include:

  • Which countries do you already have citizenship of?
  • You ancestry. Specifically, where are your parents and grandparents from and what is your family history?
  • How much money do you have available to invest in the country whose citizenship you are interested in?
  • How much income are you able to show without getting a job in your destination country. This can include from existing businesses, investments or other sources?
  • How long are you willing to live in a country before becoming a citizen of that country?

The Wherecani.live wizard has been created to take your answers to these questions and to show you your individualised options across the globe for residency and citizenship. Click here to access the wizard and see your personalised results.

Now, having said all that, there are some great opportunities that will be accessible for many people. We spend thousands of hours analysing immigration rules from around the world and here are some of our favourites.

Citizenship through your family

Citizenship through your family holding photos

Photo by Cheryl Winn-Boujnida on Unsplash

Some countries in the world give citizenship to you if you were born in that country (jus soli) such as the USA.  Others allow you to inherit citizenship through your parents if they were citizens of that country when you were born (Jus sanguinis) as is the case in much of Europe.  And some countries apply both principles, such as in Australia.

There are a few countries in the world however that will go a step further and allow you to inherit citizenship through your grandparents or even great-grandparents.  We have found that this comes as a pleasant surprise to many people who realise they are able to get second passports this way.  Here are a few of those examples:

Ireland

  • You can get citizenship through a grandparent who was born in Ireland.  This entitlement is not affected by when or where you were born.
  • You can also get citizenship through a great grandparent as long as your parent was an Irish Citizen when you were born.

In both these instances, you need to register on the Foreign Births Registry as a starting point. 

Italy

Italy is unique as citizenship is passed on from parent to child without limitation of generation, on the condition that none of the ancestors has ever renounced their Italian citizenship. 

What this means is that you can inherit Italian citizenship from your grandparents, great grandparents or even grandparents 5 generations removed, as long as none of the ancestors along the way gave up their citizenship of Italy. Some countries only allow one citizenship, which may have forced one of your ancestor to renounce their Italian citizenship. 

Poland

If any of your ancestors lived in Poland after it became an independent country in 1918 with Polish citizenship, you may be eligible for Polish citizenship.  As with Italy, if any of your ancestors in that family line gave up, or renounced, their Polish citizenship you will no longer be eligible for Polish citizenship.

Hungary

A new nationality law was passed in 2011 which allows those who are descendants of a person who was a Hungarian citizen before 1920 or between 1941 and 1945 to be eligible for citizenship.  This includes areas that used to be part of Hungary but are now parts of neighbouring countries such as Slovakia and Romania.   There is a requirement to speak basic Hungarian before you apply.

Descendants of those persecuted

A number of European countries offer citizenship to descendants of victims of state persecution. Examples of this include:

  • If you can show you are a descended from the Sephardic Jewish community expelled from Spain in 1492 you may be eligible for Spanish citizenship.

  • Similarly, if you are a descendant of the Portuguese Jewish community expelled in the Portuguese Inquisition, you may be eligible for Portuguese citizenship. Your ancestors needed to belong to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin with ties to Portugal.

  • Descendants of those persecuted on political, racial, sexual orientation or religious grounds during the Nazi dictatorship may be eligible for German citizenship.

Related Blog your may enjoy:  Understanding our roots with Ancestry DNA

Citizenship by Investment

Photo of the Caribbean Citizenship by investment

Many countries these days offer citizenship in return for investing in their economy.  These investments range from purchasing real estate, shares, investing in a local company to contributing to a government fund.

Here is a small flavour of some of the citizenship by investment opportunities.  You can view a more complete list of the opportunities on our investment page.

Cyprus

Investing in Cypriot Citizenship has one of the largest upfront investment values, but has fewer conditions and lower fees. The investment amount is €2 million, but the huge advantage of this program is you can invest the total amount required as you see fit (into the Cypriot economy) such as purchasing real estate, bonds. shares or other investments. These investments can produce income to live off, as well as capital gains. There are no donations or contributions required for this programme.

Antigua and Barbuda

A onetime donation to the Antiguan National Development Fund in the minimum sum of US$100,000 and you can apply for citizenship. The amount is US$125,000 for a family of five and over. You will also need to pay a processing fee of USD$25,000 for up to a family of four and an additional USD$15,000 for each dependent after that.  This program gives you and your family full citizenship.  A passport from Antigua and Barbuda provides you with visa free travel in 126 countries globally including all of the Schengen countries, Canada and much of South America.  

St Kitts and Nevis

This programme focuses on real estate investment. To qualify you need to invest in a pre-approved real estate project of more than US$200,000 (which you can sell after 7 years) or for upwards of US$400,000 (which you can sell after 5 years) for each main applicant. You will also need to pay a processing fee of US$7,500 for the main applicant, and US$4,000 for each dependent over 16 years old. There is also a one off fee on approval of the citizenship of US$35,047 for the main applicant, US$20,047 for their spouse and US$10,047 for all other dependents of the main applicant regardless of their age.

Becoming a resident in a country, living there for several years and then becoming a naturalised citizen

The topic of this blog is the easiest way to citizenship, and not the quickest.  Without the required ancestry, or available investment amount required for the first two options described above, this is the easiest way to become a citizen of another country.  Residency is generally much easier to gain than citizenship, and in many cases can be converted into citizenship after a defined period (each country has differing requirements) of being resident in that country. As well as serving a residency period there can be other requirements like passing a local language test.

