Visa Free Travel
With a well-earned reputation as a playground for Europe’s celebrities and wealthy, and a famously friendly tax code, it’s no surprise that Monaco’s residency program is popular with investors. Investors can secure Monaco residency simply by buying a property in the tiny principality and demonstrating that they have the means to support themselves — although given Monaco’s soaring real-estate costs and high cost of living, that can still be an expensive proposition.
For investors who have the resources, Monaco’s residency program is a quick and fairly straightforward way to get a foothold in Europe, along with the right to travel to most European Union nations. Still, it’s only really suitable for people who genuinely enjoy Monaco’s unique lifestyle, since renewing the visa requires maintaining a significant physical presence in the tiny principality.
While Monaco’s residency program does include a pathway to citizenship, investors can expect a long and uncertain wait to find out if they’ll be able to get a Monégasque passport. Only people who’ve been resident of Monaco for 10 years are eligible to seek citizenship, and even then there are no guarantees: investors must show not only that they’ve developed legitimate ties to the principality, but also that they have made a major contribution to Monaco’s culture, economy or artistic community. That’s a determination that ultimately rests with the Prince of Monaco, and relatively few residents are ultimately awarded citizenship.
The application process is easy to navigate: the hardest part for many applicants is finding a suitable home, with even very wealthy investors often startled at how hard it is to find a comfortable, well-located property while staying within their budget.
Residents must also make their 500,000-euro bank deposit, evidenced through a certified letter from a Monaco bank, before applying. The Monégasque government has outsourced some of its due diligence to financial institutions, so many banks now request past tax returns and other documentation before issuing the requisite letter.
Applicants must also pass a background check and have an in-person interview with Monaco immigration authorities. The application process typically takes eight to twelve weeks, though non-EU applicants must also secure a French visa before applying for Monaco residency, potentially significantly extending the total timeline for their application.
Unusually for a non-citizenship program, Monaco’s residency offering does confer significant mobility benefits: thanks to the principality’s free-movement agreements with France, residents are permitted to travel freely throughout the Schengen Area, as long as no individual trip lasts longer than three months.
Residents who go on to acquire Monégasque citizenship can look forward to receiving one of the world’s strongest passports: with visa-free travel to 162 countries, including the US and Canada, the Monaco passport is ranked 15th in the world.
Monaco is tiny, squeezed into an area of barely three quarters of a square mile, but has built a huge reputation for itself thanks to its location on the French Riviera, its high quality of life and its extremely favorable tax code. Residents pay no income tax and no capital gains taxes, and don’t have to file tax returns, though goods and services do incur a VAT charge of around 20 percent. The principality’s relaxed approach to taxes has drawn the ire of some countries: Russia and the UK have both sought to prevent their nationals from using Monaco as a tax base. For most investors, though, Monaco promises a tax-free lifestyle in a chic location famous for yachts, fast cars, and the finer things in life.
Monaco’s residency program is fairly straightforward, as long as you’ve got money to spend. The main requirement is that investors buy or lease a residential property suitable for themselves and their family. Whether a property is acceptable is determined on a case-by-case basis, so a single investor might be able to qualify by renting a studio apartment, while a family of four would require a larger property with multiple bedrooms. Be warned, however, that Monaco has one of the most expensive real-estate markets in the world: a cramped 1-bedroom rental apartment can cost around 5,000 euros a month, while larger properties available for purchase can easily cost tens of millions of euros.
Besides purchasing or renting a residence, applicants must show that they are able to support themselves in Monaco. That can be demonstrated with a letter certifying that the applicant has deposited at least 500,000 euros in a Monaco bank.
Successful applicants receive a one-year residency card, which can be renewed for three years providing that residents spend at least 90 days a year physically present in Monaco. Residents can then upgrade to a two-year visa, which can also be repeatedly renewed. After nine years, residents can progress to a 10-year residency visa; this option, however, requires that recipients spend at least six months a year in Monaco. There is no permanent residency option, but after 10 years, long-term residents can seek Monégasque citizenship.
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