Some Member States offer “golden passports” as an incentive to attract non-EU investors, with the provision that they meet certain criteria.

EDC News:  Investors Citizenship and Residency  

The 2007-2009 global financial crisis, affected the economies of various Member States. To counteract this problem incentives were developed to attract non-EU investors. Two such incentives are the Citizenship by investment (golden passport) and the Residence by investment (golden visa), which are given in return for an investment outlined in the criteria set by the respective Member State and EU legislation. Although, the criteria differ on a national level (e.g. for the Citizenship by investment: Cyprus, Bulgaria and Malta), at an EU level there are some standard features:

  • Targeted at non-EU nationals
  • Investors are given a clear outline regarding the investment required
  • The investment can be either passive (money invested in a private company, government bonds and/or in property) or active (money invested in businesses for job creation)
  • Applicants are not required to spend time in the Member State where the investment was made

By receiving a “golden passport” or “golden visa” the investor automatically gains some of the rights attributed to EU citizens. For instance, by having a “golden passport” an investor is classed as an EU citizen, thereby, have the right to: freedom of movement and residence, access to the EU internal market, and vote or stand as a candidate in local and European Parliament elections. Whereas, receiving a “golden visa” within the Schengen area the investor is allowed to enter and stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. For all “golden visas”, regardless whether they are given within or without the Schengen area, investors can stay for a short term in any Member State that recognizes the residence permit.

Between 2008 and 2018, within the EU, approximately 6,000 “golden passports” and 100,000 “golden visas” were granted, both positively and negatively impacting the EU and its Member States:

  • Economic impacts: Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is affected positively (e.g. during this period “golden visas” generated approximately €25 billion), on the other hand macro-economic and the real estate sector are facing imbalances and pressure.
  • Social impacts: shortage in housing, loss in the EU internal market’s integrity and security, together with impact on mobility and increased discrimination
  • Political impacts: institutional trust is weakened, a devaluation of EU citizenship values and a factor affecting the quality of evidence-based policy.

In turn, these initiatives and impacts posed potential risks, which needed to be minimized. The European Commission stated that the main causes of these impacts were: issues of compliance with the EU laws, transparency and governance in managing these incentives. In addition, current information on the “golden passport” and “golden visa” is limited and incomplete.

The European Commission is currently implementing measures to counteract the negative impacts and their risks, for instance: developing a common set of security checks that include risk management processes; checking that the funds received by investor citizenship schemes are evaluated according to the EU anti-money laundering rules; setting-up information exchange system to improve transparency and sharing of information.


For more information:




All Blogs

EU Press Releases (RAPID)

EU Official Journal

EU Newsroom