If you are a high net worth individual with a few million dollars, pounds or euros going spare and you are in need of second citizenship and a passport to a safe new world – or one that simply offers you more freedom, the Gold Standard of the citizenship by investment industry in recent years has been the program of Austria. Does it deserve its rave reviews? Passport Reviewer took a look.
Austria In A Nutshell
The Republic of Austria is a mountainous, landlocked country located in central Europe. It is one of the oldest established nations in the western world, with a history that can be traced all the way back to 996 AD. As a landlocked country, Austria has no coastline, but borders Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Liechtenstein. This is convenient, as Austria is historically one of the great cultural centers of Europe, and remains highly respected and influential to this day.
Economically, Austria is consistently strong and despite a population of less than 9 million, regularly ranks among the top 15 richest countries in the world. It has a well-developed social market economy, a high standard of living and also scores well for healthcare and education. Historically Austria has long benefited from being the major trading partner of Germany, and its economy has grown even stronger since it joined the European Union in 1995.
While Austria’s primary source of wealth is its industry, the country is also an extremely popular tourist destination, famed for its snowy mountains which make for excellent skiing holidays. Tourism accounts for 10% of the Austrian economy, and it is the 12th most visited country with approx. 21 million international tourist arrivals each year.
- Official Language: Austrian German
- Capital City: Vienna
- Largest City: Vienna (Pop; 1.87 million)
- Surface Area: 83,879 km2
- Religion: Christianity
- Population: 8.72 million
- Government: Federal parliamentary republic
- Legal system: Civil law that has its origin in Roman law
- Currency: Euro
- GDP per capita: $47,856
- Climate: Cool/temperate climate, with warm to hot summers
Austria Citizenship By Investment Program
Until recently, the only way that a foreign national could become an Austrian citizen was to take up continuous residency in the country for ten years. However, since the arrival of the Austrian citizenship by investment (CBI) program, foreign investors are now able to bypass that lengthy residence requirement, and are instead eligible to gain Austrian citizenship by virtue of making a significant economic contribution to the nation.
What Does Austria Want From An Investor?
The Austrian citizenship application is relatively simple in comparison to some EU CBI programs as it does not require foreign investors to learn the native language or pass an examination on the country’s history.
However, the application does have the following requirements:
- The investor must submit biographic information about themselves and their family
- The investor must submit proof as to where the investment funds will be directed from
- The investor must submit authorized proof of a clean criminal record
- The investor must provide a detailed Curriculum Vitae,
- The investor must provide a detailed explanation of their business history, plus multiple character and employment references
In order to qualify for the Austrian citizenship via its CBI program, an applicant must also meet one of the following investment requirements:
- To make a non-refundable charitable donation of €2-3 million to the Austrian economy (or)
- To make a recoverable investment of $10 million to the economy of Austria (plus)
- Pay an additional €400,00 – €600,000 for government fees plus application and due diligence costs
Full Austrian citizenship and passport is granted immediately and without a period of residency upon completion of one of the specified investment requirements. The application extends to family members such as a spouse and children up to 18 years of age.
Benefits Of The Austrian CBI Program
The Austrian CBI program may be expensive – especially if an applicant is prepared to pay a refundable €10 million plus expenses, but it is nevertheless an exceptionally strong, well devised program.
Every minister in the Austrian government must individually and personally approve the application, which makes it an extremely strong testament (and future reference tool) as to the applicant’s outstanding character.
Here are just some of the Austrian CBI program’s benefits:
- Speed – The Austrian CBI program is ultra-fast. Once the investment payment is made, an applicant is handed their Austrian citizenship and passport
- Passport Power – The Austrian passport grants its holder visa-free access to 173 countries worldwide which makes it the fifth strongest passport in the world
- Credibility – Few CBI programs come close to the credibility that’s ownership of citizenship to a country of the standing of Austria delivers
- Healthcare and Education – as an Austrian citizen you and your family will be privy to some of the very best standards of education and health available anywhere in Europe
- Unlimited Access to the EU – Austria is a highly respected EU member state, and as an Austrian citizen you will be free to live and work without restriction in any European Union country you choose
Pros and Cons of Living in Austria
The standard of living enjoyed by Austrians is exceptionally high, and as an Austrian citizen you’ll soon get used to levels of healthcare for you and your family and education for your children that formerly you may have only dreamed about.
Housing is remarkably affordable, public transport is very cheap and of exceptional standard, and bars and restaurants offer great service and excellent food. To top it off, Austrians are warm, friendly people, the majority of whom speak English.
The only downside to living in Austria is the weather, and the often harsh winters. But if you can get accustomed to the mindset that far from being a negative thing, winter is a time to be enjoyed, to wrap up warm and get involved with lots of outdoor sports activities, even that will become a positive.
Passport Reviewer Ranking: A
The Austrian CBI program is ridiculously expensive, especially if one goes for the €10 million refundable donation option (which in the long term actually makes the program free), but is there any other such program that must be authorized by every member of Parliament of that country? (And if there is, does that country at the same standing as Austria?)
We think not. Rather like a Patek Philippe watch or a Bugatti Veyron car, an Austrian passport by virtue of its CBI program is a bit of a status symbol, but if you can afford the best, why not? sa gives a foreign investor’s children access to the same standards and levels of education enjoyed by US citizens, including public and private high schools, colleges and graduate schools. These rights continue after their education is completed, and they begin to seek professional opportunities in the US
- US Passport Power – The US passport is the fourth most powerful in the world, with visa-free access to 174 countries including Canada, Central America and the Caribbean, much of Latin America, the UK and Western Europe plus areas of Africa and Asia
Pros and Cons of living in the United States
For those immigrant investors that hail from countries with all levels of imposition and restriction, possibly even oppression and war, America will seem like the promised land. No country is without its faults, and America certainly has plenty, but while most countries in the world will have certain good points in terms of quality of life, climate, weather, economy, education and healthcare, few if any, aside from the US can boast all of those qualities and more.
There is no major downside for a foreign high-net worth investor to living in the US.
Passport Reviewer Ranking: A
Let’s face it, for all its faults the United States is still the Holy Grail when it comes to second citizenship, and if a wealthy foreign investor is prepared to start anew and build an exciting life for themselves and their family, the US is still the best place to do it. Plus, from a global citizen’s point of view, the US passport is still as powerful as anything the EU has to offer!