USA and the UK
Why retire in Europe?
Whether you have dreams of retiring to a villa in France or retiring in the country of your grandparent’s birth, every individual who dreams of retiring in Europe has unique reasons to do so.
Europe continues to be a favorite for retired foreign nationals who want to enjoy the tax system, health care, and higher quality of life available in many European countries. As a result of this popularity, many European countries have decided to offer retirement visas to foreign nationals who are able to meet the eligibility criteria.
Some European retirement visas are an excellent way for non-EU/EEA nationals to gain second citizenship in the European Union (EU) which would grant them many privileges and benefits such as visa-free travel and residence in many other European countries.
How to retire in Europe
The first step to retiring in Europe is deciding on which country you would like to settle in. There are many countries in Europe that offer specific retirement visas however some countries offer different immigration pathways for individuals who are looking to spend their retirement abroad in a European country.
Who is eligible to retire in Europe?
Aside from EU nationals who have the privilege to retire in any EU country that they like, U.S. citizens who would like to retire in Europe will need to apply for a European visa in the country where they wish to reside.
The requirements for each visa will be different based on where the country was issued. Some visas will require the applicant to be of a certain age or have a certain amount of retirement income to qualify. However, the majority of visas will require that the applicant be self-sufficient enough not to depend on taxpayer-funded state programs and benefits of the foreign country where they intend to retire.
Therefore, it is important that foreign nationals who are seeking to spend their retirement in a European country are not only able to meet the financial requirements for their specific visa but also have the funds necessary to support their desired standard of living.
Is there a retirement visa for France?
Unfortunately, unlike other European countries, France does not offer a specific retirement visa. However, there are ways for non-EU/EEA nationals to retire in France with other immigration pathways.
To retire in France, non-EU/EEA nationals will first need to become legal residents in France. There are many ways to acquire legal residency in France. One of the favored ways of gaining residency in France is through the Carte de Sejour Residence Permit.
You can apply for a Carte de Sejour at the nearest prefecture or sub-prefecture to your French home if you have been living in France under a residency card for more than 3 years. This residence permit will allow the foreign national to stay in France for up to 1 year.
Unlike EU/EEA/Swiss nationals, U.S. citizens will need to apply for a French long-stay visa (visa de long séjour) before they enter the United States if they are staying long-term in the country. After arrival in France, visa holders will then need to apply for a residency permit within the first 2-3 months of their residence in the country.
Another option for retirees is to apply for a French Visitor Visa (VLTS-TS Visiteur visa). To acquire a visitor visa, applicants will need to prove that they have the funds and/or income necessary to sufficiently fund their retirement in France. This income can come from a pension, personal savings, or financial investments and must be at least equivalent to the French minimum wage (salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance – SMIC).
Furthermore, foreign retirees in France under a visitor visa will need to have private health insurance and submit a declaration stating that they will not undertake paid work while living in France.
After 1 year, French visitor visa-holders can replace their VLTS visa with a visitor’s residency permit and after 5 years of residence in France can then apply for permanent residence.
Portugal Retirement Visa (D7 Visa)
Compared to other retirement visas, Portugal offers one of the best options in Europe through the D7 Visa. This visa, also known as the Portugal Passive Income Visa, allows non-EU/EEA nationals to obtain temporary residence in Portugal for themselves and their immediate family members if they are able to meet the passive income requirements.
To qualify for a D7 Visa, retirees must have at least the Portuguese minimum wage (€9,870 per year) in passive income. This passive income can come from a pension, rental income, investment dividends, royalties, or remote work. In addition, D7 visa holders must reside in Portugal for at least 183 consecutive days per year and become Portuguese tax residents.
The D7 Visa is valid for an initial 2 years and can be renewed for an additional 3 years. D7 visa holders can apply for Portuguese permanent residency after 5 years of residence in Portugal and citizenship in Portugal after 6 years of legal residence.
Spanish Non-Lucrative Visa (Spain Retirement Visa)
Another popular destination for foreign retirees is Spain which offers a Non-Lucrative Visa for those who wish to spend their retirement in this Western European country. Through this Spanish visa, visa holders will be able to include their partner and dependent children on their visa application.
To qualify for the Non-Lucrative Visa, applicants will need to meet the minimum financial requirements of at least €25,816 per year (this amount will be more if you are having family members join you in Spain). This income can come from investments, retirement income, or income from work originating and conducted outside Spain.
In addition to meeting the financial requirements, foreign retirees will also need to have full private health insurance and show proof of residence in Spain (deed, rental contract, or other proof of accommodation).
Once the retiree arrives in Spain, he or she will then need to get a Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjeros (TIE), also known as Permiso de Residencia (residency card) from the Spanish government within 30 days. The Non-Lucrative Visa is initially valid for 1 year and can then be renewed for 2 years at a time. Foreign retirees can apply for Spanish permanent residence after living in Spain for 5 years.
After 10 years of full-time residency in Spain, foreign nationals will then be eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship. However, all citizenship applicants should consider applying for citizenship carefully as Spain does not allow dual citizenship.
Italy’s Elective Residence Visa (Italy Retirement Visa)
Retirees who would like to live La Dolce Vita may be eligible for Italy’s Elective Residence Visa. Italy’s Elective Residence Visa allows non-EU/EEA nationals to live in Italy if they are able to meet the income requirements for this visa.
To be eligible for Italy’s Elective Residence Visa, foreign nationals will need to be completely financially self-sufficient. This means that all applicants should have at least €31,000 in income available per year. More yearly income will be required if the visa holder has accompanying dependents (partner and dependent children) with them in Italy.
Visa-holders on the Elective Residence Visa are not allowed to work, not even for a remote and/or non-Italian employer. All income must be received autonomously.