But first, how do you get residency of another country?  Here are some options for you to think about:

Cross Country Agreements

These are agreements between countries that allow each other’s citizens to live and work freely or more easily in each other’s countries.  After a period of residency, you can become a citizen of that country.   Here are some of the agreements:

  • The Nordic agreement between Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
  • European Economic Agreement (EEA) is an agreement between all 27 EU countries, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.  Citizens of these countries can live, work, and move freely in the EEA Area.
  • The Trans-Tasman Agreement between Australia and New Zealand allows citizens of both countries to live and work freely in each other’s countries.
  • The Mercosur agreement makes it easier for citizens of South American countries to get residency in each other’s countries. 

Passports in a question mark

Residency by investment

Governments across the world offer residency visas if you make an investment in their economy.  Here is a flavour of some of these opportunities.  Please visit our investment page for a more complete view of all of the opportunities.

Portugal Golden Visa

Invest upwards of €350,000 in property or shares, visit Portugal once a year for a few weeks over 5 years, get some Portuguese language lessons and the beautiful Portuguese passport could be yours.

Spain Golden Visa

Invest €500,000 in real estate and you can apply for the Spanish Golden Visa.  After 10 years of residency and proof of basic Spanish, you can apply for citizenship.  There are also other alternatives for the Golden visa such as purchasing shares or making a bank deposit up to the value of €1,000,000 or investing in government bonds for €2,000,000.

Cyprus Residency by investment.

Purchase property for €300,000 or more and transfer €30,000 into a local bank account and you can apply for residency in Cyprus. This is one of the lowest investment requirements for residency in Europe. The process is very straightforward and fast (permits take approximately 1 month to process) and it can all be arranged from your home country. Once you have the permit, you only need to visit Cyprus for one day every two years to keep your residency.

Income Based Visas

Many countries offer residency if you can prove an income that will allow you to meet the expenses of living there. Your income may be from, for example, an investment, an offshore business or a pension. The residency visas in this group have many different names, and often have slightly different requirements and restrictions. Here are a few examples:

  • Proof of a monthly income from reliable sources of US$750  for you, and US$150 for each family member is sufficient to qualify for a residency visa in Nicaragua.
  • Spain offers residency if you can show an annual income of €25,920 plus €6,480 for each dependent through its Non-Lucrative Visa. This renewable visa is for one year, and after five years in the scheme you can apply for permanent residency in Spain.
  • As a freelancer earning at least €800 per month you could be eligible for a “Freiberufler” visa which gives you residency rights to live and work in Germany.

Door and motorbike in Germany visas

Related Blog you may enjoy:  The fastest ways to a European passport

Retirement Visas

Many countries around the world open their doors to retirees and often the age of retirement is quite young.  Some countries allow foreigners to retire over the age of 45 for example.  Have a read of our blog about Retirement Abroad – is this the opportunity of a lifetime for a full rundown on this topic.

To be eligible for the retiree visa, you normally have to show that you have regular income coming in from a pension, investments or other passive income.  Here are just a few of the retirement visas available and the amount of monthly income that you need to prove to get the visa:

·  Nicaragua -  USD$ 600  (and USD$150 for each family member. You must be over 45 years of age)

·  Honduras - USD$ 600      

·  Costa Rica - USD$ 1,000 (You need to be able to prove that this income will last for your life time.)   

·  Guatemala - USD$ 1,000    

·  Thailand - USD$ 2,000  (Or a deposit account of USD$ 25,000. You must be over 50 years of age.)     

·  Aruba - USD$ 2,300   (You need to be over 55 years of age)     

·  Malaysia - USD$ 2,500  (You need to be over 50 and show approx USD$ 83,000 in assets)     

·  Spain - USD$ 2,600  (For additional family members you need an additional USD$ 650 each)         

·  Vanuatu - USD$ 2,800  (This amount needs to be transferred to a commercial bank in Vanuatu)      

·  United Kingdom - USD$ 2,900 (You must be over 60 and have an existing connection to the UK)  

Skills based Visas

Many countries have points-based immigration system aimed at highly skilled professionals in certain branches of IT, science and medicine.  In other countries such as Australia, they have a list of skills that are in demand.  If your profession is on that list and you meet other requirements such as a proficiency in English, you could be eligible for a residency visa. Skills needed range from bakers to botanists to architects.  Here is a link to the current Australia skills list. 

Skills based visas such as bakers in Australia

Other Visas

Panama Friendly Nations Visa

Panama has a great program offering permanent residency and a work permit for people with professional ties to the country for citizens of 47 nations (click here for the full list). This could include starting a new business, purchasing an existing business or being hired in some professional capacity by an existing Panamanian enterprise. If you are self-employed you could register your company in Panama or set up an off-shore company. You’ll also need to deposit USD $5,000 into your local bank account with an additional USD$2,000 for each dependent. After 5 years you can apply for Panamanian citizenship and a passport.

As you can see there are many ways to get citizenship of a second country. Family ties, investment and residency are three of the easiest ways to achieve this.  We have only given you a very high level flavour of what is possible. Head over to our website here to see further opportunities.

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Alison Johnson

Alison is a travel junkie, digital nomad and the co-founder of www.wherecani.live She has lived in 7 countries on 4 continents and is passionate about opening the world up for others.


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