June 14, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

American billionaires want a Greek passport

Wealthy American families are increasingly applying for a second citizenship and a new country of residence to compensate for their financial risks, and Greece takes number one on their list.

Rich people create these “passport briefcases”collecting a second, third or fourth citizenship in case they have to leave their country.

Henley & Partners, a law firm that specializes in granting citizenship to wealthy individuals, reports that Americans now outpace all other nationalities in obtaining alternative residency or additional citizenship.

“The US is still a great country, still a great passport,” Dominic Volek, head of the private client group at Henley & Partners, who covers the issue, tells CNBC, “but if I'm rich, I'd like to compensate for the level of instability and uncertainty. The idea of ​​diversification is well understood by high net worth individuals in terms of what they invest in. There is no point in having a country of citizenship and residence when I have the opportunity to diversify this aspect of my life.”


Peter Thiel case

Recent examples of high-profile second citizenship cases include billionaire technology investor Peter Thiel receiving second citizenship in New Zealand and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt applying for citizenship in Cyprus.


Peter Thiel

Of course, rich people are not going to renounce US citizenship en masse. Although each year a relatively small number of Americans renounce citizenship to declare a new country of origin, mostly due to tax requirements, so-called “exit tax”, required to renounce citizenship, makes it financially prohibitive for most. Instead, many wealthy Americans “buying” additional visa or citizenship to complement your US passport.

Top destinations

According to Henley & Partners, The main destinations for Americans to obtain additional passports are Portugal, Malta, Greece and Italy. The program is especially popular Golden Visa in Portugalwhich provides the opportunity to obtain residence permits and citizenship, as well as visa-free entry into Europe in exchange for an investment in a fund or private equity fund of 500,000 euros (about 541,000 US dollars). Malta offers a “golden visa” for 300,000 euros, invested in real estate, which, according to Volek, became “especially popular among Americans.”



“With Malta you become a citizen EU with full right of settlement throughout Europe, – he said. – So you can live in Germany, your children can go to study in France, and you have the right to live, work and study in any European country.”

There are three main reasons for the growth of US passport or “home diversified” portfolios. An alternative passport makes travel easier for Americans traveling to parts of the world that are less friendly to the United States.

“For American, British and Israeli citizens who suddenly find themselves unsure of their acceptance abroad, additional passports provide vital flexibility,” the Henley report said. “In a climate of increasing global instability, having citizenship in another country, especially in a country that is considered more neutral or politically correct today represents a valuable alternative or fallback.”


Another reason is business travel, which in many countries may be safer with a non-US passport. U.S. executives could become targets of “outrage, hostage-taking or random terrorism in the chaos of failed states or high-risk countries to which they travel on business,” the report said, which said stakeholders range from hedge fund managers meeting with from global clients to mining executives visiting business sites.

Using a second passport can also facilitate cross-border financial transfers or transactions in a new country. Finally, some wealthy Americans simply want a backup residence for eventual retirement, to be closer to their families living abroad, or for lifestyle reasons in the new era of remote work. For others, the driving force is US politics.

“We are all living in uncertain times, not only in the United States, but in all countries of the world,” says Volek. “Who knows what will happen next. The main thing is to have not only a plan B, but also a plan C and a plan D.” .

Migration… of billionaires

The migration of the world's millionaires is expected to reach a new high in 2024 as wars, government suppression of wealth and political uncertainty force more wealthy residents to move to other countries. Henley estimates that 128,000 millionaires will move to another country this year, up from 120,000 in 2023 and 51,000 in 2013. The same report said the US remains the top destination for millionaires leaving other countries, with a net influx of 2,200 millionaires in 2023 and a projected influx of 3,500 in 2024.

China remains the largest source of millionaire migration, losing 13,500 millionaires last year.

Greece: “three-phase” is coming from May  Golden visa

Figures in Greece

In Greece, the Golden Visa investment residency program continues to grow at a record pace as our country appears to be filling part of the gap left by the regime change in Portugal by attracting more applicants. Having received the right to residency and freedom of movement in the European Union, more and more Britons are investing in Greek property.

Figures show that from 2021 to 2023, the amount of funds flowing into the country from abroad under the Golden Visa exceeded a total of 4.3 billion euros, while the number of applications submitted reached 14,875 and final approvals reached 14,875. inclusion in the program – 7,387. The Chinese consistently lead the ranking of property purchases under the Golden Visa, while over the three years 2021-2023 there has been a significant increase in the number of applications from the Middle East and the UK. The top ten at the end of 2023 includes the following countries: China, Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, UK, Egypt, USA, Israel, Russia and Ukraine.


According to the new regulationsfor the granting of a 5-year residence permit to third-country nationals (Golden Visa), the following conditions apply:

  • In the Attica region, the regional units of Thessaloniki, Mykonos and Santorini, as well as on islands with a population of more than 3,100 people, the value of the property that the applicant must own is increased to 800,000 euros. In other regions of the country, the cost of real estate is set at 400,000 euros. In any case, the investment must be made in one property (and not in several properties of lesser value) with an area of ​​at least 120 m2.
  • For buildings currently not being used for their intended purpose and converted into residential premises, the minimum investment amount is EUR 250,000. The change of assignment must be completed before applying for a residence permit.

What is the Greek “red-skinned passport” good for?

  • The limit is set at €250,000 if the investment is in a listed building that is subject to restoration.
  • The residence permit can be renewed for the same period (five years) as long as the property remains in the ownership of the investor. If it is an investment in a listed building, an additional condition for the renewal of the residence permit is the completion of the restoration of the building. If the investor sells the property, the residence permit is canceled and the buyer acquires the right to obtain a residence permit.
  • Investors can rent out the acquired buildings, but they are not allowed to dispose of them through short-term rentals, and in the case of conversion into residences, they are also prohibited from using them as a corporate headquarters or branch office. In case of violation, the residence permit is canceled and a fine of 50,000 euros is imposed.
  • In addition to the purchase of real estate, third-country nationals can obtain a residence permit by concluding a long-term contract for complex tourist accommodation or a timeshare contract for tourist accommodation, the cost of which corresponds to each region (800,000 euros in Attica, etc., 400,000 euros in the rest countries, etc.).

Transition period

In order for the new system to be implemented smoothly and not disrupt the functioning of the market, a transition period is provided under the following conditions:

  • Third country nationals who pay the price or make a 10 percent deposit, or sign a preliminary contract or private purchase agreement, confirming the relevant loans before September 30, 2024, will be able to complete their investment until December 31, 2024 under the conditions that have been in effect until now .
  • In this case, if the purchase of the property is not completed, the buyer can complete his investment in another property, always under the conditions in force until now, but in any case no later than April 30, 2025.

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