This visa is initially valid for 1 year and can be renewed as long as the visa holder is still able to meet the eligibility criteria. After 5 years of residence in Italy under this visa, foreign nationals will then be eligible to apply for an Italian permanent residence permit. After 5 years of permanent residence in Italy, foreign nationals will then be eligible to apply for Italian naturalization.
Greece Residence Permit for Financially Independent Persons
Those who dream of retiring to a Greek island in the Mediterranean may have their dreams fulfilled by applying for Greece’s Residence Permit for Financially Independent Persons. This Greek retirement visa offers residence to foreign nationals who are able to meet the minimum passive income requirement of €24,000 per year.
Under this visa, foreign nationals are able to bring eligible dependent family members with them to Greece and can even work remotely for non-Greek employers as long as they have enough of a passive income from additional sources to finance their residence in Greece.
The Greek Residence Permit for Financially Independent Persons is valid for an initial 2 years after which it can be renewed for a period of 3 years at a time. After 5 years of residence under this visa, foreign nationals can then apply for Greek permanent residence.
After 7 years of full-time residence in Greece, visa holders will be able to apply for Greek citizenship provided that they can pass the Greek language exam and meet the eligibility criteria.
Austrian Gainful Employment Excepted Visa
Non-EU/EEA nationals who would like to retire to the mountains of Austria may be eligible to do so by applying for the Austrian Gainful Employment Excepted Visa. This Austrian visa allows retirees and other individuals who are able to meet the passive income requirement to reside in Austria with their dependent family members.
To qualify for the Austrian Gainful Employment Excepted Visa, applicants will need to receive at least €23,199 in yearly income that comes from passive sources such as pensions, rental investments, dividends, and/or other investments. Visa holders are not allowed to work under this visa.
The Gainful Employment Excepted Visa is valid for one year and can be renewed as long as the applicant is able to meet the eligibility requirements. After 5 years of residence in Austria under this visa, foreign nationals will be eligible to apply for permanent residency if the applicant is able to speak German at a B1 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages. After 10 years of full-time residence in Austria, foreign nationals can apply for citizenship in Austria. It should be noted that Austria does not recognize dual citizenship and therefore, foreign nationals may be forced to forfeit their prior nationality.
Cyprus Category F visa
If you would like to retire on a Mediterranean island on the cheap, you should consider applying for Cyprus’s Category F Visa.
The visa offers residence to foreign nationals and their family in exchange for meeting the minimum income requirements. Cyprus’s income requirements are one of the lowest for retirement visas in Europe.
Applicants will need at least €9,568 per year in passive income streams to be eligible to apply. This number will be larger if dependents are accompanying the primary visa holder to Cyprus. Individuals in Cyprus under the Category F Visa are not allowed to work.
To maintain the visa, visa-holders must visit Cyprus at least once every 2 years. There is no language requirement and English is widely spoken throughout the island nation.
After 5 years of residency in Cyprus, visa holders will be able to apply for Cyprian permanent residence. Naturalization applications for Cyprus can be made after 7 years of full-time residence.
Ireland Stamp 0
Anyone who would like to emigrate to the Emerald Isle of Ireland for their retirement may be eligible to apply for Ireland Stamp 0 permission. Irish Stamp 0 allows foreign nationals who receive an individual income of at least €50,000 per year to reside in Ireland.
This immigration permission often referred to as an Ireland retirement visa, also requires a lump sum of money equivalent to the cost of an Irish house (around €100,000), to cover any sudden and/or unexpected significant expenses. Visa holders are also required to have full health insurance.
Stamp 0 permission is valid for 1 year and can be renewed for an additional year at a time indefinitely. Unfortunately, Stamp 0 permission does not offer a pathway towards permanent residency or citizenship in Ireland. In addition, visa holders are not able to sponsor their dependent family members to come with them to Ireland. All family members who would like to accompany a Stamp 0 visa holder will need to apply for a separate Irish visa.
Malta’s Global Residence Program
Another Mediterranean island to consider retiring on is Malta which hosts a variety of visa programs meant to attract foreign wealth. For example, Malta’s Global Residence Program is a great retirement visa for those looking to spend their retirement on a warm and sunny island.
To qualify for Malta’s Global Residence Program, retirees will need to buy a property valued at least €220,000 or rent a property for a minimum of €8,750 per year. All applicants will also need full-coverage health insurance for themselves and any accompanying dependents (spouse, dependent children, dependent family members like parents or other relatives, household staff, etc).
Individuals who are in Malta under the Global Residency Program will not be permitted to work but can apply for a Maltese work permit if they choose to take employment. After 5 years of temporary residence in the Global Residency Program, foreign nationals will then be able to apply for long-term residence (permanent residence in Malta).
Latvia Retirement Visa
Retirees looking to relocate to Northeastern European can apply for a Latvian Retirement Visa. This retirement visa grants residence permits to seniors for a period of up to 5 years.
To qualify for a Latvian Residence Permit, all applicants will need to have reached the retirement age in Latvia (65 years old), have the sufficient funds necessary to finance their stay in Latvia, and have permission to enter and reside in Latvia.
To meet the financial requirements for this retirement visa, retirees will need at least €680 per month (€8,160 per year) from a passive income stream. Visa holders are eligible to work remotely from a non-Latvian employer.
After 5 years of residence in Latvia under this retirement visa, foreign nationals will then be able to apply for permanent residence. After 5 years of permanent residence in Latvia, foreign nationals can then apply for Latvian citizenship provided they can pass the Latvian language exam and have a nationality compatible with Latvian dual citizenship.
Last modified on May 26th, 2023 at 3:47 am
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