Data from the French consulate in London has shown the number of UK citizens applying for French citizenship is soaring. In fact, the number of applicants in January, Febuary and March of 2017 was double the amount for the whole of 2016. Spain also saw a 500% increase in expats seeking citizenship in 2017. Whilst getting citizenship can be quite the waiting game, owning a home in an EU country can help the process along.
Most Brits who own homes in EU countries can make their residency official by taking their house deeds to the relevant office and registering.
Taking up residency is the first step to citizenship, and if remaining in the EU is important to you, then this could be the way forward. Once Brexit happens, there is no guarantee of the rights of Brits in the EU. Securing your citizenship now ensures your rights to healthcare, work and retirement in the EU.
Whilst there are a few hurdles, gaining EU citizenship is surprisingly straightforward, particularly if you are ready to invest over a certain amount in property or business. Below is a comparison of the requirements for France and Spain.
Passport Wait? You can gain citizenship after 5 years as a resident (or 2 if you have completed higher education in France)
Investment? Non required.
Minimum Stay? A minimum of 183 days a year – essentially 6 months a year
Language Test? Yes, though the French government provides French language lessons for free
Important Info? French bureaucracy is a notorious nightmare. Keep everything from payslips to utility bills and tax returns dating back 5 years so you can provide a paper trail!
Passport Wait? Brits can apply after 4 years of paying taxes. Non-EU citizens are eligible to apply after 10 years, so it’s best to get in before Brexit happens!
Investment? None for current EU citizens. Non-EU citizens can get a Golden Visa fast tracking their citizenship application which requires a €500 000 investment in a start up
Minimum Stay? 6 months a year
Language Test? Yes
Important Info? High net worth, non-EU foreigners may also join a scheme which allows them to be considered a resident even if they are not domiciled in Italy allowing taxpayers to pay ordinary taxes on income generated in Italy and a single payment of €100,000 to cover taxes on non-Italian income.
Passport Wait? 10 years of residency
Investment? None, or €500,000 into property for non-EU citizens looking for a Golden Visa
Minimum Stay? Six months a year
Language Test? Yes
Important Info? You must relinquish rights to your UK citizenship. This has huge implications for when you travel back to the UK as you risk the loss of NHS benefits when in the UK
Securing EU citizenship is can be a lengthy process, and hurdles such as language tests and dual-citizenship restrictions mean that it might not be a viable option for everyone. Two other options for securing EU citizenship are citizenship by investment schemes in Cyprus and Malta. Delivering passports in 6 months and just over a year (respectively), these are great options for those who have the extra cash to invest. Both investments are quite pricey - €2million for Cyprus and €1million for Malta, though Cyprus doesn’t have a minimum amount of stay per year.
The Golden Visa’s which requiring real estate investments for non-EU residents are a great way for Brits to fast track their citizenship if a hard Brexit is chosen. Buying a house now and applying for the golden visa after Brexit ensures all rights you currently have can still be yours once separation from the EU is complete.
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