Malta has slashed the price of its golden passport by almost 50 per cent, but the Caribbean remains the most affordable location for wannabe expats. Olivia Palamountain reports

If you’re looking for cost-effective fast-track to European citizenship, consider Malta. The Mediterranean island has implemented the heftiest reduction in the price for a “golden passport” across all 13 countries that offer the scheme, with citizenship now significantly discounted since 2020.

The minimum investment amount required to obtain a Maltese golden passport now stands at US$747,666 – a whopping 43.1 per cent less than it used to, says citizenship experts, Astons.

However, while Malta has implemented the biggest drop in costs since 2020, it has also seen the largest increase in its citizenship application timeline since that date. It now takes an average of 730 days to officially become a Maltese citizen.

Every global nation that offers citizenship through investment has different rules about the amount required and the time required when making an application, with any changes in the price of citizenship reflecting both fluctuations in currency exchange rates as well as individual golden citizenship investment requirements.

In the past few years, most of these nations have implemented changes to these rules, with some seeing a change to the cost and time required.

Jordan has also seen a significant discount in the cost of obtaining citizenship, reducing by 25 per cent since 2020, with citizenship through investment now requiring a minimum sum of £750,000.

Austria, meanwhile, has seen the price of its golden passport fall by 6.5 per cent since 2020. That said, it remains by far the most expensive route to obtaining alternative citizenship at US$3.2 million.

Saint Kitts & Nevis is the only other country that has reduced its required minimum investment amount, falling 16.7 per cent to just US$125,000. This makes it one of the most affordable of the 13 nations.

Cheaper still are the neighbouring island nations of Saint Lucia, Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, with a minimum investment of US$100,000.

Dominica remains the fastest route to gaining Caribbean citizenship at just 76 days, although Antigua and Barbuda has seen the time it takes to grant citizenship fall by 30 days since 2020, bringing the timeline down to 107 days.

In contrast, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Lucia have increased their application timelines by 84 days and 30 days respectively.

US immigration expert for Astons, Alina Lesina, says: “The ability to gain alternative citizenship via investment provides some fascinating insights into the migration patterns of the world’s high-net worth individuals and the rise and fall in popularity of various schemes is often driven by a myriad of factors.

“While business interests is certainly one of those factors, the ambition to secure a better quality of life for themselves and their families is also a driving cause and one that tends to bring a far greater level of consistency.

“Then there’s simply the ability to escape the pressures of the working world both quickly and cost effectively, which is undoubtedly the reason behind the longevity and popularity of Carribean Golden Passport schemes.

“The affordability and speed of gaining citizenship to these island nations makes them a real attraction for wealthy investors who want unfettered access to the way of life provided in the Caribbean without necessarily wishing to live there permanently.

“However, we’re now seeing Malta become popular for the same reasons and, with the cost of obtaining Maltese citizenship having reduced substantially, there has been an uplift in activity from wealthy Americans, in particular.”

So, the reductions are in, but which nation has seen the biggest cost increase for its golden passport? The prize goes to Turkey, which has seen the heftiest cost hike for both price and application timeframe.

Prior to 2018, the minimum investment for Turkish citizenship was US$1 million, before falling to US$250,000. However, the popularity of Turkish citizenship has since seen this cost increase by 60 per cent to US$400,000, while the average timeframe has increased by 152 days.

It is likely that Turkey’s long-held desire to join the EU is the key motivation for this increase, along with the continued importance of Turkey’s unique location, straddling both Europe and the Middle East.

However, there have been murmurings that this growing demand could lead to the closure of Turkey’s golden passport scheme, or at the very least, see the minimum investment threshold return to US$1 million.